Eight Packable Items that Could Save Your Life

March 12, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

No one typically thinks to pack emergency preparedness items when planning a business trip or vacation. But making a few basic plans can help you be prepared for the worst that your destination can throw at you. So there’s one simple step that can help you be prepared: know the risks associated with your destination.

For starters, check out the FEMA app which provides tips on how to deal with disasters like earthquakes severe weather, wildfires, volcanoes, and terrorism.

Additionally, emergency experts suggest that when you’re at your destination, keep a pair of shoes and socks by your bed in case you need to leave the room in an emergency, such as a fire, so you can protect your feet from broken glass.

A recent article in Smarter Travel got us to thinking about taking precautions when we travel, and they shared eight items that could save your life while on the road.

A whistle may be loud and obnoxious, but that means it can provide personal safety if you’re walking alone or at night. It can also help rescuers find you. A “pealess” whistle is best—and provides maximum durability. Its high-pitched sound can be easier to detect than a human voice and it will work if anything impairs your ability to yell, like dehydration or crushing.

A keychain flashlight is one of the packable items that can help you out when you're in a tight spot.In the event of a power failure — natural disaster or not — a flashlight can provide a much-need light source. Choose a small, keychain-sized LED light with a long battery life. It’s ideal if you’re stuck in a subway, navigating poorly lit paths, camping, or even reading in bed while sharing a room. Plus it saves your cell phone battery in those non-emergency uses.

Speaking of a loss of electricity, bring along a battery backup charger. If the electricity fails, you can you can use it to keep your phone operable. You may not be able to make calls, but you’ll be able to have a spare flashlight, and access to emergency apps. On a brighter note, if there isn’t a power failure, bringing an extra charger means helping you stay connected (via apps, maps, social media, email, and phone) whenever your phone battery runs low.

Take a first-aid kit that includes the basics (bandages, alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment). No matter where you’re headed, you’ll be prepared for blisters, scrapes, bug bites and other minor injuries.

A space blanket will not only provide warmth if the heating system fails, it can be resourceful if you need a place to rest during an overnight airport layover. On a brighter, shinier note, it can be a great makeshift picnic blanket.

A small, simple dust mask, like a surgical mask, is another “must have.” Not only do these small, stackable masks protect you from airborne particles, they can also prevent you from spreading your germs, too. (Or getting sick if you’re around a lot of sick people or have a weakened immune system.)

Take a bottle of water. Clean water is one of the most important things you can have with you. Having clean, accessible water can prevent dehydration and it can save you money by not buying a bottle for $4 when you’ve got no other options. Better yet, bring a reusable water bottle, and fill it each morning.

Finally, pack a few high protein snacks for energy or a quick snack if your blood sugar is low. Protein bars like Clif bars are heavy and dense, and can give you a quick boost. Tuck a couple into your briefcase, purse, or backpack and pull one out when you need it.

What are some of the must-have emergency items you take on trips? Did we miss anything? Or do you have a favorite make, model, or energy bar you don’t leave home without? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Wtshymanski (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

Delta Air Lines to Ditch Zone Boarding in 2019

March 7, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Delta Air Lines passengers will soon find boarding their aircraft done in a different way that’s supposed to cut down on confusion, speed up the boarding process, and best of all, stop everyone from crowding around the gate 10 minutes before their section is called.

According to a recent USA Today article, the airline now boards passengers by ticket type, and not by its long-standing zone method. Changes went into effect on January 23 on flights and were created to reduce pre-boarding stress for flyers.

United Airlines switched to a similar process last fall for the same reason.

Delta's new color-coded boarding chart eliminates their zone boarding“Every customer values consistency and a sense of knowing what to expect when they’re traveling,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said in a company news release. “We have been listening to our customers about the stress they often feel at the gate before boarding, and implementing small changes for years. This latest enhancement further refines how Delta’s process works and is designed to better link the Delta product they purchased to differentiated experiences throughout their journey.”

The new, color-coded process required renaming boarding groups and will increase the number of those groups.

First in will be the pre-boarders. Then Delta One suites. First Class will be next. Travelers who pay for upgrades or are upgraded to Delta’s Comfort Plus board next. The Atlanta-based airline said the addition of Comfort Plus boarding was recommended by gate agents to reduce crowding at the gate. A two-month test in Atlanta proved positive, and so they made it the new standard.

Travelers with platinum or gold medallion status in Delta’s Sky Miles program will be known as the new Sky Priority boarding group and will follow Comfort Plus passengers on board. Those with seats in the main cabin will board according to their number. Delta’s lowest frequent flier tier, silver and certain credit card holders will board with the Main Cabin 1 group. Last but not least, Delta’s no-frill basic economy fare will board last.

Delta's new color-coded boarding chart

Have you tried out the new Delta boarding method or any other airline’s method? What did you think? How do you think this will help reduce congestion and crowding at the gates? Share your thoughts and experiences on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Source: Delta.com

The Ever-Growing Bleisure Travel Market

March 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

With so many business travelers adding leisure time to trips, bleisure travel is now a major part of the travel industry. And there are many lucrative possibilities, according to a recent article in Travel Weekly.

Travel advisors say bleisure travel is a growing market with growing profits, and Travel Weekly calls the sales potential “enticing.”

“In a recent survey of business professionals age 25 to 35 years old,” said the article, “Hilton Hotels & Resorts found that nearly 70 percent of respondents said they have a desire to extend their work trips for leisure purposes.”

In fact, according to a 2018 Bleisure Trends Report by Egencia, 68 percent of travelers mix business with pleasure 1 – 3 times a year. Moreover, the report said that 74 percent of business travelers are considering a bleisure trip over the next six months.

Enticing indeed!

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it's especially fun if you're near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it’s especially fun if you’re near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

Getting employers onboard with bleisure travel isn’t always easy though. Employers and their travel policies are not always amenable to travelers tacking on a few days of fun, although that perception is changing. Dave Hershberger, president of Prestige Travel Leaders in Cincinnati, Ohio, said that corporate support is growing for the practice.

“We have seen bleisure travel grow mainly because more corporations are not only allowing it, but are also embracing it,” said Hershberger. “Corporate support — to meet the employee demand — is what’s driving the growth rate.”

Maurice Honor, Vice President of Travel Distribution Sales for Hertz, said that bleisure travel means people want a better work/life balance, and that balance is a big selling point for companies to support it.

So what’s driving the increased desire for bleisure travel among the travelers themselves?

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a big reason, said Leah Kirgis, manager of leisure travel at Cadence in La Jolla, California. People want to experience the culture and unexpected things in locations.

But it’s also the personal appeal of the destination. Imagine, if you’re traveling to New Zealand, Hawaii, Europe, or Canada, would you want to just zip in and out long enough for your sales meeting or conference? This could be the only time you get to visit that destination, so doesn’t it make sense to experience a little of the culture and scenery?

Bottom line is whether the employee can create memories that will last a lifetime, and whether their company will allow it. If you’re on the fence about whether you should allow bleisure travel in your own company, we highly recommend it. It makes your employees happy and the quality of their work will increase.

Do you take bleisure trips on your business travel? Does your company allow bleisure travel as part of its regular travel policies? Share your experiences on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Used with permission)

U.S. Airlines, Airports Exploring Use of Self-Bag Drop

February 21, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Life is becoming more like The Jetsons all the time, especially around the airport. In a recent article, Travel Weekly told us about self-bag drop at some airports using machines by German vendor Materna.

While tighter security regulations have prevented unassisted self-bag drop machines in airports, U.S. airlines and airports are finally exploring the possibility of a rollout.

The self-bag drop at Incheon Airport in South Korea

The self-bag drop at Incheon Airport in South Korea

According to Stu Williams, Senior Vice President for Special Projects at the Denver Airport, nearly 200 Materna machines are being installed as part of a broader overhaul of the airport’s central Jeppesen Terminal. This means that by 2020 every bag drop location at the airport will enable flyers to self-check their baggage.

According to a study by SITA, another vendor of self-bag drop machines, 45% of airlines offer unassisted bag drop around the world. Passenger identity is typically agent-verified prior to accessing the bag drop machines for security purposes.

The machines can be time-savers, too. Once at the machines, passengers drop and weigh their bags, scan their bag tags and boarding passes, then they leave their bags to be routed to their flight, all without further agent contact. Some machines can accept payment for oversized baggage, and others offer biometric identity capabilities. Then the machine rolls to the baggage handlers who route it to the correct plane.

In addition to saving time, the machines provide substantial cost savings as agents can monitor up to 14 machines. But in the U.S., the TSA requires an agent manually verify passenger identification. The TSA has also pledged to speed up biometric development and released a road map for biometric expansion.

Several airlines like American, Alaska, Delta, and United, and airports in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Miami have begun using self-bag check as well. Meanwhile, at New York’s JFK Airport, JetBlue will begin testing biometric self-bag drop this month.

Will you use self-bag drop or are you a carry-on purist? Do you trust the technology to get your bag to your destination on time or do you want to hand it to a human being? Share your thoughts (or experiences) with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: hyolee2 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Five Things You Should Do (and Not Do) at Hotel Checkout

February 7, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers are in and out of hotels so often, you have the hotel checkout routine down pat. On your last day, they slide the receipt under the door, and you walk out, confident that everything is fine and nothing needs your attention.

But that’s not always the case. USA Today recently shared some advice on what you should not do during hotel checkout, and we thought we’d share a few of these tips with you as well.

hotel management trainee working at the front desk at the Pearl Continental Hotel Rawalpindi 8. Be sure to check at the front desk during your hotel checkout to avoid surprise fees.First, be sure to double-check your bill. A lot of times, you can overlook an errant charge without realizing it. Maybe you negotiated no resort fees when you checked in, but they failed to note it on your account. Or maybe you’re being charged for something from the mini-bar even though you didn’t partake. Or maybe there was a breakfast charged to your room by mistake. Dispute the charges before you leave the building and get an updated copy of the bill.

Second, don’t leave anything behind Look for all electronics and chargers, make sure you’ve packed all medications and toiletries. And check behind your TV, in case you plugged in a Google Chromecast or USB cable. It helps to pack most of your items the night before and then you only have to deal with the things you need in the morning.

Leave a tip for the housekeeper. This is a customary part of every hotel stay, and you should leave between $2 and $5 for each night you’re there. Try to leave it each morning if you’re staying for more than a day, but if the housekeeper doesn’t take it on those mornings, then leave the sum total at the end.

Reserve a spot on the airport shuttle the night before If there’s a free airport shuttle, you can use it, but seats are often limited. Be sure to reserve your seat the night before so you don’t show up at the last minute only to find out you’re not going to make it. And be in the lobby 10 minutes before you’re supposed to leave; the shuttle might not stick around if you’re finishing up breakfast thinking you can stroll out at the last second.

Pay with a credit card, not a debit card. The danger of securing your stay with a debit card is that the hotel will often put a hold on $200 or more for “incidentals” — pay-per-view TV, minibar, etc. — when you check in. Anything you don’t use will be put back on your debit card after a few days. But this could put you in the red if other checks clear, like your utilities or mortgage/rent. Use a credit card for incidentals and to pay for your bill, if possible. If that’s not possible, give them a credit card to secure those incidentals, but pay with the debit card at the end of the stay to avoid the monetary hold.

What advice do you have for new hotel travelers? Anything they should avoid or watch out for, or things they absolutely must do? Tell us your (hotel) secrets on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Hashoo Foundation (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Delta and Lyft Have Combined to Earn Delta Points on Lyft Rides

January 15, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a travel mileage junkie on the lookout for a new way to earn Delta miles, hitch a ride with Lyft. Delta Airlines recently announced a partnership with the ride sharing company that lets travelers earn miles just by using the service. Members can earn miles for every Lyft ride, and for a limited time, earn bonus miles during rides to and from the airport.

“We’re thinking about our customers’ whole travel experience and it’s important that Delta customers are taken care of not just in the air, but on the ground,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Vice President – Customer Engagement & Loyalty.

All SkyMiles members are eligible, but if you’re not a SkyMiles member yet, but frequently take Lyft, sign up for Delta’s program. Just remember that names must match on both accounts, so keep that in mind when you register.
There are several Lyft benefits offered to SkyMiles members including:

  • One mile for every dollar spent on all rides (excluding taxes and tolls).
  • For a limited time, get two bonus miles per $1 spent on Lyft rides to or from the airport.
  • New riders get two $10 Lyft ride credits.
  • All Lyft rides are all eligible to earn miles including Lyft Line, Classic, Plus, and Premier.

Delta and Lyft have teamed up to provide Delta loyalty miles to Lyft riders.Earning miles is exclusively for SkyMiles Members who have active linked accounts at the time the ride is completed, which means you can’t get credit for past rides. So be sure to register and connect your two accounts before your next trip. Finally, if you and several co-workers or family members ride together, only the Lyft rider who requested the ride can earn miles, so you’ll have to fight it out with anyone else who wants the miles.

This is not the first partnership Delta has made with other travel service companies. In November 2016, they partnered with Airbnb to award extra miles to SkyMiles members who stayed in an Airbnb property. Delta also partnered with an innovative biometric identity verification platform, CLEAR, which allows SkyMiles members a discount on the highly coveted opportunity to expedite TSA security processes.

Are you a Delta or Lyft account holder? Will an arrangement like this inspire you to join one or the other program? Have you seen it in action already? Share your stories with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Photo provided by Delta Airlines

6 Things to Do Before Booking a Hotel

January 10, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel offers many choices and demands many decisions and you want to make the ones that give you the most for your money. On any trip, your hotel choice is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make.

The quality of the accommodations, amenities, and freebies are just a few of the factors that will affect your decision. The wrong or right choice can mean the difference between a memorable trip and a miserable one.

The Ellis Hotel, formerly the Winecoff Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia. Make sure to follow these important steps when booking a hotel.

The Ellis Hotel, formerly the Winecoff Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia.

A recent Smart Traveler article reminded us of some important factors to consider if you want to ensure your next trip is one worth remembering, not one you’d rather forget.

First, check the EXACT location of the hotel. Use Google Street view or Bing’s Bird’s Eye and get a look around. Make sure the hotel is, say, near the beach (like they said), has the great views they promised, or isn’t stuck right on a busy street that makes walking impossible. Doing this can help you avoid a hotel near the interstate or road construction.

Check to see if the hotel has any airport shuttles. You can save yourself time and frustration with a complimentary shuttle. Taxis and ride sharing can get expensive, so taking an airport shuttle to the hotel can save a few bucks. Just remember to tip your driver.

Check parking availability and cost. Parking on hotel property can add $10 to $35 or more per day. No parking at the hotel? The cost for off-site parking will often be significantly higher, and the inconvenience of walking to and from the off-site lot is higher, too. Weigh the costs between paid parking and ride sharing before you commit.

Do they have free or fee Internet? There’s no guarantee that a hotel offers free wifi; there could be a daily charge for it. You could also be charged per device, so connecting a laptop and phone can gobble up any savings. The more expensive hotels typically charge for their wifi while the less expensive hotels don’t. So either figure out how to use the mobile hotspot feature on your cell phone, or figure out whether you want to spend $10 – $20 per day on Internet access.

Do they have a rewards program? Loyalty programs are usually free and often provide great rewards. Ideally, you’d sign up before you make your reservations because members often get discounted prices, earlier check-in, later check-out, and other perks, but you can sign up once you check in. Just remember to do it before you check out so you can get the points. Some programs even give complimentary wifi and upgraded rooms.

Of course, you often have to book directly through the hotel rather than through the discount comparison sites or the conference websites to get those points. (Be sure to check with the individual hotel before you make the reservations just to make sure. Call them directly, don’t call the 800 number, because they don’t always have the best information.)

Are you a hotel travel veteran? What are some of your recommendations for hotel rookies and newbies? Tell us some of your recommendations and secrets on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Eoghanacht (WIkimedia Commons, Creative Commons 0/Public Domain)

Sleepbox Micro-Hotel to Open at Washington Dulles International Airport

January 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Thinking inside the box might be a good place for a nap if you’re at Dulles International Airport. As travelers long for a place to sleep other than the floor or curled up in a chair, Dulles will now offer a place to sleep, recharge or relax before your next flight.

According to USA Today, Sleepbox Nap Lounge opened during Christmas week on Concourse A, and is located between gates A6 and A14. Offering 16 small, stand-alone sound-proofed rooms, the micro-hotel will be the answer to the prayers of many weary travelers.

A double Sleepbox Hotel micro-hotel.The rooms can be rented through the Sleepbox website or app and reservations can last for an hour for a quick catnap or even an overnight stay. Canceled flights just looked a bit better with an option to get sleep and not worry about traffic back to the airport.

The article says the rooms are designed to be “cozy” with 8-foot ceilings and 30 square feet for a compact size. A 45 square foot room is also available with a little more storage space. Beds in both sizes are made of premium memory foam.

Room temperatures can be set via the Sleepbox app and so will lighting and the wireless entertainment system. It’s important to note that there are no restrooms or showers available at the micro-hotel, so if you need to use the facilities overnight, plan ahead and don’t leave your room without your mobile phone.

Minute Suites, a Sleepbox competitor, are currently available in Dallas, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Atlanta airports. Travelers familiar with these small rooms know they offer a sound-masked room for sleeping, working, or just relaxing in some peace and quiet. Minute Suites offer alarm clocks, HDTV (Netflix and DirecTV), and desks with chairs; some even offer showers.

The Atlanta airport sleeping concept has two locations and Minute Suites will open four new locations in the new year. Atlanta’s Concourse E will have 16 suites and two showers; Concourse F will offer six suites and one shower. Not to be left out, Concourses T and B will a part of “Traveler’s Oasis” concept with Be Relax Spa and Chiroport, which offers 15-minute chiropractic treatments that including spine adjustments and trigger-point muscle work.

Dulles is the first airport to get a Sleepbox micro-hotel, but the article says Sleepbox is already in talks with a few other large U.S. hubs for future locations.

Would you sleep in a micro-hotel or other tiny sleep room? Do the lack of toilet and shower facilities make a difference? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Vzor495 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

Robert & Mary Carey Spotlight: Nashville

December 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We are pleased to publish this blog article from Robert & Mary Carey of the RMWorldTravel radio program. Robert and Mary will provide us monthly blog articles covering their different favorite travel destinations.

There’s not a city in our nation as famous for songwriting and music as Music City itself, Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville’s deep roots and rich connections to music and the artists behind the music are unparalleled. But there are some other unique tidbits and facts about Nashville that we think are interesting and worthy of being shared with you.

The Nashville skyline at nightDid you know Nashville had another well-known nickname before it became known as Music City? By the mid-1800’s Nashville had gained a reputation for its established institutes of higher education and its public school system. Considered the Southern seat of culture and education, Nashville’s nickname back then was the Athens of the South. There’s even a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens to honor this, and it makes for an interesting visit the next time you’re in Nashville. Built as part of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition, today the Nashville Parthenon functions as an art museum and popular tourist site in Centennial Park. The notable structure is also used for theater productions including Greek plays which are often performed for free.

Another fun fact you should know about Nashville is that it’s experienced an explosion of new restaurants onto the scene. Just over the past year, more than 100 new restaurants have opened with top chefs creating unique dishes while also making good use of locally sourced foods and celebrating the flavors and culture of the South. But don’t worry, there are plenty of the old standby Nashville favorites still cooking for their happy customers. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is one of those old time favorites. Serving legendary spicy chicken for over 70 years, along with a James Beard award picked up along the way, they’ve recently opened a second Nashville location due to high demand.

If you’re wondering what to do in Nashville besides explore the music scene and eat your way through this southern city, rest assured there are plenty of things to see! We always enjoy visiting some of the plantations and President Andrew Jackson’s home, the Hermitage, is a beautiful, historic home on about 1,000 acres of stunning grounds. If you enjoy whiskey, you can explore the craftsmanship of the popular spirit on various whiskey trails and tours.

But with all of this and more, Nashville really does get some serious bragging rights for its place in music history so here’s what we suggest you visit on the music scene. The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium are essential Nashville attractions. If you can’t catch a show at the Ryman you can take a tour. It’s a National Historic Landmark and one of the most famous music venues in the U.S. And if you have time, check out the iconic Bluebird Café. Why? Well, you’re just going to have to drop by and find out… hint: It’s fondly known as a place to go to hear the ‘heroes behind the hits’. And don’t forget your Travelpro luggage. Anytime we’re traveling, it’s what we use! Safe and Happy Travels!

Robert & Mary Carey, Hosts
America’s #1 Travel Radio Show
www.RMWorldTravel.com

Free Wifi On Planes? Make Sure You Practice STRICT Security

November 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

How important is it to you to have free wifi on planes? Are you able to stand being disconnected from the office for 1 – 6 hours? Or do you have to be connected at all times? And if it’s that important, are you willing to pay for in-flight wifi, or do you sit and suffer because you don’t want to pay $10 for a few hours of connectivity?

Delta Airlines is beginning to offer a rare incentive for their fliers and giving us all free wifi on their flights. Last year, they began offering free texting to their passengers, and this year, they’re upping the ante.

In a recent Travel Market Report article, Delta Air Lines said it would provide the free amenity, and according to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, it would be faster than what we’re already used to.

A man sitting on an airplane wearing a knit tube over his head and his laptop computer. His hands fit into little openings near the laptop. This is not good security if you're using free wifi on planes.

No, this won’t help.

Speaking at the Skift Global Forum in New York recently, Bastian said he didn’t know of anyplace other than in an airplane that you can’t access free wifi, so he wanted Delta to be the first to provide it to passengers. When the fee would be dropped remains unclear, but it is expected to be well-received.

We’re definitely in favor of free wifi, but it’s critical that you follow strong security measures in order to keep your computer and your personal information safe from prying eyes.

  1. Make sure you use a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt all web traffic to and from your computer.
  2. Make sure your malware protection and firewall are current. If you don’t have any, buy some.
  3. Never do any banking or transmit sensitive financial data while you’re on a free wifi system. If you need to do it, wait until you’re on the ground, and do it on your phone with the wifi turned off. Cellular data is harder to intercept.
  4. Be sure the wifi system you want to log onto is the right one. There are many imposters that look legit — Free_Airport_Wifi may look legitimate, but you can’t always tell. Make sure you know the official name of the official wifi, and ask someone who works there if you’re not sure.

These steps are always important, even if you don’t travel very often. But if you’re going to use free wifi, whether it’s at a coffee shop, the airport, or even a plane, you have to take steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to cybercrime.

Are you looking forward to Delta’s free in-flight wifi? Or do you prefer to stay unconnected while you’re flying? Some people want to answer emails, while others just want to read a book. How about you? Tell us your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Becky Stern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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