Travel

When the Labor Department released its monthly jobs report Friday, it showed a hiring surge in June, with 287,000 new jobs popping up.

And the report suggested something else: we're spending more to have fun.

Whenever July 4th lands on a Monday, travel surges as Americans take advantage of the long weekend. And you might assume the extra demand for gasoline would send pump prices higher.

But this year, drivers are discovering that prices have been falling in the run-up to the holiday — down to the lowest mid-summer levels in more than a decade.

Navigating airport security lines is a hassle, for most. Among the exceptions: passengers with TSA PreCheck stamped on their boarding pass.

They don't take off their shoes, they don't take out their laptops and they often clear security in just a few minutes. And now, there are a lot more of them.

In the past three months the number of applications for TSA PreCheck has more than doubled. Almost 16,000 people a day are now applying for PreCheck. That's a huge increase from less than 7,000 a day in March.

As the summer unfolds, people are understandably interested in whether travel insurance will cover them if they cancel a trip because of concerns about the Zika virus. Other readers asked whether student health plans are a better option than the coverage from a health law marketplace and how an employer can't offer mental health coverage. Here are the answers.

Record numbers of airline passengers will soon be taking off for spring break, expecting to find fun.

But first, they'll have to get through the Transportation Security Administration screening at the airport. Definitely no fun there.

Both the TSA and Airlines For America (A4A), an industry trade group, say travelers should brace for long waits in epic lines. "It's a very serious concern," A4A Senior Vice President Sharon Pinkerton said on a conference call with journalists Wednesday.

This month, we asked our audience to offer advice on how to make the best of a student program in the developing world. From dozens of tips, shared on Twitter using #NPRTravelHacks, we chose 13 of our favorites.

1. Get those Zzzs

2. Bring a Polaroid camera

The steep drop in oil prices is helping to pad the bottom line of Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. But don't expect lower fares on the horizon.

tsparks / Flickr

The travel industry usually experiences a bump in leisure travel from June through August. What better time to see the world – or grandma – than when little Susy is out of school? But this year the domino effect of rising fuel prices leading to rising airline ticket prices means families are staying put. Luckily for Seattle’s hotel industry, summer business travelers are taking their place.

What do you like about Washington? The state’s tourism office wants to know. Today, it’s launching a campaign called Share Your Washington.

Alaska Air Group

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group is consolidating its two airlines under the same brand. Horizon Air's Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes are being repainted with the Alaska Airlines logo. Alaska and Horizon will continue to operate as separate airlines.

Paul Stankavich/KPLU

Seattle Times Food Writer Nancy Leson is back from her KPLU Travel Club trip to Paris, where she ate…and ate…and, well, you get the idea.  

Wikimedia Commons

OK, quick!  Can you name a song about travel? We're pretty sure you can.  Come fly with this week's Record Bin Roulette, and take a trip on a sailing ship tour of the joys - and the not so joyful moments - of travel.