Book Now. Save Later- “Travel Hints”

8 09 2010

This is a fairly simple travel hint.  The idea of booking your fall and winter travel seems like a wise idea until you review your funds.  End of summer, start of football season, good weather outside=more drinking than usual, and for some of you school starting up means you don’t have excess funds at the moment, unless your parents buy your plane tickets home in which case you do.  Bottom line of this hint- travel gets very expensive during the holidays.  A flight that would normally cost you $200 dollars round-trip will more than likely DOUBLE.  Planning on cashing in those frequent flyer miles? Forget about it.  The majority of airlines already have dates blacked out during the holidays.  I suppose you could spend $20,000 on a chase credit card to earn enough points to  “avoid those black out dates.”  If you plan on flying home for the holidays or staying at a hotel while you are away from your over-priced condo/apartment I suggest you book by the end of this month or in October.  Once the end of October hits moving into November the malls have setup shop with Santa which means Americans are “ready to spend money”.  

Here are some ways to avoid the travel blues during the holidays:

1) Take advantage of offers through travel vendor websites.  For example an airline might offer- “Book now and fly roung trip for $100 or less during the month of November” Take them up on the offer.  They are trying to drive sales hard now so they can increase the rates based on supply and demand.

2) Explore your transportation options.  Could you rent a car or take the train? I would not suggest renting a car if you are traveling more than 200-250 miles each way.  However rental car companies offer lower rates during the holidays if you book far in advance (3-4 weeks prior). 

3) Stay with the family.  Hotels are a waist of money unless you are: a) on business b) legitimate vacation c) college road trip in which case you will be staying at a Best Western or Comfort Inn…which is dirt cheap anyways.

4) Be weary of the days RIGHT BEFORE or RIGHT AFTER the actual holiday.  In most cases people will not travel on Christmas eve…it reminds people of a nightmare situation similar to that in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (excellent movie however).  What that means is Thursday December 23rd, 2010 will be a very tough day for travel.

5) Plan flights that are not during “High-Times” such as 9-11am and 4-8pm.  If you can plan a flight at 1:00pm in the afternoon or 9:30pm at night you will be golden when it comes to long lines at the parking shuttle, security gates, etc.  

6) MOST IMPORTANTLY- Even though I mentioned this before, make a reservation for everything.  By the time the holidays roll around you should have a reservation/confirmation # for every single aspect of your travel.  No exceptions.  The travel company’s favorite customer is someone who does not have a reservation during the holidays…say goodbye to those savings.  

I’m sure I’ll see you at the bar when a group of flight attendants don’t show up for that flight you paid an arm and leg for.

Ted’s Hot Dogs- Buffalo 1 of 3- “On the Road”

8 09 2010


Ted’s was the first of three stops recommended by a Buffalo, NY Native.  When I did my pre-research on Ted’s before trying it myself I heard only great words about this Buffalo institution.  Ted’s differs from the majority of my stops in that it is a chain establishment.    There are multiple Ted’s located in the greater Buffalo area.   I would compare the inside to something similar to a mid-range fast food restaurant.  It was walk-up order, wait for food, then sit down.  I must say with a lunch crowd on a Monday I was very impressed with the speed when you consider HOW they cook your hotdog.  Where most restaurants would pull your hotdog out of steamer or microwave (mom style..)  Ted’s is much different.  Ted’s is a charcoal broiled hotdog and is made fresh to order.   Charcoal fast food style..tits.  I made two crucial mistakes- I did not get the onion rings or a milkshake.  I did however order a side of cheese fries (see below).   Reviews raved on the onion rings and milkshakes so I will have to wait until Buffalo to experience those parts of the meal.  It appeared that most people eating at Ted’s were locals (something much different than Anchor Bar).  The staff was extremeley friendly.  Typically when visiting “famous eateries” you run across attitude problems, cash only, long lines, and seating issues.  I had NONE of those problems with Ted’s and they offered a kethup pump vs. the packets…huge.  There is no mis-understanding to why these people have been rocking since 1927.  Also if the idea of a “footlong” intimidates you…which it shouldn’t…it is a pretty easy deal to accomplish.  Best of travels in NY.

Price: $7-10 US

*If you go: I would order the hotdog, onion rings (cause they looked amazing), and a milkshake.  However I am not the least dissapointed with my meal selection. 

What are others saying about Ted’s?


Ted’s Website:

COMING SOON: 1)Anchor Bar- Home of the Buffalo Wing 2) Beef on Weck Wonderland.

Urbanspoon Updates- “On the Road”

8 09 2010

I must apologize for the lack of food updates recently.  I have several eateries from across the Northeast I will be writing about very soon.  However: I do update my urbanspoon account very frequently.  If you have to ask…It’s an application available to smartphones..even those droids.  It is very useful when looking for a good place to eat while traveling or in your hometown.  I strongly suggest checking out my page and/or using this application.  If you do not have a phone w/ app’s you can use the website:

My link:

Coming soon:
-Buffalo NY experiences

Slow and Steady Reserves the Room- Weekly Travel Hints

17 06 2010

Earlier I brought you “Top Five Travel Hints of the Week” Well frankly five is a bit too many on a weekly basis.  Instead I will be bringing you a Weekly Travel Hint and provide an ample amount of input and advice.  If you are an aggressive traveler you reap benefits rather quickly.  However for many of us out there we travel frequenty and ask ourselves “Hey wheres that free round trip flight?”  The answer may be in your decision making.  Our readers typically range from mid 30’s and 20’s working professionals  to young soon to be college kids.   However you will find that over your lifetime (especially in your early 20’s when your friends are getting married and/or you’ve got extra cash to travel with) you will start to use different travel vendors.  I hope you find this week’s advice as useful as I did once I was informed.

What do Hilton Hotels, Motel 8, Southwest Airlines, AirTran, Hertz Rental Car and several other vendors all have in common? ALL of them have a preferred customer program.  Any company in the travel industry REGARDLESS of the specific sector all have programs that reward their frequent customers.  We see this often with our parents getting free flights to Hawaii or in movies like Up in the Air.  Both your parents and George Clooney do one thing: They stick to one networkPlease allow me to explain.  If you want to earn free hotel nights, free flights to vegas to rock out with old friends, or park for free at your local airport you have to follow the golden rule of traveling: Use the same network repeatedly.  Do you know what four flights on four different airlines gets you? Four complimentary soft drinks and maybe some peanuts. When you decide to stay in the same network in all aspects of your travel you will see those glorious emails enter your inbox reading “Congratulations You’ve earned..”  I will provide a few examples;

Hotels: Each Hotel is more than likely in a network with several others.  Check out: That is the website for the Hilton Network including hotels such as; Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Doubletree, etc…  If you stay at a hotel in the network you accumulate points for use in any hotel within the network.  Ex) You stay at Hampton Inn a few times you earn a free night at a Hilton Hotel of your choice.  Sound easy? It is.  Just make sure to enroll in the program.  All programs are free and they last a lifetime.  Even if you are a casual traveler you should be contributing to your account.  Hilton is NOT the only one who does this.  There are also great programs such as Marriot Rewards and Priority Club that cover several hotels.  **Also hotels will frequently run promotions such as “Stay with us 4 nights this month and earn a free night!”  That is always something to keep an eye for.**  Marriot has a nice line-up of hotels and Priority Club is Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza (Knoxville Tits), etc.  Also each network has a credit card of such that usually doubles points for qualifying stays.

Airlines: Very similar to the hotel structure, but there are not networks EXCEPT: Star Alliance (which is dominating the airline industry).  Now you can use the same frequent flyer number for several airlines: US Airways, United, and Continental, check out all of them:  The key to airline programs: Do your research. You need to find out what airline has the major presence at your local airport. Ex) In Nashville, TN Southwest Airlines is very predominant.  In Charlotte it is US Airways BIG TIME.  Join the network best for you and start earning free round trips.  Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few trips.  Also airlines process points in TWO WAYS: 1) Miles (the amount of miles you fly gets put into a bank and 25k miles may equal a roundtrip flight) 2) Segment points (Southwest uses this and you receive points for flights…this may be the best option if you travel short distances such as 400-700 miles).   Like hotels, Airlines have credit cards usually offering a free round trip after first purchase but BEWARE they are usually backed with high interest rates.  Free trips are also subject to black-out dates, be sure to refer to the airlines website regarding that information.

Rental Cars: Probably the biggest flop in the travel industry.  Each company offers a preferred program.  Several companies including National and Hertz offer free rental after so many paid rental days.  These are harded to build, but it is still a good option to join-up. Quick rental car tip: If you make a reservation, they owe you a car.  If they “Lost your reservation” or “We are out of cars” then you better make sure you don’t pay.

Final pieces of importance: 1) Stay with the same program.  Make sure to truly look at the price difference before making a decision.  Ex) If you are a American Airlines member and their flight is $20.00 more than the competitor, choose AA to accumulate the miles.  Choosing the same travel vendor will pay dividends. 2) Do your research.  Where you live and often travel to dictate which program is the best for you. 

Happy trails.

Taste of Brooklyn,NY- On the Road

16 06 2010

My recent excursion to Brooklyn, NY was quite an adventure.   One thing you will eventually figure out is that some of my motivation for picking certain eateries is due to time spent watching Man VS Food.  Overall Adam is a pretty solid dude and definitely has a tits job getting to try food all over the country.  However I will often side with other recommendations away from greasy-ass/un-healthy meals and will venture outside of the hood unlike south philly.  Brooklyn is certainly not “the hood”.   However, be aware there is a healthy amount of riff-raff walking around aimlessly.  Don’t you ever wonder what these people do? I’ll cover that later.  Let’s discuss Brennan and Carr Hot Beef.  This spot was covered in an episode of Man VS Food but my experience was slightly different from Adam’s. Probably due to the fact that I am not a celebrity and it was a random Tuesday afternoon.  I happened to be one of three people in the whole joint.  Surprise…CASH ONLY.  So once again I make the credit card walk of shame and end of paying an extra $3.25 to partake in the experience.  It was worth it.  As I sit down I am approached by what appeared to be the head chef because he was wearing a full cook outfit/hat.  He was actually the waiter and a very respectful one at that.  One issue I have to bring up: Because I was one of the only customers he stood about 3-4 feet away from my table in a militant stance waiting for an opportunity to fill my water-glass, provide additional ranch dressing, answer stupid tourist questions, and fetch more napkins. I APPRECIATE good service, and a have a great eye for it.  This was a bit aggressive. 

The menu:

I forgot to take a photo for your viewing pleasures.  It basically consisted of; Burgers, Roast Beef Sandwiches, Salad, Onion Rings, Fries (cheese optional), and then the Man vs Food item: Gargiulo Burger-A cheeseburger topped by famous Roast Beef and submerged in beef broth.  The waiter suggested it, I complied.  (see pictures below).

As you can see, its not a HUGE, NASTY BIG ASS BURGER.  Man VS Food gave off the impression that it was. It’s a decent sized burger topped with a few slices of Roast Beef.  Meaty.  I did enjoy it and would absolutely suggest it to anyone living in NYC or planning to visit in the future.  The burger itself was juicy.  I would compare it’s flavor to that of a typical burger at a college hole-in-the-wall.  The roast beef/broth is what makes this a unique experience. 

I have never tasted roast beef like this before, and I am well versed in Arby’s selections.  The broth was also delicious and is probably the component that sends the meal into tits in my face status.  It would also be short-sided to not give the onion rings a shout-out, they were the best I have ever had.  Perfectly breaded, perfectly cooked.

You will find the staff is very friendly, but hit the ATM first.  It completely blew my cover that I was a tourist, but I guess so would the fact I was wearing a collared shirt.  Hints of advice: Lock your car, don’t eat prior to engaging, it’s another pepsi joint, try to go during normal lunch hours to avoid aggressive service, my hunch says avoid dinner.  It might be where the mob grubs on roast beef.

Good times Brennan and Carr.


Price: $10-15.00

Address: 3432 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229

Next up this week: Pittsburgh’s Legendary Sandwiches.

Observations From A Sober Guy – Tailgating

3 06 2010

Ahhh…I love the smell of BBQ and beer in the morning.  When you’re in college, a sporting event isn’t a four hour activity.  It’s an all day marathon. From sunrise to way past sunset.  In most cases, heavy drinking would be in store.  But not today my friends. Today, I will be observing this wonderful activity from the eyes of a sober guy.

It’s 7:00am and I am woken from a deep slumber by the sounds of “Rocky Top” blaring from upstairs.  Really?  7am?  Give me a freaking break.  The game doesn’t start until 8 tonight.  Maybe I can sleep through this.  Just before I train my ears to withstand this sensual onslaught, my door swings open.  My roommate slides in wearing nothing but socks, boxers, and sunglasses playing air guitar with a handle of Jim Beam.  Dude.  I tell him to leave and let me sleep a little longer.  He replies with, “Go ahead and try, see what happens”, then leaves the room.  I decide to call his bluff.  Big mistake.  Just when I am about to fall back asleep, the music stops.  Thank God.  It is a premature shout out to the big man upstairs, as “Tarzan Boy” starts blaring.  For those of you unfamiliar with “Tarzan Boy”:

Fine, I’ll get up.  I head upstairs to get some breakfast and all five of my roomies are outside drinking off the keg left over from last night.  Reminder, it’s about 7:30…am. I’m pretty sure they just picked up where they left off last night seeing as two hours of sleep really doesn’t kill any buzz from a solid Friday.  Animals.  They are chatting amongst themselves about how the night will turn out.  “Dude, there are gonna be sooo many fine girls at the fraternity house, and I am going to hit on all of them.”  Or, “Dude, the Velcro Pygmies are playing at the bar after the game, there are gonna be sooo many fine girls there, and I’m going to hit on all of them.”  Aspirations that are sure to fail.  I think to myself, alright we’ve got 5 guys here.  All of which are about to drink their body weight in alcohol.  Hmmm…according to my math, two will not make it to the game, due to exhaustion from drinking all day, of course.  One will make it to the game, but will pass out in a shrub on the walk back.  One will make it back to the house to change before heading to the bar, but will pass out with his shirt halfway on and one leg in his pants.  And the last will come ever so close to his goal.  He will not only make it to the bar, but he will talk to some of these women.  In his mind it will be going great, but with sober eyes I will see the truth.  I will cover this later.

Everybody is dressed, drinks are prepared, time to head to the fraternity house for some tailgating. One of the best parts of being in a fraternity is a personal driver.  Yes, it’s true.  It is known as Beeper.  Give this poor guy a call and he will come to your doorstep and take you wherever you’d like to go.  In this case we are going to do some tailgating.  A buddy makes the call: “Beeper!  If you’re not here in 5 minutes you’re f****d!”.   This is an impossible request seeing as it will take at least 30 minutes to arrive with all of the game day traffic.  But you can just imagine the look on that poor pledge’s face.  Priceless.  Since we have some time to kill, I’ll just sit back and listen to my friends rant and rave”.

For the five years I was enrolled in college, my friends and I had the same conversation over and over and over again.  We just never realized it.  Here are some examples.  “Dude, did you see Dave at the bar last night?  Yeah, he pissed himself and didn’t realize it”.  “Henry drank so much last night, he dropped his handle of Jager and cut himself while he was picking up the pieces.  After that he puked and pissed himself, and then shit his pants while cleaning up”.  (True story).   “You should have seen the woofer that Tim hooked up with last night.  After they were done, he had to wash his hands with Evan Williams to get the smell off”. (Unfortunately, another true story).  It’s incredible that we all have degrees now.

Beeper arrives.  Time to head to the fraternity house to pregame.  We pack 6 guys and 4 girls that we picked up on the drive over in a 1999 Ford Taurus.  Talk about uncomfortable.  I pretty much know the exact anatomy of the girl on my lap since we are crammed in so tight.  We get to the house and one by one we pop out of the car. One friend yells, “Beeper, if you’re not here at this exact spot ten minutes after the game to pick me up, you’re f****d!”  He will hear this same request twenty more times. None of which will be at this exact spot.

Inside the house, there are a plethora of girls and guys dressed in orange and white.  A beautiful sight.  One girl has already hit the drinking circuit hard.  I know this because she is keeled over on the couch with five people standing around her taking pictures. Poor girl.  She will probably swear off drinking.  Good luck with that.  I follow my friends around to get in some good sober observation time but nothing is really happening.

Fast forward 2 hours.  Lots of things are happening.  I look outside and the token fat pledge is dancing to “My Humps” on the front porch.  By himself.  300+ pounds of Black Eyed Peas magic jiggling around.  Someone chucks a beer can from the above balcony and it hits him in the head.  He doesn’t even flinch.  On the front lawn there are two guys fighting.  I can’t tell if they are serious or not.  They pause, and one throws up. They laugh.  I guess they weren’t serious.  Girls are trolling around the house looking for free booze. Vultures.  It must be nice to have a vagina sometimes.  You NEVER have to pay for drinks.  But then you have to give labor so I’ll stick with my penis.

Game time draws close and I decide to sit back and gauge the intoxication level of these die hard fans.  Wow. I guess I’ve never realized before how serious some people take this.  Drinking comes first before the game.  College is awesome.  We head to the stadium where we wait in a 30 minute line to get through the gates.  This should provide some solid observations. I watch as the police pull beers, airplane bottles, and fifths out of pants, purses, and cowboy boots.  Here’s a tip for those lucky enough to still be in college: Pour your liquor of choice into a ziploc bag and tuck it in the front you your pants.  Sneakery that is guaranteed to work. We make it through the gauntlet of patrons and get to our seats.  I guess you can call these seats. More like middle school bleachers that sway every time someone sneezes. There is a guy passed out underneath these bleachers to my right.  Ziploc bags are being pulled from pants all over.  Let the game begin.

We make it to halftime and it is HOT.  I’m sweating more than a prostitute in church. And so is everyone else.  There are some guys with their shirts off that put “My Humps” to shame.  The guy behind me opens his mustard packet to load up his hot dog.  He is so hammered that he squeezes the wrong end and mustard shoots all over the back of my neck.  Duuudeee.  Had I been in my usual game day state this would not have bothered me.  But I’m sober.  And this is miserable.  I decide to call it a day and head back home until the after party.

Fast forward five hours and we are at the band party at the local joint on the strip.  The Velcro Pygmies.  Few words get Tennessee students more pumped that the name of this band:

This aged 80’s cover band is the tits.  They pack the first five rows with some unbelievable talent.  Some of these ladies will be lucky enough to have a lollipop put in their mouth by the lead singer.  Classy.  And what else screams class like having a song in their repertoire called “Pussy Whipped”.  Instead of clapping, the crowd makes vaginas with their hands and waves them around.

There are people stumbling around all over this bar.  Some probably don’t even realize that there is a band playing at an ear drum busting level.  Shouts of “FREEBIRD!” ring out.  Wrong genre, but I’m pretty sure the guys that yell this would do so at a Madonna concert.  “My Humps” still has his shirt off, elbowing girls to get to the front row.  He’s like a steamroller.  I bet he lost his shirt.  I called it.  Only one of my friends actually made it to the bar.  He is working his magic on some ugly chick in the shadows.  I move in for a closer look.  Yeah,  this girl is ugly.  He probably thinks that she looks like Heidi Klum so I decide to let him be.  Is that drool hanging from the corner of his mouth? Yep, it’s drool.  And is he petting her?  Yep, he most certainly is.  Good thing she’s just as drunk and doesn’t realize that he is treating her like his Golden Retriever. Uh oh.  Here comes her friend.  She’s definitely the DUFF.  If you aren’t sure what a DUFF is, here the definition from Urban Dictionary:

DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Two hot chicks at a bar will have a really nasty fat ugly bitch hanging out with them, refered to as a “DUFF”.

This spells doom.  She grabs the girl’s arm and sweeps her away.  My buddy stares in disappointment with his tongue hanging out, drool and all.  There are plenty more fish in the sea.  Don’t be discouraged.

All in all it was a solid day of sober observations.  I got to uncover a side of tailgating that I rarely see.  The debauchery is abundant.  The girls are hot.  And the drinking is out of control.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Heaven in South Philly- On the Road

2 06 2010

The work agenda this week brought me to the grungy city of Philadelphia.  It is very similar to the incredible show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  I decided it was time to step up to the plate and play the south philly challenge “Geno’s Steaks VS. Pat’s King of Steaks to experience the  two proclaimed “Best Philadelphia Cheesesteaks in the World”  Both walk-up style eateries have been featured on several Food Network segments and have frequent television and political visitors.   Even on a Wednesday afternoon both locations were slammed.  So instead of doing extensive internet research (as I normally do before consuming any valuable meal) I decided to ask a local.  Unfortunately the local told me to “Get Lost”.   The line was longer at Pat’s King of Steaks (make sure to check-out the links below) so I decided to give it a whirl.  It is hard to describe my current emotions for the cheesesteak I consumed today.  I am sure the picture of my order- LARGE PHILLY, EXTRA WHIZ, ONIONS, MUSHROOMS, AND PEPPERS will make your imagination run wild.   I could have been a pussy but what the hell I’m only in philly once every other month.   Here is the breakdown of the experience;

-Amazing from the first bite.  I was hesistant about the cheez whiz (mainly because of the word whiz which reminded me of the can of cheese we all knew and loved in 6th-15th grade).  But it felt right, and it was.  The steak was slightly peppered, and juicy.  All the additives only increased the amazingness.  Overall the staff was very aggressive and yelled at me because I didn’t know it was CASH ONLY and “lonny ya gonna have to put this one on the side he didn’t know about the cash!”  At which point “Lonny” yelled some sort of garbage about me.  No big deal it all adds to the experience.  Classic Northeastern behavior.  They only served pepsi products which was a pretty big party foul but I didn’t go for soda.   Seating was outdoor and I waited about 5-7 minutes for a table to open up.  It wouldn’t have bothered me except a homeless guy was sleeping on one of the tables while I held that mammoth sandwich standing in the sunlight.

All and all great trip to Downtown Philadelphia to experience a legendary deal.  Next time around I will more than likely give Geno’s a try to announce the winner.

Price: $10-15.00

BE SURE TO CHECK-OUT further reading on Pat’s King of Steaks and check-out some famous diners.