Here’s a sobering statistic: In a study of 2,300 American workers who get paid vacation, only 25 percent said they take advantage of every day they’re allowed. Sixty-one percent said they continued to work even while on vacation.
There are plenty of other blog posts — books, even — that could be written on American work culture and why we don’t take advantage of the benefits of our jobs. This blog post is a plea to consider traveling more.
Travel Keeps You HealthyWhy? A recent article in the Dubai Chronicle documented the results of a survey several existing studies on leisure travel’s health effects and found that it actually boosts cognitive and cardiovascular health, particularly in middle-aged people or older.
One study, for example, followed women from 45 to 64 years old for 20 years; women in the study who took vacation twice a year were at much lower risk of having a heart attack or dying of a heart-related disease than those who traveled every six years.
If you’ve encountered significant delays and other frustrations during your travels, you may feel the exact opposite. But I think that to reap the anti-aging effects of travel, you have to flip the old adage around: It’s the destination, not the journey.
My Own Experience
I can personally attest to this, actually. My wife and I are fortunate enough to be able to travel to the Caribbean a fair amount, and it’s absolutely essential for helping us relax.
A big part of the relaxation for me is shaking up my routine and immersing myself in a totally different environment and culture, away from my everyday lifestyle. Vacation is an opportunity to shake yourself out of your deepest ruts.
I am, unfortunately, often part of that 61 percent of workers who continue to work while on vacation, but it’s for self-preservation. I go through my emails once a day and flag the important ones for my attention when I return. It only takes a few minutes and makes coming back to work the following week a lot less stressful.
I’d love to hear whether you connect with the findings of this survey. Do your vacations alleviate your stress levels? How do you cope with the stress of returning to a full inbox? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.
There are a lot of contributing factors that lead to canceled flights, although it seems to happen more to smaller flights on smaller regional airlines. And there may be a reason for that.
It’s easy to assume that lightly booked flights are always the first casualties — and that’s true to an extent, according to Scott McCartney, the Wall Street Journal’s travel editor. A video featured on Peter Greenberg’s Travel Detective site explains some of the other factors contributing to a flight’s cancellation.
The airlines’ ultimate goal is to inconvenience the fewest number of passengers. That often means that the lightly booked flights are the first to go, but that’s almost never the only reason.
Mechanical ProblemsIssues with the physical workings of airplanes are the most common factors that cause flight cancellations. If a plane that’s due to carry a heavily booked flight has a mechanical problem, the airline may simply swap out planes with one with a much lighter passenger load. For those passengers, they are out of luck.
Lightly booked flights and small planes are influenced more by inclement weather. It’s fairly simple to cancel a single turn for a regional jet: The flight out gets canceled and the flight in gets canceled. You’ll probably end up waiting for the next one, or possibly end up on a two hour bus ride to your final destination.
McCartney stresses that a flight is rarely canceled for purely economic reasons. It’s never that simple. Airlines have to pay their crews regardless of whether they fly; the only savings are fuel, which does represent a large amount of money, but not enough to be the sole motivator.
Unless a flight is canceled due to bad weather, the airline will also have to pay for passengers’ hotels, meals, and sometimes re-booking on other airlines. Even on small planes and lightly booked flights, paying for all that can be a major cost to the airline.
Tips For Avoiding Cancellations
McCartney suggests that paying attention to whether you’re flying out of a small airport or big hub can make a big difference in whether your flight will be canceled.
If you have a choice and are able to handle early mornings, opt to fly out as early in the day as possible. If your flight is canceled, you’ll have a better chance of getting re-booked on a flight later that day, even if it’s just on standby.
Stuck at the airport and not sure when you’ll be getting home? Check out our blog post with tips for making the most of your situation.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get the notification: Flight canceled. There are few worse feelings when you’re headed to an important meeting, on a long-awaited vacation or — worst yet — home after a busy time away.
There’s a silver lining: Conde Nast Traveler’s The Daily Traveler blog published a post with some great tips for making your way home if your flight’s been canceled and you’re stuck at an airport.
The steps CN outlines are ones I haven’t given a lot of thought to honestly. I’ve had a few major cancellations happen to me in my travels — and while I don’t recommend it, I pretty much rely on my past experiences of “playing the game.” The key to winning said game? Make sure you have a lot of alternatives.
The first step for me has always been to approach the airline directly to find out your options. But from there, what you do depends on how badly you want to get home.
Having a sort of slush fund for a recovery budget is one thing CN’s article recommends. Recovery budgets and security measures like travel insurance can alleviate the financial burden of a canceled flight or long delay, but it doesn’t necessarily make getting home any easier.
When I lived in Michigan, I had a flight canceled during a snowstorm — there were no flights coming or going out of the Detroit airport. But we were headed to Grand Rapids, which was only a few hours’ drive — so my coworkers and I rented a car and drove through the snow to reach our final destination. (Renting a car is often cheaper than getting a hotel room.)
I encountered a similar situation in a past life, when I was working on the East Coast. I had a presentation to give in Hyde Park, N.Y., and our flight out of Philadelphia got canceled. We didn’t have the option to spend the night — we had a presentation to give and had to be there — so we drove six hours to our destination and made the presentation as planned.
However, the airline refused to surrender our luggage to us before we left, so we met our bags at the Hyde Park airport when the canceled flight eventually arrived. In that case, we just had to punt, wear the same clothes from the day before, and give the presentation. There are times the show must go on, regardless of what you’re wearing. (It was also a valuable lesson in why it’s better to travel with carry-on bags than checking them on short trips.)
If driving isn’t an option for you, my two favorite tips from CN’s article are to find an airport with a lot of flights and be open to alternate airports. If you’re reasonably flexible with your travel plans, you can often find another way home or to your destination with minimal pain.
What’s your biggest cancellation nightmare? Commiserate in the comments section and give us some ideas.
Most Advanced Technologies for Today’s Frequent Travelers
Travelpro the inventor of Rollaboard luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design is pleased to introduce the Crew 10 collection. The next generation of Travelpro’s popular flagship line, Crew 10, offers a leap forward in lightweight durability, effortless mobility, and style for the frequent business and leisure traveller.
“Travelpro’s primary commitment is to provide our customers with the most innovative and durable luggage available worldwide,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands. “The Crew 10 collection marks our continued design evolution, by incorporating the most advanced technology available today into Spinner and Rollaboard luggage.”
Packed with innovations, Crew 10 is equipped with a 360 degree Dual Wheel Spinner system, featuring patent-pending MagnaTrac wheel technology. With these revolutionary self-aligning magnetic wheels, Spinner models always roll straight in all directions, making it easier than ever to maneuver through crowded airports and airplane aisles. The effortless roll of MagnaTrac wheels reduce shoulder and arm strain by eliminating the drifting and pulling that is typically associated with pushing Spinner luggage.
In addition, its patented PowerScope Extension Handle minimizes wobble and has multiple stops at 38″ and 42.5″, ensuring a comfortable roll for users of varying heights. The next generation, patented Contour Handle Grip provides more comfort and greater control of Spinner luggage.An array of other practical features enhances the durability and functionality of the collection. These include: tapered expansion of up to 2″ for maximizing packing flexibility, new shear-resistant zipper heads that stay intact after many miles of travel, a suiter for wrinkle-free packing and intelligent hold-down straps that can slide side-to-side to hold down your clothes more effectively.
Accented by rich leather side and top carry handles, Crew 10 is available in both stylish merlot and elegant black. The line is backed by a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship. Select from 8 carry-on models, including two designed for international travel, this 12-piece collection elevates Travelpro’s heritage of design excellence to a new global standard.
For over 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travelers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard wheeled luggage, Travelpro has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum Magna luggage collection.
Go through enough harrowing travel experiences, and you might start to wonder whether airports, airlines and security personnel are conspiring to conduct a cruel, long-term experiment on just how much stress and misery travelers can take.
Contrary to popular belief, many officials are working to make the experience better for travelers. An encouraging blog post on FutureTravelExperience.com features some technologies and ideas that airports are trying out to make travel more pleasurable.
Many airports have started introducing music — both recorded and performed live — as a way to enhance the passenger experience. And this choice wasn’t made on a whim! Results of a study by researchers at Montreal’s McGill University released in March 2013 say that listening to music helps with four major health-related factors: “management of mood, stress, immunity and as an aid to social bonding.”
FTE’s article mentions regular musical performers at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, and that introducing music for its travelers’ enjoyment has increased the airport’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) score to 4.14 out of 5.
I have even enjoyed an authentic Chicago blues band while waiting for my luggage at Chicago Midway’s baggage carousels. This is one way to reduce the stress, while waiting for your bag to arrive at the carousel.
Places To Rest
It’s safe to say that much of the stress and unhappiness around air travel happens because of a lack of rest. From waking up early to wait in long security lines and gate seating areas, everything’s a little worse when you don’t have the rest you need.
Helsinki Airport has created some potential solutions to the stress and exhaustion of travel: relaxation areas with sleeping tubes, rocking chairs and even a book swap.
Traveling to Abu Dhabi? The Guide To Sleeping In Airports, a blog dedicated to exactly what the name says, mentions sleep pods right out in the middle of the terminal with roll-up shades that completely enclose travelers trying to get a bit of shut-eye.
In the United States, Minute Suites at airports in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Philadelphia offer a private place to catch a quick nap or enjoy some peace and quiet to get a bit of work done at the airport. The price is $34 an hour.
Or if you’ve got the time, you can purchase a day pass at an airline’s travel lounge and spend a few hours there between your flights. For example, a day pass at Delta’s Sky Club is $50 for a single day. The chairs are comfortable, there’s snack food available, and even easy access to electrical outlets and wifi.
What’s Your Experience?
Have you experienced any of these new travel amenities? Seen something we didn’t mention! Comment here with your thoughts.
Do you remember the good old days of flying 15 years ago? You walked through the scanner, your bags were X-rayed, and you were done. Nowadays, we remove our laptops from our bags, put all liquids and gels into a seal-able plastic baggie, take off our belts, shoes, and jewelry, stand in the full body scanner booth, and then grab all our stuff, repack and get dressed.
What if you could go through airport security without having to do any of that?
No removal of clothing or jewelry, no taking anything out of our bags, no standing in line to be scanned by the giant booth.
This is the new reality for many airline passengers. In the U.S., it is estimated that forty percent of all passengers now go through expedited airport security screening lanes due to the expansions of the PreCheck program. The PreCheck program allows low-risk passengers to pass through security checkpoints while leaving on their shoes, outerwear, jewelry and belts. They’re also allowed to keep laptops and other liquids in their carry-on bags.
According to John Pistole, administrator of the TSA, the goal of the program is to get people through security screening in five minutes or less. This program was originally an invite-only platform for very elite frequent flyers. But last year it was rolled out to the general public, which means anyone can apply to participate.
No one knows how the TSA identifies people as low-risk passengers (you don’t want to give the bad guys a clue into how to beat the system), but Pistole did announce that by the end of 2014, they want to have as many as 50% of all public passengers pass through security screening using the expedited screening method.
(Of course, we have to wonder if the PreCheck line will end up getting too clogged, and taking off your shoes and belt will be the faster option. We’re pretty confident that’s not going to happen, since the PreCheck security process takes seconds, not minutes.)
As airlines keep raising and creating fees, people are always going to look for ways to avoid paying them. Luggage fees are no different. No one wants to spend an extra $50 just to to check one suitcase, so everyone is bringing on carry-on’s, which are creating further problems and serious breaches in good manners.
As passengers, we need to have some etiquette about our luggage, like not whacking people in the noggin with it, or not cramming both your bags in the overhead bin. This prevents other people from getting their bag into the bin, which means they’ll have to gate check them, which means they’ll have to get them at baggage claim. It also means the boarding process is slowed down, which means we all reach our destination much more slowly.
Pack lightly. If your rollaboard is completely full for a 4 day trip, you may have too much stuff. Imagine having to pay for your luggage by the pound. Now what could you get rid of? What is it you don’t actually need? Once you figure that out, you may be down to a reasonable amount.
Of course, you could always ship your belongings, possibly for much less than you’re going to pay in baggage fees. You can even ship your suitcase itself in a box. Ask your local Fedex or UPS store for help.
Finally, arrive early, and maybe consider buying a seat upgrade. For the cost of a checked bag, you may be able to upgrade for the same amount, and ride in much more comfort than your original seat. Not only that, you can get on board early and find a place for your luggage. So weigh your options: fly for less — in less comfort — and check/gate check your bag, or fly in more comfort and have your bag on board with you.
Passengers aren’t the only ones who should have to display some patience and manners. We hope the airlines can encourage this etiquette as well. Make sure people are only putting one bag in the overhead bin. Adopt a seating system where the people who sit near the back can get on first (and then make sure they’re not putting their bag up front). And would it be too much to ask that the overhead bins actually be large enough to hold everyone’s bags?
These days, air travel seems pricier than ever (and that the amenities less amenable than ever). Would you believe, though, that when you adjust for inflation, airfares have actually fallen by about 50 percent in the past 30 years? It’s true, according to a chart-filled article in The Atlantic.
That’s no consolation to the average passenger, though. Paying hundreds of dollars just to get from Point A to Point B — often with nary a free bag of peanuts to soothe them — leaves many travelers with a bad taste in their mouths.
But perhaps even more frustrating than the high price of air travel is the constant change in exactly how high they’ll be. That’s because there are many factors, some not even remotely related to the airlines themselves, that determine what your airfare will be. And some of those factors change by the day.
Here’s a look at three of those factors, drawn from a Fox News article on the “9 Surprising Factors That Influence The Price Of Your Airline Ticket.”
- The Price Of Oil: Gas prices ruin everything, from the cost of your daily trip to the office to the price tag on your plane ticket. Fuel has been airlines’ No. 1 operating expense since 2011, and so airlines keep adding fuel surcharges to the price.
- The Timing Of Your Flight: Convenience is costly. So is flying when everyone else wants to fly. That’s why it can be extra pricey to fly on major holidays, spring break and even dates like the Super Bowl. The least-expensive days to fly: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Saturdays.
- The Government: Yes, there really is a Sept. 11 Security Fee. It’s rising to $11.20 per round-trip flight later this year, and that’s on top of the taxes and other fees airlines tack on to the price of your ticket to pay the government.
- Strike A Bargain: Looking for your best bet on ticket prices? Several websites, including Fare Detective, Kayak and even the search engine Bing now offer historical fare comparisons that will let you know when it’s “safe” to buy.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten on a plane ticket? What’s the most you’ve ever paid? Share your booking tales with us in the comments section.
Of all the potential headaches involved with air travel these days — random flight cancellations, endless tarmac delays, crowded flights, a rude (or super extra friendly!) seatmate, among many others — the biggest one of all may not happen until you reach your destination: lost or damaged luggage.
Even if you’ve been delayed by hours and hours, all that stress can melt away with a hot shower and change of clothes back at the hotel. But if you suddenly find yourself without all the comforts of home you have packed, that stress only intensifies — not to mention the stress of losing valuable belongings.ABC’s 20/20 recently published a story — “8 Tips To Get Your Luggage Safely To Its Destination” — and we’re always happy to see major news outlets working to make travel safer, simpler and less stressful for everyday travelers.
20/20′s advice is fairly good, but there are often other factors to consider.
Tips That Make Sense
Packing in a sturdy bag is a great tip. So is purchasing traveler’s insurance: In addition to that $3,400 cap on airlines’ liability, even the sturdiest luggage is limited by its manufacturer’s warranty, which almost never covers loss or damage caused by carriers. (One exception: the Travelpro Platinum luggage series that covers airline baggage handler damage.)
The best tip we read, of course: Carry your luggage on whenever possible. If you’re on a commuter jet, it’s likely your carry-on luggage will need to be gate checked, but it’s in your hands for as long as it can be, including all the way up to the gate.
20/20 Tips To Skip
But the recommendation to bypass the curbside baggage check line? Yes, the outdoor bag check adds complexity and a chance for loss or damage, but sometimes you have no choice! If the check-in desk line is incredibly long and you’re risking missing your flight, for instance, the convenience can pay off in getting your luggage on the flight, period.
What’s your top tip? What do you think, experienced travelers? What tips can you offer to others for ensuring their luggage makes it to their destinations safely and in one piece?
- Air Canada says worker who tossed carry-on luggage “will be terminated” (globalnews.ca)
- WATCH: Air Canada baggage handlers toss carry-on luggage off jetway stairs (globalnews.ca)
- Heathrow baggage chaos ‘to last for days’ (standard.co.uk)
- Delayed airport luggage: your rights (telegraph.co.uk)
Benjamin Corey is an author, speaker, and blogger who frequently travels internationally, so he knows part of the travel game is for some locals to try to rip off unsuspecting tourists. He’s always on his guard and knows most travel scams. But after his flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo was delayed by a few hours, he found himself stranded outside the airport without his designated ride.
In a very dangerous area, he was very relieved when a taxi driver called his name and announced himself as the new ride. Turns out, this taxi driver was not his new designated ride at all, and Corey found himself in a life-or-death situation. Corey was able to draw on his years of experience and knowledge to escape the situation unharmed, frightened and embarrassed, but able to see where he went wrong. (It’s an interesting read.)
We were reminded of Benjamin’s story after seeing a Mental Floss article about several different travel scams flogged on unsuspecting tourists. Here are a few of our “favorites,” and how you can avoid them.
- The Store Scam: A local starts up a conversation and mentions that his family owns a local store where you can get great deals on local goods. Deals that sound too good to be true (which should be your first clue). When you go to the store, you will be extorted and badgered for everything you have, and the deals aren’t that good to begin with.
- The Change Scam: Merchants will often try to not give you exact change back, or give you change with incorrect exchange rates. To prevent this, carry small bills/coins or pay with your credit card. This helps you avoid getting shortchanged on the exchange rate as well.
- The Taxi Scam: The very same scam that Benjamin Corey knew to avoid but still fell victim to. Before getting into cabs, ask if the driver knows the directions and for the ride fee. If he or she cannot answer, the ride is likely not legitimate. Try to only catch cabs in front of an airport or hotel, rather than just flagging one down that “looks like” a cab. If at all possible, arrange for a private driver to pick you up beforehand. Try to get a photo of your driver emailed to you, and ask him or her to confirm with you, even with a simple passphrase, like “John sent me.”
- The Distraction Scam: You’re walking down the street. Someone bumps into you, spilling their drink or food on you in the process. They apologize and try to help clean you up, or so you think. You were actually just pickpocketed. Keep your money secured on your person, and don’t carry everything with you.
- The Fake Cop scam: If a cop asks for you to pay a fine on the spot, he’s most likely looking for a bribe. Respond by politely saying you will only pay at a police station. Stick to this answer even if the cop becomes loud and aggressive.
- The Dropped Ring Scam: A local will say he found a dropped gold ring, which likely isn’t even gold. He will give it to you, then demand a finder’s fee. He may even begin shouting to attract attention in the hopes of embarrassing you into paying. Don’t accept the ring in the first place, and just walk away. Drop it again, if necessary.
In all cases, it’s best to walk away from the situation as soon as you realize what’s going on. Never hand anyone your money, your camera, or any of your belongings. Keep your wallet and money in a secure place. And always take an official taxi; never accept a ride from a local.