Travel and all that it entails makes for an environment ripe with opportunity for theft and scamming. Why? There’s lots of money involved and lots of personal information offered in the purchasing process.
There are some simple ways to protect yourself, and, according to a CIO.com article, you can and should do everything you can to make sure you’re secure before you ever book your first ticket. That security starts with the travel site you choose to use.
Don’t believe those cyber vacation deals that seem too good to be true. Most of the time they are, and, worse yet, instead of a deal you might be getting a nightmare if you find out later what you thought was reputable turns out to be a scam. Stick with the big players with known reputations, read all the fine print, and watch your credit card statement like a hawk.
Don’t fool yourself by believing your mobile device is less susceptible. Charlie Abrahams, senior vice president of MarkMonitor, says the company spends a good deal of time scanning online app stores because, “there are a lot of apps there that are completely fake.”
When checking out your options for air travel this summer, two carriers have set themselves apart from the competition by creating customer loyalty.
According to the Customer Loyalty Index created by Brand Keys, a research consultancy that specializes in consumer behavior and brand loyalty, the majority of the 42,000 travelers surveyed awarded JetBlue the coveted top ranking. (One sidenote: only seven airlines were ranked in the survey results because Brand Keys requires a certain number of responses before a carrier can be included.)
What had this low-cost airline’s customers singing its praises? Its customer rewards program. In 2014, JetBlue decided to aggressively compete with six other loyalty programs by offering the Mosaic Challenge, a 90-day contest that heavily rewarded elite fliers if they would jump ship. It worked. JetBlue’s TrueBlue rewards points don’t expire, and fliers can quickly rack up additional points by booking seats with greater legroom or bringing a pet on board. Rewards members can also choose to donate their points to the charity of their choice.
Another way JetBlue incentivizes its customers to remain loyal is by offering fare options that include a checked bag allowance when purchasing tickets. This applies only to tickets purchased in the BluePlus and BlueFlex categories. If customers purchase their ticket through jetblue.com, they automatically earn twice the points than if they book through another website. All these may seem like little things, but they obviously add up for consumers.
The old adage, “If something’s too good to be true, it probably is,” serves as a general warning to most people. So does “Buyer beware.” Basically, we’re urged to thoroughly investigate a deal that seems impossibly beneficial to our wallets.
In the ongoing saga to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, something Congress must do every few years, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved an attachment to the reauthorization bill that would deregulate a policy the airlines have long opposed and despised. The attachment would essentially give airlines the freedom to not advertise the taxes and fees associated with certain airfares — something they only recently started doing a few years ago.
This would allow them to return to their practice of promoting as “low cost” or “free” tickets that are anything but.
There are almost as many ways to see the world as there are people living in it. Those who travel on someone else’s dime have learned how to take advantage of at least one of the following six opportunities: sell, write and promote, exchange, work, points, and luck.
Selling may seem like the most unlikely way to travel free, but if you’re an organizer who is good at bringing people together and you convince 15 of your friends or family to vacation together somewhere, you just might be able to negotiate free airfare or lodging for yourself.
Another option is to get a job in the world of international sales, and spend a lot of your time on the road.
Travel writing/promoting is a growing business and a unique way to get a great vacation in exchange for a review on social media of your experience. Even if the cruise or tour doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s still really a win-win: you get to travel free and you get to share the pros and cons of your trip with your audience. TravelPro has a luggage reviewers program and is a travel partner with Two Monkeys Travel. We’re meeting all kinds of travelers and influencers who fund vacations through their own promotion and writing work.
Have you ever wanted to visit a country and live like the locals? Through Couchsurfing and HomeExchange.com, you can share authentic travel experiences while staying in someone’s home in one of 65,000 homes in 165 countries or invite a traveler to stay with you while visiting your town.
If you travel for work, one of the greatest perks is tacking on a few days or taking an extended vacation after you’ve completed your responsibilities. After all, the company has already footed the bill for your airfare, so you can delay your departure by a few days, and you just have to pay for that time yourself.
Perhaps the most common way to travel free is to use points with one of the many loyalty programs available through airlines or destinations like Disney. Do your research and glean from those who have learned the ins and outs of the system, and you’ll find amazing vacations can be earned by using a credit card or hoarding your points from work travel.
Photo credit: kokorowashinjin (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
What do coronary heart disease (CHD) and vacation have to do with one another? Nothing, you might think. But Dr. Brooks B. Gump and Dr. Karen A. Matthews studied 12,866 men between the ages of 35 and 59 with high risk for CHD for 10 years and proved otherwise.
It has now been scientifically established: going on vacation is good for your heart!
Gump and Matthews gave men questionnaires at their annual physicals that asked them to rate how they felt after going on vacation. Their research determined that vacations “reduce ongoing stressors,” “eliminate potential stressors and anticipated threats,” and “provide a unique opportunity for behaviors having restorative effects on anabolic physiological processes, such as social contact with family and friends (36–38) and physical activity (15), in the context of reduction of stress-initiated catabolic effects.”
The reason it took a scientific evidence to prove what we want to believe in our hearts to be true is that, in the American work culture, taking time off is seen as something “bad” employees do. If you think you haven’t succumbed to this mindset, ask yourself these questions:
Deciding what type of luggage you’re going to need for a trip can be almost as challenging as determining your destination. If it’s a business trip, the wardrobe specifications can make that selection easier, but if you’re heading out for a seven- to ten-day vacation, do you use a duffel, a carry-on, a medium Rollaboard® bag, or the biggest suitcase you can buy?
In order not to get overwhelmed by your options, ask yourself some questions first:
- Am I traveling by car or plane?
- Do I want to avoid checked bag fees or need extra space for souvenirs so that I don’t exceed the 50-lb. weight limit?
- How efficiently can I pack?
If you’re traveling by plane, my preference would be to use a carry-on. It provides you with complete control of your bag during travel and you avoid waiting at the baggage carousel upon arrival. You also avoid the checked baggage fee, and won’t risk running afoul of any overweight baggage fees.
We were very pleased to have Travelpro featured in this CNN Travel story on the future of smart luggage. You can also see our luggage testing facility in action, where we put all new models of luggage through rigorous testing to be worthy of our lifetime guarantee.
Travelpro®, the leader in luggage known internationally for being Pilot Designed, Flight Crew Tested®, is proud to introduce its bold new Crew™ 11 collection. Designed exclusively for those always rushing to their next destination, this 14-piece collection of Spinner and Rollaboard® luggage is packed with innovations that make travel hassle-free and even pleasurable.
Business executives and all frequent fliers will appreciate the Crew 11’s innovative features, such as MagnaTrac™ self-aligning wheels, Power Scope Extension Handle and the Contour Grip designed specifically for Spinner luggage.
It also offers an integrated USB Port on select Carry-ons to power-up phones or tablets. With 10 Carry-ons, this stylish collection is designed for today’s high-mileage travelers.
“The fact that flight crews for over 90 airlines use Travelpro luggage speaks volumes,” said Ron Wood, Executive Vice President of Sales for the Travelpro family of brands. “We are pleased to present the new Crew 11 collection, which exceeds the high standards that have come to define our company — amazingly durable construction, travel-tested features, premium fabrics, innovative design and quality materials built to go the distance.”
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.