Travel News & Deals
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On the Spot: Airfares stay sky high despite oil price drops

Question: I'm frustrated that airfares have not followed the decline in oil prices over the last few months. Airfares certainly followed oil prices as they rose last year. Have mergers eliminated competitive tension between the remaining carriers to the detriment of consumers?

Tom Cook

Topeka, Kan.

Answer: In the L.A. area, we're paying about $1.11 less for a gallon of gas at the pumps than we were last year at the same time, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge report. When I'm filling the car, I'm tempted to shake my fist and say, "C'mon, airlines, you big bunch of …." You can fill in that last part.

Cursing those culprits might temporarily alleviate my angst, but experts remind me that it's not that simple. Nothing about airlines or airfares is.

Seth Kaplan, managing partner and an analyst with Airline Weekly, an industry publication, started realigning my thinking with this analogy: "It's just like if you're running a diner, and the prices of flour, butter and eggs drop. You don't just...

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Super-small boat cruises offer 2015 sailings to Scotland's western islands

Big cruise lines are rolling out their 2015-16 itineraries on luxury ships -- and so are new super-small ones, which operate just one boat on cruises to Scottish islands.

Hebrides Cruises isn't the only single-boat cruise line that operates in Scotland but it is among the newest.

The company last year started taking visitors to the Hebrides islands off the west coast of Scotland.

This year it offers eight itineraries -- to places like Mull, Skye, St. Kilda, Mingulay, Shiants -- aboard the Elizabeth G, a former Norwegian rescue boat. It holds just 12 guests on four- to six-night sailings, and a naturalist and nature photographer come along too.

Prices range from 830 to 1,800 British pounds ($1,245 to $2,700).

Argyll Cruising launches this year with a converted wooden fishing boat that accommodates just seven guests. It debuts with four itineraries on three- to six-night cruises to destinations such as Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre, according to a statement.

Prices range...

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Web Buzz: Tripda, a ride-sharing app for the long haul

Here's a budget ride-sharing app that connects drivers and passengers for long-distance travel.

Name: Tripda

Available: iOS, Google Play

Cost: Free

What it does: Connects passengers and drivers to share rides and expenses in 13 countries, including the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Philippines, Uruguay and more.

What's hot: If you are a fan of the sharing economy (you use AirBnB, Lyft, etc.), you can add this one to your list. I found rides from Boston to New York ($43), Los Angeles to San Francisco ($80) and Los Angeles to Santa Barbara ($19). Women drivers and passengers who are concerned about safety can select a "Ladies only" option. I also liked the pricing guide and easy-to-understand preferences for sharing a car with people who are chatty or quiet, are smokers or nonsmokers, travel with pets or no pets, etc.

What's not: I wanted to see which rides I was missing out on but couldn't find them anywhere. For example, I'd like to see the rides people are offering...

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Travel letters: Egad! Secret's out on favorite Seal Rock Inn

Oh, how could Irene Lechowitzky expose my little secret hideaway on a budget — the Seal Rock Inn ["A Quiet Start at Lands End," Jan. 18].

It is one of those special gems that we, the less than wealthy, hope will never show up in the L.A. Times Travel section.

Well, all good things must come to an end. Very nice article, though.

H.J. Bruntsch

San Diego

Disneyland + 40

I read Brady MacDonald's article about Disneyland and the major changes that might take place by 2055 ["What Disneyland Could Be Like at 100," Jan. 11].

I've heard that Disney might create a "Star Wars"-themed land either in Toon Town or Tomorrowland. I'm very excited about this.

Meanwhile, I'll skip the Disneyland annual passes until executives make plans to make this idea a reality.

Eric Bunyan

Mission Viejo

::

Space Mountain will make the cut. MacDonald referred to keeping the Disneyland mountain range intact. Disneyland opened on my seventh birthday; I made my first trip about two months later, and I've been going ever...

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Workshop will help you stay warm and safe while winter camping

CAMPING

Workshop

An expert will offer tips on gear, clothing, nutrition and more for winter campers.

When, where: 7 p.m. Wednesday at the REI store in Northridge, 18605 Devonshire St.

Admission, info: Free. (818) 831-5555.

VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA

Slide show

Russ Furnas will discuss his trip to Ho Chi Minh City's 18th century opium refineries, 19th century French plantations and Mekong Delta floating markets, as well as destinations in Cambodia.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.

MT. WHITNEY

Workshop

Mt. Whitney expert Ken Murray will discuss gear, trip planning and popular routes as well as the latest system for booking a permit online.

When, where: 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Adventure 16 store in Tarzana, 5425 Reseda Blvd., and Friday at the Los Angeles store, 11161 W. Pico Blvd.

Admission, info: Free. Los Angeles, (310) 473-4574; Tarzana, (818) 345-4266.

Please email announcements at least three...

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Gear: Water and your tablet do mix, if you use this submersible cover

Just when you thought there was at least one place your tablet might not seduce you — underwater — here comes the Satechi Waterproof Tablet Case Series.

The case is so impermeable it floats. It’s submersible up to 20 feet so you can’t escape even while snorkeling (although you can take photos and videos).

The tablet slides into a built-in really heavy-duty Ziploc-like compartment with a double waterproof “zip” seal. About 2 1/2 inches of the “bag” extends to the left of the tablet holding area, and is tightly rolled over itself three times then doubly sealed with a Velcro strip running the vertical length of the “Ziploc-ed” edge.

This provides users with full control of the tablet’s touch screen via the covering’s transparent touch-sensitive front panel. The case’s book-like front cover closes with a magnetic clasp and can be converted into a stand.

The case comes in sizes compatible with the iPad Air, iPad Mini or Kindle PaperWhite, with models for more electronic devices on the way.

...

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