© 2003, 2004, 2005
10 for the Road
Just back from
to the online home of travel columnist Donald D. Groff, who has
dispensed advice and stories since 1988 in such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer,
the Newark Star-Ledger, The Kansas City Star, Newsday, Salon, Condé Nast Traveler, Consumer Reports
Travel Letter, The Boston Globe, and Endless Vacation magazine.
How can you get the best deal on a hotel
room – through the hotel desk, a travel agent, or an online broker?
Where can you find family-friendly or single-friendly destinations? Where can you take a
gold-panning or bobsled-riding vacation? When is the best time to visit Sydney,
For more than a decade, readers have turned to Donald D. Groff for answers in
the pages of such publications as The Philadelphia
Inquirer, the Newark (N.J.)
Star-Ledger, Newsday, the
The Trenton Times, Philly.com, Condé Nast
Traveler, and Endless Vacation magazine. His weekly Travel Briefing, a column of
travel news briefs and tips, was distributed nationwide by the Knight Ridder-Tribune
News Service for more than a dozen years. His 10 for the Road column has recommended weekend festivals to
millions of readers in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.
Mr. Groff began his journalism career as a reporter and editor in Springfield, Mo.,
followed by stints at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, the Washington Post, and
the Philadelphia Inquirer. Inspired by more than a year traveling around the
world in 1985-86, he began consumer travel writing in 1987.
In 1991, he won a gold Lowell Thomas Award in the travel news investigative
reporting category for a story in Condé Nast Traveler magazine documenting how
travel agents could not always be relied upon to alert clients to State
Department travel warnings about their destinations. The article led to an
increased awareness among travel agencies. Today, such warnings are readily
available on the Internet,
and travel agents routinely make sure clients know about them.
In 2002, he won a silver Lowell Thomas Award in the service-oriented consumer
article category for a story that dissected on-site and off-site parking at
Philadelphia International Airport and pointed readers toward money-saving
The Lowell Thomas Awards are
presented annually by the Society of American
In 1994, he took to the streets of Center City Philadelphia on behalf of
Conde´ Nast Traveler as part of a 13-point sidewalk test to see how
residents and businesses in 10 U.S. cities treated a traveler in need of
assistance. The resulting story dubbed Philadelphia the friendliest city, partly
because ritzy restaurants opened their restroom doors without flinching and a
taxi driver's willingness to provide a jump start.
In 1999, he wrote the lead story in the first issue of a redesigned Consumer
Reports Travel Letter,
documenting how hotel brokers who tout cheaper rates sometimes charge far more
than what travelers could
Photo by Jim Selzer
Trading laughs with young
obtain using other booking methods. Some of them
claimed to offer a guarantee, but made no mention of such a guarantee on their
Web sites. A few months later, the largest of the online booking agencies, Hotel
Reservations Network, put its policy in writing for all to see on its Web site.
another issue of the same newsletter, he wrote about how the latest version of
the medium-range Boeing 737 had been designed to fly farther and longer and
carry more people. But airlines had made no provision to increase the number of
toilets on board – an uncomfortable oversight during six-hour flights with meal
and drink service.
In 1996, he authored the book Best Beach Vacations – Mid-Atlantic, a
Guide. In 25 chapters the book reviewed scores of beaches from
Montauk, Long Island, N.Y., to Virginia Beach, Va. His top five choices:
Southampton, N.Y.; Chincoteague, Va.; Lewes/Cape Henlopen, Del.; Fire Island,
N.Y., and Westhampton, N.Y.
At the start of his travel writing career, he was managing editor of U.S.
News & World Report’s first edition of Great Vacation Drives. In 1989, he
was managing editor for the book USA City by City, a guide to 33 urban areas.
Mr. Groff holds a master's degree in communications and public affairs from The
American University, Washington, D.C., and a bachelor's degree from Southeast
Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau.
He lives in Narberth,
Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. He can be reached at