Expert Travel Advice to Save Your Next Trip

October 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Thanks to Mr. Murphy and his terrible law, you can count on having things go awry seemingly at the worst times, like when you travel. Delays, lost luggage, overbooked hotels, and lost reservations all await business travelers and vacationers alike.

It may not be possible to avoid every problem, but it’s possible to reduce the risks, and we’ll discuss that in a minute.

The most important thing is that when something does go wrong, laugh about it. Delays are almost guaranteed, losing your mind isn’t. Keeping a positive attitude can make all the difference to what happens to you, so just remind yourself that most things are out of your control and go with the flow. Don’t take everything personally.

If we had to pick one piece of expert travel advice, it's to never travel without at least one cell phone charger, and even two. Photo is of an iPhone with a low battery alert on the screen.The ticket agent isn’t out to get you. The passenger in front of you didn’t deliberately misplace their boarding pass just to hold up the line. Things happen; staying positive will make inconveniences a bit easier to deal with. While it won’t keep you from losing your luggage, it just might keep you from losing your mind.

(Another tip: Having a positive, friendly attitude when dealing with a ticket agent who just got yelled at will more likely result in you getting something better than you had originally expected. And certainly something better than the other person got.)

Remember the adage “plan your work and work your plan?” That works with traveling, too. Plan for some inconveniences, and have some backup plans and workarounds, like carrying a paper map in case your map app doesn’t work on your phone. Research local customs and currency, so you know how to interact with locals and carry a small translation dictionary. Be as familiar as possible with things like road signs so you can find your way around.

You insure your home, your car, and probably your life, so why not insure your trip against sickness, flight delays, and cancellations? Ensure your sanity by storing valuables safely. Does your hotel offer a safe? Locking up passports, credit cards, cash, jewelry, etc. can keep everything safe and you don’t have to worry about things getting stolen from your room.

While you may think your technology is invaluable, it is replaceable, but it needs to be charged. Figure out where you can power up your devices. Consider bringing your own additional power supply in case you can’t find a place to plug in while you’re out of the hotel.

Finally, here are three final tips that just might save your next trip.

Be prepared. Before you leave home, download and update apps. Updating at home with your high-speed wifi will prove invaluable so you don’t find yourself in a hotel with low-speed wifi or, heaven forbid, none at all.

Back stuff up. Do you really need to take all those stored photos with you? You know, the ones that take up a gazillion gigabytes? Probably not, so leave them “home” so you have plenty of space for those captured moments from sightseeing selfies, videos of things you’d never do at home, and whatever else you want to memorialize. Upload your photos to Dropbox or Google Drive and delete them from your phone.

Make sure you’re covered. Contact your wireless carrier and ask how your mobile phone handles connectivity during international travel. If it requires advanced planning, you’ll know and have time to handle it. If not, you could find yourself in a costly mess. Consider either getting an international sim card or getting a pay-as-you-go phone at your destination.

What kind of expert travel advice do you have for non-expert travelers? Do you have any ideas? Share them on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Rawpixel (Pixabay, Creative Commons 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)

Stay Productive on the Road: These Companies Have a Desk For You

October 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When traveling for business, you want space: space for your laptop, space for your phone, space to work, and a place to possibly even hold a meeting. But where can you find all this in order to stay productive?

Look no further than Spacious, a solution to “space” when working outside the office. Spacious turns restaurant dining areas into workspaces when they’re not actually open for business. The service has grown to nearly 20 locations since its debut just two years ago.

According to a recent article in USA Today, Emily Merrell, founder of Six Degrees Society joined Spacious last September. In less than a year, Merrell was so impressed by Spacious, she began using various locations for her office. In fact, when she recently moved to San Francisco, Merrell continued to use Spacious to run Six Degrees, an organization she created and which organizes networking events for women.

“I like the flexibility and that I can go to many locations,” she says. “In New York, I literally will go to the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and Brooklyn, to three or four spaces in a day.”
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TSA, American Airlines Testing 3D Screening of Carry-on Bags at JFK

October 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is starting to look at luggage in a whole new way. A way that’s faster, more efficient, and will get you through the security checkpoints much faster. It’s called 3D screening and it looks at your blag in three dimensions, not the traditional two.

According to an article in USA Today, the TSA announced plans to begin testing a 3D scanner for carry-on luggage. The device, created by Analogic, has already begun testing with American Airlines at New York’s JFK airport. The test began in late July and uses a ConneCT scanner.

A 2D bag being screened. 3D screening will let you also look at the depth of bags.The partnership with Analogic and TSA could transform aviation security by adding state-of-the-art computed tomography (CT) technology to the security checkpoints, according to José Freig, American’s chief security officer.

“At American, we are always looking at ways to invest in technology that raises the bar on global aviation security while improving the customer experience,” Freig said.
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Five Ways to Boost Productivity While You Travel

September 25, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Traveling for work can be considered a perk — in fact, many people often look for jobs with it — but for some it becomes a drain on productivity which can lose that high momentum normally happening at the office.

Between traveling to the airport, sitting at the gate, and sitting on the tarmac, productivity can plummet when you travel. But just five small changes can make a world of difference.

Work from the bottom up. Consider the way you typically attack the top of your priority list first. When you’re traveling, start at the bottom when you’re at the airport and on the plane. While these items may require attention, they’re probably not intensive and may not require a great deal of attention or focus. You can probably do them on auto-pilot or without straining your brain.

A coffee shop is a great place to be productive while you travel.

Cup Deal Online Business Drinks Coffee Shop


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Lights Out for These Hotel Mattress Myths

September 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Ah, the hotel bed. Sometimes it’s a real crap shoot as to whether you find a comfortable bed like you’ve got at home, or something that should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. If you don’t sleep well while you’re traveling, it may not just be that you’re away from home. It may be that your bed is, well, terrible. Or at least, not very comfortable.

While hotels advertise that their beds will give you “sweet dreams” and dispel any idea of counting sheep, not all guests would support those claims.

According to published reports in a USA Today article, two recent surveys say guests aren’t buying the idea of amazing beds.

The article asserts that hotel beds are at best, just plain old average.

Eighty-one percent of travelers say the “single-most important feature” in a hotel room is the bed, according to a hotel guest survey by MattressAdvisor.com. With plenty of guests complaining about poor sleep, not enough sleep, and restless sleep, what’s a weary traveler to do?

First, be picky about where you stay. Choose wisely.
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Business Travelers Increasingly Use Lyft Ride-Sharing Services

September 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

It used to be that, when you needed to get across town or to the airport, a loud whistle or the wave of an arm would bring a car to your feet. There was a time when a cab was the sole form of a solo ride for pedestrians.

Then Uber hit the streets, which began to threaten the public transportation mainstay; coming in from the back of the pack was Lyft. These days, the tried-and-true method has been overtaken by a sleeker, newer model, and ground transportation is becoming a neck-and-neck race between two contenders. And it’s the taxis that may be left out in the cold.

Lyft usage is increasing among business travelersAccording to USA Today, Certify, a business expense tracking company, reported that Lyft is seeing more growth than Uber and the “old-fashioned” taxi.
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Robert & Mary Carey Spotlight Seattle, Washington

September 11, 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.

On our weekly national radio show, we regularly spotlight some of our favorite destinations around the U.S. —- that are less traveled but offer outstanding travel experiences. A recent focus was Seattle, Washington. Seattle is a popular year-round destination for many reasons.

The Seattle city skylineFirst, it’s a city with spectacular views that offers ample outdoor activities for travelers of all ages. On clear days from various points in the city, you can see the Puget Sound, the rugged peaks of the Cascade Mountains and of course, Mount Rainer, the highest mountain in the state of Washington. For more expansive views, the iconic Space Needle reopened in July, after a major renovation and is worth checking out. There is now an observation deck that includes floor to ceiling glass views on the interior and exterior. There’s no shortage of gorgeous views from the top of the Space Needle!
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Here Are the Top Reasons Travel Insurance Claims Are Delayed or Denied

September 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating and worrisome. Whether it’s an auto claim, a homeowner claim, or medical claim, the insured is often told a claim is denied or delayed without explanation. Travel insurance is no different. A simple misstep can cause a claim to be delayed or even denied despite the best of intentions.

InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance aggregator, recently published a list of the top reasons claims are delayed or denied.

One reason for a delay or denial is pretty basic, and that’s whether your policy covered this type of claim. Before you sign up for your travel insurance, read the fine print. Many of those crucial details about what you’re getting coverage for are outlined in the fine print. Check your terms and conditions because every policy is worded differently.

You should get travel insurance for trips like cruises and business trips.Not all flight delays qualify for a claim. For example, a delay needs to be three hours or more in order to qualify. So, if your flight is delayed two hours and 59 minutes, your claim will, in all likelihood, be denied.

Has your trip been canceled due to weather? Many vacationers discover they are not covered because the storm’s impact is not sufficient enough to warrant cancellation. Another common reason is that people waited too long to purchase their policy and bought it right before the trip began.
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