Traveling is expensive; there’s no way around it. But that doesn’t mean you have to fall prey to the hidden costs and extra surprise charges. There are ways to avoid unnecessary fees that can come along while you’re traveling, so here are a few ways you can avoid the problem.
When you’re at the car rental agency desk and are asked if you want to buy their insurance, you can politely answer with a confident “no, thank you,” as long as you know that your standard car insurance policy covers rental cars (check with your agent to be sure). Also, some credit cards provide insurance for rental cars as well, like American Express.
Hunger strikes when you’re least prepared, and it seems like the only option available would be the overpriced airport and hotel food. Not true! Since you know you get hungry approximately three times a day, whether traveling or not, avoid that $3 bottle of water by packing your own empty one, and filling it at the water fountain. Better yet, fill it from the bottle-filling stations if available.
It’s about the biggest inconvenience you can experience when traveling: you arrive at the airport and realize you don’t have your ID. What do you do? For starters, don’t turn around and go home. You won’t make your flight, and may be hit with a ticket change fee.
Here’s what you can do instead.
Be prepared to provide a succinct summary of your predicament to TSA. You don’t have to hang your head or act embarrassed. This happens enough that they’re used to it, and as long as you are willing to submit yourself to a second layer of security, you’ll be fine. Whatever you do, don’t be cocky — you are in no position to demand anything — after all, you did forget your ID or lost it. You are at the mercy of the system and there is a procedure for this situation, so submit to it, be kind and be patient. The old saying, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part,” applies here.
Next, be prepared to answer all questions honestly and politely. TSA officers go through behavioral detection training, and while you may be stressed, you don’t have to be nervous. They’re just doing their job.
Airline seats are notorious for their ability to make us feel confined and constrained, not to mention uncomfortable. Seats are narrow and there’s not a lot of space between them, so plane rides aren’t always very comfortable.
In the 1960s, when seat dimensions were first prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration, the seat width was 17 inches and the weight of the average customer was estimated to be 140 for females and 166 for males.
Today, the average seat width is 16.5 inches, while the average weights have increased by 25 and 30 pounds respectively. These incremental changes have functioned on the premise that “one size fits all.” Clearly, this is no longer the case for a growing number of passengers, and airlines are being forced into uncomfortable situations with overweight customers, seemingly without a viable remedy.
I consider myself a frequent business traveler, but even I was shocked when I descended the escalator to the security area at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month. The entire winding queue was full and an overflow area had been set up to accommodate more travelers. My first thought was, “I’m glad I got here early.”
Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, many people are experiencing firsthand what others have been talking about for months: long lines. TSA successfully petitioned Congress this spring to reverse its decision to cut 1,700 people from its workforce and has hired 800 new officers, but it’s still taking some time to get up to speed.
While air travel used to be a luxurious experience, today planes are the buses of the sky — some seats are comfortable, but many are, well, not. With a little bit of strategizing, though, you can get a better seat for your next trip. It takes some pre-planning, and maybe a fee or two, but you can avoid sitting in an uncomfortable seat way in the back.
Don’t believe everything you read. If an airline’s website says “only premium economy seats are available,” pick up the phone and make your reservation with a live human being who can assign you a seat. They can see and do things the website can’t.
Ask and it may be yours. You can always check with the gate agent when you arrive before your departure to see if there’s space on the upgrade list. Sometimes, a long-distance flight in coach can turn into a business class upgrade for much less than the original ticket price, and, bingo, you’re flying in comfort.
Have you ever stood in line waiting to board a flight and thought to yourself, “If they’d just put me in charge, I could get us on this plane a lot faster”?
Truth be told, though, it’s not as random or inefficient as it may seem. Just the opposite. Vast amounts of research have resulted in several different processes over several different airlines. We found the following compilation in an article on Conde Nast Traveler very interesting.
Many travelers are surprised when they’re greeted in English while traveling abroad. One of our colleagues used to get frustrated whenever he would travel to Germany and the Netherlands, and then be greeted in English. His goal was to pass as a local, so it would bothered him that people could tell immediately.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How did they know?” and wanted to blend in a bit, here are a few tips from veteran travelers. Taking the time to educate yourself before leaving home will allow you to navigate your new city or country with the finesse of a local.
First, learn a few key phrases, such as “please” and “excuse me.” Even if you don’t manage the correct pronunciation, natives are impressed by the effort and courage. One of those small social exchanges may lead to a beautiful connection.
You’ve read the reviews, you’ve asked friends, and you’ve researched online, but you’re still unsure how to go about determining which kind of luggage to purchase. What should you do?
Let’s assume you’ve identified what you’ll be using the bag for: regular business travel or infrequent leisure travel. That has helped you qualify how much you’ll be willing to spend in order to have something that will serve your needs for the length of time you anticipate needing it. You’ve analyzed different bags to determine the features you’ll need. You’ve factored in past experiences with other pieces you’ve had as you’ve thought through this purchase.
Having done all that, nothing can substitute for going to a store and giving your chosen bag a test run. Take advantage of the sales associates where you shop. They should be knowledgeable and helpful. If they’re not, seek out a store that specializes in luggage sales.
The transportation you use once you arrive at your destination, whether traveling from the airport to your hotel or from the commuter train to your business meeting, can be a big part of your overall travel experience.
Besides impacting your overall feeling about the trip, it can be expensive, depending on what you use. While limos or taxis used to be the predominant method, the popularity of Uber and its competitor Lyft have changed the conversation about what mode of transport is not only most pleasant and efficient, but most cost effective.
To that end, GM and Lyft are betting that utilizing driverless cars will create an even less expensive option for users. Conde Nast Traveler reports the two companies have combined forces, and GM has purchased driverless tech company Cruise Automation, with an eye on capturing that emerging market.
It’s not hard to imagine, and it’s every weary traveler’s worst case scenario. Perhaps this has happened to you. You arrive home from your trip only to find your luggage didn’t make the trip with you. You rummage around and find those little baggage claim stickers from the depths of your carry-on to show an airline customer service representative, but other than that you have no way of knowing where your bags are. It’s an awful beginning or end to any trip.
Currently, there are many bag tracking devices and accompanying apps on the market, but those put the onus on the traveler to make the airline aware that, for example, they’re on a flight to Omaha while their luggage is on its way to London.
Delta is turning this model around, as they have recently announced a $50 million update to their baggage tracking technology system. New RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide. Delta’s investment is the largest outlay by a single airline to date, and has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.