Air Vents, Status Challenges, and Other Flying Tips

December 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you are a platinum member of one of the major airlines or someone who only travels occasionally, air travel has become the gauntlet travelers feel they must run before they can enjoy their trip. If you want your time in the air to be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, here are a few flying tips to increase your likelihood, even if you can’t fly first class.

One of our favorite flying tips: Point air vents like these in your general vicinity but not directly on you. It keeps germs away from your face.1. Leave the air vents open and aimed in your general vicinity. While you’ve probably heard horror stories about the germs that are present in the recycled air, it turns out that the circulation of that air could actually help ward off germs. According to Dr. Mark Gendreau, the medical director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody in Massachusetts, ventilation is key to keeping airborne germs at bay. “For airborne viruses, it is incredibly important to ventilate, since ventilation becomes your main means of control besides isolating the affected person,” Gendreau told Travel + Leisure.

2. Be loyal to an airline. When you commit to flying with a single airline and you enroll in the carrier’s loyalty program, you begin to qualify for upgrades and free baggage as your miles rack up. Airlines reward repeat business, so you should take advantage of the offer. The flights may cost a little more than shopping around, but the rewards can sometimes make the extra costs worth it.

3. If you’re a frequent flyer trying to earn a certain status with an airline, ask about the status challenge the next time you have a busy month of travel. Never heard of the status challenge? It’s not widely advertised, but it does exist. If you fly with American, for example, in order to qualify for platinum status, you have to fly 50,000 and spend $6,000 with them. If you ask customer service to take the status challenge, you have 90 days to fly 12,500 miles and spend $2,000. If you complete the challenge, you’re granted platinum status for the remainder of the year and the following calendar year. Be sure to check the fine print, though, because airlines don’t want to make this easy and may tack on some fees.

4. Pay for as much as possible with an airline’s credit card. It seems every credit card has perks these days, but airline credit card perks pay off in meaningful ways when you travel — free checked bags, earned miles, upgrades, and airport lounge access (which can really come in handy when there’s a weather-related delay). If you pay for your airplane ticket with your airline credit card, you usually get extra miles for that, and you want to make the most of every purchase, don’t you?

5. After you’ve downloaded your airline’s app to your phone, sign up for text notifications about your flight. You’ll automatically be notified about gate changes, delays, and what time your flight boards, making you more nimble that your less-informed fellow travelers in the event of a change in the itinerary.

What are some of your favorite flying tips? What advice would you share with your fellow travelers? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Xianxing (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

Five Tips for Surviving Your Next Business Trip

June 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Sure, a business trip is all about getting work done, and you may have built-in companions for your down time, but that doesn’t mean your next trip has to be all work and no play.

You know what they say about that, and nobody wants to be “dull.” We recently wrote about how John Greathouse, the creator of GoToMeeting, became a fan of spending a least half a day of each business trip finding something enjoyable to do. It changed his whole outlook on his business travel, and he began to see some sights and landmarks while he was traveling around the world.

There are a few other things you should do to make sure you and your traveling companions are getting everything out of your next trip.

  1. Plan carefully. When traveling with a group of colleagues, avoiding hurdles hinges on everyone knowing what to expect: what hotel you’ll be staying at, what the agenda is, how you’ll get from point A to point B once you arrive, and whether everyone should carry on or check their bags. Plan those details, and then share them with everyone in advance.
  2. Pack smart. Earplugs might help you sleep with a snoring roommate, and headphones on a flight are an international sign for “I don’t want to talk right now.” If you know you’ll have a layover, pack a paperback or a deck of cards to help pass the time.
  3. Dress for Success. This should go without saying, but if everyone isn’t aware of the travel itinerary, someone might show up dressed casually instead of being prepared to meet clients directly after deplaning. Don’t let that someone be you or anyone on your team. And if you’re going to be sharing a room, don’t rely on the hotel supplying a robe. Pack your own or pajamas so that your roommate isn’t subjected to you being unprepared for the situation. Nobody signed up for that on a business trip.
  4. Schedule Fun. We know a professional speaker who makes a point to visit a restaurant suggested by the locals.This looks like a nice place to eat on a business trip. Better than most hotel restaurants. She calls this her “Tour de Tastebuds.” She will take her assistant and someone from the event planning team to the recommended place, rating it for atmosphere, taste, and how it made them feel. Every city has something it’s known for. Give your teammates a taste of the locale by planning a small excursion of this type in your downtime.
  5. Choose Your Attitude. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Whatever can go wrong, will,” but don’t be overly nervous. You can’t anticipate everything even in a well-planned trip, so remember to pack your best attitude and be flexible. Control what you can and adapt as needed. Don’t be that one member of the group who whines and complains. That only makes the trip less fun, and you don’t want to be labeled as The Spoiler.

What kind of group travel stories do you have to share? Good ones, or some travel horror stories?Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Inkflo (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Must-Have Business Travel Apps for 2017

February 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Many business travelers appreciate the ability to plan, organize, and manage their travel with their mobile phone. No more printed boarding passes, maps, and scribbled directions to your next meeting. Everything can be managed on your phone, saving you all kinds of headaches and hassles.

We’ve seen several new travel apps released just in time for the 2017 business travel calendar, and have a few favorites you might want to try before your next trip.

You can use business travel mobile apps to find your way around AmsterdamGoogle Trips uses your browsing history to suggest places you might want to visit. It might feel a little Big Brother-ish, but a helpful brother nonetheless. The free app allows you to use your Gmail accounts offline to plan and organize your travel through one site, and lets you make hotel reservations, book flights, and arrange car rental.

Lonely Planet’s Guides not only offers visually stunning photographs of over 100 cities, it provides an overview of that city, its language, and different budget options. It also provides insights from on-the-ground experts and maps that help you decide what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep. If you like to “travel like you live there,” something we recommend business travelers do to make their trips more interesting, the Lonely Planet guides are a great place to start.
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5 Financial Mistakes Road Warriors Never Make

October 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There are several categories of traveling business professionals: the occasional business traveler, the frequent flyer, and the road warrior. Road warriors spend significant portions of the work week traveling between clients, and have a few tricks up their collective sleeves that save them and their employers money.

The occasional traveler might still be learning the ropes, and don’t yet know all the tricks of the trade. But Insperity.com had a list of their most important ones, which we agree every business traveler should know.
TSA Checkpoint - Road Warriors know to avoid this by being a part of TSA's Pre-Check
First, fiscally responsible road warriors don’t incur expenses that aren’t reimbursable. They research their company’s travel and entertainment policies — the amount of their daily per diem, for example — and stick to them. This means they aren’t surprised by rejected submissions that leave them stuck with the bill.

Fiscally responsible road warriors know their corporation’s budgets for flights, hotels, meals, and entertaining clients. They seek pre-approval if they need to spend more than is typically allotted, and then proceed to execute their plan with confidence.

Fiscally responsible road warriors live by this simple axiom: time is money. They know they can’t afford to waste time standing in long security lines, so they apply for TSA’s Pre Check. Even if they only travel a few times each year, the $85 security preauthorization is good for five years, and more than pays for itself during that time. (If you’ve ever stood for two hours in a single security line, you’d be ecstatic to escape it for $85 just once!)
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Five Tips to Traveling Light

September 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Given the increase in travel and baggage fees by some airlines, it’s important to travel as light as possible. It simplifies the check-in process, and helps get you to your destination with a minimum of fuss. These are a few things we do on our business trips to make traveling light as easy as possible.

A Travelpro Crew 11 with suiter is ideal for helping road warriors travel light.

A Travelpro Crew 11 with suiter is ideal for helping road warriors travel light.

Use your carry-on as your only piece of luggage. With careful planning of your wardrobe and necessities, you can take all you need with you on the plane. You’ll avoid the time sink of baggage claim, the cost of checking your bag, and the fatigue of lugging what could be extraneous items through security to your final destination. It’s actually possible to carry 10 days worth of outfits in your bag if you pack it right.

Become a digital professional. Most anything you need can be retrieved from online “cloud” storage and printed at a hotel’s business center with a simple USB thumb drive. If you have documents you need to access, consider Google Drive or Dropbox for online storage. If you like to read while traveling, e-books take up no space in your luggage and an e-reader can be loaded on your tablet or phone so that you don’t have to pack a special, single-use device.
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Want to Get Healthy? Travel More

May 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Would you like to grow your brain, have more energy, eliminate stress, and decrease your risk for a heart attack?

A British Airways 747 - coach cabinBelieve it or not, you can achieve all that if you just travel more. It seems too good to be true, but there are scientific studies to prove it.

How does travel grow your brain? Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, explains.

“When you expose your brain to an environment that’s novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. That exposure causes the brain to sprout dendrites — dangling extensions — which Nussbaum said grow the brain’s capacity. Who doesn’t want a bigger brain?
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New Changes in Luggage Damage Claims Rules

March 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever come home from a trip and realize that the frame is bent on your suitcase? Or the wheel no longer functions correctly? If you think there’s no use in filing luggage damage claims, think again. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has warned the airlines that it is against consumer protection laws to ignore claims on zippers, wheels, straps, and handles that are damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Platinum Magna 2 Collection

Our Platinum Magna 2 Collection has a limited lifetime warranty for the life of the luggage and covers any damages incurred by baggage handlers.

This was of great relief to travelers who have suffered damage to their bags — damage that wasn’t there before their trip started — only to be told the airline that managed their bags “wasn’t responsible” for the damage their own personnel caused.

Although no specific airlines were called out in this most recent warning, most airlines post luggage liability limits on their websites for travelers who experience property damage, and do not consider the damages specified by the DOT reimbursable.
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How to Get Paid to Travel

March 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever dream of traveling the world, or getting paid to travel to some exotic location? That dream could be a reality if you’re willing to put in the work, lead a nontraditional lifestyle, and maybe even be willing to spend extended periods of time away from loved ones.

Dublin City CentreLifeHack.com shared 12 interesting ways to get paid to travel, and we’d like to share a few with you.

1. Teach English. If you’re a native speaker, you’re qualified to teach others to speak English. Jobs are especially abundant in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, and you can live there for a year or two (or more!). Check out eslcafe.com and email your application to schools to get the process started.

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Eight Ways to Spot a Lousy Hotel

January 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You know the feeling you get when you show up at a hotel, and it’s nothing like you imagined? That sinking feeling when you open the door to your room, and wonder if someone is playing a prank?

Thankfully, today there are many tools at your disposal online to help you spot a lousy hotel before you get there.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

The Cecil Hotel, which inspired the American Horror Story: Hotel series.

  1. Photos. If the pictures online feature close-ups or artistic shots that don’t give you a clear impression of the room or the amenities, chances are something’s up.
  2. Too good to be true Photos. If the property seems to feature amenities that don’t jive with the neighborhood, like a beach in Kansas, or they feature something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Dated website. If it’s obvious, either by the outdated material or the glaring typos, that the hotel’s management doesn’t seem to care that much about maintaining its online presence, you should be wary of your physical presence on their premises.
  4. Google Maps street view. If the site is short on pictures, but touts its amazing location, do yourself a favor and put the address in Google Maps to take your own look around. Sketchy neighborhoods can’t be hidden when you do a 360 view at street level.
  5. Poor reviews. You can usually tell if the recent reviews are factual or fake. Take note if every review is glowingly positive or completely negative. Black and white reviews aren’t a true representation of a property or an experience.
  6. Poor online etiquette. If management replies to the negative reviews online, that should be your first clue. Customer complaints should be handled privately, not responded to publicly. The one caveat: if management is actually showing how they’ve positively responded to a situation, that’s great. But if they get into arguments with customers, that’s not so great.
  7. Bed Bug Registry. It’s a real site. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search before you book your room, instead of frantically searching for the bedside light in the middle of the night to find what you felt crawling on you!
  8. No interior photos. If the site has no pictures of the accommodations but only of the area surrounding the hotel, odds are what you see around is better than what you’ll see inside.

How do you spot a lousy hotel? Do you have any favorite websites or review sites? Tell us about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Smartphone Travel Bookings to Increase

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mobile apps are making life so convenient, so easy to function. I have season tickets to the Miami Heat, and I just learned that I can use a function of the Heat’s mobile app to purchase concessions during a game. I don’t even have to pull my wallet out of my pocket. I haven’t used it yet, but the push to use mobile payment sites is everywhere.

We recently read a report from Phocuswright that said the number of travel reservations made from smartphones is expected to increase to 18 percent of all bookings, up from a measly five percent just three years ago. The numbers forecasted for Europe and China are even bigger. I know members of my team use their mobile devices to make hotel reservations and book flights.

Trip Advisor mobile appI’ll admit, something about using a laptop seems more secure, more credible, than using my phone, but I know there’s no basis in reality for that perception. I’m hesitant to say so, but it probably has something to do with my age.

The key is the comfort level each of us has with mobile payments in general. The Phocuswright report says that 48 percent of us were more comfortable with the idea last year than we were in 2013, when only 33 percent felt at ease with it.

What I think will help more people use these travel booking sites with confidence is the development and implementation of mobile deep linking by different providers. Mobile deep linking is a link that just doesn’t launch an app, but starts within a trusted app — for example, being able to book an Uber ride from within the United Airlines mobile app. You already trust United, so you know they’ve worked out the security with Uber’s app.

As these opportunities for mobile bookings and mobile payments increase, I’m sure I’ll get with the program. I just need to try it out a few times first. Maybe I’ll start with a couple chicken tinga tacos at the next Heat game.

Photo credit: Amy Wardlaw (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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