Monday, 16 November 2015

Should you travel to Paris?

Eiffel Tower Sketch
creativecommons image danielygo on Flickr
No one can tell you whether you should travel to Paris or not, but we offer a few perspectives that may help you weigh your options.

7 Keys to Traveling Without Fear Despite Terrorist Attacks
Published yesterday, travel vetran Wendy Perrin puts things in perspective.
You may be making travel plans—or trying to—and you can’t help but wonder: If I go, what is the risk that I will get caught in a terrorist incident? How do I minimize that risk? If I can’t minimize it, how do I get over my fear? I believe the solution is to put your risk in perspective. Here’s how... [read Wendy's full article]

What Should I Do If I’m Traveling to Paris?
Published yesterday, Yahoo Travel turns to Dan Richards of Global Rescue for advice.
For now, Paris is a city in mourning. As we often see in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, the security situation in Paris remains extremely fluid. And that could pose an issue for tourists, students and businesspeople who are traveling, or planning to travel, there. But it might be comforting to know that after Friday’s devastating and tragic attacks, Paris is still open to visitors... [read the full article]

Paris attacks: is it safe to travel to Paris?
Published today in the Telegraph's travel section, this piece contains practical information on a number of fronts.
Despite the announcement that France was closing its borders following a series of terror attacks, flights, ferries and trains have been running as normal - but security has been stepped up. Tourist attractions in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, are due to reopen on Monday afternoon... [read the full article]

Related resources
What to do in a city where there's been a terrorist attack - Johnny Jet
Government of Canada France travel advisory - read the latest advisory
May the odds be ever in your favour
Travel in the time of Ebola

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Uber news recap - October 2015

Uber proves to be the cat's meow in October
creativecommons image dirtymouse on Flickr
Here's an update on the latest in the world of Uber news:

Insurance woes for UberX drivers in Toronto

An interesting development in the world of insurance for Uber in Toronto over the use of UberX driver's personal vehicles without commercial insurance.

Calgary goes covert on Uber

Tension continues in Calgary with the latest Uber crackdown, spy style.
No go for Uber or more taxis in Vancouver, still

The stalemate over more private transportation options in Vancouver is... still a stalemate. In it's wisdom(?), city council has declined to NEITHER end the moratorium on new taxi licenses, or approve Uber for the city. The result? Residents still waiting for rides during peak periods - such as in the club zone at closing time - and expensive rides, often with disgruntled taxi drivers. This is progress?

A rare welcome

Every once in awhile, a city - or an advocate for a city - welcomes the arrival of ridesharing services. A timely, refreshing example...

Weighing in on the future of Uber

What is the future of ridesharing? How long will Uber be around? How will the service change? Forbes weighed in this in October.

Even cats take Uber

Finally, proof that Uber is the cat's meow, with this story that made the rounds in late October...

Related resources
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig 
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Monday, 19 October 2015

Headed to one of the 10 most dreaded? (2015)

Waiting in Sao Paulo airport 2014
Check out our Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports (2015)
creativecommons image gord99 on Flickr
Sleeping in Airports has announced the results of their 2015 Best and Worst Airports Survey.

While we are inspired by the airports on the Best Airports list to book long layovers to enjoy them, those on the Worst Airports list is another matter.

1. Port Harcourt International Airport (PHC) - new to the list
2. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) - was #2 last year
3. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) - was #3 last year
4. Tashkent International Airport (TAS) - was #5 last year
5. Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) - new to the list
6. Port au Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP) - new to the list
7. Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) - new to the list
8. Ho Chi Minh City Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport (SGN) - new to the list
9. Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB) - was #1 last year
10. Paris Beauvais International Airport (BVA)- was #6 last year

Keep in mind that just because an airport doesn't make the list, doesn't mean it isn't really bad. As the list is generated by airport users, other dismal airports that either received less visitors, or just less passengers inclined to vote, may drop off the list itself. In other words, don't be surprised to find last year's losers haven't improved.

The good news? In Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports (2015), our sister-site has suggestions about you to survive your layover if you find yourself headed to one of the dreaded!

Related resources
Sleeping in Airports 2016 Best and Worst Airports Survey - cast your vote!
Lousy Lagos Airport layover review
Layover Ideas & Things to Do Anywhere in the World
Go running on your layover
Roundtrip layover tours from airports

Thursday, 15 October 2015

New hope for Toronto's UPExpress

UPExpress airport train at Pearson station
creative commons image chriskillam on Flickr
After a beleaguered start, it appears there may be hope on the horizon for Torontonians who watch the city's airport train cars pass by empty.

The Globe and Mail has reported of a rumoured takeover of the Union Pearson Express by the city. In the article, Toronto Mayor John Tory "acknowledged that the idea is just a 'passing reference' in what is expected to be a lengthy report on the feasibility of his $8-billion SmartTrack, which would run on the existing GO rail network and has a planned stop in the Pearson airport area."

Passing reference or not, we can't help but be optimistic.

The Union Pearson Express on a busier day
creativecommons image sweetone on Flickr
While the building of the new Toronto Airport train was much anticipated, doubts about ridership arose immediately after the fare structure was announced (see our blog post Toronto joins the 21st century with Pearson airport train).

Since beginning service in June, UPExpress trains have been running largely empty, with few but the most flush travellers, and an occassional local, paying the steep fares. For an international airport, served by thousands of local workers, Toronto deserves better. Let's hope the SmartTrack will get the Toronto Pearson Airport train on the right track.

YYZ Airport train: fast, but not cheap
creativecommons image chriskillam on Flickr

Related resources
Staff report hints at Toronto taking over Pearson express train
Pearson airport express trains 90 per cent empty
Union Pearson Express — the train Toronto loves to hate
What travellers want – and at the right price
Clean Train Coalition on UPExpress diesel design

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The elusive Kabul Taxi

You can't actually take the 'Kabul Taxi'
It seems not everyone is amused by Kabul Taxi, the satirical Facebook page that provided an outlet for Afghans tired from years of unrest.

Since summer, Afghanistan's spy agency has been paying attention to to the page, and threatening to shut it down. It's a compliment of sorts, and the scrutiny has led to greater exposure for the fake taxi page.

While reportedly removed, we still found the Kabul Taxi Facebook page, with 60,000+ likes and recent posts. Even if you can't understand the language, the photos give you insight to the irony and biting commentary on life and politics in the country.

What's next? We were amused to see comments on the Kabul Taxi page suggestion variations, including Kabul Bus, Kabul Jet and more.

Whatever the outcome, we wish peace and whatever comical relief that gets the people of this resilient country.

Related resources
Kabul Taxi is Blocked on Facebook. Long Live Kabul Taxi!
Afghan satire 'Kabul Taxi' angers spies, scribes summoned
A street car named satire: 'Kabul Taxi' lampoons Afghanistan
Afghans flock to Kabul Taxi, a satirical Facebook page that spares no one
Kabul Airport (KBL) transportation guide (real information, no fakes here!)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Uber news recap - September 2015

Uber driver in Dubai
creativecommons image khawaja of Flickr
Here are a few of the Uber vs taxi war stories that made news in September...

This story out of San Francisco, the birthplace of Uber

Nice to see a little competition coming into play in the city of play, Las Vegas. It was certainly needed, as Forbes revealed in 2013 (Taxi credit card scam does not stay in Vegas). 

If you're watching the ridesharing phenomenon unfold around the world, you'll be interested in the news coming out of Brazil, as Rio puts the brakes on the service.

Didi Kuaidi, China's ride-hailing service, has hit the ground running, creating a spark of interest in how the ridesharing industry will unfold in this Communist country.

The fix is in in Edmonton, it seems. Price fixing is a serious charge in Canada, but does this pass the sniff test?

Finally, a great piece from FastCompany about why the sharing economy, and ridesharing in particular, just makes sense. If you're mired in the debate, whichever side of the debate you are on, have a read for some fresh perspectives:

Related resources
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig 
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Monday, 10 August 2015

How to Get Away from the Airport

Beijing Capital Airport, headed to ground transportation
creative commons image wikipedia
How do you like to get away from the airport? Do you head to the exit to scope out the taxi situation? Look for your name on the cards held up by a driver as you exit security? Follow the hotel shuttle bus sign? Try to find an airport shuttle bus? If you're lucky enough to arrive at an airport with direct train service, do you take it? Track down the local bus? Rent a car?

Do you always do the same thing? Or do you vary your plan acvording to what airport you are arriving at? What's the best option? How do you decide?

In a recent interview on The Informed Traveler, co-founder Steve Romaine discusses the various forms of airport transportation and tips on getting you out of the airport. Listen to Steve's advice to help you narrow down your choices, and arrive stress-free!

Listen: How to Get Away from the Airport - Steve Romaine interview

Informed Traveler: Twitter, Facebook, Blog

Related resources - An International Traveller's Ground Transportation Guide (100's of airports!)
Airport Arrival Advice
Dealing with Touts
Taxi Rates & Fares: Airport Taxi Advice
Dealing with Taxi Drivers

Monday, 20 July 2015

Brave behind the wheel

She sleeps with a rifle at night - and drives her taxi by day
In case you missed it, there is a change taking place on the streets of Afghanistan with the country's first female taxi driver in recent memory.

Sara Bahayi (or Bahai) is the brave Afghan woman who was inspired to drive a taxi, and went about securung her license, despite the barriers.

Profiled earlier this year by multiple sources, Al Jazeera recently released a new video about Sara, with footage of Afghan women speaking about the difference one woman is making, a sampling of her detractors and the new generation of women she is now teaching to drive.

You can also watch 2 videos about Sara's bold move on AutoBlog.

Related resources
Female cab driver in Afghanistan breaks stereotypes
The unlikely life of Afghanistan’s first female taxi driver
Afghanistan's first female taxi driver encourages women to drive
Female taxi drivers around the world
Kabul International Airport (KBL) transportation guide

Monday, 13 July 2015

The 420 from PDX

Heavy metal overhead
Just a week ago, as part of it's World's Best Awards, Travel+Leisure placed Portland Airport (PDX) at the top of it's World's Best Airports - Domestic Airports list. Or, rather, readers of T+L Magazine voted PDX to the top spot during an extensive readership survey.

Putting aside the conundrum-causing juxtaposition of words the title evokes*, there is a new development that could take "Fly PDX" to a whole new level, if you get our drift. Check out this headline in the International Business Times:
Marijuana Legalization In Oregon: Portland Airport Allows Travelers To Bring Weed On In-State Flights
Creative Lights Yes, that's right. The Portland, Oregon airport has indeed declared it acceptable for passengers to carry recreational marijuana - which is now legal in Oregon - on flights departing PDX, as long as the destination is within the state. And that's recreational marijuana, not medicinal.

Known for it's focus on service and its willingness to innovate, this latest move can only be descried as accommodating. What's funny is that there is no mention of this on the PDX website, however social media and news feeds are alive with the news.

If PaxEx means keeping travellers at your airport happy and relaxed, then PDX takes the cake. Oh, speaking of munchies...

coffee people treats at portland airport
Where to eat at Portland PDX - Portland Eater

PDX Carpet
So many people love PDX's trippy carpet
that they've created a way for fans to buy
a piece of the carpet when they are replaced!

Curious? Read on How the Portland Airport
Carpet Became a Hipster Icon
*Do you share our conundrum? How can a list of domestic airports in the United States can be considered "world's best" (wouldn't that be "World's Best Airports - Domestic Airports USA" or "United States Best Airports - Domestic Airports"?!?).... We get what T+L is trying to do, but the liberties they take with wording their award titles makes us (non-Americans) shake our heads, just a little..

Related resources
Oregon’s Portland International Airport to allow passengers to carry recreational marijuana
Is PDX the best airport in America? Travel+Leisure says so (poll)
Portland International Airport (PDX) transportation guide
Private transfer from Portland Airport - arrive stress free!
Private transfer from Portland Airport in a stretch limo - arrive in style!

All images creative commons - click each image for source info