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Scott McMurren

Let's talk about the latest batch of air fares now available from Anchorage to the Lower 48. Even though it's just February, airlines are gearing up for summer service. That means introductory specials as the airlines launch the seasonal service.

For example, Frontier Airlines will resume its daily Anchorage-Denver  onstop on May 9. They're having an early-bird sale that ends on Feb.25 (today) . If you're thinking of going to Denver in May, you should  jump on this: Anchorage-Denver $440 roundtrip, including all taxes and fees. The rate is valid May 8-May 20 only. Alaska matched the fare right away. Both airlines offer nonstop service in the summer...

Scott McMurren

News came out Tuesday about the prospective merger of Era Aviation and Frontier Alaska, the holding company for Frontier Flying Service and Hageland Aviation.

All three of these firms are commuter carriers that fly single- or twin-engine prop planes around the state. It's not the same as Delta and Northwest joining forces. Many travelers who just fly south from Anchorage may never end up on one of these planes.

Scott McMurren | For those travelers who use the services--primarily outside of Anchorage--the news could be good or not-so-good, depending on how things turn out.


Scott McMurren

For travelers, 2008 went out with a whimper, with missed connections, lousy weather and stubbornly high prices in the face of falling costs to suppliers.

It now appears travelers may be redeemed in 2009. We're already seeing summertime bargains on Denali hotels -- 50 percent off for Alaska residents. And cruise operators are offering select seven-day trips for less than $700 per person.

If you can just get to Seattle, the deals are incredible: $59 each way from Seattle to San Francisco on Alaska Airlines. Northwest Airlines is offering nonstop service from Seattle to Honolulu for as little as $310 round trip, plus tax. Northwest, plus a handful of other airlines, offers flights to New York for as little as $299 round trip...

Scott McMurren

Gearing up for a road trip in Mexico takes a little advance planning, but it's worth the extra effort.

Our car rental agency, Vasa of Manzanillo, purchased the best road map for us, the "Guia Roji", which provides detailed maps of the major cities and up-to-date information on toll roads and major highways. Between them and other travelers, we gleaned some important tips:

a. Stay on the toll roads. Mexico has a good network of toll roads. They're not cheap: our trip to Patzcuaro resulted in about $30 in tolls. But there is less traffic and the roads are in good shape.

b. Don't drive at night. It's just too dangerous. That's especially true for secondary roads, where there are no lights and where cattle may stroll along the roads...

Scott McMurren

My friend Hank Pennington over in Chiniak doesn't play the "Kiss and Tell" game. Although he's generous with tips on tackle, you cannot get him to reveal where he caught that lunker trout. He simply won't give it up.

I'm the opposite, especially when it comes to tropical getaways. Right now, I'm watching the sun come up over Bahia de Santiago on Mexico's Pacific Coast. I'll die happy if I can see just one more sunset while the waves crash against the rocky cliffs below here in Manzanillo...

Scott McMurren

When you're planning a trip, it's a good idea to get some background on the destination, the people and activities once you arrive.

A quick trip to the bookstore will yield a myriad of possibilities.

There are guidebooks and maps of every size and color. You may also find magazines on your destination, whether it's Europe, Hawaii or downtown Seattle.

If you want immediate gratification, though, go online and seek out a travel blog on your destination. Just like books and magazines, some are better than others. But it's worthwhile to poke around a little and find one that reads well and provides good, timely information...

Scott McMurren

Every day brings news about air fare cuts, sales and specials. It's about time.

Today, we're near the end of a sale for Alaska Airlines flights between now and Mar. 11, 2009. If you're planning to travel between now and then, you'd be wise to check out the prices. You have to purchase your tickets no later than tomorrow, Monday, Nov. 24. There are a few blackout dates in December and in February.

Between Anchorage and Seattle, Alaska's rate is $209 each way, not including taxes. Nobody's shouting out loud about that price, but the rates to the little towns in Idaho, Oregon and Washington are pretty good. For $239 each way, plus taxes, you can travel to far-flung airports like Medford, Ore., Lewiston, Idaho, and Yakima, Wash...

Scott McMurren

Getting ready to travel over Thanksgiving or Christmas? Get ready for some big changes.

1. Luggage. If you're checking bags, chances are good you're going to pay to do so. Currently, Delta, Northwest, USAir and Continental are charging $15 in each direction -- $30 round trip -- for your very first bag. Whether or not you actually have to pay next month depends on when you bought your ticket. Right now, Alaska Airlines still allows you a free bag. Take a moment and check with your travel agent or the airline directly to see what your total cost will be...

Scott McMurren

How do you really get any work done on the road? For me, it's tough. I have some general guidelines, though. On this particular four-day trip up and down the West Coast, I've broken every rule. It's one reason I'm pretty sleepy as I slouch into my airplane seat for the ride back to Anchorage.

A. Get a good night's sleep. This is easier said than done, particularly if you're on a red-eye flight or if you're crossing many time zones. Sometimes, if I can arrange to fly in the evening before any meetings, I can get a jump on the next day...

Scott McMurren

About three weeks ago, I traveled with my friend Gary Blakely across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were headed north from San Francisco in Gary's convertible on a sunny September morning.

We could not have picked a more tangled, twisted road than California Highway 1, which snakes through a forest of eucalyptus trees over to the coast for the three-hour drive up to the Highland Inn in Monte Rio. Nestled on the banks of the Russian River, this spacious inn sits in the heart of Sonoma County's wine country.

Everyone has a favorite road trip. There are some great ones right here in Alaska, including the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm and the Glenn Highway through the Matanuska Valley. Here are some of my other favorites:...

Scott McMurren