How to Check for Hidden Cameras in Your Hotel Room or Vacation Rental

March 19, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

It doesn’t happen very often. In fact, it rarely happens at all — not enough to make us stop traveling. Still, you hear the occasional story about hidden cameras being found in a hotel room, vacation rental, office space, or Airbnb rental.

So while you don’t have to panic that you’re being spied upon wherever you go, it doesn’t hurt to be a little vigilant when you stay somewhere new.

Smarter Travel lists three methods for checking for hidden cameras, as suggested by “The Monk,” a technical surveillance countermeasures and intelligence expert from Advanced Operational Concepts who goes by the anonymous moniker. Here’s his advice.

There are essentially three primary methods for checking for a hidden camera.

  1. Scanning of radio frequencies (RF)
  2. Lens detection
  3. Physical search

Most of the equipment costs less than $100 and are available in the commercial market. But The Monk warns that none of them are 100% accurate.

Each have pros and cons, too. For example, RF scanning only helps in identifying a device if that device is actively transmitting. If it stores data on a card and is recovered later, the RF scanner is fairly useless.

Hidden cameras are very rare, but it still helps to know how to look for them.Lens detection is very effective, if used properly. If you are too far from the lens, sweep the room too quickly, or are just standing at the wrong angle from the lens, then you’ll likely miss seeing the lens when it reflects the light from your own light source.

According to The Monk, the most thorough method is physical inspection which requires patience and access — prying open smoke detectors, opening the backs of paintings, and possibly opening a section of a wall to see if anything is inside. (This can be a problem if you’re in someone else’s house.)

A mix of the three is best.

“You may not be able to achieve 100 percent confidence that the space is clear of hidden devices, but you’ll be a lot closer than you were when you first walked into the room,” said The Monk.

Before you start searching, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what you’re looking for.

So, where should you look?

Thinking logically, what would someone be interested in capturing? Since a camera needs a clear view of the subject to get the sharpest image, a visual scan of the area will provide answers. Bathrooms, bedrooms, and offices are common targets. Areas where computer screens are visible for capturing passwords, banking information and other information. Most hidden cameras now are so small and prepackaged in common items that they don’t seem obvious. (Think cameras in stuffed animals used to watch activity in a child’s room).

Other hiding places include smoke detectors, alarm clocks, even electrical outlets and power strips.

However, The Monk cautions travelers to avoid descending into full paranoia.

“In hotel rooms, for example, if items continue to be placed in a particular location after a room is serviced, then that could be a sign that the item needs to be positioned that way so that a camera has a good angle of view. Of course, this could also just be the maid tidying up, so don’t immediately jump to full paranoia.”

What to Do if You Find a Hidden Camera

First of all, hiding hidden cameras in hotel rooms or vacation rentals is illegal. It’s also a violation of most rental companies’ policies, so be sure to check the vacation listing and policy if you find one.

If you do find a hidden camera in your vacation rental, leave immediately and report it to the company. If you’re staying in a hotel and find one, request an immediate room change. If that’s not possible, turn the objects you suspect toward the wall or cover them with a towel.

While protecting your privacy is smart, there is a caveat. Certain countries, like Russia and China frown upon such behavior. In places such as these, it is highly likely that hotels frequented by business travelers are monitored and tampering with such devices can be seen as problematic. If they know you’re looking for hidden devices, that not only makes them more suspicious, they may want to question you further, and could detain you for hours or days.

While we’re on the subject of security, certain models of our Platinum® Elite and Crew™ bags have RFID protected pockets that will store your passport and block it from rogue RFID scanners as a way to protect against loss and identity theft.

How concerned are you with hidden cameras in your hotel room or office? Have you ever found one or know someone who has? Share your stories with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Pexels.com (Creative Commons 0)

Hotel Insider Secrets for Better Prices and Service

February 12, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

We share a lot of hotel insider secrets here on the Travelpro blog, but we always keep our eye out for new ones to share. We were rewarded last month when USA Today published its article, Hotel secrets: Insider tips for lower prices and better service.

Glenn Haussman is a podcaster with shows like “No Vacancy” and “Checking In With Anthony and Glenn” (co-hosted with Anthony Melchiorri from Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”) Glenn shared a few secrets with USA Today about how to find better prices and service.

One suggestion that was new to us was to understand who owns the hotel? Most hotels in a chain are rarely owned by the name on the front — Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott — but are instead owned by a franchisee. That means if you have a service complaint, you should direct it to the real owner, and not the brand’s customer service line. You can often find the name of the ownership company on a plaque near the front desk

Another hotel secret we’ve discussed before is watch out for resort fees. These are mandatory fees that are usually added on by the hotel after you’ve received your initial price quote, and go toward amenities like parking, pool, and workout facilities.

“Resort fees are a scourge,” Haussman told USA Today. “They create an antagonistic relationship with the customer, which is antithetical to everything the hospitality industry is supposed to be about.”

Hotel room in the Renaissance Columbus, OHThe best way around the resort fees, says Haussman, is to call the hotel ahead of time and negotiate your room rate directly — don’t go through the website, don’t go through the customer service (800) number. The best deals will be gotten by speaking with the hotel’s general manager. This is especially important if you’re not going to avail yourself of the different amenities the hotel offers, like a swimming pool or workout facility.

Haussman’s third big secret is to book your hotel room directly, not go through an online third-party booking site. The hotels have to pay those third-party sites as much as 20 percent of the hotel cost if they refer guests to them, so the hotels don’t want to pay it. That’s also why you don’t get loyalty points, and may even get less-than-preferential treatment from the hotels. The fee can be even higher for independent hotels than the big chain hotels.

So Haussman’s recommendation is that you should call the hotel directly to book your room (that’s also when you can negotiate the resort fees). Haussman says most hotels are happy to give you a 5 – 10 percent discount just to save on the referral fees.

Another secret we’d never heard, but it makes a lot of sense: If you want to switch hotel brands, even though you’ve had long loyalty with the old brand, is to ask for a status match with the new hotel. Whether you want to just test out the new hotel or want to switch completely, it’s often not necessary to start over with the new hotel.

Finally, always try to stay in the newer hotels. They have the faster Internet speeds and the larger TVs. Plus, you’re more likely to get the frequent traveler upgrades, since it often takes a year or more to get a new hotel’s business up to a profitable level. That means the upgrade rooms will sometimes sit empty, which means you can snag one fairly easily (or even for free if they won’t budge on the resort fees).

What hotel insider secrets do you have when you travel? Any that you’d like to share with us? Share them on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: David Jensen (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

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)

How Women Travelers Can Protect Themselves on the Road

January 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Women who frequently travel are often concerned about their personal safety and security, which can sometimes give them pause about where and when they travel.

In a recent article for Entrepreneur magazine, contributor Kim Albrecht suggests several ways in which women can keep themselves safe while traveling for business. We found a few we thought you should know right away, but highly recommend you read the entire article for the rest of the tips.

Albrecht, the Chief Marketing Officer at SAP Concur, reported that women are making up half the business traveling population and they continue to be on the move. Since women face more travel safety risks than their male counterparts, it should come as no surprise that 83 percent of women polled said they’ve experienced a safety issue or concern in the last year while traveling for work; only 53 percent of women always or sometimes report their experiences. Alarmingly, only 18 percent of corporate travel policies specifically address female safety needs.

Albrecht partnered with Kathy Leodler, CEO of security firm Rampart Group, and former FBI special agent, SWAT commander, and corporate security director, and together, they created a safety checklist sure to come in handy for female travelers.

Like most activities, Albrecht says, preparation is key.

Check your employer’s travel insurance program and learn what is covered. Self-employed? Not a problem. You can also buy private travel insurance. Hard copies and electronic copies of your travel insurance are important: keep both with you while traveling. Share the details of the insurance benefits with a trusted person.

Speaking of copies, make copies of your passport ID page to make it easier to file a report and get a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a trusted contact at home and carry another with you. Do the same with your trip itinerary in case your smartphone is lost or stolen. (It helps to keep a copy in the cloud too, so you can access it from, say, an Internet cafe or hotel business center.)

The Lemon Tree Hotel - Chandigarh. This hotel has a women-only floor for women travelersWell-known hotels are generally safer and some offer female-only floors. Ask before you book, and if necessary, switch up hotels to get a more secure one or one that offers a female-only floor. You might want to check out Maiden Voyage which offers a list of certified female-friendly hotels worldwide.

Book a flight with arrival time during daylight hours. This is especially important for international arrivals. And make sure you only take licensed taxis from the specified taxi loading zones at airports and hotels. If you prefer a ride sharing service, but would like to request a female driver, Uber and Lyft don’t offer that as an option, but there are several ride sharing services in specific cities.

The U.S. Department of State has important information for every country in the world including visa requirements, safety and security conditions, health and medical considerations, local laws and areas to avoid. Learn where the closest US embassy or consulate is located at your destination. There is an option to enroll your trip with the State Department in the event of an emergency, so be sure to do so if you’re traveling to a State Department hotspot.

Do you like to wander? Apps like TripIt can provide valuable local information such as safety scores for categories like women’s safety, physical harm, health and medical, theft, and more.

Modesty is a safe bet when it comes to clothing and wardrobe, said Albrecht. Leave jewelry at home, particularly expensive pieces to avoid standing out. Choose shoes that are comfortable and ones that don’t restrict mobility, should you need to move quickly.

Albrecht also suggests packing a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired credit cards. You can wear a hidden money belt with actual cash and cards.

So whether you travel to the next city or across the globe, listen to your intuition: if you feel a bad vibe from somewhere or someone, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation. And be sure to check out Albrecht’s article for other safety tips when you travel.

If you’re a woman and a frequent traveler, what do you do to keep yourself safe on your travels? Share your tips, suggestions, and stories on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Shankar S. (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

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)

2019 Global Travel Forecast

December 11, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel agents and frequent business travelers will want to pay special attention to the latest information from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), the global travel agency. Each year, they issue a forecast of what they expect the following year’s global travel forecast will look like.

The goal of the report, says CWT is “to enable travel buyers around the globe to create and support their travel programs for next year whether local, national, regional or in-between.

Here are a few of their predictions from their 2019 Global Travel Forecast.

The Asia Pacific region will see price increases: 3.2% for air, 5.1% for hotel, and .5% for ground transportation. The growth of the tourism and business travel market for Asia (especially China, now the world’s biggest corporate travel market) is putting pressure on the travel industry, which means travelers will have trouble not only getting rooms at their preferred properties but at their preferred rates as well. So book early, and have a backup plan ready.

The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. The 2019 global travel forecast predicts higher prices and limited availability for hotels in Asia and other parts of the world.

The Fullterton Hotel in Singapore

There will be a global increase in demand for rooms. We already said tourism and business travel is going to grow in Asia, but this is also true for Europe and Africa. Plus, the introduction of “ultra-long haul flights” will also increase leisure and business travel. More people going to more places means a need for more hotel rooms. While this means that there will eventually be more hotels, it doesn’t help in the short term, so make sure you book early or consider Airbnb and other room-sharing websites to find a place to stay.

Rental car companies will increase their prices, at least in the U.S. CWT is expecting to see an increase in car rental prices in Q4 2019, as the three main car rental agencies — which cover 90% of the US market — are seeing their fleet costs and maintenance costs increase and the residuals on their used cars are going down. The projected increase in price is 1% for corporate business travelers.

Amazon’s artificial intelligence is going to have an impact on travel According to CWT’s report, the travel industry is full-to-overflowing with all kinds of data on travelers — credit card, travel and expense HR data, combined with all the actual travel data like flights, car rental, and hotels — AI and machine learning systems are able to personalize and automate a lot of business travel functions. This means self-booking travelers are more likely to interact with a chatbot than a real customer service person on the other end of the computer line.

Fare tracking, fare forecasting, and the use of chat bots to book flights and hotels are increasingly the norm. Personalizing travel is no longer just about upgrades and ancillary services. Algorithms are being built to fully understand traveler preferences and behavior, and to extract more revenue by offering relevant products and services in real time.

Right now, as the economy is in an upswing, we’re expecting more and bigger things to happen in the global travel market. More of you will be traveling more often to more places. Of course, you’ll pay a little more too, but if you’re able to see a positive ROI on your business travels, or just have a fun time on vacation, it will all be worth it. Just remember to book things early, and always keep your confirmation numbers handy.

What are your travel plans for 2019? Do any of Carlson Wagonlit’s predictions have an effect on what you’re planning for next year? Share your ideas and your own predictions on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Holgi (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

How MSNBC Road Warriors Survive Life on the Road

November 13, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

In 2016, MSNBC introduced the world to Road Warriors, a group of young correspondents who cross the country covering political campaigns for MSNBC, NBC News, and NBC News Digital.

For the 2018 midterm elections, MSNBC brought back the road warriors for more coverage. In a recent USA TODAY article, four of them — Kasie Hunt, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent; Jacob Soboroff, MSNBC News correspondent; Gadi Schwartz, NBC News correspondent and co-host of “Stay Tuned;” and Gadi Schwartz, MSNBC road warrior — shared their insights for traveling under some unusual circumstances, which can be helpful whichever side of the aisle you lean.

In order to learn about a new area, Hunt said she seeks out local coffee shops right off the bat. Chatting up locals is a great way to find out more about the area. Politicians know how crucial these places are and often stop by for a meal.

As the face of the news, Hunt must be able to go live at a moment’s notice. So how does she stay camera-ready virtually anywhere? She makes sure her clothes, makeup, and a hairbrush are always within an arm’s reach by keeping them all in her carry-on bag. She said scarves serve many purposes, from a fresh look on camera to a layer of warmth on a plane. With earplugs, a travel pillow, and a scarf, Hunt is able to sleep just about anywhere. Irregular sleeping can be offset with a Tylenol PM or a phone app for relieving stress and enabling the listener to relax and ultimately fall asleep.

MSNBC road warriors carry battery packs to help them stay connected on the road.Hunt is also adamant about bringing along external batteries to keep her phone fully charged. Eating healthy can be tough while she’s on the go, so she tries to balance the healthy with the unhealthy. Finally, she makes sure she uses TSA’s PreCheck and other travel rewards programs.

Like Hunt, MSNBC correspondent Soboroff must be able to hit the road at a moment’s notice. Such urgency can wreak havoc on a person physically and emotionally, notwithstanding the ability to be camera-ready. Soboroff offers a unique suggestion: drink coffee, shower, drink more coffee and throw in an occasional shave. Another travel secret? He only uses carry-on bags, and never checks his luggage. He also said puffy jackets are a great alternative for pillows while trying to catch some sleep on a flight. Locations don’t always offer fitness facilities, so he improvises with Pilates and push-ups in his room. Other days he runs and stretches whenever possible.

NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz relies on YouTube to motivate him to work out on the road. Not a huge fan of fitness, Schwartz appreciates the music to keep him moving. Eating Acai bowls when he can is another healthy choice and juices are a go-to when he feels under the weather.

A bigger challenge is appearance, from the need for a haircut (which often results in taking matters into his own hands) to keeping his wardrobe neat. The secret to his success though is something everyone has: pockets. Headphones, cash, keys, charging packs, glasses, all have a home and become easily accessible. He always keeps them in the same pockets so he knows where everything is.

Technology comes into play with three time zones on a watch, which allows him the ability to stay aware of deadlines. Drowning out noise helps him sleep, and something as simple as a cooler room and avoiding technology before bedtime also helps him fall asleep.

Finally, NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford has found a sleep mask is her essential key to sleeping anywhere. In fact, it’s always in her purse. Like Hunt, Radford carries a scarf for making an ordinary outfit look a bit more polished. Her makeup musts include concealer and light lip gloss. She packs only versatile luggage: her four-wheeled, two-handled suitcase and stackable backpack that doubles as a briefcase and foldable purse with essentials.

Radford also focuses on healthier living: some weeks, it’s a strict diet and less exercise; others, it’s more exercise and a less strict diet. Either way, vegetables are her go-to for keeping energy up.

Road warriors, how do you survive spending so much time on the road? Do you have any special suggestions for those of us who are getting into the road warrior arena? Please share any suggestions with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Ilya Plekhanov (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

More Travel Tips and Tricks For Everyone On the Road

November 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you want to upgrade your seat or avoid fees on your rental car, there are plenty of travel tips to help make a good trip better. Regardless of your mode of transportation, many travel tips can offer savings, peace of mind, and ways to avoid frustration. We like to occasionally post new business travel tips as we find them, and a new batch of tips came to us from a USA Today article.

Traveling by car? You’re going to want to take a break and stretch your legs from time to time. Sitting for extended periods such as long road trips isn’t the healthiest idea. When you do stop, stop at better quality rest stops. How do you determine the good ones? For starters, a little online research can make all the difference.

Most states list their welcome centers and rest areas online. If you have a smartphone, search Yelp or TripAdvisor and you may find information to help you choose between several options for gas stations. You can use an app like USA Rest Stop Locator, available for iPhone and Android, to find highway rest stops. The app lets you mark your favorites, check available facilities and hours, and even send the locations to your favorite way-finding GPS app.

Car rentals. There are a few travel tips around finding the best rental cars and avoiding problems.Speaking of cars, renting a car can be a nightmare. It can prove a worthy opponent for even the most patient of people. First and foremost, read the fine print. Often renters are hit with “surprises” only to discover they weren’t a surprise, but fees, penalties, limits, etc. were all spelled out in the fine print. A good place to start reading is the terms and conditions. Ignoring these items can prove costly. Before signing any agreement, ask questions, as many as you need to make an educated decision.

What about car rental insurance? It’s generally unnecessary because car insurance often covers it. But can you be sure? Does your auto insurance actually cover it? How about your credit card? If you’re not actually covered, you may end up with a large bill if something goes wrong.

If a problem does arise with your rental car, solve it immediately. Many problems can be resolved right at the counter, including when they run out of cars. Confirm your reservation ahead of time to avoid any problems, and be sure to have a copy of the reservation, even if it’s on your phone in an email. Finally, arrive on time for your pickup. And don’t forget to have a Plan B in the back of your mind. That may include renting from a competitor, calling a cab, or even using Lyft or Uber.

Did you ever arrive at your hotel only to be told your reservation doesn’t exist? One surefire way to avoid that is to call and confirm before your anticipated arrival. This will let you double-check details like dates, room preferences, room location, and so on. Once you’ve confirmed everything, ask for an email copy of your reservation and notes, which you should bring along in case there’s a problem.

We all want to avoid wrinkles when we travel, whether it’s problems with our car and hotel, or even in our clothes. When you travel, you may not always have an iron or steamer available. That means you can avoid most wrinkles by carefully rolling your clothes instead of folding them.

Another way to avoid wrinkles is to neither over pack nor underpack. Your goal is to have enough items in your suitcase so the clothes don’t move during travel, but also so that you can actually shut the suitcase. So you want to make sure you have luggage that best suits your travel needs. If you need suits, or dress shirts and slacks/skirts, bags with a suiter system can also help you avoid wrinkles and creases. Travelpro has a variety of suiter and garment luggage options for your leisure and business travel needs.

Finally, you can avoid a lot of problems if you just use your manners. Say “please” and “thank you” when you ask for help, instead of railing at some poor desk attendant or check-in clerk, you’re more likely to get you what you need.

What are some of your favorite travel tips? How do you avoid problems or solve them when the pop up? Share yours with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: formulaone (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

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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