Bring This, Not That: Boots versus Shoes versus Sandals

June 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re always big fans of “pack light, wear heavy” when you’re working with limited space. For example, don’t pack your big boots into your Rollaboard when space is limited. Which gives rise to the question of whether you should take boots, shoes, or sandals with you for most of your walking.

One of the most important things to consider will be how active you plan to be, and where you will be. It may seem like a no-brainer, but an active vacation requires completely different clothing and apparel than a more passive, relaxing vacation.

An example of walking in sandals.

An example of walking in sandals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can leave the button down shirt and slacks at home if your next trip involves scaling up a mountain. Conversely, if you’ll be dining in five star restaurants, there’s no need to waste valuable packing space with tank tops, Bermuda shorts, and flip-flops.

But what about your footwear? There are several different schools of thought for what you need on your feet when you’re going to do a lot of walking.

Again, match your footwear to your predicted level of activity. If your plans include museum visits, city tours, theme parks, or other activities that involve a lot of walking, make room in your suitcase for your favorite pair of running or walking shoes, so that you can move through the day in comfort. If hiking is on your schedule, get the lightweight boots that will provide comfort and support. And if you’re just lounging on the beach, grab your sandals.

It’s important to pack for function, but versatility is just as important. You should pack no more than two, and wear the third pair. The last thing you’ll need is to take up space by packing every pair of shoes you own, “just in case.”

For instance, if you plan on traveling throughout the city on foot, and will want to dine at nice restaurants, bring a pair of casual shoes, like loafers, that allow you to look presentable in public while also providing moderate comfort. While your hiking boots may be more comfortable, the maitre’d may decide he doesn’t have any tables that night.

Finally, don’t forget to wear your heaviest or biggest shoes on the plane. That will save you packing space and baggage weight. If you think your shoes may be too heavy on the plane, then you may also want to think twice about whether you needed them at all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

When is Shipping Your Luggage an Option?

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As travelers, it’s been our struggle to deal with our luggage. It’s been going on for centuries, even millennial, when early man began cramming carry-on satchels made of Mammoth hide into the overhead bins on their Pterodactyl planes.

Or was that The Flintstones?

Regardless, people are still dealing with how to get all their stuff from point A to point B easily, cheaply and quickly. But like the old saying goes, there’s easy, cheap, and quick, and you can only choose two.

Travelpro provides Rollaboard and Spinner carry-on luggage so people have the convenience of skipping the bag check and retrieval in the airports, which makes their travel a lot easier. Other people are finding that they still have to gate check their bags, just because they’re one of the last ones on the plane. Sometimes, carry-on luggage is not an option for longer trips that require more stuff.

Yahoo travel blogger Sonia Gil recently posted a video about the joys of traveling completely bag-free. (Well, almost completely. You need to carry your laptop, tablet, book, extra sweater, tickets, spare underwear, granola bars, and well, you just need a personal bag.)

Sonia looked at the joys and costs of traveling bag-free — no bag-check lines, no lost luggage, no worries about whether you have to gate check your Rollaboard. To do it, you need to ship your luggage, and it may cost you a few bucks.

There are a few companies that specialize in shipping luggage, like Sports Express and Luggage Free. There are also the main package carriers, like UPS, Fedex, and DHL. Shipping your luggage comes with a lot of caveats however, like needing to pack and ship several days in advance, or the fact that it’s not always the cheapest option.

For example, Sonia looks at the costs of sending a 75 pound oversize bag on a luggage shipper versus American Airlines, and finds that the shipper wins, $299 to $400 ($200 for oversize + $200 for overweight). Of course, you have to ship your luggage five days in advance to get the $299 rate, but it certainly is worth it if it means not having to wrestle your 75 pound behemoth off the baggage carousel and in and out of the cab and hotel.

So, if you need to pack a lot of stuff to take on your next trip, or have golf clubs or skis you want to send, consider shipping your luggage instead of taking it on your flight. The benefit is that you don’t have to mess with it at the airport or move it to and from your final destination. Your bag is already there waiting for you, probably with its own stories.

KLM Introduces Innovative Boarding Technique

May 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The premiere airline carrier of the Netherlands, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, has introduced a new method for passengers boarding planes in an effort to improve efficiency.

Replacing the standard boarding procedures will be a new, numerical process that will assign each passenger a number as they reach the boarding gate. That number corresponds to their seat number, and as that number is displayed by screens on the boarding gate, the passenger is allowed to board the plan and find his or her seat.

English: Aircraft: Boeing 747-406M Airline: KL...

Aircraft: Boeing 747-406M Airline: KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines at Schiphol Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This new procedure will, of course, allow priority members, those with reduced mobility and passengers with children to be seated first.

After those individuals have been seated, the other passengers will be seated starting in the rear and working towards the front. Travelers with window seating will be seated first in each row, followed by middle seats and finally passengers seated in the aisle.

KLM designed the process with hopes to minimize the overall waiting time and increase the passenger experience. Instead of having to waste time idle in line, travelers can spend that time relaxing in the lounge. Because each seat is assigned a number as they reach the gate, there will be no confusion about sitting in another passenger’s seat.

The new process has been seen by many as a much-needed improvement for the traveler. However, a red flag has been raised. Some travelers are concerned that having to wait to be called to board will decrease the chance they will be able to use the overhead bins for carry-on luggage. While this may be a small complaint, it is one that must be addressed if the boarding technique is to be seen as a success and adopted by other airlines.

The current boarding technique is occurring on a test run with select flights. If all goes well, the procedure will be expanded to other flights in the coming months.

If you had to design a plane boarding procedure, what would you come up with? Any suggestions?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Frequent Flier Program Changes Worry Travelers

May 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve been saving up those airline miles and points for a free trip, you may want to cash them out sooner rather than later. Airline loyalty programs are changing so quickly that travelers are wondering if the programs are even worth it anymore.

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Different customer loyality cards (airlines, car rental companies, hotels etc.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have discussed previously that your frequent flier points are quickly becoming devalued. Delta and United have already produced “eye-popping” changes to their programs, and travelers are keeping a watchful eye on the merger between US Airways and American Airlines to see what happens. Of course, not everyone has to worry too much.

Coach fliers won’t really be impacted from these changes. Many of the frequent flier miles and loyalty program changes are affecting business class travelers. Airlines usually change their programs every couple of years and experts warn that you really should look at the terms and conditions for the programs before committing to a favorite one. Airlines change their programs all of the time because flights are getting so cheap and they are losing money.

Some airlines are even changing their loyalty programs to where it’s based on money spent, rather than number of miles. They even go as far as to offer credit cards. They make tons of money off of these cards, so be critical and wary of the offers you consider.

The way that these programs are changing, travelers are being left in the dust. Airlines are changing their minds so quickly that we recommend that you really think about using frequent flier programs before signing up.

Travelers are more wary as their loyalty points are quick becoming worth up to 40 percent less than they used to be only a few months ago. It’s good to be cautious of these programs and know what you are signing up for.

Enhanced by Zemanta

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Boarding Pass

May 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Once you arrive at the airport and pick up your boarding pass (or you print it out at home before you ever leave), the first thing you look at is the gate number and seat assignment. For most people, that’s about it. But you’re missing a lot of information that is helpful, and sometimes crucial, to know. If you’ve never really paid attention to your boarding pass, here are a few things you may want to pay attention to.

1. TSA PreCheck Status

TSA PreCheck allows you to go through security lines faster, making your airport visit much easier. However, you need to become a member in order to use it. It can be a great time saver if you travel frequently. However, you’re not guaranteed PreCheck for every flight, since it’s not available in every airport. Look for the PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass to see if you’re eligible for the PreCheck service on your flight.

2. In-Flight Wifi

English: A boarding pass from British Airways,...

English: A boarding pass from British Airways, for a flight from Vancouver to London Heathrow. The green sticker allows use of “fast pass” security clearance and the brown pencil mark on the stub shows that the passenger has cleared security. The large portion is meant to be retained by the airline but in this case it wasn’t. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost all of American planes have built-in wifi for travelers. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s paid. Your boarding pass will let you know you if your plane has wifi access and whether it’s free or paid. Once you get the all clear from the flight deck, fire up your laptop or tablet, and visit a few of your favorite sites. Like our Facebook page, for example. . .

3. Flight Time

This may seem obvious, since you already know your flight time. But you need to know that flight times constantly change and may be different than the time you originally scheduled. This is also true of your gate.

Note: Depending on when you printed out your boarding pass, the information may have changed. The Departure/Arrival screens are going to have the most up-to-date information, but if you printed out your boarding pass at the airport, that’s a close second.

4. Bar Code

Your boarding pass now has a bar code instead instead of a magnetic strip. This change allowed you to print your boarding pass from home, saving you time at the airport.

5. Flight Number

You may actually be flying on an airline with a codeshare, even though you booked on a different airline. For example, if you booked a United flight to go to Europe, you may find you’re on a Lufthansa flight, which is United’s codeshare partner. Check your ticket for the flight number for codeshare information. If you have a higher-than-expected flight number, that usually means two airlines are sharing the same flight.

6. Seat Number and Status

The more perks you have with your chosen airline, the closer you are to the front of the plane. Being a preferred member of the loyalty club, upgrading your seat, and having priority check-in can all move you toward the front of the plane, which means you get to board early and be one of the first to depart. Anyone who’s ever been last on, last off knows how annoying it can be.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Five Baggage Handling Solutions That Can Enhance the Passenger Experience

May 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re seeing a lot of technological changes that can improve travelers’ experience as they fly around the world. Here are five baggage handling solutions that we think, if they were adopted around the world, would make flying much more enjoyable (or at least less stressful).

1. Home-Printed Bag Tags

Example of IATA airport code printed on a bagg...

Example of IATA airport code printed on a baggage tag, showing DCA (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bag tags printed from home allow passengers to skip check-in and have the bags ready to go when arriving at the airport. You will have more control over your travel experience and could lower your drop off time to as little as 30 seconds. One drawback is some passengers don’t have the printing capabilities, so not everyone can take advantage of it. In addition, if your home printer is low on ink, the tag will not be able to be read by the baggage scanning device. Even with these potential drawbacks, the number of passengers who will not need to print tags at the airport will dramatically speed up check-in times.

2. Permanent Bag Tags

To those annoying bag tag stickers that can fall off, we say enough! The Vanguard ID company has created the ViewTag, designed to replace the throw-a-way paper tags used today. This permanent tag can be updated with a synchronization of a smartphone or tablet. Think about the positive environmental impact of using a permanent tag. Think about the waste of the huge number of throw-a-way bag tags that are created throughout the world’s airports.

After meeting Rick Warther from Vanguard in our office, we know how hard it is to design a permanent tag. There are still some things to consider when thinking about wear and tear and the clarity of the tags for scanning over time.

3. Bag Drops

A few airports are allowing offsite or remote bag drops for travelers, leaving them at a location like your hotel. It’s one less thing to worry about at the airport, but not many have adopted it. We nearly tried it out at a hotel in Las Vegas, but they needed the bags there too early so it didn’t meet our timeline. Aside from some minor issues, we think bag drops are a great idea, and expect to see more convenient systems in the future.

4. Bag Delivery

A delivery service called Airportr will allow passengers traveling to and from an airport in London to have their bags delivered, making the process less stressful. The VIP Luggage Delivery in the U.S. offers the same service now. Our only concern is the issue of security and the ability for a complete stranger to take a cartload of bags without being stopped.

5. Lost Luggage Improvements

Using the WorldTracer App on iPads, airline agents can scan your boarding pass and pull up your information quicker than trying to call the “hotline” for your airline, or visiting the lost luggage desk. You can even trace your own bag with other devices like the Trakdot device.

What are some baggage handling solutions you would like to see? What would make your own travel experience more enjoyable when it comes to dealing with your luggage? Leave a comment and let us hear from you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Can Airports and Airlines Use Wearable Technology To Enhance Passenger Experience?

April 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Today’s travelers are more connected to technology than ever before. From smartphones that stay glued to our hands, to smart watches such as the Pebble and Samsung Gear, and even to what we see with Google Glass, the modern traveler is permanently intertwined with tech. So how can airlines use this technology to create a better passenger experience? Here are a few predictions we can make based on what we’ve seen.

English: Photo of a mobile boarding pass (a 2D...

English: Photo of a mobile boarding pass (a 2D Aztec code bar code on an Orange San Francisco smart phone) on top of a paper boarding pass, printed after online check-in, for a KLM flight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The easiest way to improve a positive passenger experience is to get rid of the boarding pass. This old paper relic from the past can be replaced by an app that lets you check in to your flight. Most major airlines already have this kind of app, and we think in a few years, the digital boarding pass will become the standard, and the paper version will be used less and less. This could drastically improve the speed of checking in for your flight and shorten the amount of time wasted at the airport, creating happier travelers. Also, think of the elimination of paper from an environmental perspective across all the world’s airports.

Google Glass can be incredibly effective when traveling, especially for those inexperienced air travelers. The front display can act as a GPS device that actually directs you to your gate, as well as provide real-time updates of the flight status. And whereas you are liable to run into others around you when looking down at a smartphone or watch, that will not be an issue with Glass. Because the information is presented directly above your field of vision, you will not have to worry about trampling, or being trampled by, other travelers.

Or how about using your mobile phone to pay for your meals and snacks at the airport? Rather than carrying credit cards, many people in Kenya and other parts of Africa use the M-Pesa mobile payment system on their phones. And not just smartphones, but regular flip phones as well. Google Wallet is already making inroads into this area of tech, and we think it may become a standard form of payment in the near future.

All of this technology is a few years away from being implemented but once it is up and running, it can be used as a stepping stone to promote the convenience of the passenger. Soon afterwards, biometric data, such as finger and iris prints, can be utilized to identify passengers. Security officers could use tools similar to Glass to increase security measures.

The entire travel industry could be completely disrupted with this new technology. What are your thoughts about this “brave new world” of travel?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is Common Sense In Travel Dead?

April 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When you’re traveling or on vacation, you want to feel relaxed and at home. When you feel relaxed and at home, you let your guard down, and things can get stolen. When things get stolen, your vacation becomes a nightmare, and you’ve lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Don’t let your guard down when you’re on vacation.

MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room

MCL-ETYCB Single Suite Hotel Room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Say you are going down the hallway to get ice in the hotel and just leave your door ajar because you’ll be right back or you leave your Kindle or iPad on your chair to go to the restroom. But when you get back, you discover your tablet is gone and your room has been burglarized. You’ve been the victim of a robbery, all because you assumed you and your belongings were safe, just like at home. This is why it’s important to travel smart and keep your guard up. You’re not at home, which means you have to be on your guard.

A recent article in USA Today said that travelers and experts believe that common sense in traveling might be dead. We don’t necessarily think that common sense is out the door — unlike your iPad and wallet — but these stories of carelessness are becoming more prevalent as more and more people travel. We are traveling more than we ever did in the past and as you know, planes are packed with people.

Technology is making it easier to travel. Your smartphones and tablets willl let you go anywhere and do everything for you so you don’t really have to think. And when you don’t know the smarts of traveling, you are more likely to be the victim of scams. Keep in mind that you are in a different place and need to keep smart and use common sense to avoid getting out of touch with reality. There are an increasing number of stories of horrible accidents that travelers get themselves into because they were not thinking. One of the culprits is an over-reliance on technology, and the other is letting your guard down.

Remember that when you’re traveling, you’re not in the cyberworld, but in the real world. Keep your eyes open, listen carefully, and be aware of where you are. And don’t let your trip or vacation turn bad because of a simple mistake you made. Stay smart and bring your brain when traveling.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Big Travel Changes In 2013

March 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The travel industry has changed immensely in the last few years, thanks in large part to Millennials and their travel habits. Commonly referred to as ‘Gen Y’, this tech savvy generation has caused big changes within the travel industry over the last year. Here are three surprising changes we’ve seen take place.

Home-As-Lodging > Hotels

Airbnb sticker

Airbnb sticker (Photo credit: Effie.Y.)

Many savvy travelers are skipping chain hotels in favor of lodging through sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO. These sites enable travelers to book anything from a spare room to an entire home in cities around the globe for significantly less than hotel room rates. This trend is especially appealing for group travelers who want to stay under one roof, budget travelers looking for cheap digs in a good location and solo travelers who wish to stay with a local. The home-as-lodging trend is so hot, that Airbnb is expected pass InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide and become the globe’s largest hotelier by the end of 2014.

Indie Travel Guides > Tours

Savvy travelers are forgoing the mainstream guides and booking tours through sites like Sidetour, Getyourguide and Canaryhop. Such sites hook travelers (and locals) up with unique city tours, classes and experiences in major cities around the world, making them a great way to get off the beaten path and meet locals.

Ridesharing > Taxis

Cabs can get expensive. Enter ridesharing programs like Lyft and UberX, which enable travelers to hitch a ride with a (fully-vetted) person in their personal vehicle. Ridesharing is significantly cheaper than taxi rides, and thanks to their apps, they’re also much more convenient to use in cities where it’s difficult to flag a cab. While the concept may seem a bit sketchy, many travelers report that the experience is actually much more positive than a traditional taxi experience.

With the travel industry changing so rapidly, we’re excited to see what changes are in store in the upcoming year.

Have you tried out any of these newer services while traveling? If so, we’d love to hear your experiences. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Do American Airlines’ New Planes Compare to JetBlue’s?

March 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

First class is officially getting an upgrade. American Airlines recently released its new transcontinental fleet at JFK airport. Perhaps the most impressive is the new Airbus A321, which will run from JFK to LAX and SFO (Los Angeles and San Francisco). This particular plane is positioned to be American Airlines’ answer to JetBlue’s new premium product, the aptly named ‘Mint’, which will also run from JFK to LAX or SFO. There are many similarities between these new planes, so how do they compare?

To start, American Airlines’ A321 is the first plane to offer a three class cabin featuring first class, business class and coach. JetBlue, however, only offers two levels: coach and Mint. Both airlines will offer fully-lie flat seating. On American’s A321, lie-flat seating will be available in both first and business class. Additionally, AA will offer Main Cabin Extra seating for an additional fee, which offers six inches of additional legroom.

English: DFW American Airlines Departure

English: DFW American Airlines Departure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If sleeping on planes isn’t your thing, you’re in luck: both carriers offer extensive entertainment options via personal in-seat entertainment. American will offer a 9-inch HD-capable touchscreen with up to 120 movies, 180 TV shows, 350 audio selections and 30 games in addition to wifi via Gogo. JetBlue’s Mint service will offer 15 inch interactive video screens featuring up to 100 channels from DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio and access to Fly-Fi, which claims to be the industry’s first high-speed satellite-based Internet service.

When it comes to meal options, JetBlue appears to be the winner. While American Airlines will offer the ability to order entrees before your flight, JetBlue is kicking things up a notch: they’ve partnered with renowned New York restaurant Saxon + Parole to create a unique small-plates menu. Additionally, Mint passengers can enjoy full-bottle wine service.

While both flights will also offer complimentary amenity kits, Mint has taken theirs to the next level by partnering with Birchbox. Each kit will be filled with “editor-approved” beauty, grooming and lifestyle products and treats.

With amenities like these, long-haul transcontinental flights are looking more and more appealing. With first class amenities such as these, we wouldn’t mind a few extra hours spent in-flight…

Enhanced by Zemanta

« Previous PageNext Page »