Don’t call it a comeback. Been here for years, as they say.

Apologies for the extended blog hiatus. January was rough: Health issues knocked me out, and it’s taken far longer than expected to regain my footing.

But thankfully January is over, and U:TB is back. Well, almost: Starting next week, we’re back to business, traveling better.

I’ve only just begun the slog through the inbox, so apologies for delays in responding to e-mails and comments. Thanks to those who expressed concern — I really appreciate it.

Hopefully your 2011 is off to a better start, though the weather has obviously been wreaking havoc with many people’s lives. If you’re stuck at an airport, I hope the airport management hired clowns.

Happy New Year!… (ducks)

Categorized in: announcements

Downgraded: Inflight booze limits
How much is too much booze to drink on a flight? How about 17 mini bottles of wine between London and Doha? (Thanks, Dr. Vino!)

Upgraded: Deals to Europe
Jared Blank may have posted this on May 27, but if you’ve procrastinated your summer travel plans, you can still (!) book roundtrip flights from Newark to several European cities for only $399 including all taxes, for travel through June 30, 2010. I found seats to Oslo, Berlin, and London, with relative ease. The catch, if you want to call it that: You have to fly via Iceland, with Iceland Express. Be sure to check that volcano ash forecast

Downgraded: EasyJet’s name
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of British discount airline EasyJet, has parted ways with the company he built, and is now preparing to sue to have them remove the “easy” prefix in their name. Sir Stelios wants to set up an online travel agency with the same name, which sounds like it’s going to be a delightful time for everyone involved. Haven’t the trademark battles over classic rock band names like Pink Floyd, Yes, and Black Sabbath taught us anything?

Upgraded: Me
Yes, this blog has been out of commission for two weeks, and I apologize for the unannounced absence. After some time fine-tuning the work-work balance, traveling to conferences, and grappling with an unpleasant illness, we’re back on the beat, baby! Thanks to those who wrote expressing concern.

Posted by: Mark Ashley

Update 10:00am EST:
An update on site uptime: After much wrangling, and hours on the phone with tech support, I’ve been able to restore the site fully to its state as of Friday afternoon. For those who tried to leave a comment, browse the archives, or do anything other than viewing the (cached) homepage over the weekend, welcome back. Things should be working normally again. Posting to return to normal soon. And thanks for your patience.

Downgraded: This site’s backend

Just an administrative note: This site’s database crashed over the weekend. In a big way. (Thanks for the emails letting me know you couldn’t move beyond the homepage — which was cached.) I’m still working to restore the content that was lost in the crash — the last two weeks’ worth of content, basically.

Categorized in: announcements

gone fishin Gone fishin, or, perhaps, fui a pescar

My wife and I are unplugging, taking a few days off, and heading to Spain. (No actual fishing will take place; only the metaphorical kind.)

While each hotel where we’re staying has complimentary wi-fi — even the small places in rural settings, amazingly — the U:TB offices will effectively be closed. A few posts are set to autopilot for next week, but forgive me if comments that get caught in the spam filters don’t make it out as quickly as usually. (Or, vice versa, if you see a bunch of ads for pharmaceuticals in the comments, bear with me…) We’ll be back to normal in a week and a half.

Have a great week+!

Categorized in: announcements

old utb new utb A new design for Upgrade: Travel Better

It’s been over two years since the last site redesign here at Upgrade: Travel Better, and it’s about time for a new look. (That is, unless you were one of the masochists who really liked the orange links… what was I thinking?!)

The site is still a work in progress. The upgrade broke a few things that were working before, and which sandbox-testing didn’t uncover. So there will be more tinkering in days and weeks to come.

In any case, I hope you’ll like the new layout, and I welcome your feedback. Feel free to hit the comments with your thoughts.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank you for reading the site, and for the comments, e-mails, backlinks, and support. Readers have left 5007 comments on the site over the last three+ years (not counting the literally hundreds of thousands of spam comments, of course…) And, in keeping up the numbers game, this is my 1018th post. I look forward to writing thousands more, and hope you’ll stick around for them. Thanks again for reading U:TB.

Back to regular posting soon.

Categorized in: announcements

41mLdDed4ML. SL160  Upgrade: Travel Better now available on Amazon KindleI’m both pleased and amused to report that Upgrade: Travel Better is now available as a subscription on the Kindle. If you loved it for free on your laptop, you’ll love it even more when you’re paying $1.99 a month for it! And did I mention the 14-day free trial?…

Of course, it’s hard to actually read it that way if you don’t have a Kindle, and those are on backorder into the new year, should you wish to drop $359 for a unit.

Personally, I have never actually read anything on a Kindle, or even seen a Kindle, and I don’t know anyone who owns one yet. So I have no idea what this blog will look like on that reader. The content gets delivered wirelessly to the device (via the Sprint network), so it’s always up to date as long as you’ve got a signal.

Anyone out there actually have a Kindle?  Upgrade: Travel Better now available on Amazon Kindle

Categorized in: announcements