Travel Hacks: Book Hard-to-Get Flights With Travel Miles

May 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

What do you do when you can’t find a way to use the miles you want at the particular time you want it. Airlines often black out popular travel dates. Or someone else may have nipped in and gotten the only mileage seats associated with a particular flight.

A recent article on Yahoo Travel discusses an issue arising from airlines giving out more and more bonus miles: they aren’t necessarily increasing the number of airline seats sufficient to absorb all these bonus flights.

Business class seat in a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400

Business class seat in a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It can sometimes be difficult to use the very travel miles you’ve worked so hard to get, so here are some solutions Yahoo Travel offers:

  • Rather than booking online, call the airline. An agent may know some insider tricks to get you a seat.
  • Rather than use a free seat, use your miles to upgrade an economy seat to the business section. The article cites the example of buying a $300 ticket from New York to LA and then upgrading to business with your miles. You pay a fee, but end up with a $2,400 ticket. We encourage you to use these upgrades on very long or international flights, however. If you have a lot of miles, you’ll sometimes be automatically bumped up to a business class seat when traveling within the U.S.
  • Use award maps to see where you can spend the miles and be flexible about your destination.
  • Think about using alternate airports. If you can get a mileage ticket to near where you’re going, you can then rent a car or hop on a train to your final destination. Keep the convenience of getting to where you’re going in mind before you decide on doing this.
  • Have a mileage guru help you out. (For a fee, of course.)
  • Book your tickets far in advance or very quickly to avoid someone else getting your seat.

Have you found some travel hacks to using your travel miles? Share them with us or on our Facebook page.

School in the Skies: Some Airlines Offer In-Flight College Classes

May 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

You can’t necessarily get your degree on your next trip but you can spend some time learning while flying, which we think is a great way to multitask. A recent article in Money Magazine showcased two airlines that offer university level coursework to their passengers. You won’t get college credit for signing on, but you might learn something really interesting! Both airlines plan to rotate courses on a regular basis.

Neil deGrasse Tyson at The Amazing Meeting 6.

Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Virgin American is offering courses from “The Great Courses,” which normally have a subscription cost to them. Virgin is footing the bill for this service, which includes lectures on various topics. You can even review entire courses while jet setting the world on Virgin American. Lectures are offered by a number of big names, including astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Jet Blue is also streaming lectures from some big name universities that are made available through Coursera, a well-known player in field of online and recorded education for large audiences. They’re also offering some cooking classes through another provider. With the rising tide of “foodie-ism” that could be quite popular

We think listening to classes while flying is something that could be of interest to many people. A couple of us at Travelpro are eager to try this out, although some of our colleagues say they want nothing but to be entertained when they’re on a plane.

If you’re not flying on one of these airlines, you can also use iTunes U, which offers a lot of different classes from around the world for free, or sign up for Coursera on your own. These types of classes are definitely gaining in popularity and can be quite interesting.

Do keep in mind that some of the classes may be a bit remedial so it may be best to sign up for classes where you don’t know a lot about the topic.

Do you do online learning? What are some of your favorite courses? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. Let us hear from you, and give us a couple ideas for our next trip!

Travel Mistakes You’re Not Too Smart to Make

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Conde Nast Traveler discusses some common travel mistakes that many travelers think they’re too smart to make.

In other words, even the wiliest traveler can fall prey to these common trip-ups from time to time.

This includes mistakes like paying the airline ticket change fees. Instead of paying a high change fee, the article suggests that you go with an airline that will allow you to change tickets fairly easily if you need to. American Airlines has a travel insurance-like program that does cost a bit, but lets you make changes for free. And Southwest tickets can generally be changed for free if you make the move far enough in advance or for a fairly small amount closer to departure.

English: Cafe Evropa in Prague Ελληνικά: Η Αρ-...

Cafe Evropa in Prague (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another thing that stood out to us was the credit card foreign transaction fee when traveling internationally. You generally want to use your credit card when traveling to get the best exchange rate, but having to pay a fee works against you. So try to get a credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee and carry some cash to use for small purchases. If you are traveling overseas, try to exchange your money at your local bank. Generally, the exchange fees are lower than exchanging at your overseas destination.

The article also recommends that you don’t try to tough it out and figure out everything in your destination on your own. Instead, take some time to ask someone at your hotel how to do something or how to get to a particular destination. You can waste your vacation getting overly wrapped up in basic logistics, when you could find the fastest mode of transportation and spend more time enjoying the sights.

Do research in advance so you know ahead of time where you want to go. You can even learn whether the place you intend to stay has a helpful staff. The last thing you want to do is spend your whole vacation floundering around looking for where you want to go.

On a structured trip where you’re going to stop at several destinations, be careful that you don’t miss the one place you want to go. The article suggests that if you have a particular destination on your trip that is particularly dear to you, you should start or end your vacation there to make sure you’re able to make it, rather than squeezing it in somewhere in the middle.

Travel insurance is something we suggest you consider, especially on long trips or those once-in-a-lifetime trips. It’s something that many travelers routinely decline, but in the case that an emergency comes up, it can be a real life saver and money saver.

What are some travel mistakes you’ve made, or work hard to avoid? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you. Or stop by our Facebook page and share your ideas with our Facebook fans.

Atlantic Luggage Announces its “Win a Trip for Four to Orlando, Florida Sweepstakes”

May 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Sweepstakes runs May 15th through June 15th, 2015

Atlantic luggage, part of the Travelpro family of brands and a market leader in affordable, lightweight luggage since 1919, is proud to announce its “Win a Trip For Four to Orlando, Florida, Sweepstakes.”

Atlantic Compass Unite LifestyleIdeal for families who like to travel, Atlantic is offering the chance for a grand prize winner and three guests to win a fabulous trip to Orlando, Florida. The winner will receive roundtrip airfare for four (4); three (3) nights at a 3-star hotel in Orlando; Four (4) 2-day passes with admission to 34 of the best Orlando attractions; $150 cash spending money; and four (4) Atlantic carry-on sized suitcases.

“Atlantic Luggage is designed to make travel easier for the entire family. Known for its affordable, lightweight luggage, Atlantic has pioneered great luggage since 1919,” said Scott Applebee, vice president of Marketing for the Travelpro and the Atlantic Luggage brands. “We are pleased to offer a grand prize winner and three guests the opportunity to visit Orlando, the leading family fun destination.”

The Grand Prize Package includes:

  • Round-trip economy airfare for four (4)
  • Three (3) nights at a 3-star hotel in Orlando, Florida, including breakfast
  • Four (4) 2-day passes with admission to 34 of the best Orlando attractions
  • $150 cash spending money
  • Four (4) Atlantic carry-on sized suitcases

The sweepstakes begins May 15th and ends June 15th, 2015. To enter or view the official sweepstakes rules, please visit the sweepstakes website. No purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win.

About Atlantic Luggage

Since 1919, the Atlantic brand has been synonymous with affordable, value-added and lightweight luggage. As a market leader in the lightweight luggage segment, from cleverly designed uprights and spinners to trendy and smart garment bags and totes, all Atlantic-branded luggage comprises superior quality and durability. Whether for business or recreation, travel is more pleasurable with Atlantic luggage, part of the Travelpro family of products. Please visit the Atlantic Luggage website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations.

About Travelpro

For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers on every continent. The company is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently meeting and exceeding their expectations. Travelpro was honored to once again be voted as the “World’s Best Luggage” by Premier Traveler Magazine in 2014.

Please visit the Travelpro website for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @Travelprointl.

Traveling Ultra Light: What to Leave Behind

May 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on About Travel, a student travel website, brings up the issue of what items you should leave behind when traveling. We think the advice could apply to anyone, although the advice for hostels may indeed be more of a student/cheap traveler thing. (We’ll leave the youth hostels to our younger compatriots!)

A lot of the advice boils down to the simple recommendation that you act like you do at home instead of gearing up and buying a lot of specialty items. For instance, the author said she paid $100 for a silk sleeping bag liner that she had never used.

Wenger Swiss Army knife, opened.

Wenger Swiss Army knife. These aren’t always necessary, unless you’re going camping. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article also discusses the fact that money belts aren’t necessarily as useful as some may think. Just be conscious and careful as you are at home with your money. A Swiss army knife is another overrated item. It can be useful, but isn’t strictly necessary because things you need will probably be available unless you’re camping.

And don’t buy dedicated travel clothes. Just wear what you normally wear instead of buying special clothes. People do tend to over pack in general. You can’t really pack for every possible situation unless you want to deal with a massive suitcase. Just plan in advance, and figure out how to do laundry while you’re on your trip.

You can also assume that wherever you’re going, they have stores and you can purchase something if you have an emergency.

Another thing to think about: Do you need to take a laptop on a non-business trip? Especially if you have a tablet or even a smartphone. You can give up that luxury of the bigger screen for efficiency. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with a smartphone, and a pen and notebook.

The advice in the article and from TravelPro boils down to keeping common sense in mind when packing. Be realistic about what you will really need while you’re traveling and try to think back to other trips where certain items have sat in your luggage for the entire time. Leave that stuff behind.

What are some travel items you’ve learned to live without? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or just leave one below. Let us hear some of your travel secrets.

Bring This, Not That: Work On a Vacation

May 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

At TravelPro we encourage folks to take “real” vacations where they can truly unplug, disconnect, and fully relax.

However, I’ll admit to weeding through my email inbox and taking care of easy emails during the break, just so I’m not buried on my first day back. That can almost take the joy out of time off!

But other than that, I don’t take work with me during the time I’m supposed to be enjoying time with my family. I think it’s important that we distance ourselves from work as much as possible. Here’s why you should leave your work at home the next time you take a vacation.

A change of scenery can let you refresh yourself mentally. People with stressful jobs may need a break. We think there should be an opportunity to shut off and log out. Studies have shown that taking time off is actually good for you both physically and even professionally.

Cruise ship Norwegian Dawn leaving Ney York Ci...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking time off can actually help rejuvenate your work life. You come back with a renewed sense of energy and perhaps even a different perspective. Things that seemed like huge problems before your trip no longer seem so daunting. People who seemed extremely annoying no longer make you grit your teeth. And you may find that a true break makes you appreciate your job when you come back because you can almost see it with new eyes.

On the other hand, some folks enjoy working while traveling because it gives them the ability to take longer vacations. Or they have a job that allows them to work from anywhere, thus encouraging a lifestyle of more travel and exploration, without needing to be “at work.” In those cases, you can take longer vacations if you take work with you.

Even if you plan to work during your vacation, if you’re going to family events, focus on your family and be present rather than investing time in going through work on your phone. It can be seen as rude, especially if you don’t get to see them very often.

What are your thoughts on taking work on vacation? Have you? Would you? What are some ways you disconnect from life at home while you’re on a break? Leave us a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

New Family Travel Association Works to Help Family Travelers

May 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in USA Today discussed a new organization fighting for the plight of families traveling with children. The Family Travel Association is a new industry association that seeks to inspire people with kids to travel and to educate them on the positive impact that traveling has on both children and adults.

“Now, the industry is joining forces to present a clear and unified message — that travel with kids can be transformational, not just recreational, and that there are things you can do with your children that you may never have dreamed possible,” said Rainer Jenss, president of the FTA, said in the article.

Jenss said the goal of the FTA is to lead the industry toward making travel easier for parents with children since many surveys indicate that parents often come home from trips more frazzled than when they left.

English: PBair female flight attendant at work...

Female flight attendant at work on board of a ATR 72 (Thailand). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FTA plans to promote kid-friendly companies, including airlines and hotels that tailor services to families with kids. The fact is, many businesses are either unaware of how to make things easier for families or are sometimes downright unwelcoming.

The article even mentions a mother who always flies with a print out of each airline’s rules for traveling with children, since flight attendants are often unfamiliar with the facts.

Since travel is both beneficial and difficult for families, the FTA has a lot to offer if they can make things easier for parents shepherding their children through the pleasures and perils of vacationing.

It’s very beneficial to be able to get away with your family. In fact, our Vogue line is intended for the family traveler, so this association is something we’re very interested in following and seeing how it turns out.

Would you use it or not? What are some of the difficulties and joys you’ve had traveling with your family? Leave us a comment below or stop by our Facebook page and share your thoughts.

Bring This, Not That: Pillows and Bedding

May 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Some folks love to travel with pillows and bedding, usually when traveling by car. There’s just something about having your own pillow with you when you’re sleeping in strange beds halfway across the country.

Once you’re talking about getting on a plane, however, all bets are off, unless you are truly dedicated to traveling with your own bedding and have extra money to burn on baggage.

Truth is, a pillow or a blanket can be a great addition to a car trip. Your own bedding is often very comforting, and if you’re going to see someone with limited bedding, it can also help your host.

English: A pile of pillows.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And if your young children have their special little pillow or blanket, you should certainly take that along with you. Separating children from their security blanket or pillow leads to stress all around.

We just read about someone who takes his own inflatable mattress and pillows on vacation, because they can blow them up in hotels for their kids. This saves money, because they can decrease the number of rooms they need, and young kids can pretend they’re camping out in the hotel room, which makes the trip more fun for them.

This plan is reasonable for a car trip, but if you wanted to take it on a plane, it might be an overwhelming burden. Those things are heavy!

My wife and I used to rent cabins with her family and the mattresses were not exactly the height of luxury; a blow up mattress was a great step up in comfort. Plus, bringing along an inflatable mattress was convenient because you can easily set these mattresses aside when you’re not sleeping. That can save you some room and make things seem less cramped.

Do you travel with your own bedding? Do you have a favorite pillow or blanket you won’t leave at home? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

4 Ways to Prevent Your Miles From Expiring

May 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Airlines are tightening their mileage programs, raising the rates, and setting expiration dates on unused miles. This has travelers looking for new ways to get additional miles, and to hang on to their old miles until they can finally reclaim them.

The Huffington Post recently addressed one of the frequent traveler’s most burning dilemmas: how do you keep your frequent flier miles from expiring?

English: Express by Holiday Inn, Inverness The...

Holiday Inn Express, Inverness, Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, it’s a good idea to keep track of your miles, especially if you’re using more than one loyalty program. The article suggests AwardWallet as a helpful tool. It not only keeps track of your miles, but also alerts you when something is about to expire.

HuffPo also notes that most programs simply require some form of activity every 18 to 24 months in order to keep your rewards on board. And in some cases, not much activity at all is required in order to count. You can often find partners that work with the airline or hotel and do something simple, such as ordering flowers, to keep your miles active.

Best of all, all the miles renew when you do this, not just certain miles as many people think.

Other options include using a hotel or airline website as a shopping portal for your online purchases.

You can even trade miles around using an online travel point exchange, such as points.com.

For instance, if you have 5,000 Holiday Inn Points and 20,000 Delta points, for around 10 percent of the points, you could transfer the Holiday Inn points to your Delta points account. This is very helpful if you have no upcoming plans to stay at a Holiday Inn.

It works almost like a co-op or a bank. The companies themselves aren’t working on these exchanges but simply allowing people to trade points via the points.com website. It’s a really handy way to keep at least some of your travel points alive.

What are you doing to keep your travel points from expiring? Share some of your best tips with us in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Four Fun and Useful Travel Apps

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Yahoo Travel shared some fun and useful travel apps you may want for your next trip.

While some were specifically for entertainment value, we really liked two of them. First, Anti Mosquito Sonic Repeller for your phone plays high pitched, almost inaudible frequencies that will repel mosquitoes.

Ochlerotatus notoscriptus, Tasmania, Australia

Ochlerotatus notoscriptus, Tasmania, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It plays sounds in ranges that the average adult can’t hear, but we’re told that kids and young adults can still hear the frequencies.

Another app called Sleepy Traveller is ideal for commuters. It uses GPS to wake you up when your train approaches your station to prevent you from sleeping through your stop.

We also like Waze, a Google-owned GPS driving app that updates local road conditions based on input from other Waze users. It’s a great way to avoid new construction, a late breaking accident, or the occasional impromptu parade.

Another great app is called Lounge Buddy, which helps you find lounges at airports that you can access. It will let you know if a lounge is nearby that you belong to, or if there’s one that you could easily purchase a day pass for is around. It’s great for the occasional traveler who doesn’t know the airport like the back of her hand.

Finally, we like Roadside America, an online travel guide that uses your phone’s GPS to give you tips and details on roadside interests in areas you pass through. While you’re in the car, use Roadside America to find some fun stops to take a break from the highway.

What other little-known travel apps do you use? Do you have any you particularly enjoy or love? Leave us a comment and share them with us.

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