travel

A Delta Connection plane.
user Doug / Flickr

    

 

Are you one of those travelers who scours the web, checking for the very best prices on all of the travel sites, big and small?

How much time does it take to find that "best" airfare or hotel room price?

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager says if you're just looking for a hotel room or airfare, there really is no point spending hours comparing deals, because the travel sites have all turned into something she calls "inbred goldfish." 

"Let's say Expedia. They own hotels.com, Hotwire, Venere and TravelTicker. Priceline owns Kayak and booking.com. And Sabre Holdings owns Travelocity but they just firmed out their search to Expedia ... they all have ties and links to each other," says Creager.

For those of you who are hunting for travel bargains around the Web, Creager suggests keep looking, just don't spend too much time looking. 

"You can check 100 places, and you are basically going to find the exact same fare," says Creager.

* Listen to the interview with Ellen Creager above.

Image made by Mark Brush

For the last two weeks, people in Michigan have shared their reasons for staying in the state.

We asked people to publish images that capture why they stay after a Gallup poll showed that 37% of us would rather live somewhere else.

This was a project with 10 other public radio stations spread across the country. We all asked our audience members to use the hashtag #whyIstay when sharing a picture.

Thousands of people shared their reasons for living where they do.

Image made by Mark Brush

Bad roads, the Rust Belt, the largest city in bankruptcy: These are some of the negative visions that people have of Michigan. 

A recent Gallup Poll showed that only 28% of Michiganders said Michigan was the best or one of the best possible states to live in. 

But you're still here.

Why?

That's the question Michigan Radio is asking as part of our Why I Stay project. 

Mark Brush of Michigan Radio is running it, and he joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

collage by Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Last Friday, we asked people to share a photo that represents why they stay in Michigan.

So far, people have shared thousands of photos and tweets using the hashtag #whyIstay.

Public radio stations all over the country are asking their communities the same question. Here's a collection showing all the responses.

A 1954 Spartan Royal Manor.
Tin Can Tourists / Pinterest

They call themselves the Tin Can Tourists. They're folks who celebrate the travel trailer – the vintage travel trailers – the kind that grandma and grandpa might have used.

This weekend the Tin Can Tourists are holding their 17th annual gathering at Camp Dearborn in Milford.

Forrest Bone is the head of the Tin Can Tourists. And he told us today that his group actually dates back to 1919.

*Listen to our interview with above.

user: melancolie en velours / Flickr

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning to French tourists traveling to the United States. 

The security recommendations cite Detroit as a city whose "center is not recommended after the close of business."

Other cities included on the advisory list were: Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston, St. Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans, and the entire state of Florida.

michigan.org

Bridge Magazine published an article this week that shows the scale and value of Michigan's tourism sector.

Contributor Jeff Alexander writes the sector accounts for $17.7 billion of Michigan's $300 billion-plus economy.

Citing state tourism data, Alexander writes since it's launch in 2006,  the Pure Michigan campaign has helped attract out of state visitors by focusing on the states natural beauty and historic attractions.

Stateside: Pure Michigan's history of allure

Dec 5, 2012
www.michigan.org

The Pure Michigan campaign is credited with attracting 3.2 million out-of-state visitors to Michigan.

It is an effective campaign with a surprisingly long history.

Michael Federspiel, executive director of the Little Traverse Historical Society and history professor at Central Michigan University spoke with Cyndy about the Pure Michigan of the past.

According to Federspiel, Northern Michigan was faced with reconstructing its image

“It was an area looking for an identity,” said Federspiel.

The major message of 19th century promotional campaigns was a combination of relaxation and exploration.

“During those years when the railroads were in charge of publicity, they would create booklets that would be in hotels and railroad stations. They would point to Northern Michigan where you could be very active, or not active at all. The Pure Michigan campaign targets non-Michiganians,” said Federspiel.

According to Federspiel,  in 1898 Ernest Hemingway's family decided to come to Petoskey and bought property. The Hemingway family still owns that original cottage.

“You have resort communities that were founded in the 1870’s that were places people came to spend the season.”

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

More than a million Michiganders will be traveling during the Fourth of July holiday period. Many of them made hotel reservations online.

A Michigan State University professor says making online hotel reservations is an unsatisfactory experience for many people.

(I'm partial to the Grand Rapids video... but there's lots more here.)

A new report shows the Pure Michigan campaign drove a record one billion dollars into the state’s economy last spring and summer. That’s almost twice as much as the spring and summer of 2010 (it was $605 million then).

“This is the biggest result ever for the campaign,” said George Zimmermann, director of the state’s tourism group, Travel Michigan. “The results just every year are a little better, little better; now this year is a pretty big jump,” George Zimmermann said.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Over the weekend, we posted this question to the Michigan Radio Facebook community.

"What’s a personal memory you have that has some kind of connection to Michigan?"

The answers show how the state's unique character gets into our blood, and why so many people feel at peace and at home in Michigan:

Jennifer - Being 6 years old and digging a tunnel in the snow to get out of the front door of our little house in Carson City during the blizzard of 1978.

John - First time I stood on Deadman's Hill & looked out over the East Jordan River Valley.

Dani - Several years back, I took a nap in a massive willow tree on the bank of the Au Sable River in Lovells. That tree is absolutely amazing, probably my favorite spot to be in the entire world. Once you climb into it, there's a sort of landing in the tree. I was able to stretch out fully and sleep comfortably while listening to the soft sounds of nature around me.

Michigan to Wisconsin: Hands off our mitten image

Dec 7, 2011
travelwisconsin.com

In a fight over mittens, the gloves have come off.

Michigan and Wisconsin are tussling over which state can rightly lay claim to using mittens in their public-relations and tourism campaigns.

Michiganders, who have long nicknamed the state’s lower peninsula “The Mitten,” for its similar shape to a hand, have taken good-natured umbrage to a new campaign launched by Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism, which uses a knit-brown mitten to represent the shape of the state.

Wisconsin began using the new image in tourism campaigns on Dec. 1, and tells the Detroit Free Press it follows up on an earlier seasonal campaign that used an image of a leaf shaped like the state in the fall. A Wisconsin Department of Tourism spokesperson tells the newspaper that people in Wisconsin consider their state mitten-shaped as well.

Dave Lorenz, who manages public relations for the state of Michigan, tells the Free Press that, “We understand their mitten envy. But there is only one mitten state, only one Great Lakes state.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s fall foliage tourism business has been enjoying an unusually good fall season.    Clear skies and warm temperatures have been keeping the leaves on the trees longer and tourists coming.   

David Lorenz is with Travel Michigan.   He says the state’s travel website has seen an uptick in people visiting in recent weeks.  

"That’s probably also a sign that people are recognizing ….they were hearing good news about fall colors this year  and they wanted to get out and enjoy it," says Lorenz.  

user redjar / Flickr

Keep your shoes on.

No need to take off that belt or jacket.

And keep that laptop and your toiletries in your bag.

That's the new reality for some passengers going through security today at Detroit Metro Airport.

Detroit Metro is one of four airports where new screening measures are being tested by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami are the other airports).

The new system pre-screens passengers who volunteered for the program. Information on these passengers is cross-checked with other databases by the TSA to determine their risk level.

From the TSA's press release:

“As TSA moves further away from a one-size-fits-all approach, our ultimate goal is to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “By learning more about travelers through information they voluntarily provide, and combining that information with our other layers of security, we can focus more resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers. This new screening system holds great potential to strengthen security while significantly enhancing the travel experience whenever possible for passengers.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that passengers have already seen the benefits, some passing through security in less than one minute.

Some frequent fliers with Delta and American Airlines were contacted and asked to sign up for the pilot program. Members of the "Trusted Traveler Program" with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection can also participate.

TSA officials say the program might be expanded in the future.

If you would like to participate in the pilot, you can contact Delta or American Airlines (if you participate in their frequent flier programs) and try to opt-in , or you can try signing up for the "Trusted Traveler" program online.

http://horsebackforhaiti.jimdo.com/

This is not your typical road trip. Brandy and Ashley Nelsey, sisters from West Branch, will be traveling across the country on horseback and raising money for the Haiti Water Project along the way. Jennifer White spoke with Brandy Nelsey about what inspired the trip.

“We knew that we loved our horses—that’s something we really enjoy doing and that’s a passion of ours—and we also love the lord greatly. So we thought, well, why not travel the country, see if we can meet other Christians, and see what other opportunities and people are out there. ”

user hyperboreal / Flickr

"Get up. Get out. And go see something we'll remember for the rest of our lives."

So says the new radio ad from Pure Michigan urging people to get outside and take in the fall colors in Michigan.

The ad is part of a TV and radio campaign that runs through mid-October according to the Detroit Free Press:

The budget is $2.4 million.

Among the new radio ads promoting Michigan tourism feature Holland and St. Ignace. They'll run in-state plus in Fort Wayne, Toledo and South Bend.

Other targets for "Pure Michigan" ads this fall are the good citizens of Chicago, Indianapolis, several Ohio cities, Milwaukee and Green Bay.

Here's the television ad. Effective?

Here’s the problem with selling people on local mass transit: Everyone is in favor of it, and everyone thinks that everybody else should take it. Everybody, except for them, that is.

You understand, I really need to take my private car, because  uh, I might have an important stop to make. But when it comes to longer distances it’s different. People love trains.

Airline travel ceased being fun a long time ago, unless you like being groped by strangers before being packed in a sardine can. Driving gives you freedom, but not the freedom to read or surf the internet. Plus, it can be nerve-wracking and exhausting.

Compared to everything else, trains are relaxing and civilized. Yet for years, during the rise of the airliner and the expressway, we sort of forgot about train travel. Lines went out of service; some sections of track weren’t maintained.

Now, there’s a renewed interest in trains, so much so that the governor has made former Congressman Joe Schwarz his special advisor on rail, a job for which the emotional rewards are sometimes great and the salary is non-existent.

Michigan still has more than three thousand, five hundred miles of track. Schwarz told me that, by the way. Back when he was in the state senate, he was known for his expertise on higher education, but the insiders knew if you had a question about rail, Joe was the man.

Right now, Job One is improving the route from Detroit to Chicago.  Can you believe that six hundred thousand people may have traveled that route by rail in the last fiscal year?

If you’ve ever been hung up in a traffic jam on I-94 outside the city, you probably wished you were on a train instead.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

AAA Michigan predicts state highways will be busy on Memorial Day.     The automobile club’s survey shows one point one million Michiganders plan to travel during the 5 day holiday period, 91% by car.

cbassweb / MorgueFile

Michiganders are taking the train more than they have in the past. Amtrak officials say they've seen an increase in the number of riders on all three of their Michigan lines. Two of those lines are supported by the state.

Amtrak’s Blue Water Service runs from Port Huron through Lansing to Chicago. It had one of the largest increases in ridership in the nation.

Janet Foran  is with the Michigan Department of Transportation. She says some of the growth is likely from the rise in gas prices and the interest in building high speed rail in the state:

“Because of the talk about high speed rail in the State of Michigan, this has actually been a major factor in increasing the interest of people to try passenger rails.”

M-DOT said ridership usually increases during the holiday season and summer. They expect ridership will continue to grow in the state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A State House committee this morning approved $10 million to for the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. The full House is expected to vote on the funding this week, and the Senate next week.

The measure may hit the governor’s desk before the end of the month. 

George Zimmerman is a vice president with Travel Michigan.  He says the money is needed as soon as possible.

 "The funding for the national cable TV buy has already been provided up to this point.   But we don’t really have the funding yet for the regional Spring/Summer buys, in key out of state markets like Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus etc."

The Pure Michigan campaign is expected to be fully funded at $25 million this year with a mix of public and private money.  The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is credited with boosting the state’s tourism industry, but state budget cuts threatened to keep the campaign off the air.

Esun/Creative Commons

With 20 days to go until Thanksgiving, maybe you're looking to buy airline tickets for holiday travel? Well, if you're flying out of Detroit Metro Airport expect to pay-up. The Detroit Free Press checked round-trip routes to and from Detroit and found:

Fares have risen in the last two weeks. Nationally, holiday fares are about 4% higher than last year depending on the route and date.

Amtrak engine
Terry Cantrell / Creative Commons

A public forum on the future of trains in Michigan will be held tonight in Monroe.

John Langdon with the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers says college students and senior citizens like trains. He says he hopes everybody else will see that increasing rail service is good for the economy, the environment and their own pocketbook.

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio listeners are having a conversation on Facebook about their favorite places to travel around Michigan.

Most are sharing. Some, like Trevor, are keeping their secrets, "If I told you I'd have to kill you."

Here's the list so far: