Travel Cheap by Train – Amtrak – s Rail Pass #imaginative

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Travel Cheap by Rail Amtrak s Rail Pass

California Zephyr pulling into the station at Granby Colorado

Amtrak has a U.S. Rail pass for as little as $439.  That will get an adult 8 segments (stops) in 15 days.  It s an affordable way to see the country with enjoy riding a train as part of the travel experience.  My husband and I traveled from Baltimore to Truckee, CA using this U.S. Rail Pass. It was easy, inexpensive and much less stressful than driving or flying.  Our eight segments were Baltimore Washington, Chicago (the Amtrak hub), Granby CO, Grand Junction CO, Truckee CA, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore.  We did it in under two weeks and spent nine nights in three fantastic western towns.

Coach on Amtrak is Way Better than an Airplane or Bus

The rail pass gets you a coach seat.  On one of the sightseeing trains, a coach seat has electrical outlets, private reading lights, drop-down trays, and chair that reclines like a Lazy-Boy recliner rather than just a mere tip backward like a bus or train.  If you can sleep in a Lazy-Boy, you can sleep on a train.  Your bags are only a short walk away, and there s no drama with security.  You just get up, walk downstairs, find your bag and get what you need.  Also, you can bring a ginormous bag and not worry about the airlines fining you for oversize luggage.  The bathroom and your luggage are in your railroad car.

We didn t stay in our coach seats except for when we wanted to nap, sleep or read.  On these cross-country trains there s a big sightseeing car next to the dining car.  It s wall-to-wall windows with swivel chairs and booth-type diner seating.  It s very comfortable and allows you to see on both sides of the car.  It s a great place to meet new people.

Sight Seeing Car on Amtrak s California Zephyr

What are Segments How to Craft Your Rail Trip

The cheapest adult rail pass is $439 and allows up to 8 segments to be taken in 15 days.  A segment is a stop, and reservations must be made for each stop because the trains don t stop at stations when there s nobody set to be dropped off or picked up.  I went to Amtrak website and viewed the online train routes and schedules to chose our segments.  All trains meet in Chicago, so we headed there to pick up the California Zephyr.  Then I chose Granby Colorado as our first stop on the Zephyr because it was the stop closest to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The next segment I chose was Grand Junction, Colorado because we wanted to see the Colorado National Monument and tour Colorado s wine country.  Our final stop was Truckee, California because we wanted to see the Sierra Nevadas, Donner Lake, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River.    We stayed three nights in each place.  Count in the total of four days to travel and we came in just under our fifteen day allotment.

Understand that once you purchase the rail pass, you must reserve the segments with an Amtrak agent.  This can be done by phone.  DO NOT TRY TO DO THIS ONLINE.  The online system doesn t play well with Amtrak.  I first did mine online and it was a fiasco.  The process went perfectly when I called the reservations line and made the reservations.

Eating on the Train

Lots of people bring their own food and eat at their seats, and there s a snack bar for drinks and vending machine style snacks.  But the dining car, while pricey ($20 per person w/ tip for dinners) is a worthwhile experience at least a few times on the trip.  The food we had was good and we were seated with other couples.  We met so many interesting people.

Here s the menu for the California Zephyr the train that goes from Chicago to San Francisco and known as the most scenic rail ride in the North America.

Rail Passes Can Be Upgraded

Truth be told I hate sleeping in a recliner.  So I inquired about upgrading to a sleeper (roomette) once we were on board.  We were able to get a sleeper for $210 for the one night from Chicago to Granby.  The roomette is only as big as two rail seats facing each other with one foot of space between the door and the seat.  Both seats fold down to become a bed, a top bunk folds down for a second bed and curtains are drawn for privacy.  The price of the roomette also includes your meals, a porter (who will bring you your meals if you d rather skip the dining car), coffee, newspaper, bottled water and access to the shower.

Prices for sleeping accommodations on a train are sold similarly to the way airlines sell tickets.  Book far in advance and you re likely to get the best deal.  Book 3 days before departure and you ll pay the highest price.  But, book while you re on board and you may get a great deal because the rooms are empty.  That s what happened for us.  So if you re willing to take a chance and NOT get a good deal, ask for the upgrade once you re on board.

It s perfectly marvelous sleeping on a train.  Even the top bunk (which I swear is the size of a wide ironing board) is a comfortable experience.

The Wise Men Ruby Canyon in Colorado as seen from the California Zephyr

Why Take the Train?

Take the train for the added travel experience.  There s almost nothing good about flying these days except speed.  Car travel can be exhausting, stressful and expensive.  And traveling long distances in the US by car often puts the driver on Interstate Highways and Turnpikes where the majority of scenery is comprised of concrete, asphalt and steel highway signs.

But trains snake through the American landscape, sometimes going places where there are no roads.  On the route from Denver to Truckee there are parts of the mountains and desserts that almost no one sees unless they re traveling by train or paddling down the Colorado River.  A train ride is relaxing.  It s a mode of transportation that becomes part of the travel experience instead of penance leading up to the travel experience.

Two Things I Wish I d Known Before I Booked My First Rail Trip

RESERVE A CAR

We reserved a car in Granby because we knew we wanted to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas.  But we didn t rent a car in Grand Junction and Truckee because we were staying right in town and figured we d spend lots of time in the town and use the public transportation system.  This was dumb.  Renting a car for a few days is cheap, especially considering the flexibility it gives you.  Car rental companies will often meet you at the station with your rental car even in very small towns.  Having the car hired and the hotel booked in advance makes a perfectly smooth transition.

GO WITH PERSON TO PERSON COMMUNICATION AT AMTRAK

My husband and I loved our rail vacation and hope to ride the Adirondack, Coastal Starlight and the Sunset Limited in the near future.





11/11/2017

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BritRail Pass #find #flights

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BritRail Pass

Pass Description: Purchasing a BritRail Pass gives you the ability to travel across the entire National Rail network of Great Britain.

Valid for travel in England, Wales and Scotland with Flexible and Consecutive durations you can hop on all mainline trains to visit some of the most scenic places Britain has to offer.

Travel where you please, connect Britain s capital cities Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. Where will your BritRail Pass take you?

Class of travel. First (1st) and Standard (2nd) class passes available

Discounts. Child, Youth and Senior (plus any seasonal promotional offers)

Flexible 2 Day (Europe only), 3 Day (rest of world only), 4 Day, 8 Day, 15 Day (valid within 1 month)

Consecutive 2 Day (Europe only), 3 Day (rest of world only), 4 Day, 8 Day, 15 Day, 22 Day, 1 Month

Boundaries. Valid for travel in England, Wales and Scotland

Exclusions: BritRail Passes are valid for travel on all National Rail services. However, some exclusions apply:

BritRail Passes are not valid on Eurostar services, Tyne and Wear Metro, Glasgow Underground trains, Manchester Metro Link, road links between airport and railway stations, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram links, privately owned railways, steam services, London Underground trains and buses, boats, hovercraft, nor any other services that are not run by National Rail.

Extra Information:





09/09/2017

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Welcome to Open Campus! #mcse, #mct, #mcp, #microsoft #certified, #systems #engineer,


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Our Mission.

The mission of RCCD Distance Education (formerly Open Campus) is to extend access to learning through distance education. Objectives: To facilitate learning at a distance, Distance Education provides:

  • Educational technology to the colleges, faculty, and students to support the delivery of online-based courses and services
  • Professional development and training for faculty
  • Expertise and experience
  • Blackboard management, production and problem solving.

As of April 21, the Open Campus department has changed its name to Distance Education. We thank you for your patience as we work to complete the changes to website by the middle of summer.

What Are Online Based or Distance Education classes?

Online-based courses, also called Distance Education classes, may take two different forms:

Online classes are taken exclusively over the Internet. Please note that, while some online courses provide all instructional content over the Internet, others may require some on-campus meetings. Please see the course schedule or WebAdvisor for more information.

Hybrid classes meet both on campus and online. Think of them as a combination or blending of online classes and face-to-face classes.

In a hybrid class, you will attend meetings on campus during the dates and times listed in the schedule of classes. Since the on-campus portion of hybrid classes could take place at any of our three colleges (Riverside City, Norco or Moreno Valley), hybrid classes are listed in the schedule by the college where the on-campus meetings will take place.

Are there Face-to-Face classes that use the Internet?

Web-Enhanced classes are traditional face-to-face classes that are supplemented with course websites and the use of Internet resources. Unlike hybrid or fully-online classes, all web-enhanced class meetings take place on campus.

Where Do I Start?

For more information about Blackboard and support, visit
Students page


27/08/2017

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5 Games for the Road: How to Pass the Time With

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5 Games for the Road: How to Pass the Time With Nothing But Your Fellow Travelers for Entertainment

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Bus and train trips, flights, delays in airports and train stations, hostels without TV or much light; the list of situations where a traveler has time to kill is long. That’s right — travel is not always exciting. There will be dull downtimes, and you may not always be able to read a good book. play road trip bingo, do crossword puzzles, or doodle in your journal .

That’s when you need a good repertoire of games to spontaneously play with your fellow travelers. Some will be popular games that you can find online and long-forgotten games from your childhood, and you might be surprised just how necessary they’ll be — and how much fun you’ll have — when you want to fill some of those inevitably empty hours on the road.

A quick confession: I’m a bit of a game geek anyway, and an English teacher to boot, so I’ve been known to start these games even at parties. But I promise that they have all been road tested on a real road, somewhere in Tunisia, Finland, Canada or Germany or any place where I was bored and without a book.

#1 I Spy

You’ve probably all played I Spy a long time ago, but I recommend dredging it back up from your long-term memory. If you can’t, it starts off like this: “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with A”, and the other players have to guess what object you can see. I’ve played this in hostels (especially those hostel living rooms that have trinkets from all over the world gathering dust there), on train rides and in planes, but it didn’t work too well in the desert. “I spy sand.”

How to play: I like to limit each person to three or four guesses. Otherwise, they’ll exhaust every item in the room that starts with “B” and you’ll soon run out of objects to use. I also like the jet lag variation — play it in a dark room at night when you can’t sleep because your body’s on some other clock, and see if you can actually remember what’s in the room around you.

Mariano Kamp

#2 Donna’s Alphabet Game

This is not the official name, but it’s the way I like to remember it after my old school friend Donna got a car load of us playing this on a stop-start motorway in southwest England. It’s simple, as long as you’re traveling on a road with signs (and even better, advertising) and these signs use our alphabet. Don’t try it in the western provinces of China, for example.

How to play: Logically, Donna’s Alphabet Game starts with A. Be the first person to spot the letter “A” in a sign and yell out the word: “A is in motorwAy!” Continue with B and get right through to Z. It sounds easy, but there will be a few tricky letters, and if you’re playing in a non-English speaking country then pronouncing the words will be a lot of fun, too. The way we play, there’s no winner — anybody can scream out the next letter when they see it — but natural competitiveness spurs everybody on anyway.

#3 Stadt, Land, Fluss: City, Country, River

This game has a German name because my German friends taught it to me — which is also perhaps why it always strikes me as being a bit intellectual, but still a lot of fun. It’s also a highly appropriate game for travelers to play because their geographical knowledge should be a bit better than average.

How to play: Choose three or four categories like the names of a city, country, river or lake. To be honest, I’m terrible with rivers so I always change the river category to something completely different — often food, because I like to talk about food. Take it in turns to challenge another player to think of a city, country and river all starting with a particular letter. If your friend challenges you with “D”, for example, you can win by getting out Dubai, Denmark and Danube in under sixty seconds — or whatever time limit you and your bored mates decide on.

Question Mark Art, Stuttgart Museum of Art -bast-

#4 Twenty Questions

An oldie but a goodie, and you can make it topical by restricting the choice of “What am I?” to be something related to the region in which you’re traveling. I did have a friend, though, who would choose objects like “pyramid” while traveling through Egypt or “chocolate” in Switzerland, and then we could have made it just two questions rather than twenty.

How to play: Someone chooses an object, and everyone else asks them questions about it, but the only permitted answers are “Yes” or “No”. (Or in my rules, “irrelevant”, if I think saying yes or no will send the guessers along a completely wrong path I like to play fair!). If you’re playing with a group, whoever guesses the item correctly can choose the next word.

#5 For RTW Trippers: Kalgoorlie, Balladonia

I think it was my father who started this game when our family took a driving holiday across Australia. We were gone about two months and my sister and I, being about ten and twelve years old, needed a lot of entertainment.

How to play: This game only works with your traveling companions, and only on long trips. It’s more of a challenge than a game, but it always works for me. Simply start with the name of the town you stayed in first. On our trans-Australia trip, it was the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie. You then try to name every other town you’ve stayed in, in chronological order. My sister and I were experts at this all those years ago, but today I can only remember the first and second stops.

There are tons of other word and guessing games you can play in those bored moments of travel, and you can adapt these games with endless variations, too. And while it might seem like just a way to kill time, playing games like these is something I really love about traveling. It’s almost as if we don’t give ourselves permission to have that kind of fun if we’re at home in our “real lives”.

Anyway, I’m very keen to learn some new games, too, so leave your favorite travel game tips in the comments. I promise to road test them soon.





31/07/2017

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Southwest Companion Pass – The Best Deal in Travel for Family

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Southwest Companion Pass – The Best Deal in Travel for Family Flights

Why Southwest Ever?

Southwest Airlines does not offer upgrades (though their seats have a pitch comparable to some economy plus seats). That disqualifies them for much of our readership, but to those who are open there are some serious benefits available from the largest domestic carrier in the United States.

One advantage of flying Southwest is their network of point-to-point destinations from non-hub airports like Omaha, and Kansas City, Tampa and Albuquerque with cheap one-way flight pricing. They have also made hubs in convenient city locations like Dallas Love Field, and Chicago Midway and offer direct flights from non-hubs to almost every airport in the country from Orlando and Las Vegas.

Southwest’s biggest advantage is the Companion Pass . Here is how it works. After accruing 110,000 points in a calendar year the earner is rewarded with a companion pass whereby a named companion can fly with the earner for free until the end of the following calendar year. The airline does not distinguish points earned in the program as elite qualifying from regular redemption miles, meaning that you don’t even have to fly Southwest to earn the points.

That sounds more complex than it is.

I crossed 110,000 points in February of 2015. I named my wife as my companion. Any time that I fly through the rest of 2015 and all of 2016 she can be added on to my tickets for just the cost of taxes (usually $5.60/each way) even if I am flying on point redemption tickets.

But How Did I Earn the 110,000 Points by February?

I signed up for two credit cards from Chase, a bank I love. To be absolutely clear, I do not earn referral commissions for any credit cards. I am discussing the card because I love the Companion Pass, not because I am paid to do so. If you want to apply go directly to Chase.

The personal Southwest card awarded 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first 90 days, plus the 2,000 points for spending the $2,000 as it earns 1 Rapids Rewards point per $1 spent on the card. I did the same with the business card, giving me 104,000 points. I then made some normal purchases through the Southwest online shopping portal and earned the remaining 6,000 points to get me over the 110,000 mark.

Southwest does not distinguish points from credit card spend, flying or shopping. The only points that they do distinguish are purchased points (those don’t count), transfers from Ultimate Rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Ink or transfers in from hotel partners – those would not count according to reader Patrick, some hotel transfers do count, he identifies Choice hotels at a transfer rate of 3.3 Choice Privilege points to 1 Southwest Rapid Rewards point though I have not confirmed myself, we will take Patrick’s word on this. Everything else does.

How Have We Used It?

We are trying to get the most possible value out of the pass without losing our minds. Every time we have a flight we need to take that we do not fly American (where we have status) is one where we will fly in coach instead of first class. There are times where I will gladly forgo an upgrade to first class and fly coach. For example, my parents have a condo in Florida and our home airport has direct flights there. In two hours we can be dropping our bags at their place and another ten minutes and we are in the pool. On top of that Southwest has two daily flights to that airport, one early in the day allowing us the maximum time if I need to take the day off from work to enjoy the beach instead of spending all day making connections and flying. The second option is a direct flight at 7PM in the evening which allows me to work the whole day and then go to the airport keeping some of those valuable days off saved for later.

Open bin space is another advantage to flying Southwest.

Direct flights have been a key advantage of flying Southwest, but I also wanted to get some real value out of it and that involved a connection. I surprised my wife with a trip to Aruba for her 30th birthday, but flights to international destinations are very much hub and spoke and less point to point, just like the big network carriers. On this particular flight we flew through BWI before landing in Aruba 4.5 hours later.

The last thing you want to do when you get off a Southwest plane is get on another one. So for us, we will limit future trips to just direct flights of less than three hours or when the others are astronomically higher which rarely happens.

Fart Can and Open Seating

I have yet to step on a Southwest plane that does not reek of flatulence. You can blame the airline, the cleaning crew or the clientele, but either way it is always gross. And I feel gross when I fly them.

But once you get adjusted to the smell, the big advantage for us, is flights are rarely sold out 100%. While there may only be 5-10 open seats per flight (an excellent sign for the airline) we board with baby at the end of A boarding. That means that my wife, myself and the baby get on after the first 60 people, but on a jet with seating for 140 or so, the infant tends to be something to avoid so we typically have a row to ourselves due to sociological reasons and suspicions of our baby s behavior on a plane. That s something that we don t get when flying with the other airlines where people cannot choose to avoid seats next to babies.

How Much Value Is In The Companion Pass?

While our daughter is under two years old until January of 2016, the three of us are flying for just the cost of my ticket and my wife s taxes. For Aruba that meant using points instead of paying about $500 out of pocket for me, and then my wife flew for $76 (taxes) and the baby for just $16 (I think there may have been an error there but I am not complaining). Assuming that we would have gone on the trip anyway and not just because it was free, we would have paid about $1125 to fly the same trip on American, though we would have earned status and miles and flown in first class due to status and instruments.

Instead however, we were just $76 each out of pocket plus my daughter s $16 (total of $178) and about 24,000 points. That s well worth putting a $1000 back in my pocket and makes an easy case for the program.

Assuming that we did this kind of trip for all of the miles from just the sign up activity alone, the card would return more than $4500 to us, and that is an outsized value for two credit card sign ups.

Any time there is an outsized value (and there have been dozens of examples in the past) expect a correction . I assume that Southwest will begin to distinguish their bonus points (though not regular spend points) from companion pass eligible points and essentially end a large number of the passes out there. I have no direct information to confirm this, but any time there is a value too large and too good to be true, it will be made untrue. If I were you, I would get on this now, If you apply for cards in November/December but don’t hit the full bonus points posting until January you will have two full years to enjoy it. It should also lock you in because it’s essentially making a contract with customers and while all airlines can change these policies any time they want, it would be bad PR for them to cancel the program with short notice (Mike, I am looking at you ).





15/07/2017

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BritRail Pass #deals #on #rental #cars

#rail travel uk
#

BritRail Pass

Pass Description: Purchasing a BritRail Pass gives you the ability to travel across the entire National Rail network of Great Britain.

Valid for travel in England, Wales and Scotland with Flexible and Consecutive durations you can hop on all mainline trains to visit some of the most scenic places Britain has to offer.

Travel where you please, connect Britain s capital cities Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. Where will your BritRail Pass take you?

Class of travel. First (1st) and Standard (2nd) class passes available

Discounts. Child, Youth and Senior (plus any seasonal promotional offers)

Flexible 2 Day (Europe only), 3 Day (rest of world only), 4 Day, 8 Day, 15 Day (valid within 1 month)

Consecutive 2 Day (Europe only), 3 Day (rest of world only), 4 Day, 8 Day, 15 Day, 22 Day, 1 Month

Boundaries. Valid for travel in England, Wales and Scotland

Exclusions: BritRail Passes are valid for travel on all National Rail services. However, some exclusions apply:

BritRail Passes are not valid on Eurostar services, Tyne and Wear Metro, Glasgow Underground trains, Manchester Metro Link, road links between airport and railway stations, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram links, privately owned railways, steam services, London Underground trains and buses, boats, hovercraft, nor any other services that are not run by National Rail.

Extra Information:





11/06/2017

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