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                                  skateboarding dog, Manly Beach, Australia
Welcome 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.




Biography

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, Australia?

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 Kansas City Star, Salon, 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 strategies.

The Lowell Thomas Awards are presented annually by the Society of American Travel Writers.

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 aCRTL aug 99.jpg (243911 bytes) 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 Nicaraguans, 2004.


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.

In 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 Frommer’sBest Beach Vacations.jpg (31447 bytes) 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  


 

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          Last updated: 02/10/2005