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Here is where we tell you about those best deals and bargains for vacation and holiday travel including cruises, airfare, hotels and resorts, and how to get the most for your money.  With so many cruise ships now in operation prices have dropped sharply and you can literally go on a cruise and live on the ship and get all your meals and entertainment for less than what it would cost you to live at home. And don't forget about the deals available in Las Vegas where prices of hotel rooms and restaurant meals are lower because they are subsized by gamblers and sometimes are used as "loss leaders" by the casinos to get you to visit.


Update November 20, 2013  Over the past week or so, there have been several major news stories and statements made on the Facebook page for the Las Vegas Railway Express that indicate that the idea of a unique passenger train between Southern California and Las Vegas has been derailed.  Officially, the company says it is now making alternate plans for running its train service between SoCal and Vegas but there are too many "blanks" and not enough information to understand what they have to offer.  Media outlets have failed to find any rail companies including Amtrak who would say they are still working with the Las Vegas Railway Express to bring the X Train to reality.

In the meantime, the X Train operators have been announcing alternative plans and operations for what would have been another operation that could complement the X Train.  Now, it appears, the complementing operation will be the operation for the Las Vegas Railway Express.  We got that idea in a press release that the company put out today.  The press release announce a new hire, and it also had a revised description about what the company does.  This is from the press release and missing is the description about being a passenger train between Southern California and Las Vegas:

About Las Vegas Railway Express
The X Train is a Las Vegas, Nevada based company that offers exclusive railway train service between premier destinations. Offering day trips and vacation packages, the X Train passengers can expect spacious first class seating, complimentary beverages and fresh catered food options. In addition, the X Train passengers will enjoy on board concierge service to book hotel rooms, transportation transfers, entertainment, show tickets and other travel incidentals. The X Train is part of the Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. which is a publicly traded company (OTCQB: XTRN). For more information, please visit the company website at

In the past few months the X Train has announced steps to offer special passenger rail cars on existing trains to offer club service between destinations.   And about a week ago the company also announced that its original plans for a direct train between SoCal and LV were being changed.

Now it looks like The X Train wants to be a provider of special rail car services for passengers, perhaps with special food, beverage and perhaps entertainment services in a luxury setting.

I think this pretty much closes the book on a revival of passenger train service between Los Angeles or Fullerton and Las Vegas anytime soon.

To be honest, I don't know if The X Train will even be able to attach its private cars to existing trains around the country, as this seems to be the new game plan.  Of course a key thing to watch now is what happens -- or doesn't happen -- with the proposed North Las Vegas train station that the LVRE wanted to build.  The company is also promoting the construction of its special passengers cars and we suspect these cars (there might only be one, we don't know) would be a demonstrator model to show various railroad companies what could be offered.

The bottom line appears to be that the XTRN company is going off in a new direction and this new direction might be just as risky or even more risky than the original X Train plans.      


Update July 2, 2013  Michael Barron, the CEO/President of Las Vegas Railway Express, has sent me his comments about the company's new plans to build its Las Vegas train station in North Las Vegas instead of in downtown behind the Plaza Hotel at the former Amtrak Train Station.  I promised to publish his comments in full and here they are:

Some of you have been asking why we picked the train station location in North Las Vegas. Some have even suggested that such a selection will negate our business plan and people will not ride a train to Vegas that stops 4 miles north of the strip to let people off. I can understand some of that but actually, it really doesn't matter where the station is in Vegas as long as you can get to the strip quickly & easily. And that is exactly why we picked this location over 4 others we had.

Our mission is to get you off our train upon arrival and into your transportation and on your way to your hotel as fast as we can. To do that, we needed a lot of room. A lot. It had to be wide enough to park up to 9 trains and up against the railroad tracks and have enough room to stage over 100 cars, transportation limos and busses, enough to unload 7 airplanes at one time. It had to be big.

The fact was, there just wasn't any space available anywhere else that would work. Believe me, we tried. We couldn't get enough land downtown. South of the strip put our traffic unload into the middle of the traffic jam heading into Vegas on Thursday & Fridays.

Here's something else to think about. Most city transportation stations like airports are not even in the city they serve. LAX is in Culver City, 30 miles away. Denver is even further out.

So forget the city limit dotted line on a map. If our station was downtown, it would still be 4 miles from the strip and with street traffic, slower to get there.

This is a great location and when you pull in to Vegas anxious to get to the hotel we will get you there faster than any other way. Promise!


Update June 28, 2013  This afternoon Michael Barron the Chairman of The Las Vegas Railway Express (The X Train) sent me a text message that was critical of my article below, which was posted yesterday, June 27.  My article talks about the new North Las Vegas location for a train station for The X Train.  In the text Michael Barron said "disappointing perspective Alan.  It's a fabulous location & gets people to the strip even faster."

I asked Michael Barron to send me more information and comments and I offered to publish them here.

I am a supporter of the project and personally I would take a train rather than battle traffic on the I-15.  But putting a train station in North Las Vegas takes some of the convenience out of the idea of train travel.  On its Facebook page, the company did not that it was arranging for transfers from the North Las Vegas train station to the Strip and to downtown casinos.  I look forward to seeing more information.


Update June 27, 2013  In the last couple of days there was a significant development in the plans for the XTrain, the so-called "party train" between Southern California and Las Vegas.  Over the last few days officials of The Las Vegas Railway Express have told various media that it has abandoned its plans to renovate the old Amtrak train station behind The Plaza Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas and it plans to now build a new train station in North Las Vegas which is about ten miles from downtown Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip.

Company officials have said that a new station in North Las Vegas would be able to accommodate more train traffic than the train and siding available downtown.  Well, that's a nice thought.  But many of us wonder why plan for multiple trains when there isn't even one train yet?

There have been multiple delays of a start date for the XTrain and quite frankly I lost track of all the postponements.  What we think now is that having a train station in North Las Vegas will mean that train service couldn't possibly start until mid-2014 at the earliest.  And I am going to guess that with just some usual delays the XTrain is now realistically looking at a possible start at the end of 2014.

There are other challenges facing The Las Vegas Railway Express besides having a train station in the Vegas area.  There aren't any train cars yet.  And when train cars and an engine are purchased or leased, the cars still must be spruced up for the XTrain's luxury look.  We also know from previous financial announcements that the XTrain must pay for new rail sidings along the route between Vegas and Fullerton, California so that freight trains and the XTrain can share the same tracks.  Somewhere along the line employees and marketing must be in place as well as an operations schedule and infrastructure for onboard service and food and beverage.  The company did announce plans to start up a side business for booking reservations for hotels and ultimately this could be the side business that will handle XTrain reservations.

But it is the move from the Amtrak station in downtown Vegas to a train station in North Vegas that is most troubling.  Arriving and departing in North Las Vegas is going take away some of the glitz and glamour and convenience from the XTrain.  Now, passengers arriving in North Las Vegas will have to take a taxi or limo or shuttle either to downtown or to the Strip and can I venture to say that will add perhaps $20 to $50 for the cost of the trip per person.  Of course we should note that multiple passengers can share the cost of a taxi or limo and there might be free hotel shuttles planned.  Maybe even the XTrain will have its own shuttles?

But all of these delays and now new problems only add to the reality that The XTrain is no closer to starting up than it was a year ago or two years ago.  It could be a year or longer before someone announces "all aboard!"


Update October 16, 2013  We expected this and today the Las Vegas Railway Express, the X Train, sent out a release that included a report from Standard & Poor's on the company, and in the report it said that the X Train was expected to start in late 2013 and there would be four round-trips per week.  We expected the later start of service because construction of the train station at the old Amtrak Station behind The Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas cannot start until early 2013 and the company still needs to obtain and refurbish passenger cars.  The report from S&P also confirms that the X Train will have a route starting in Fullerton, California to Las Vegas and there will not be a train stop in downtown Los Angeles which means that Los Angeles passengers will first have to drive to Fullerton.  Fullerton is a good point for travel for those in the Orange County area and for Las Vegas residents who want to visit the amusement parks in the Anaheim area.  But Fullerton will add about a one-hour car drive for Los Angeles-area consumers who want to take the train to Vegas.  And that extra hour drive might make taking the train more trouble than it's worth.


Update October 10, 2012  While the Las Vegas Railway Express Company has not been making many formal media announcements about its progress for passenger train service between Las Vegas and Southern California, company officials have been making comments on its Facebook page and they have started to send out emails to shareholders and to those who have expressed an interest in teh company.  Here is their Facebook page:  

Back in early May of this year, the company posted a new target date for starting service and the new date is May 2013.  This was the third "date announcement" that we have seen and if it comes to pass it means that the XTRAIN will be starting up about eighteen months late.  But yesterday, in another email to shareholders, the company indicated that there might be another delay.  This delay might be the result of waiting for approval for the plans for the construction of the train station behind The Plaza.  The company has some ambitious plans for a makeover of the old Amtrak station and for adding new platforms and other facilities.  The email said that various approvals for construction will take six more months which means that construction couldn't begin before April and that makes a May start almost impossible unless they will start service without the train station they plan to have.

There is also the issue about construction of the passenger cars.  Existing passenger cars need to be made-over to fit the X Train plans.  That work has not started yet.

But those of us who want this project, and would love to be riding a train instead of making that long, boring and tiring ride on the I-15, will certainly welcome the X-Train even if it is a year and a half or longer behind schedule.

Here's a summary of what we know:  The X Train is likely to have its Southern California departures in Fullerton and will arrive at the old Amtrak station at The Plaza Hotel in downtown.  There could be as many as two or three round trips a day, with service 7 days a week.  The Plaza recently underwent a complete renovation and its location puts it at the heart of downtown Vegas and also just minutes away from The Strip.  Vans, buses, taxis and limos can easily pick up passengers at The Plaza for other desitinations around the Las Vegas Valley.

The X Train has discussed having a round-trip fare of $99 which makes it extremely competitive not only with air travel, but with the cost of packing your friends in one car and splitting the cost of gas.  We had reported a round-trip fare of $99 (you can see that in our video) but we heard that the fare might be $99 each way but even a one-way fare of $99 makes it competitive not only with airfare but also with the cost of driving when you consider fuel prices and wear and tear not only on the car but also the driver and passengers.  And a fare of $99 each way will appear to be even better if entertainment and food and beverages are thrown in.  After all, what they are selling here is not just a seat but a first class experience so a meal and at least soft drinks makes sense.

On Facebook the X Train has already discussed onboard servers or waiters/waitresses and even presented possible uniforms for the female wait staff, so having food and beverages makes sense.

The X Train has also discussed on board entertainment, refreshments, gourmet food, and casual dining but the concept of onboard gambling has been removed from their plans.

The X Train has also said they envision having as many as 15 rail cars and these would be custom built similar to the modern commuter rail cars now in use.  The trains would run on existing freight rail lines and the original passenger rail lines that Amtrak used to use when it offered Las Vegas train service.  The duration of the train ride will be comparable to the current car ride as this will not be a high speed train, but passengers on the X Train will not have to worry about traffic jams, nor stopping for gas, or food, or using rest rooms.

It is hard to imagine how this could possibly fail to get enough passenger traffic to be a vital transportation link not only for Southern Californians travelling to Las Vegas, but also for Southern Nevadans who want to visit Southern California including the beaches, museums, business parks, hospitals and more.  So another countdown to "all aboard the X Train" has started.  May 2013 was the last official target date, but we expect a new target date announcement soon.


Update March 21, 2012  The Internet travel sites run by Independent companies, by big corporations and by the travel providers themselves including hotels, airlines, cruise lines and car rental companies all promise to give you the best prices.  But sometimes a traditional travel agency can beat all of those claims and give you even better deals.  What the public is pretty much unaware of is that many times the big travel providers such as cruise lines and hotels and airlines contract with big travel agencies to actually handle the bookings, reservations and customer services.  And in return, these brick and mortar travel agencies can get secret deals that are not available on the web or can even be mentioned on the web.

Montrose Travel in Montrose, California is one of these big brick and mortar travel agencies which handles travel arrangements for several big comapanies and get special deals that are not avaialble on the Internet.  Montrose Travel also can book blocks of seats, hotel rooms, cruise line cabins and other travel deals in advance at discounted prices that the general public cannot discover unless they are customers of Montrose.

Human travel agents can also do something for you that a travel comapany's online booking service can't -- the human travel agent can ask you questions to be sure you are getting the right kind of travel experience that you want and you are not compromising and taking what you see on a web page.

The  recent economic slowdown has made travel providers of every kind more competitive but in many cases the special deals were not put on websites where the travel companies figured they could get away with higher prices from an audience that thought the online prices were always the best.  Instead, the special deals went to insiders such as the big travel agencies where travel professionals really know what the best prices and the best values are.  Below, you can watch our new Best Buys TV Show report on how Montrose Travel gets the best deals that you can't find online.  Montrose Travel does have its own website which has more information.


Update March 21, 2012  The Las Vegas Railway Express Company keeps delaying the start date for its passenger train service over existing tracks between Las Vegas and Southern California.  Originally, the train service on the XTrain in special custom rail cars was supposed to start in the summer of 2011, but then company officials leaked information on Facebook that service wouldn't begin until early 2012 and the latest posts on their Facebook page says that service will not start until 2013.  That means another holiday season -- and another New Year's Eve -- without train service to one of the biggest New Year's Eve destinations in the world -- the Las Vegas Strip.

There are probably several hangups including finalizing a contract with the railroads that own the existing tracks between Vegas and Southern California that are currently used only for freight.  Several months ago, in an attempt to close the deal with the railroads, the Las Vegas Railway Express backed off its plans to offer some sort of gambling when the train was in Nevada.  Executives had talked about in the initial planning gaming that might have included blackjack, poker and slot machines.

Company officials of the X Train and The Plaza Hotel have said they had a deal for the Las Vegas Railway Express to utilize what was the old Amtrak Train Station that is part of The Plaza, and The Plaza said it would work with the Las Vegas Railway Express for marketing.  Company officials also have discussed programs for building their custom train cars and for additional financing.  The company stock is publicly traded under the symbol XTRN.  New managers with years of railroad operating experience have also been joining the company.

But while there is still is no firm start date the company is spending time on social media marketing, which is at least keeping the buzz alive.  And every time gasoline pump prices go up a penny or a dime a gallon, the idea of train service becomes more attractive.


Update February 22, 2012  We just got back from a trip to shoot a TV show in Austin, Texas and when we arrived in Austin we found that one of our "TSA travel locks" on our camera case was missing, and the second lock was damaged -- it appeared that the TSA key to open the combination lock broke off inside the lock.  We had trouble opening the lock, but when we did we found a card from the TSA informing us that they had indeed inspected the case.  But there was no mention about our missing lock or about the lock that was damaged.  Of course, we replaced the locks for the trip back.  Below is the card from the TSA informing us that they had opened the camera case.  There is also a phone number and a website in case you want to file a claim for damage, but the card says that the TSA does not cover damage to locks.


And below is the photo of our damaged lock.  If you look closely, you can see the slot under the letters "TSA" where the TSA can insert a master key to open these TSA approved lock -- but it appears their key broke off in the slot.  That meant we had to buy a replacement since this lock could not be opened again by TSA inspectors.  And we had to buy a replacement lock for the other lock which was gone from our bag.



Update January 2, 2012  Michael Barron, the chairman of the Las Vegas Railway Express, sent me a text today tell me that the X-Train will not have gambling when service between Southern California and Las Vegas starts up.  For more about this please see our "Vegas Gaming / Travel News" page.  And for more information about the X-Train and the Las Vegas Railway Express please see our reports below on this page, including our original Best Buys TV Show report on the X-Train, and you can follow the Las Vegas Railway Express publicly traded stock on our "Vegas and Casino Stocks" page.


Update October 5, 2011  The Las Vegas Railway Express, the XTrain, got a new Chairman of the Board today and it is Gil Lamphere, 58, who has extensive railroad experience for more than 30 years.  Michael Barron who was Chairman will continue as CEO and President.

Lamphere will be bringing ties to the XTRAIN from other rail enterprises including the CSX Corporation where he currently is on the Board of Directors.  He also served on the boards of directors of Canadian National Railway, Illinois Central Railroad,  and Florida East Coast Railway.

You can see our TV report about the Las Vegas Railway Express below on this page.


Update September 23, 2011  We just found out that the CEO of the Las Vegas Railway Express, the so-called XTrain, will be making a presentation at a railroad industry trade conference in Washington hosted by Railway Age Magazine.  The conference is being held October 24th and 25th and Michael Barron, the CEO of the XTrain will be the final speaker.  The conference is titled "Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads" and that is exactly what the Las Vegas Railway Express wants to do-- operate passenger trains on existing freight lines between Las Vegas and Southern California.

What is really intriguing is that this is the first true public appearance by Mr. Barron.  We did interview him for our TV show and you can see the TV report here, but that TV report was from a while ago.  A lot of things have happened since then including making a deal to have a train station in downtown Vegas and delaying the start of the train service to mid-2012.  And I am sure Mr. Barron will be doing more at this public event than just saying hello and nice to meet you.  Our TV report is below, so please scroll down this page to watch it.


Update May 24, 2016  The Pullman Company which had plans to develop the Z Train project that would offer passenger train service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas appears to no longer be in operation.  The outline of their project included a train stop in Pomona, California.  Several years ago, the developers said that they had a parcel of land on the Las Vegas Strip for a train station but it was not clear where that piece of land was and if there were train tracks near it or even a building to be used as a station. Their website originally said the Pullman Company is working with Amtrak to provide the service and they expected to be in service in early 2012.


Update April 30, 2011  It won't be long before luxury train travel will be in service between Las Vegas and Southern California.  A private company says it will have luxury and entertaining train travel in service by the end of 2011.  And the train service is being built by a private company without government and taxpayer money.  It's called the XTrain.  And now the company and The Plaza Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas say they have a deal to have the X Train operate using the rail station that is inside the Plaza.  The station used to be used by AMTRAK trains until AMTRAK abandoned passenger rail service.  The Plaza also says that it will be involved in marketing and ticket sales.

Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc. is the creator of the "X" Train, a passenger train that is planned to link Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area on existing railroad routes. When service is launched, which is expected later this year and in time for holiday travel, the "X" Train will offer Las Vegas-style entertainment en route, including a sports bar lounge and entertainment cars as well as a host of travel-related amenities including the ability book hotel rooms, tickets to popular shows and other entertainment activities.

"More than 12 million tourists drive the 300-mile trip between Los Angeles and Las Vegas each year, and with no alternatives other than buses and hassling with crowded airports and higher-cost air travel, we believe we have an opportunity to provide a service that will be a green, low-carbon, money-saving alternative," said Chairman and CEO Michael Barron. "We plan to use existing right-of-way and will be able to hit the rails with a minimum of new infrastructure and a minimum of cost."  Watch our video report below and go to for more information.  For information about the Las Vegas Railway Express stock (XTRN) go to our "Vegas and Casino Stocks" page.

For a great place to stay and appreciate the beautiful Garden Island of Kauai check out for a beautiful and fully equipped vacation rental at very reasonble rates.  This unique Kauai vacation rental is nestled at the base of Sleeping Giant mountain, in a quiet Wailua Homesteads neighborhood on Kauai's east shore. You will experience a stream-side private sanctuary in paradise.  It is onveniently located just minutes from the beautiful white sands of Wailua beach, the Wailua River, and near hiking trails, shopping, restaurants and the Lihue airport.
And while you are there, you can enjoy shopping at The Hawaiian Jewelry and Gift Superstore, and you can check out the store online at   You will see over 900 items ready to be shipped to you from The Garden Island of Kauai.  You'll find Hawaiian themed art and gifts and jewelry.  Of course if you can't make the trip to Hawaii, you can just order a bunch of stuff online, and give the stuff out to friends and relatives and just tell them you were in Hawaii for the weekend.


Yes, you can get someone or some business to pay for the trip of your dreams.  Travel public relations professional Jeff Blumenfeld tells how in his new book.  He tell about how one man received funding to climb a mountain in Antarctica and how a Denver schoolteacher got money to climb the tallest peaks in each state in record time, and then there's the crazed golfer who receives sponsorship for hitting a golf ball 1,319 miles across Mongolia.

Is it easy to get someone to pay for your dream trip? No, not at all. But Expedition News editor and travel public relations professional Jeff Blumenfeld explains how with the right idea and proper advance preparation, it is possible to raise thousands of dollars in cash and outdoor gear and apparel for worthy expeditions in his new book, You Want to Go Where?: How to Get Someone to Pay for the Trip of Your Dreams.  A section of the book even explains where there are thousands of dollars available in grants from sponsors such as W.L. Gore & Associates, Land Rover, National Geographic, Polartec, and Rolex.

Blumenfeld's book turns to experts to explain how to negotiate sponsorships, provides advice from a professional photographer about how to take photos that will thrill sponsors and encourage them to participate in the next adventure, and lists guide services ready to help aspiring adventurers obtain the outdoor skills they'll need to convince sponsors they have what it takes.  After reading this, the only remaining question will be “where do you want to go?”  The hardcover edition is $24.95 and is available at
.  Enter "Jeff Blumenfeld" in the "search box" for "author" to find the book on the web site.


I've been telling you about Montrose Travel for many, many years -- going back to when I brought you travel news and best buys on the KCAL-TV News.  Montrose continues to deliver the best for your money.  And these days they can get you the best possible deals on cruising with their relationship with Carnival Cruise Lines.  There are thousands of cruises available now and you can find them on the Montrose Travel web site or call them at (800) MONTROSE.  If you want to stop in to Montrose Travel, visit them at 2349 Honolulu Avenue in Montrose.

Montrose Travel reports that some of the cruise deals for the Summer of 2009 are truly phenomenal with prices that haven't been this low in twenty years.  There are 7-day cruises through Alaska starting from $459 per person, and 7-day Caribbean cruises from $499 per person, and 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises from $459 a person.  These prices represent a savings of more than 70% and can mean expenses of less than $70 a day for your "hotel," onboard entertainment, and all of your meals.  Watch the video report below.

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. Some content on is paid advertising. The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.

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