Archive for October, 2008


New “Australia” Contest: Make a Movie, Win a Trip

October 27, 2008

Baz Luhrman’s film “Australia” comes out November 26th, and I’m excited. It’s got war and love in the Outback, Hugh Jackman as a very smooth Crocodile Dundee, cattle rustling, white dinner jackets, Nicole Kidman playing an Australian (how often does she get to do that?), and it’s directed by the guy who did “Strictly Ballroom”, which is one of my favorite films.

If you fancy yourself to be a bit of a movie maker, take a look at this new contest. Put together a 30-second clip using the tools provided at the contest’s website, and submit it by November 12, 2008. All the official rules are there, along with film trailers, photos and interviews.

If you can’t travel by plane, travel by the big screen. Good luck!


Semester at Sea: Plan Ahead for 2009

October 23, 2008

Semester at Sea

Yes, I know you’ve just barely settled into your new semester and classes and teachers and friends and roommates, but it’s time to start looking ahead to next year.

If you’re thinking about doing a semester abroad, now is when you should be gathering information, requirements and applications for Summer and Fall 2009. Maybe you aren’t sure whether Semester at Sea is right for you. Maybe you’ve never even heard of it. Or maybe you’ve had your heart set on a semester in Paris or Tokyo or Sydney. That’s fine. But give yourself the chance to explore other options, if only because it will make you that much more confident that your final choice is the right one for you.

What is Semester at Sea? It’s a program that lets you visit a dozen countries during your semester instead of just one, and earn just as many units (although you should always consult with your academic counselor to make sure the units will be honored).

The Semester at Sea program has been around for decades, and it’s a great way for a student to travel around the world while working toward a degree. There are programs for teachers and seniors as well, so even if you’re out of school you can still do a sail around the world without paying the outrageous price that most cruise lines would charge for the same itinerary.

Some financial aid is available for students and you can use any federal aid or loans that you receive, such as Pell Grants and Stafford loans, as well. Talk to your academic adviser to find out more about how you can make a semester sailing the high seas work into your graduation plans, then get your passport and visas, and your ISIC. (It’s good all over the place!)


Veteran Traveler Makes Rookie Mistakes

October 21, 2008
Inspiration in the Harvard Sq. T station.

Inspiration in the Harvard Sq. T station.

I have no idea how many tens of thousands of miles I have covered by plane, train, bus, car, boat and horse. Well, very few by horse, but those miles still count.

Still, when it comes to all the new travel regulations, I get thrown off. My usual routines and travel habits become muddled, and before you know it I’m sitting at SFO late at night, no stores open, my contact lens case packed away in my check-through bag, and my contact lenses feeling dryer and more glued to my eyes with every passing minute.

My old routine was simple: Throw the case in the front of my backpack with my glasses and bottle of solution, next to my toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, hand lotion, and maybe some aspirin. It’s the easiest place to access while on a plane, and then you have all your most pressing physical needs taken care of in one place.

But now I have some liquids in my Ziploc baggie for security, some toiletries checked in because they’re bigger than the few ounces allowed to go through security, and some things in my camera bag, for no real reason other than packing laziness, and a full Ziploc baggie.

With few options, I improvised, dropping my lenses directly into the travel-sized contact lens solution bottle, then carrying it very carefully from SF to Boston so that they would stay wet and not get stuck to the side of the bottle and dry out. I was thrilled to get to Boston, dump them out, and find that they were still in good shape, and figuring out which eye was which was no problem at all.

The lesson here: No matter how much you think you’ve planned ahead, plan some more. Also, be flexible. Also, always keep an extra pair of contacts on you, just in case you lose a pair.

Oh, the rest of the trip was fabulous. Thank goodness I was able to see it all.


‘Twilight’ Tourism in the American Northwest

October 17, 2008

Tours that cater to Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings fans are commonplace, and now, all you “Twilight”ers (Ed Heads? Swan Fawns?) can endulge your fantasies of wandering the streets and forests of Forks with sights from the books and upcoming film.

Forks is welcoming tourists with open arms. You can hit the local diner and order a Bella Burger, or visit local stores to buy some vampire teeth and get movie memorabilia.

Learn more about what Forks has to offer in this CNN article, or visit the official Forks city website.


Student Deals on the Eurostar Disney Train

October 15, 2008

DisneylandWhat are you doing for Spring Break? Or next summer? If you’re looking for a way to save money and still have fun, planning ahead is step one, and step two is finding the best student travel deals.

If backpacking Europe is high on your travel wish list, consider adding the Eurostar Disney train to your itinerary. It’s touristy, but fun, and you have to do something silly to balance out all the museums, cafes and other serious traveller activities you’re going to do.

The Eurostar offers daily direct service between London Waterloo or Ashford and Marne-la-Vallée (the heart of Disneyland Paris). The train drops you at the gates of the Magic Kingdom so you can walk right up and say “Bonjour” to Mickey and Minnie.

And if you’re looking for Disney deals on this side of the Atlantic, don’t forget about Disneyland’s offer to get into the park for free on your birthday during 2009.


Stop Circling the Airport – Park for Free!

October 13, 2008

My dear student travelers, it’s almost that time of year where you’ll have to pack up and head home for the turkey and presents and endless questions about your majors, your love lives, and your finances. Or maybe you’re already home but have relatives coming from far away to pry into your personal life. Either way, trips to the airport will be involved.

The worst part of going to the airport to pick someone up is the endless circling and shifting of the car as policemen whistle and shout at you to keep moving. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid all that? Wouldn’t you or your parents rather sit calmly until the pick-upee is ready to be swooped up at the curb? Well now you can.

Some of the more forward-thinking airports around the country now offer cell phone lots, also called “Park & Call Zones”, “Phone & Go”, “Stage & Go” or some variation of that theme. You can park for free in these lots, usually up to 20 or 30 minutes, while you wait for your auntie to gather her luggage. Of course you must stay in the car and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, otherwise you could get a ticket for not using the short-term parking.

Airports that offer these lots include:

So save those parking dollars and put them toward something you really want, like Spring Break in Brazil.


Free Fun in Boston at the Head of the Charles

October 9, 2008
Love that dirty water.

The Charles River: Love that dirty water.

The Head of the Charles Regatta is being held October 18 & 19 this year (that’s 2008 if you’ve time traveled to this page from the distant future and don’t know where you’ve landed).

It’s called the Head of the Charles because it’s held on the Charles River, and you don’t need to be embarassed if you didn’t know that. It’s called a Regatta because that’s what these big boat races are called.

Wikipedia says: [The HOTC] is the largest 2-day regatta in the world, with more than 8,000 athletes rowing in around 1750 boats in 56 events. It attracts about 300,000 spectators throughout Regatta weekend. The Head of the Charles Regatta is run by an office of 3 and approximately 1,500 volunteers.

Is anyone else impressed by that last number? Only three official employees and then 1,500 volunteers? Wow.

So, if you’re anywhere near Boston next week, and as a matter of fact I myself will be in Boston to visit friends, I recommend heading to the river to watch these teams in action. With any luck it will be a beautiful weekend and you’ll be able to enjoy picturesque views of either the MIT/Cambridge skyline, or the Boston University campus, depending on whether you hang out on the Boston or Cambridge side of things.

Learn more at and find more fun, cheap things to using’s “25 Things to do this Fall Under $25“.