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

5 Tips to Travel Light for the Holidays

December 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re traveling for the holidays, whether you’re flying or driving, remember you’re working with a limited amount of space in the car or your suitcase. You’re taking enough clothes for several days, probably heavy enough to keep warm in the winter. (Although we barely have to wear coats down here in Florida. Just pointing that out.)

And many people try to pack their gifts so they can save money. They end up spending more money instead and creating more of a hassle for themselves. There are several ways you can lighten your load and still get everything you need to where it needs to be.

1. Don’t check your bags.

A crowded baggage claim area at Las Vegas airport. If you travel light this holiday, you can avoid scenes like this.If you’re traveling for more than a week to stay with relatives, the big mistake many travelers make is to pack one or two big suitcases and check them through to their destination. Everything goes into the bags, including kids’ clothes, gifts, and one outfit for each day they’re going to be gone.

And then, because literally millions of people are traveling for the holidays, your luggage could get lost or delayed, which means you’re without your clothes, gifts, toiletries and so on, at someone else’s house. If you’re going to check your bags, then be sure to pack at least one change of underwear, your toiletries, and your medication into your carry-on bag. (Be sure to stick your laptop and electronics into your carry-on as well.)

You’re better off streamlining your packing and fitting everything into a carry-on and taking that onto the plane. If your kids are five or older, they’re allowed to carry on their own bags. So you can pack their clothes into their carry-on, and let them be responsible for their own stuff.

The next four tips will help you pack light, so you can avoid checking your bags.

2. Pre-plan your schedule and plan your clothes around it.

Look at your schedule and plan out your days. Many people will pack a nice outfit, “just in case” they go somewhere fancy for dinner. Don’t do that. Either plan for the dinner out, or just don’t go to that level of restaurant.

Similarly, don’t take other “just in case” outfits, like whether you might go skiing or might go paint balling or might go to a museum. If you plan your schedule, you can be sure whether you need to take those clothes or not.

3. Remember you can double up and wear your clothes more than once.

Don’t pack one outfit per day. If you’re going to be gone for seven days, you don’t need seven pairs of pants and seven shirts. You can wear your pants at least twice or even three times, and the same could even be possible for some shirts.

Sure, you’ll need enough undergarments, like underwear, t-shirts, and socks but you can even cut down on those items if you can do laundry at least once while you’re there. Just make sure you have some laundry facilities available to you; double-check before you leave. In a pinch, you can always wash your underwear and socks in a hotel sink. Just get a very small bottle of detergent when you arrive, although some hotels may sell them in their lobby shop.

4. Ship your gifts early.

Don’t pack your gifts in your bags to try to save money. Most airlines charge $25 for your first bag, and $50 for a second, and you’ll probably end up carrying enough gifts to require a bag. If you shipped most of your gifts ahead a few days early, you’d spend as much as you would on a couple of checked bags.

You could also order gifts online at Amazon or other ecommerce stores, and pay to have them shipped. If you have Amazon Prime, which is $119 per year, you could get free shipping throughout the year. But if you had planned on spending $150 in checked bag fees, you could save yourself quite a bit of money by spending it on Amazon Prime instead, and doing all your holiday shopping a few days before you leave. Follow all these other tips, and you can use carry-ons and save all your checked bag fees, which will more than pay for your Amazon Prime membership.

5. Wear your heavier items.

If you’re going somewhere cold for the holidays, don’t pack your heaviest items, wear and carry them. Wear your boots and pack your normal shoes. Your boots will take up an awful lot of room, plus they’re likelier to be dirty and get grime on your clothes. Just remember to pack your shoes in shoe bags so you don’t transfer dirt then too.

You should also dress in layers for warmth, instead of wearing a giant parka. Thin layers are easier to pack and take up less room than a single coat. But even if you take a heavy coat, carry it through the airport and then wear it as you’re boarding the plane. It’s not officially a carry-on item then, and you can always take it off and stow it once you’re on the plane.

How do you travel for the holidays? Do you pack everything and pay the charges, or do you try to travel as light as possible to keep things easy. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Josh Hallett (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

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)

How One Travel Writer Saved Thousands in World Travel

November 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Ah, to be young and able to travel anywhere, eat anywhere, sleep anywhere at any time. We recently found an article by travel writer Evie Carick, who listed several ways she was able to make her travel dollars go further. While it may not be ideal for the seasoned executive who’s accustomed to traveling business class, for younger business travelers or people heading out on vacation, these are some tips to help you stretch your travel dollars.

Some of them are old standards, such as taking public transportation, traveling during the off-season, walking, and of course, hoarding freebies. But there are a few new nuggets thanks to advances in technology, such as Hopper’s flight alerts and Kayak’s flex month, to name a few. Here are some of Evie’s tips that we especially liked.

A train in a station. A travel writer suggested riding trains overnight to save money and time.Consider traveling at night, especially if you’re going by train. Not only can you travel comfortably (i.e. wearing pajamas), but you aren’t wasting a day traveling. Grab a sleep mask, ear plugs and blanket. Fall asleep in one place and awaken in another, ready to sightsee. Plus, you’ve just saved yourself a night’s stay in a hotel. Pack light, only a week’s worth of clothes, and do laundry as you reach your destinations. Put your laptop and toiletries in a backpack, and avoid checking any luggage.

Speaking of transportation, have you flown one of the many small, budget airlines? Google your destination and discover which airlines travel to your intended destination. Spirit, Frontier, and JetBlue are worth a good first look if you need to save money.

Booking directly also helps lower costs, but keep an eye out for extra fees and surcharges as they accumulate quickly. Try Skyscanner’s Everywhere search to find cheap flights close to your final destination, then book the final leg of the trip separately, or get a rental car.

Do you still have your student ID? Assuming it wasn’t more than a decade ago and the age differences aren’t obvious, show your student ID to get some additional discounts only available to students. And if you’re over 50, AARP offers great discounts for travelers, as does AAA.

Want to do some sightseeing? Learning about a new city can be costly, but if you take only free city tours, you might be surprised at what you discover about your destination. Check out Sandeman if you’re staying in a major European city, while FreeTour.com is available in 118 countries around the world. No free tours where you are? Ask at your hotel or tourist information desk if they know of any. Finally, even though it’s a freebie, your guide might appreciate a tip at the end.

To get around a new city, download an offline Google Map for Internet-free orientation. You can also download a language dictionary in Google Translate. BonusTranslate operates in airplane mode, so you don’t have to worry about chewing up data when you’re in a foreign country.

In fact, try to keep your phone in airplane mode while you’re in another country, unless you specifically have a phone that works overseas. (Ask your mobile provider if you’re not sure.) Then, if you need to send a text or update social media, use a place with free wifi, like McDonald’s or Starbucks — you can find those around the world. Also, consider using apps like WhatsApp to send texts and only use it on wifi, so you don’t incur international charges.

If you’d rather drive yourself to do some sightseeing, make sure your credit card or car insurance will cover you. If it does, skip the insurance from the car rental agency. In most cases, their insurance is expensive and unnecessary, but talk to your credit card provider and insurance agent to be sure.

Speaking of credit cards, make sure your cards won’t hit you with foreign transaction fees. Ideally, it will also offer airline rewards which can help you earn airline miles for every dollar spent. For example, you could use an American Express Gold to earn Delta miles. Use it to pay your bills, and then pay off your AMEX each month. You’ll eventually earn enough miles to score a free ticket.

Lastly, make sure you bank card doesn’t require ATM fees. Some offer reimbursement of ATM fees worldwide while others offer unlimited reimbursements in the US. If you’re going to travel a lot, you may want to switch banks to one that doesn’t charge ATM fees.

How do you save money when you travel? What are some of your big money-saving secrets? Share your money-saving tips with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: PXHere.com (Creative Commons 0)

Drive for Your Next Business Trip to Save Money and Time

October 23, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

How far are you willing to drive before you decide to fly for your next business trip? For most people, it’s six hours. If you live in or near a big city like Chicago, Atlanta, or even here in Boca Raton ‚ about an hour from Miami International Airport — the magic number seems to be six hours.

In other words, if you can drive from one place to another in six hours or less, drive it, don’t fly.

For example, if you’re traveling from Louisville to Chicago, that’s a five-hour drive. If you drive from your house to the airport and arrive 90 minutes early, that takes two hours. The time you board from the time you get off the plane is another 90 minutes. And then you have to get your rental car and drive to your hotel, taking another 90 minutes. That’s a five-hour plane trip all for the “convenience” of flying.

But if you drove your car to your hotel in Chicago, you could still make it in roughly five or six hours, and you’d have the added benefit of having your car available.

There are several ways to save time, money, and your sanity, when you drive to a conference, trade show, or meeting. Like any trip, planning is essential, which will save you more than time and money — it will save you plenty of aggravation too. Here are a few tips to help you save all three.

Start planning your next business trip with a map, whether it's paper or digital.Plan your route in advance. There are plenty of apps that will guide you as you drive. No more reading folding maps or atlases. You’ll be able to plan stops for food, restrooms, and even a bit of sightseeing if time permits. Making several stops on the way to your ultimate destination? Planning your route will also help you find the shortest and fastest routes.

Leave your travel plans with someone you trust. This lets others know where you are and when you should arrive. Not only will they be able to “find” you in the event of an issue, like a breakdown, they’ll be able to trace your drive should you need assistance. (If you and your spouse or a friend both use Waze, you can also share your route and progress this way, and they can see when you’re expected to arrive.)

Plan on stopping. Yes, traffic will happen. It will slow your travel time, it might even stop it. Plan to stop for meals, and then make sure you actually do it. Park the car, get out, and walk into a restaurant. Avoid drive-thru fast food if at all possible. Making healthy choices can happen on the road, and by pre-planning, you can find healthy restaurant choices rather than ordering junk from your car. If the weather is nice, order the food to-go and head to a park or a place to sit outside. The fresh air is a pleasant change from stuffy car air. And a post-meal walk will be a great break from sitting in the same position for hours on end.

Make sure you can find fuel. By planning your routes, you’ll be able to spot any long stretches without a gas station. If you’re the type to drive until the gas light comes on — and then see how much further you can go — business travel might not be the best time to test the limit of your gas tank.

Remember, though, that a gas stop will add to the trip duration every time you stop especially if you pick up some snacks and use the restroom. Be sure to calculate the time into your total travel time. For example, a six-hour trip can easily turn into seven hours with three gas stops along the way, so plan accordingly.

What if you start feeling sluggish or sleepy? Rest before it’s too late. By previewing your map, you’ll know the places where lodging is and isn’t available. It’ll give you an idea of the places you want to avoid, too. Do a little research to find possible towns to visit and those to drive past. (And consider making reservations ahead of time.)

Packing a cooler with some drinks may also save time, because you don’t have to make extra stops just to wet your whistle. Be sure they’re easy to open and drink from. No need for distractions or attempting to drive ‘hands-free,” even if it’s only for a moment.

If possible, rent a car. Not only will it save wear and tear on your car, it might be tax deductible, so check with your tax professional. Unlimited mileage on a rental car might be a sound option and you can reduce the fuel costs by choosing an economy class vehicle.

So you’ve got a vehicle, planned the drive, and packed your bags. What’s next? Use an app like Waze or Google Maps to navigate around traffic issues with real-time updates based on local traffic conditions. This can help you avoid accidents and other delays. Shortcuts, detours and alternative routes given by the apps could save you plenty of time, gas and anxiety.

Traveling by car can be a good alternative to taking a plane everywhere. Remember, if your destination is five or six hours away by car, it can beat flying by saving you time, money, and the hassle of trying to make it through the airport.

Any recommendations for taking a business trip by car? What do you do to make your trips as short and hassle-free as possible? Share your ideas on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Erin Costa (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

October 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Several weeks ago, we wrote about how one of the dirtiest places in the airport is the check-in kiosk at the front of the airport. Thousands of fingers poke at the screen every day, and no one cleans it off. Compare that to the airport bathrooms, which are cleaned hourly. In other words, the airport bathroom is much more sanitary than a computer kiosk.

Other germ-laden places you face during air travel? Armrests on the seats at the gates, armrests on the plane, and the tray tables.

And let’s not forget the security checkpoints. It turns out that the containers you send through the x-ray machine are also some of the nastiest places in the airport. Everyone touches the containers, but not everyone has clean hands.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in history, and we’re not sure what 2018-2019 is going to bring. And since it’s right around the corner, you’re at greater odds of getting sick when you travel this winter, so preventative measures are key to staying healthy.

One way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), now is the time to get one, and you should get it sooner rather than later, as it takes two weeks for the vaccine to provide the highly-desired protection. Even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, or you get infected with another strain of the flu virus, the vaccination reduces transmission in the population in general, as well as lessens your own symptoms.

Self-check-in kiosks is often the dirtiest place in the airport.If you want to avoid getting sick when you travel, there are a few precautions you should take. First, the CDC suggests carrying a travel health kit, consisting of tissues, soap, alcohol-based sanitizer, and pain/fever medicine. We’ll also recommend adding some sanitizing wipes as well. Having these items handy may reduce your risk of infection and keep you well.

Use the hand sanitizer whenever you touch a dirty surface, or use the sanitizing wipes to wipe down those surfaces before you ever touch them. Wipe down the the armrests at the gate and your armrests and tray table on the plane. Use the hand sanitizer once you board and again after you use the bathroom on the plane.

Avoid traveling when you feel ill. Should you become ill, your physician can prescribe drugs to treat the flu infection, making the illness shorter and milder. The same is true for a cold — it may not be as severe as the flu, but it can still put a damper on your trip.

And when you do travel, follow a few simple rules:

  • Avoid close contact with people who appear sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by doing it in your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after you blow your nose or use the bathroom.
  • Avoid touching your face if you’re in public because that’s often how the flu gets into your system — through touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands.
  • Finally, hygiene, sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating right will greatly help reduce your risk of contracting most illnesses.

How do you stay healthy when you travel? Do you have any “I got sick on a business trip” horror stories? Share them with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Marek Ślusarczyk (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.5)

Air Travel Secrets from a Professional Airline Critic

October 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When it comes to finding the hidden secrets about air travel, there’s no one better to turn to than a tried-and-true expert. And not just an expert, but someone who’s paid to find problem areas in the airlines’ performance.

Brent Bowen is America’s leading airline critic — and frequent air traveler — who has uncovered a few secrets on how to find the right carrier for you, how to avoid pain on your flight, and how to understand those obscure rules of air travel.

Bowen is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor, and he publishes the Airline Quality Rating, a report we’ve sometimes written about on this blog. And the fact that he still flies shows that he’s figured out several secrets, which means he has less-eventful flights and is able to relax more while he’s on the plane.

The bottom line is simple: if you don’t make an informed decision about your travel plans, someone else will, and chances are that “someone” will be the airline. Their main concern is getting you from point A to point B safely; it’s up to you to do it in comfort and style. So here are some of Bowen’s secrets for having a more comfortable flight.

Knowing the right air travel secrets can help you have a more comfortable flight.Finding the right airline for you is key. You need one that fits your needs and budget. Do you need early seating? Do you want to avoid extra fees? Or is seat room a big concern? Dealing with an airline directly may give you more control over seating preferences, so research tickets and loyalty perks before you settle on one for the foreseeable future.

Next, know the rules. Air travel has become complex and most folks are unaware of the recent surge of fees and restrictions currently held by airlines. Be aware of the rules, especially with “low cost” carriers, who will often make up the lost ticket costs with additional fees. Look for deals and chances to avoid fees, such as joining an airline’s loyalty program or buying your ticket with one of their points-earning credit cards.

Whenever possible, Bowen says, fly nonstop as stopovers increase chances of lost luggage, delays, or other misfortunes. You only have one flight to contend with, so if there are any delays, you’re still going to get to your destination. But if you have a multi-leg flight, one late flight can throw off the entire trip.

If nonstop is not an option, then avoid checking a bag. Try to purchase a better seat to avoid the middle seat/back of plane (choose the upgrade to Economy Plus). And check the airline’s website and see if you can choose your seat in advance.

If you’re traveling for business and these options fall outside your corporate travel policy, see if you can make your own arrangements, and request reimbursement later. Alternatively, it might be better to take a longer trip than one with additional stops.

What are some of your air travel secrets to make sure you arrive in comfort? Road warriors, what tips have you learned that we could all benefit from? Share them on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Vincent Desjardins (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

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