Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

Email us with tips and questions.

TSA Pre-check envy

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airports Updated: March 28, 2014 - 9:33 AM

Pre-check envy: A friend on his way to New York posted, “I love TSA Pre! I kept my shoes on and laptop in my bag and didn’t have to show my shaving cream.” A Facebook boast like that — when wait times at MSP demand we arrive more than two hours ahead of our flight ­— is akin to those selfies of legs on a beach chair with some warm ocean in the distance. It’s an invitation to envy.

Or maybe, it’s simply meant as encouragement to join the fast crowd, the one that skips the long lines at airport security checkpoints because the Transportation Security Administration has scrutinized their fingerprints and background and determined they are safe to board. 

Applications cost $85 (not refunded in the event you are not approved), which means that the outlay for my family of 3 would be enough to buy a round-trip ticket, at least during a fare sale. Besides, what’s the point of zipping through security if my family will wind along the security line for an hour? Of course, I could just wait for them somewhere. Say, Surdyk’s Flights, glass of wine in hand? If you want to join, too, go to www.tsa.gov.

Block EE (for Excellent Eats)

Posted by: Bill Ward under U.S. travel Updated: March 27, 2014 - 3:25 PM

At one end of the block, scores of hipsters chat in a loosely aligned queue outside Tartine Bakery.

At the other end, a shorter line (in both length and the height of patrons) smack their lips outside the Bi-Rite Creamery.

In between, people of all ages bask at sun-splashed tables and gulp down insanely fresh salads and deftly charred pies at Delfina Pizzeria, while foodies pour into the treasure-filled Bi-Rite Grocery.

San Francisco is packed with not only a gazillion great food purveyors but also countless compact areas (North Beach, South of Market) with plentiful stops for the gastronome. But this single block of 18th Street, running between Guerrero and Dolores streets (and leading to the splendiferous Dolores Park), takes the quality cake in one of the world’s foremost food cities.

Few would argue that the city has a better bakery than Tartine; Bi-Rite’s shelves are laden with most everything a serious cook would want or need (along with a truly stellar wine selection), and at night the “regular” Delfina serves up some of the finest Italian food anywhere.

Sorry, Nicollet, but it’s hard to call anything but this “Eat Street.”

To chaperone or not

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under International travel Updated: March 20, 2014 - 3:03 PM

No rest for the weary: I chaperoned once when my daughter’s class spent a few days and nights on a Wisconsin farm. Turns out I was no match for the five first- through third-graders in my room. They finally got to sleep around midnight. Like the children, I returned home exhausted. So when a reader called to ask if she should head to Italy as a chaperone for her daughter and some classmates, my muscles tensed. (Chalk it up to flashbacks.) She had only five days to decide, and the trip would cost her $4,100.
I knew what I would do. But I tried to be judicious, realizing that such a decision depends upon the individual. Would she take delight in seeing the world through the wide, excited eyes of youth, or feel ripped off when the schedule deprived her of a leisurely morning cappuccino?
As the reader said, “I don’t know which should play a bigger role, the destination or the situation.” It’s an interesting conundrum. If you’ve been a chaperone on an international trip, we'd love to hear about your experience.

Old journal recounts the cost of a 1940 Minn.-California road trip

Posted by: under Road trips Updated: March 3, 2014 - 11:41 AM

Lyle Lundeen, an 89-year-old retired Navy pilot who lives in Bloomington, found an old palm-sized notebook that brought back some memories -- and some signs of the wrench inflation has thrown into road trips. His parents kept track of costs on a 1940 drive from Minneapolis to California. Cabins were $2. Gas was as cheap as 15-cents a gallon.

According to his calculations, the whole trek for four cost less than $120 for gas, "eats" and lodging.

Ace Star Tribune copy editor Bruce Adomeit put the somewhat staggering figures into context:

According to the inflation calculator at www.minneapolisfed.org, $118.95 in 1940 dollars for the California trip is equivalent to $2,002.03 in today’s money.

Gas in Salt Lake City at 20 cents a gallon sounds dirt cheap, but that equals $3.37 a gallon in today’s dollars. www.saltlakegasprices.com shows that Saturday’s average price in Salt Lake City was less than that: $3.266.

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