While the travel industry is still sorting itself out from the mess left by superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc on flights and flooded rental car companies, travelers fortunate not to be caught up in the delays and frustration can help out with relief efforts.
While there are several ways to lend a hand – check the Twitter feed of the Red Cross for latest updates on volunteering or giving blood, or buy a Groupon to assist small businesses – American and United airlines are also providing an incentive through their websites by offering miles for monetary donations.
Both airlines will give passengers 250 miles for donating at least $50; contribute $100 or more, and you’ll rack up 500 miles.
United will match donations up to $50,000, and participants get to choose whether their money will go to the American Red Cross, Feeding America, or AmeriCares; donations through American all go to the Red Cross.
Airbnb is also doing its part, waiving its fees for more than 20,000 spaces available in areas affected by Sandy so that stranded travelers and locals can have a place to stay.
The online apartment and home rental company is also encouraging "our entire community to help anyone who has been left stranded or in need because of the hurricane," and suggests that hosts lower or waive their cost – as one owner did with several properties in Brooklyn.
Fee-free traveling and hosting applies to both guests who book and hosts who accept new bookings that start between now and November 7 in New York, the Hamptons, Providence, New Haven, and Atlantic City, with a maximum trip length of seven nights.
In other Sandy-related travel news, the New York City Marathon – a major event for both the running community and the Big Apple’s local economy, with an estimated $340 million economic impact – will take place. [Update: The ING NYC Marathon was ultimately cancelled.] According to the New York Road Runners, the organizers of the renowned event, the route, as well as transportation logistics, are still being evaluated. But the show will go on.
However, runners who are forced to cancel because they can’t get into New York will get some reprieve, as the organization announced that such runners will be eligible for guaranteed entry to the 2013 race.
Also of note for sports and adventure travelers: National Park Traveler, a website that reports on news in our country's national parks, provides a comprehensive list of the widespread closings and damage to national parks in Sandy's wake. So far, the National Park Service has not announced how the public can help with restoration efforts, but it's a safe bet they'll have an increased need for volunteers in the coming weeks and months.
Meanwhile, if you're in New York City or stranded somewhere because of Sandy, we'd love to hear about your story.