Scott McMurren

Flying with Taquan Air into Misty Fjords National Monument.

Still waters DO run deep--about 1,000 feet here.

Scott McMurren

There are jillions of presents you could get for the traveler on your holiday gift list. But think about your frequent-flyer friend or partner. If they're on the go, you want to give them something that will fit nicely into the Christmas stocking hung above the fireplace: small, light and easy to carry. Here are some of my top picks:...

Scott McMurren
Photos by Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren

Last time, we talked about "leverage" with the airlines when it comes to getting what you want. Sometimes, though, that simply isn't good enough. The fares still are too high, or the travel providers simply are not listening...

Scott McMurren

It's a whole new world in travel today. Periodically, it's important to get a broad view of how to get the most for your travel dollar.

The key phrase these days is "leverage." Most of us have precious little leverage when it comes to the big, bad airlines. Never mind the TSA. But there are ways that you can bring some more power to bear on your behalf.

Let's start with your frequent flyer account. Most Alaskans have an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account. And a large number also carry a credit card from Bank of America to earn miles. That way, you put miles into your account every time you make a purchase...

Scott McMurren
Laguna Sunset, taken from the deck overlooking St. Ann's Beach. (Photo: Gary Blakely) I am no stranger to California. Whether you're tasting wine in Sonoma County, driving along Highway 1 at Big Sur or observing the glorious Golden Gate in San Francisco, it's easy to see why California is so popular with travelers.

But there are pockets of the Golden State that are absolutely over the top. I'm partial to Lake Tahoe. The crisp air, the icy lake, the glorious mountains--it's fabulous. Add the state's national parks (Yosemite, Death Valley, Kings Canyon) and it's almost enough to make the traffic, taxes and smog worthwhile.

Here's another must-see: Laguna Beach. It's worth the trip, especially in late October...

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren photo

Pike Place Market's iconic sign

Just flip the switch to get me to wax on about Seattle--the perfect Alaskan getaway.

It's all right downtown: shopping, great restaurants, great sports teams, great entertainment, great museums and fun activities. Plus -- since Seattle is the gateway for most of us to come to Alaska -- it's a natural stop when traveling around the country or around the world.

Now summer's gone here in Anchorage. Down in Seattle, there's still a little steam left in the fall -- which means there are quite a few shirt-sleeve afternoons to enjoy before the rains of winter set in...

Scott McMurren
Scott McMurren photo

I spend a fair amount of time in the air. Usually, it's in an aisle seat on a crowded jet. Often, people in front of me get excellent lumbar support since my knees are jammed into the back of their seats -- especially if they want to "recline." HA!

This summer was different, though. Still plenty of air time, but I spent much more time leaning out of planes and helicopters taking pictures. And what a revelation it's been!...

Scott McMurren

It's Permanent Fund Dividend season--and the travel deals are rolling out in waves. Last week we looked at Alaska Airlines' deal. Basically, Alaska is offering zone fares--the same fare to cities great and small within a specific area. That's particularly good news for travelers to or from smaller towns, where the fares typically are sky-high.

While many of us are shopping for cheap tickets Outside, there is an entire list of cities within Alaska that now are on sale. Let's take a look at some of the best deals...

Scott McMurren

Alaska Airlines has announced its annual "PFD" airline sale.

The sale is timed to coincide with the annual payout of the Permanent Fund Dividend checks. And Alaskans spend money each year on vacations, in addition to cars, home improvement and other big-ticket items.

This year's sale pricing extends through Aug. 25, 2010. Unlike previous years, though, there are a bunch of blackout dates and other restrictions which diminish the value of the sale prices...

Scott McMurren

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