Government nixes plans to allow small knives on planes

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You may carry small knives on airplanes except that you may not.

The US government has done a 180 on a recent decision that would allow passengers to carry small knives (those under 2.36 inches long), bats and golf clubs onto planes. Several airline CEOs, lawmakers, and relatives, friends and victims of terrorist attacks balked at the idea, and now the TSA has changed its mind. Again.

So keep your commemorative Yankee Stadium bat and Tom Mix pocket knife in your checked luggage. Unless you want a friendly TSA agent to take it home.

Photo Credit: SHeva4ever1 via Compfight cc

iPhone-powered European photo essay

shotDo not photograph the pickled mussels on Jægersborggade.

That’s my take-away from this brief photo essay from travel writer Alex Robertson. Why else wouldn’t they appear in this otherwise beautiful gallery, taken entirely with an iPhone (in portrait orientation, no less)?

Alex’s enviable career (seriously, I hate him) has him traveling and writing for the New York Times, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, Guardian Unlimited, and Condé Nast Traveler. In a recent blog post, he recorded a journey through Milan, Turin, Ivrea, Aosta, Sion, Copenhagen, Malmö, and Lund (See? Hate him.) using his iPhone as his only camera.

Alex called the experience a “plus for convenience [but] minus for quality.” I think his shots look great, but there’s no doubt a pro DSLR would have done stellar job.

As for the “fantastic” pickled mussels, I’ll take Alex’s word on it.

Exploring Mexico City by iPhone

cityshotHere’s a great post by National Geographic’s Andrew Evans. Andrew spent a few days exploring Mexico City with no Internet connection and no “heavy cameras.” The only gear he had was his iPhone.

His photos are great and make me want to visit what Andrew calls, “The most exciting city on earth.” Has anyone been? Are you a pro photographer or traveler who’s ditched the pro-level gear for a day with the iPhone? If so, let me know.

Your iPhone can help avoid tourist scams

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Wendy Perrin explains how she fell victim to a group tour scam while visiting Grenada, and offers advice to help others avoid the same. Wendy, her husband and another couple took a taxi-and-tour of Grenada’s beautiful landscape, at the cost of $160. Each couple paid $80 and enjoyed the tour. At the end, when they were being dropped off at their separate departure points, the driver insisted on another $80. After a bit of back-and-forth, Wendy realized she was in an impossible he said/she said scenario, and paid the man his $80.

Wendy offers advice on avoiding this situation yourself, like insisting on a receipt at the moment of payment. If that’s impossible, she says, pull out your iPhone:

“If the driver can’t or won’t provide a receipt, film the transaction with your iPhone or videocamera. Before this incident, I would have considered it rude, but now I wish I had done so.”

Good advice.

Photo Credit: Ruth L via Compfight cc

Reddit asks Americans: What surprised you about visiting Europe?

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Reddit has put the question to American readers: what surprised you about visiting Europe? Some of the answers are quite interesting:

“The Italian’s way of driving. Never in anytime of my life was I more paranoid of being hit by a moped.”

I’m not sure that’s how all Italians drive, but my wife and I had a few close calls while walking in Rome. Many Italians are fearless on their mopeds.

“I first went to Europe as a twelve-year-old kid, and I was shocked by how OLD everything was. Here, a church that’s a hundred years old seems ancient, but in Europe you really do have ancient structures. The sense of centuries and millennia of well-recorded history having played out everywhere I went was sort of crazy.”

I had a similar shock in Assisi. After an American friend had torn down his parent’s 200-year-old barn, we felt as if we had witnessed something historic. Smash cut to my wife and I in Assisi, being told, “That building is almost 1,000 years old.” Wow.

“I was taken aback by how small the village streets are. Also, how quaint the small villages are, they’re like out of a fairy tale.”

Again, I agree. Some rural areas have impossibly narrow streets. It’s very charming.

What surprised you while visiting Europe? Comments are open.

Travel tip: rehearse the security line with the kids

firstSamantha Brown has posted a great tip for those flying with younger kids for the first time: rehearse the airport security line:

“One thing you can do before you leave is rehearse the security checkpoint.  Make it a fun event that everyone will enjoy and prepare them for what to expect at the airport.”

She goes on to list several steps for creating a mock security checkpoint in your house. That’s pretty clever. Once we started flying with the kids, we read My First Airplane Ride by Nancy Speir together. After several readings, they had an idea of what would happen, and even said, “This is like the book” at one point. But I think Samantha’s idea of rehearsing the line is even better.

When I was a kid, you could go to the airport to simply watch planes take off and land, but I don’t think they let you do that anymore.