Travel Hacks and Myths That Don’t Actually Work

September 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The number of travel hacks that have been touted across the Internet as “the way” to get the “best” deal have many chasing the potential for something that isn’t out there.

For example, none of these well-publicized travel hacks for getting a cheaper flight — clear your cache to avoid high airfares, don’t use a Mac, buy 42 days in advance, book after midnight on a Tuesday — actually work.

If you want to get a deal on an airfare, don’t book too early or too late. Booking one to four months out should result in a decent price. And the differences in between prices are not so vast anymore either. You might save $40 or $50 on a discount site, but you may be penalized by not being allowed to select your seats or being more likely to get bumped if a flight is overbooked.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel - Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don't always work. And may be impolite in some cultures.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel – Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don’t always work, and may be impolite in some cultures.

As for booking the best hotel rate, don’t believe the hack about calling the property directly unless you’re negotiating a group rate for a special event. That’s another situation entirely. If you’re thinking that you’ll be able to use your amazing negotiating skills if you can just speak with a human being, think again. Calling a property directly will most likely end up in a reroute to a reservation center. Just go to their website and make sure to enter your loyalty number. If you don’t have one, join their loyalty club and then stick with them for future travel. That will always get the best rates.

Finally, if you don’t join a loyalty club and every dollar counts, check a meta-search website instead, such as Google or Kayak.com, Booking.com, or Expedia. Cross-check your findings with those of the hotel’s website, though, so that you don’t miss a deal there.

“Tipping” the front desk personnel when checking is another travel hack that usually doesn’t work. Most often, the employee keeps the money, not understanding that you were attempting to hack the system and get an upgrade. This does have a better chance of working at fancy hotels in big cities, but even then, it doesn’t always help.

Rental cars used to be able to be procured for deeply discounted rates by making a reservation via travel sites like Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, or Priceline. Not so anymore. The best deals today are through Costco, AAA, or the rental companies themselves, such as Hertz, Enterprise, National, Avis, and Budget.

If you need an inexpensive rental car, start with the rental companies’ websites, but check the other sites as well. The rental car companies truly have figured out that it’s better to offer great deals directly to their customers than to make them hunt them down on competitor’s sites.

Everyone wants to figure out a way to hack the system and travel cheaper or faster. While it may seem innocuous at the time, many potential hacks may involve lying, bribing, or cheating, and those behaviors only end up creating consequences for the traveling public—often resulting in higher fares and tighter restrictions. So be careful in the hacks that you use.

Your best bet is to join loyalty clubs at your favorite hotel, airline, and car rental agency and stick with them as much as possible. Also, get a credit card that rewards you loyalty points. Your membership in those clubs can get you some extra perks.

What are some travel hacks have you found that don’t actually work? Any painful lessons you learned in your business travel? Share your experiences with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Packing Food for Air Travel

August 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you trying to stay on track with that new diet you’re on, but you have a business trip, and the thought of running the food court gauntlet without getting tripped up by some tempting food has you considering quitting? Do you have a dietary restriction that makes finding allergen-free food in the airport next to impossible?

Have you considered packing some snacks or meals to eat while you fly? You can take food through the TSA security checkpoints, you just have to know what food falls under its liquid restrictions — the 3-1-1 rule —and pack accordingly.

Although water bottles or other beverages must not exceed 3.4 ounces, don’t automatically assume you can’t bring items such as packets of nut butters or salad dressing. Just be sure the amount you’re bringing through security is less than 3.4 ounces/100ml. The liquid restrictions also apply to ice and gel packs as well, so be sure to time your arrival at the airport so those frozen food products are still frozen solid.
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How to Network and Be Productive on the Road

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel can have a lot of perks and benefits: seeing new cities, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge, and closing important deals. But one of the unspoken downsides is the feeling of being cut off from what’s going on at the office and at home. Those feelings can lead to productivity paralysis, but there are ways to maintain and even increase your productivity while on the road.

Network with people as a way to stay productive on the road, and lay the groundwork for future relationships.Network. It may be an informal hotel happy hour or the opening reception at a conference, but meeting new people in these environments often has unexpected positive results. You might learn about a new line of products or meet a potential client, or strategize about working the vendor floor at a trade show. This casual collaboration will stimulate your productivity and simultaneously boost your serotonin (one of the brain’s chemicals responsible for happiness).

Schedule downtime. Restorative activities such as a massage, spa treatment, a quick workout, or even a leisurely walk can help clear your mind and allow you to shed stress and refocus. Team building activities can enhance productivity by providing an opportunity to decompress from the treadmill of work, work, work.
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How Much Should You Tip at Hotels?

August 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In this country, tipping is a combination of good manners and best practices. Whether you agree with it or not almost doesn’t matter, because this is how the travel and service industries operate. You tip at restaurants, you tip your cab driver, you tip at hotels — it’s a part of travel etiquette.

But there are a lot of questions about who you should actually tip at hotels, so we’ve found some different resources on the subject and here’s what you should do if you want to become a champion of etiquette. Here’s just a short list of the most visible staff you need to consider tipping:

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. Staying at a place like expects that you tip at hotels.

The Bellagio Hotel – Definitely a tipping environment.

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Top Five Strategies for Business Travel Efficiency

August 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel is hard — hard on the body, hard on the mind — but making a few intelligent choices can make all the difference in terms of efficiency. To paraphrase the old saying about charity, “Good health starts at home.” You can’t be your best if you don’t take care of yourself first. Here are five strategies to help you be the most efficient traveler possible.

Travelpro Crew Executive Choice 2 Business Backpack - ideal for business travel

This checkpoint friendly backpack can get you through airport security with a minimum of fuss.

1. Pack wisely. Choosing the best luggage to meet your needs is the first way to set yourself up for success and streamline your travel experience. Our Crew™ 11 20″ Business Plus Carry-on is not only lightweight and durable, it features a complete business organizer with RFID protection for easy accessibility to your essentials and protection from identity theft. The Crew™ Executive Choice™ 2 checkpoint-friendly backpack is designed to maximize functional efficiency while on the road. Its exterior USB port and dedicated Power Bank battery pocket ensure you always have access to power on the move (battery not included), and the built-in business organizer has unique storage amenities, including padded and quilted sleeves for both a standard size laptop and tablet. Ensure all your essentials get where you’re going to and maximize efficiency while you’re doing it with a single bag.
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Business Travelers Need Smaller Carry-On Luggage on Regional Jets

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Not all business travelers jet off to major cities or other countries. Many business travelers have clients in smaller cities, and that means that if you travel by air, it’ll most likely be via a regional jet.

There’s nothing wrong with regional jets, except when it comes to overhead and under seat storage space for carry-on luggage. You can determine if your plane will be a regional jet simply by entering your flight number on SeatGuru. The overhead bin size will be specified in the data about the plane. Most will accommodate bags up to 18″x14″x7″.

If you normally fly via these types of aircraft, your more traditional carry-on luggage gets gate-checked for plane side retrieval. While setup doesn’t require you to trek to the baggage claim, you may end up waiting several minutes for your luggage to re-emerge. Nothing wrong with that, unless you need to make a tight connection. In that case, you might consider investigating smaller carry-on luggage instead.

Travelpro has a wide variety of bags that will increase your chances of avoiding gate check and still provide you with many options for traveling with your business and personal essentials.
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Four Ways to Bootstrap Your Travel Budget

August 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Video conferencing, data sharing, cloud computing, and mobile connectivity have been touted as the way to do business in the 21st century. Turns out, it’s hard to beat being in the room to conduct business. Face-to-face meetings facilitate better, clearer, and faster exchange of ideas. And don’t forget all the conferences and trade shows you have to attend.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, business travel is expected to grow by almost 6% each year over the next five years. How can startups and small businesses, which often operate on shoestring budgets, bootstrap their travel costs so their salespeople can close crucial deals?

Business travel is costly, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Entrepreneur magazine’s article had some helpful ideas for bootstrapping your travel budget, and we came up with a couple of our own.

Get organized. Concur Technologies found that disorganization — failing to fully understand the true cost of travel — caused companies to waste nearly 20 percent more than large businesses in this category. Bottom line? Do a cost analysis of your frequent travel options in order to create a detailed, thorough, comprehensive travel policy that everyone must adhere to.
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Business Travelers Can Continue to Carry Laptops in their Carry-On Luggage

July 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The United States Department of Homeland Security has ended a four month ban on laptops in carry-on luggage on U.S. bound flights from the Middle East and North Africa. The ban was originally enacted because terrorism experts were concerned that explosives could be concealed in electronics as large as laptops and mobile tablets. It affected ten airports and nine airlines that are based in the Middle East.

The King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was the final airport to have the ban lifted, after they and the other airlines and airports implemented new security measures designed to check for explosives in the large electronics.

Officials visited the ten airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and confirmed that the security measures were in place.
Business travelers on Etihad Airways and other Middle East airlines were concerned about a laptop ban.
The airports originally affected include Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah, Saudia Arabia; Riyadh, Saudia Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. The carriers most heavily impacted by this ban were Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, and Turkish Airlines.
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TSA May Require Additional Screening for Additional Items at Airport

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As if we weren’t already in the throes of the busiest season for traveling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it might require more items to be removed from your carry-on luggage during screening. For the past 18 months, TSA has been testing how to make it easier for its officers to consistently view what’s in the bags they screen daily.

According to Wall Street Journal “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney, the X-ray machine color codes the items inside the bag based on the density, and the more tightly packed the bag is, the harder it is for all its contents to be identified. That makes it difficult for screeners to identify the items within the bag.
TSA Bag Check
TSA officials have been considering having all electronics, food, and paper added to the list of items that must come out of every carry-on during screening. Why food? Certain items, such as chocolate, are dense and mimic the shape of explosives, often creating the necessity of a second look, just to be sure. Paper, including books and notepads, obscures other things, forcing the screener to tag a bag for a manual check that slows the line.
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Business Travelers Rejoice! Global In-Flight Wifi Connectivity Growing in 2017

July 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Years ago, business travelers used to love or hate their flights. It was either a much-needed escape or a stint in solitary confinement. Like it or not, you were unreachable for the duration of your flight. No phones, no wifi, no Internet. If you didn’t bring out some printouts or reports to read, you didn’t have anything to work on.

Now, apart from the smaller seats, you can function as if you never left your office at all.

According to Routehappy’s 2017 wifi report, Global State of In-Flight Wifi, there is more in-flight connectivity than there has ever been. They found that 39 percent of global flights and 83 percent of U.S. flights’ actual seat miles — miles flown multiplied by the number of available seats — offer wifi connectivity as an amenity. There are also 60 airlines worldwide that now offer in-flight wifi over most regions of the globe.
Business travelers will be able to use their wifi enabled cell phones more in 2017. This is a man texting on a plane.
“2016 was the year that airlines outside the U.S. committed to high-quality, in-flight wifi at a rate only previously seen by U.S. carriers, and 2017 will see those commitments come to life,” Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said in a Business Travel News article.
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