Going Places

James Melzer / Flickr

Here at Going Places world headquarters (really just the KPLU newsroom, but go with it, OK?) we're big fans of travel experiences that allow for some unexpected discovery. But it's still good to be informed about your destination before you arrive, says our travel expert, Matthew Brumley.

Here are some tips on how:

Read Local News And Listen To Local Music

Brumley downloads local radio station apps and reads local newspapers before he heads to a vacation destination.

For A Good Summer Getaway, Consider Staying Nearby

Apr 21, 2016
Cameron Birse / Flickr

The unseasonably warm weather of the last few days has KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley thinking about summer. Now is the time, he says, to start planning a summer vacation. And he says staying put in the Northwest is a great option.

This week, we offer advice for planning your trip, and a list of nearby getaways Brumley has found worthwhile.

Book Now, Cancel Later

Holland America

Christina Opalka has been researching travel trends for the cruise industry since the 1990s. This week, she offers her perspectives on why it’s worth your time to make your next vacation buoyant.

Not All Cruises Are The Same

There are megaships you can stay aboard for the entire trip, with restaurants, theaters, spas, pools and more. And then there are smaller ships focused on remote natural wonders, where you can get in a kayak with a guide and paddle near a glacier.

Natural Beauty And Turbulent History In South Africa

Apr 7, 2016
Matthew Brumley / KPLU

South Africa’s history includes apartheid, civil unrest, and political scandals. Just this week, President Jacob Zuma survived an impeachment vote on charges he used public money to upgrade his private home.

But the country is also a favorite among travelers, including our own travel expert Matthew Brumley, who was recently in Cape Town.

"I've been coming here for 10 years," he said, "and I'm going to figure out a way to move here at some point in my life. I'm sitting here looking at Table Mountain with what they call 'the tablecloth' over the top."

Chris Ford / Flickr

“I hope I miss my flight sometimes.”

Not words you expect to hear from a flyer as frequent as our travel expert, Matthew Brumley. But he's a huge fan of layovers, including those that begin when the pilot comes on and announces a flight delay before takeoff.

“I’m always very happy about that, because I’m thinking, ‘I think I’m going to miss my connection,’” he said. “I love layovers.”

It helps to know the city, or to even have friends there, Brumley said. But even if you don’t, a layover – accidental or planned – can be a great way to see a new place.

Ingmar Zahorsky / Flickr

Maybe it’s the busy primary election season that has us in this mindset, but we’ve been thinking a lot about voting lately. And our Going Places team wondered what it’s like in other parts of the world.

This week we hear from Danna Brumley, who is an experienced guide and world traveler, much like her husband, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

She and her family wound up in Costa Rica during an election once. She says the country is already festive for travelers, but on Election Day, it's like "New Year's Eve, all day long."

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information about loopholes how airlines and travel websites deal with 24-hour cancelations.]

Finding a good deal on airfare can be tricky. The prices change quickly. There are conflicting reports on when airlines post their sales and specials. It all seems kind of arbitrary. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says it’s all a matter of knowing where (and how) to look.

1. Shop Around

Screenshots

Way back when (you know, 10 years ago), travelers carried these things called guide books. Maybe some of them still do, but most of that information now lives in your smartphone. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has some favorites. Here they are:

1. KAYAK

What it does: The search website’s app lets you look for flights, car rentals, hotels and more.

Michael Janke / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has a confession to make.

"I was a travel snob," he said. "I was one of those who said I'll get to places like Hawaii or Puerto Rico or the Caribbean when I'm in my golden years and I've seen everything else on the planet."

He went to Hawaii for the first time about five years ago, and returned just last week.

Leiris202 / Flickr

It’s time to discuss something controversial. A topic so polarizing it has the potential to tear the very fabric of our society: The selfie.

Visit any place that attracts tourists – Pike Place Market, St. Peter’s Basilica, Tokyo’s Shibuya district – and you’ll see people with cameras held aloft. Sometimes those cameras are at the ends of poles. And the people are very often photographing … themselves.

Love them or hate them – and KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley hates them – selfies have become part of our culture.

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Groundhog Day was this week and, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. Legend says that means an early spring. Whether or not Phil’s prediction is accurate, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is thinking about spring break.

The lead-up to a vacation can be stressful, Brumley said.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

National Parks date back to 1872, so it might seem a little unusual that they’re celebrating their centennial this year. It’s because the agency that manages them – the U.S. National Park Service – wasn’t created until 1916. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says the more than 400 national parks are great places to spend a vacation, offering nature, and a lot more.

Presidents And Rails

So who gets credit for creating the national parks?

Ed Ronco / KPLU

The World Happiness Report ranks Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway as the happiest nations. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says his experience has been different. 

“I went to school in Denmark,” he said. “I would not peg any of these countries as what I think of as the happiest places on earth.”

David Schenfeld / Flickr

In the world of global tourism there are the old standbys – global capitals that have been captivating visitors for decades. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are some emerging destinations that could see more travelers in the new year.

Myanmar

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley tends toward independent travel in his own life – the kind where you can break with your itinerary for an afternoon, or decide spontaneously to spend an extra day in a city you like.

But this week, he’s talking about cruise travel – which often comes with a very specific itinerary.

“It’s a great way to travel if you have multiple generations with you,” he said. “It’s a turnkey solution to a big family trip. And often times it’s super cheap.”

Repositioning Cruises

Earthbound Expeditions

In Prague, it’s the main square. In Paris, it’s the region around the Louvre. In New York, it’s Times Square. And here in Seattle, it’s the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

Every city has its tourist hot-spots. And while you wouldn’t want to go to Rome and skip the Colosseum, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley urges people to look deeper.

Rebecca Boyd / Flickr

We heard a while back from Jessica, a listener who tweeted the following message: “I like #GoingPlaces that involve more than standing/looking at things. But not an adrenaline junky. Interesting trip ideas?”

Good news, Jessica: KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says you don’t have to go far. But you can if you want to. More on that later.

Wintertime Fun

Brumley’s family has been trying cross-country skiing. It’s relatively easy, but still gives you a workout, and it costs way less than its downhill counterpart.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Social media, easy-to-carry camera phones, and other technological advances make it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. It’s also easy to stay in touch with work. And that can be a problem when you’re on vacation, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

"I see it wherever I go," Brumley said. "People on beaches in Hawaii or Mexico ... texting or working, and paying more attention to their gadgets and phones than they are to their surroundings and the people sitting with them at that very moment."

Thanks To Those Who Help Us Get Where We're Going

Nov 26, 2015
KPLU

On this Thanksgiving, we pause for a moment to say thanks. As millions of people hurry from place to place across the country this weekend, thousands are helping them get there. Pilots, flight attendants, TSA officers, baggage handlers, front desk clerks, hotel maids, rental car agents, cooks, servers and more.

We'll be back next week with more travel topics (namely, how people get lost in their personal technology while on vacation). But for now, just thanks, to all of the folks who help us travel, and to you, for joining us each week on Going Places.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

If you’ve flown recently, you’ve also experienced airport security. And you’ve maybe also had to wait as travelers with a certain clearance are let through security ahead of you. It’s part of a program called TSA PreCheck, where travelers can pay $85 and undergo some advance screening once, allowing them to breeze through much shorter security lines without removing shoes and belts.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Changes in federal law could soon mean a standard Washington state driver's license is not good enough to get you through airport security.

The Real ID Act toughens the requirements for driver's licenses to be recognized by the federal government. In short, only IDs you've obtained after proving legal residency or citizenship (U.S. or otherwise) will count. Washington state has no such requirement to obtain a standard driver's license.

Matthias Schrader / AP

Correction: In the audio version of this piece, Matthew Brumley says refugees are not heading to the Netherlands or Denmark. Both countries have taken refugees in this most recent crisis, though fewer have gone to Netherlands than other European countries, and Denmark has taken a hard stance against granting asylum to many.

Walk Through Famous Paintings On Your Way To Normandy

Oct 29, 2015
Shogunangel / Flickr

Most Americans have heard the word “Normandy” in the context of World War II, as well they should have. The D-Day invasion centered there in 1944 was a watershed moment in the conflict, and involved enormous sacrifice from allied troops.

But while World War II history is an important reason to see northern France, it’s not the only reason, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Begin in Paris

Heading north out of the French capital, stop in Giverny, home of Claude Monet.

Moyan Brenn / Flickr

When the Iron Curtain fell in Eastern Europe, the region underwent massive change. You can see examples of that in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley made his first trip there in 1986.

“All the buildings were gray. You could walk across Charles Bridge and be alone. It was very Kafkaesque,” he said. “The mood was dark and mysterious and intriguing and romantic.”

Today, Prague is a major commercial hub.

Xianyi Shen / Flickr

Hainan Province, an island in the South China Sea, is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also where former KPLU Production Assistant Shunying Wang grew up.

“I like to call it Asian Hawaii,” Wang said.

The main city – Haikou – is crowded and busy, but escape into the countryside and you’ll find resorts, peace and relaxation.

Michael Tieso / Flickr

The San Juan Islands call themselves an “Inspiration for the Senses.” Vancouver, British Columbia is “Spectacular by Nature.” And Boise settles for a one-word description: “Active.”

Whatever the slogan, tourism marketers work hard to attract your attention, and your money. Here are some of the best and worst travel slogans from around the world, according to KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley:

Norm Lanier / Flickr

Maybe you have been on a vacation where, when it is time to come home, you think, “What if I just stayed?”

For thousands of retirees every year, that is a reality. They leave the United States and become permanent residents abroad, often in some place warm and sunny.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says that has risks and rewards.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Modern travel comes with a lot of options. From western Washington, you can travel by plane, car, ship or train. You can also travel cinematically.

KPLU’s Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley picked some of their favorite travel movies – either films about a journey, or those that transport you effectively to a different place.

Matthew’s Picks

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Courtesy Beth Whitman

 

In the middle of a 7,000-mile motorcycle trip from Seattle to Panama, Beth Whitman found herself stuck along the Guatemalan border. 

Other people flowed freely in both directions across the line between the two countries. But not Whitman. For some reason, the guards were not letting her into Guatemala.

And she was by herself.

"I sat for an hour, angry that they weren't letting me through with just a signature," she said. 

Todd Petit / Flickr

Many of the communities affected by this year's wildfires in central and eastern Washington have economies that rely heavily on tourism.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says once the wildfire danger has passed, people should consider taking time to visit central and eastern Washington, to inject money back into the economy.

Some places have been evacuated and suffered damage from the wildfires. But others are just in a region people have chosen to avoid, to steer clear of wildfire danger this summer.

Here are some good places to look:

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