How to Keep Your Home Safe while Traveling

October 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s a great deal of emphasis these days being placed on personal security while traveling. But have you thought about ways you might be “leaving the door unlocked” for thieves while you’re away from home? By instituting a few simple routines, you can keep your house secure while you’re traveling for business or leisure.

This first one may seem a bit obvious, but in our oversharing culture it’s worth noting: Do not post on social media when you’re going out of town. Disable the “check in to favorites” and “check in to recent places” on your Swarm/Foursquare app or Facebook, so those apps do not automatically display that you’re in another state.
Keep your house safe while you're traveling
Also, avoid posting vacation pictures until you return from your trip so those who search the Internet for this kind of information can’t easily target your home. One good use of technology: a simple text sent to neighbors you trust, telling them you’re leaving town and asking them to keep an eye on your place, may raise someone’s suspicion if they see unusual activity around your home.

Home automation is another technology method, but we’re long past the days of the automatic timers that shut off all the lights at exactly the same time every day. A free web service called IFTTT (which used to be If This, Then That) allows you to use its partnerships with various manufacturers’ products to control your house’s lighting, heating and cooling, and alarm system remotely.
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Smart Ways to Carry Money When Traveling

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.

So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.

A credit card is an effective way to carry money when you travel, because you can always get a replacement if you lose it.

Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.

Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
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All-Inclusive Resorts: Why or Why Not?

September 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years ago, I went on my first all-inclusive vacation. I just wanted to get away and have the luxury of not thinking about anything once I arrived. Mission accomplished! It was nice knowing all my meals, my drinks, and my activities were covered by the package deal.

The Tamassa All-Inclusive Hotel is an example of one of the all-inclusive resorts in that part of the world.

The Tamassa All-Inclusive Hotel in Mauritius

Some people question whether all-inclusive resorts are a good value or not. If you’re trying to keep costs manageable, they actually can be. According to the Family Vacation Survival Guide, you can save up to 25 percent by choosing resorts for your vacation, compared to paying for lodging, meals and activities as you go.

Consider the following trip expenses that are included when you choose a resort vacation:

  • Transportation. Complimentary shuttle service to the property from the airport is often part of the package, and if you want to leave the property for a nearby destination, you may be able to use the resort’s shuttle service or hire a cab.
  • Tipping is usually factored into the cost, eliminating the need, especially in a foreign country, to carry and calculate local currency. While I found this awkward, I was assured repeatedly that gratuities were not expected by the staff. Be sure to check before you go, so you don’t feel uncomfortable because you didn’t know the resort’s policy.
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How to Protect Your Information at a Hotel

August 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s the same words we hear from friends and loved ones whenever we’re headed out on yet another trip.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel“Be safe,” they advise. “Have a safe flight.”

What about once we arrive at our destination? There’s a lot we can and should do to keep ourselves safe once we arrive at our hotel.

Anthony Melchiorri, host of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,”shared with Business Insider magazine a list of things to do to be safe and keep your personal information secure while on the road. We thought they were worth passing along.
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Travel Etiquette: Difficult Issues Need to be Handled Delicately

August 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people view travel as a solitary experience. They don’t make eye contact while going through security or on the way to their terminal. They’re sure to try to find a seat in the gate area with an empty one beside it, and they queue up without comment when it’s time to board.

Apple In-ear headphones + Virgin eyemask = a good sleep. Solves some travel etiquette problems too.

Apple In-ear headphones + Virgin eyemask = a good sleep.

Seeing ourselves as solitary sojourners whose actions don’t impact anyone else ends when we are seated two or three to a row in coach with hours of forced “togetherness” ahead. This situation can create some unique etiquette issues you may not have thought of before.

“There’s a blurred line between what’s acceptable and what’s irritating,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. A Chicago Tribune article on travel etiquette gives us a few things to think about the next time we fly. Here are a few issues often caused by close proximity while flying.

Example #1: The in-flight reading light. Is it inconsiderate to use said light on an overnight flight if you’re a reader or someone who likes to use the time to work instead of sleep? Solution: Ask before you turn it on, or use a small book light to read. Conversely, use a sleep mask to block out unwanted light.
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Getting the Cheapest Flights Without Sacrificing Comfort

August 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers often consider the cost of airfare when determining the ROI of their business trips (and if you don’t, you should, especially for entrepreneurs and executives whose travel costs come out of their regular budgets). You can find less expensive flights with just a little planning, but without giving up the comfort and convenience of your usual travel schedule.

Yahoo Travel shared several great ways for saving money on flights, and they apply to business fliers as much as vacation travelers.

Delta Airline A330 airplaneLet’s start with the basics: it’s true what the experts say. The cheapest flights will be found when you book eight weeks out for domestic travel and 24 weeks out for international. However, if you’re impulsive and can leave at the drop of a hat, you can also snatch a cheap flight last-minute if you can be somewhat flexible in your schedule.

If you want to be more scientific in your search for a deal, we suggest downloading a fare alert app that lets you know when the cheapest flight becomes available for the destination of your choice. Another way to get the big picture on flight prices is to investigate the “search by month” option on sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights. This will take the guesswork out of your purchase.
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Ways to Avoid Lines When You Travel

August 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Unless you’ve already been authorized for PreCheck, you’re not going to be able to avoid the TSA security lines. But there are things you can do when you’re getting ready to travel and things you can do once you get where you’re going that can help you avoid lines like a pro. Let us show you how.

TSA lines at LAX international terminal, Santa Monica, Los Angeles,If you’re going to spend the day at an amusement park, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in line. Disney and many other theme parks have systems in place that let you essentially reserve a place in line. One side note: some parks offer this as a free service, while others, like Six Flags, charge for it.

Take advantage of online booking. Museums and other attractions allow you to purchase your tickets before you arrive. You then print them or keep them in your smartphone, and bypass the line altogether. Some cities also offer an all-inclusive pass that includes admission to its major attractions, again saving you from doing nothing but waiting in line.

Use express checkout at your hotel. Because your credit card is on file as part of your check-in process, you’re good to go at all major hotels without stopping by the front desk, provided the bill you find inside your door is accurate. This may not always be the case at smaller boutique hotels.
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Avoid Paying Unnecessary Fees When You Travel

July 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

house-money-capitalism-fortune-12619When 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.
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GM and Lyft Working to Make Self-Driving Cars a Reality

June 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

A Lyft vehicle in Santa Monica, CABesides 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.
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Delta Invests $50 Million in RFID Baggage Tracking Technology

June 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Delta Baggage Tracking on mobile app

Delta Baggage Tracking on mobile app

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.

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