Get Away With Fran

September 29, 2014

Best Cruise Moments on TV

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 5:31 pm

Here I manage to combine two things I enjoy, cruising and TV trivia. This was a fun story to research. Hope it’s a fun read too.

September 12, 2014

Booking a cruise like a pro

Filed under: Cruise,International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 7:10 pm

What secrets do travel pros know in terms of getting you the best cruise at the best price? Here are some lessons that apply whether you are using a travel agent or booking a cruise on your own. These tips can save you money.

My story for Bon Voyage/

Best cruises for sailing fans

Filed under: Cruise,International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 6:56 pm

These cruise ships have something different — sails. Enjoy the romance of the sea while you luxuriate on deck or help pulls the ropes. Pirate speak is encouraged.

Check out my story for USA Today Experience Cruise

Cruise ship comedy

These cruise ships will make you laugh. Check out my article in USA Today. This was a fun one to write.

March 7, 2013

The Best Cruises for Families

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,Uncategorized — admin @ 3:20 am

Thinking about taking the kids on a cruise vacation? Check out my T+L article on family cruising:

January 8, 2012

Medical tourism, a tweak here, a tweak there

Filed under: International,Travel Advice — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:03 pm

Here’s the how and why on medical tourism. And no, I haven’t, but please let me know if you have.,8135/

What’s surprising to me in researching this was companies actually encouraging their employees to travel overseas in order to cut healthcare costs.

January 6, 2012

Hello, I’m back…

Filed under: Food,International,Travel Advice,U.S. — admin @ 7:53 am

meme Hello GetAway followers. I realize I have taken a super long break, basically because I have been so busy freelancing articles for sites, newspapers and magazines. But I’m back. In addition to sharing thoughts and travel experiences I’ll be posting links so you can see what else I am working on.

Here’s the latest in case anyone is heading to New York and looking for a deal on a meal:

And here’s a snipet of what I did this fall:

Happy Travels!


June 27, 2011

Sea and Glaciers

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:30 pm

After departing Vancouver, the Disney Wonder spent a day at sea. We were pretty lazy. We played a lot of shuffleboard, and we all won at least once (great thing about shuffleboard; little athletic skill required).

Sasha went swimming in the heated family pool. She says it wasn’t cold, even though outdoor temps were low 60s.

We got dressed up for dinner – formal night, though most people went with cocktail attire and some did not even go that far.

Disney Cruise Line has a unique rotation dining system where you eat in a different restaurant each night but with the same waiters. It’s especially clever. Kids don’t get bored by similar menus and ambience and get to know the waiters. We ate in the lively Parrot Cay the first night and the fancier Tritons the second. Sasha did not want to sit through a full multicourse meal the first night, but by the second our Serbian waiter, who performed magic and made Origami from the children’s, was not only a familiar face but a pal.

After dinner we went as a family to see the Golden Mickeys show in the main theater. It features clips from Disney animated movies and dancers and singers performing some numbers too. We all enjoyed it.

My brother and I dropped Sasha off after at The Edge, the ‘tween hangout, so we could check out some of the entertainment for adults-only. Seems other passengers had the same idea. The comedy show, featuring three whacky brothers, was so crowded in the disco they had overflow to the Diversions bar where you could watch on video screens. The physical comedy got lost in translation on the screens, so we headed instead to the ship’s movie theater to see the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. It was sold out too, no seats available. We wandered the ship a bit – passing a folk guitarist and singer, but then picked up Sasha and headed back to the cabin.

Next day, appeared to be another day at sea, but appearances can be deceiving. We spent about five hours in and around Tracy Arm Fjord, where we saw humpback whales close enough to spot even without binoculars, bald eagles, seals, a bear (through binoculars), snow-capped mountains reflected in clear water, blue icebergs (and white ones too) and then the amazing sight of Sawyer Glacier, a massive lake of moving ice heading ever so slowly towards the sea. And yes, we saw calving and even from a distance the sight of ice falling off a glacier into the sea is magnificent.

The temperature fell below 50, but the heated pools still called Sasha, who spent time swimming with a pal.

Dinner in Animator’s Palette, where animation appears throughout the meal, had Sasha smiling throughout the meal. Her smiles continued at the show where a really fun magician sure knew how to appeal to the family crowd, and the three brothers performed their unusual brand of song, dance and sound effects to many giggles.

September 3, 2010

Pretzels and Beer in Lufthansa Lounge at Munich Airport

Filed under: Airlines,International,Travel Advice — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:02 am


It is always a tad disorienting when you get off an overnight flight to Europe. You may have slept a little, but you haven’t gotten the full eight hours.

This is true even, as in my case, when you are wonderfully ensconced in a bed-like seat in Business Class on a Lufthansa 340-600, with a nice Riesling keeping you company.

So it was kind of a “wow” moment when I walked into the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at Munich Airport to see beer drinkers at long tables with full glasses and large pretzels dangling on pretzel holders. At 10 a.m.

I grabbed a coffee and plopped myself in a lounge chair to take in the scene, and a buxom woman in a traditional dirndl proffered a basket, so I had a pretzel with my latte.

Gotta love Munich.

Lufthansa added the Bavarian flair to its lounge earlier this year. There is indeed draft beer, tapped from the barrel , which can be enjoyed at the traditional wooden tables below painted views of the Bavarian Alps.

The beer garden is not the only thing in the Terminal 2 lounge, of course. There is also a nice workstation corner for those who need to stay connected, cushy leather seating for those like me who want to take a little snooze and tables aplenty for those who want to grab a quick bite. There are bar areas too. It’s a wonderful place to hang out before your connecting flight.

For those who don’t have lounge access – yes, I know, my job has some nice perks – there is also a Munich Airport brewery/restaurant with beer garden outside of security, open in summer.

April 6, 2010

See Fran on Fox – Flyers’ Rights

Filed under: Travel Advice — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 3:29 am

Ok, getting to the airport to find your flight is cancelled or you are otherwise denied boarding just stinks. But what should you do in this situation? And what are your rights?

Help, my flight has been canceled

Check the DOT website for consumer advice and regulations.

Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate you for damages if you get to the airport and find your flight has been cancelled.

They do have to accommodate you on another flight. And often they will try to put you on another of that carrier’s flights. But depending on the reason for the cancellation (delayed flight crew, mechanical), you may also have the right to request going on another carrier, if that carrier’s schedule is better (while in line waiting to get re-ticketed, check your iPod or Blackberry for schedules).

If the agent doesn’t offer to put you on another, more convenient carrier invoke Rule 240. They may look at you like you have three eyes, but this old rule basically means they should put you on the next flight even if on another carrier. The website even recommends you carry a copy of the rule and your carrier’s policy on cancelled flights when you fly (the latter policy can be found at the airline’s website).

Also, if you get to your flight much later than scheduled and/or have to do a very different routing, call the airline’s consumer line and complain, and you may get some compensation (usually $100 in airline credit to be used for a future flight).

What is I get bumped because the flight is overbooked. Can I get money?

There are two kinds of bumping: voluntarily and the other involuntary. When a flight is oversold, the gate agents will ask for volunteers and offer you $200 or $400 and sometimes even more in air credit if you give up your seat. It’s your decision whether to take it. They then book you on that carrier’s next available flight (or occasionally on another carrier’s flight).

If you are involuntarily bumped due to an oversold flight, you are covered by DOT regulations (see If you arrive at your destination more than an hour late, you may be entitled for compensation up to $400, or the cost of your ticket. If you are more than two hours late you may get up to $800, or the ticket cost. But the airlines have several outs the way the rules are written. And the carrier probably won’t volunteer the cash unless you ask. You also, BTW, have the option of cancelling your trip for a full refund.

What if my flight is really late?

If your plane is late, especially due to weather or air traffic congestion, you won’t get much, if anything. For a mechanical delay, you may be offered meals and compensation for phone calls and maybe even a hotel stay if you are delayed overnight, but again, you have to ask. There is no federal rule requiring the airline to do any of this. Each carrier in the U.S. sets its own policy (check the airline’s website). But in Europe, airlines are required to compensate you for late flights, with meals, calls, hotels and sometimes cash, up to the amount of the ticket, but again there are exceptions such as weather delays.

What happens if my luggage is lost?

The question is, is the luggage lost or delayed. If delayed, the airline personnel will typically offer you a toiletry kit and send you on your way with a promise your bags should arrive in a day or two. If more than 24 hours, start asking for compensation to buy clean clothes and additional toiletries (check that airline’s website for their policy). If your luggage is really lost, and only about 2% of bags are, you are entitled to compensation based on the depreciated value of your items, up to $3,300 in the U.S. (substantially less in Europe).

What’s the deal with the latest security rules?

TSA is using random search measures (they announced this last week), but exactly what and when is secret. There are expected to be more pat downs, use of technology screening, dogs. You can, BTW, opt out of technology screening in favor of a pat down. And you still can’t carry large containers of liquid and do in the U.S. need to take your shoes off.

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