PICK-UP: I flew into Tampa International Airport for a trip to Sarasota as a birthday celebration. Nearly everyone altered travel plans due to COVID; I was supposed to travel to Europe for a Uniworld river cruise, but it’s been delayed until next year. Picking up a car at Tampa is simple. You take the train to the main terminal and switch to an elevated train to the rental car center. Everything is well-marked, but people still get completely confused. I had rented a pickup truck as I planned to do a little work around the house — what else can one do these days? Pick-up was swift, and I ended up with a silver Toyota Tacoma, which fit the bill.
DRIVING: I have a 2016 Tacoma at home, so I understand and like this truck. It drives more like a truck, so on long rides it can be a little uncomfortable. Oddly, it had SiriusXM, but it was not functioning; I learned later via an email I could upgrade to get the service for a fee. No thanks!
Needing to pick up some 12-foot-long lumber at Lowe’s, I found this vehicle was perfect. The newer Tacomas have a small center back window that opens electronically (mine is manual) — great for sliding long pieces of wood through. Lumber versus a luxury river cruise — interesting!
I was surprised by the condition of the truck, with lots of bumper scratches, so I took a few pictures for my own protection when returning the vehicle. No one said a word.
Oddly, at check-in I was asked if I wanted to prepay the fuel, and I declined. I have never found this option makes sense, as you always seem to pay more. The clerk was not thrilled with the response and told me it was the same rate as outside, but I still declined and she gave me a face. Even the Budget website offers three refilling options, and the best is “self.”
RETURN: Returning is simple at Tampa, and now that I have completed this process so many times, I know exactly where the gas station is to top off the vehicle.
Tampa has better rental service and more employees working than Sarasota. Make sure you use the membership self-service programs or you may encounter long lines.
Select the toll option to avoid added fees, or simply use the cash lines.
BUDGET RENT A CAR
The Hamilton Hotel, located steps from the White House, was the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway. Upon arrival, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful with a quick check-in process. The lobby was immaculate with shining marble flooring, velvet couches and an arched ceiling design that brought a sense of sophistication. For added security, the elevators are only accessible to those who have a key card to a guestroom.
Luxury destinations around the country partnered with Bryte to introduce The Restorative Bed and enhanced sleep programming at their hotels. The revolutionary, AI-powered Restorative Bed uses real-time technology to intuitively adjust based on the individual’s needs and preferences. An embedded sensory network detects biometrics, like heart rate and breathing patterns, when a sleeper enters the first stage of sleep, triggering cooling features and lulling sleepers into deep sleep. Computer-controlled air cushions alleviate pressure points, and the technology also leads sleepers naturally out of sleep.
Tauck announced plans to fully restart its U.S. tours by July 1. Departures of the Southern Charms: Savannah, Hilton Head and Charleston tour have already begun, with other popular tours across the country relaunching in the coming months. Check the Open for Travel page for information on specific tour departures.
Turkish Airlines resumed its premium onboard dining and hot meal service on all business- and economy-class flights longer than two hours and 15 minutes. The resumption of service is in accordance with all health and hygiene applications.
Coffee is the pillar to almost everyone's morning and, in a way, it's part of a routine you need to get right in order to have your day go smoothly. There are many different brands, types, flavors, coffee shops and ways to make the bold morning beverage.
With the vaccine rolling out and U.S. air travel expected to pick up in the upcoming months, the personal finance website WalletHub released a report on 2021’s Best Frequent-Flyer Programs, to help travelers make the best decision for their wallets.