There are a number of interesting travel news items floating around at the moment that are worth covering. This first one comes under the heading of “what took them so long.” I have always wondered who designed the seats in aircraft. The seat back curves away below the headrest, just where my neck curves inward, leaving a large space at the exact point where I need support. There is rarely enough leg room and never enough room on the armrests, especially if I am in the center seat. However the days of uncomfortable airline seating may be numbered. Back in 2007, USA Today reported that Britain’s Premium Aircraft Interiors Group introduced the Freedom Economy Seat, a three-seat row that flips the middle one backward. Since then, the seats have begun appearing in the business class sections of selected carriers.

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Premium Aircraft Interiors Group’s Freedom Economy Seat configuration offers more elbow, shoulder and legroom, the company says. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Gizmag.com recently reported on another new seat design that was unveiled this past September at the Create The Future Design Contest. The clever new design, which actually creates MORE seats on the Airbus A380, provides ALL passengers with more space than ever before and the ability to stretch out in an airline bed. This can help to alleviate pressure on the legs, a common area where blood clots can form within the deep veins.  All I can say is, it’s about time.

If you’ve finally made the decision to chuck it all and hit the road but you have limited resources to travel long term, this list of alternative accommodation options featured on Vagabondish.com will be of interest. The various programs offer travelers the opportunity to trade work on an organic farm for housing, couch surf, trade accommodations, and even provides a link to a service where travelers can sign up to be a caretaker for homes in return for free stays.

One of the challenges of traveling long term is what to do about mail. The majority of junk mail can be eliminated by signing up for the “Do Not Mail” program through the Direct Mail Marketing Association (DMMA). The cost is $1 and ensures removal from member mailing lists for two years. I signed up and within 30 days all catalogs and other junk mail disappeared from my mailbox.

Once the junk mail is eliminated, only the regular mail must be addressed. Most bills provide a paperless option that allows payment online; once this is set up the only remaining issue is the occasional important letter that may arrive, or unexpected correspondence that cannot be anticipated. Solving this last issue has always eluded me until recently, when I read about Earth Class Mail. With this service you pick a remote address for one of Earth Mail’s locations and have your mail sent to that address. They scan all the sealed envelope images, and then electronically deliver each envelope image to you via email; you log in to your account and tell them whether to securely scan the contents so you can read it online, shred sensitive information, forward the original to you or someone else, or archive the originals at their facility. Their 12-month subscription, priced at $9.95 per month, allows for 35 pieces of mail per month and 50 scanned pages.

As we begin this new year, I wish everyone health, happiness, and wonderful travels.