Travel en-US 25 Hotel Hacks From Professional Travelers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-hotel-hacks-from-professional-travelers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple hotel check in" title="couple hotel check in" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's nobody better than a professional traveler to know how to get great hotel rates, free upgrades, and tweak their rooms to make their stay as comfortable as possible. In this article, a panel of professional travelers share their 25 best hotel hacks. (See also: <a href="">15 Airport Hacks From Professional Travelers</a>)</p> <h2>Credit Cards, Membership Programs, and Status Hacks</h2> <p>Before even searching for a hotel, some professional travelers start their hotel hacking with credit cards, membership programs, and status hacks to ensure the red carpet is rolled out well before they arrive.</p> <h3>1. AAA Membership</h3> <p>Chris Guillebeau travels the world (all of it &mdash; having recently completed his mission to visit every country), and is a New York Times bestselling author, founder of the <a href="">Travel Hacking Cartel</a>, and writes for a small army of remarkable people at <a href=""></a>. When he's not staying at a hotel for free with frequent flyer miles, Chris says a simple membership with AAA can go a long way.</p> <p>&quot;A small investment in AAA membership (which anyone can join, from anywhere in the world) can save an average of 5%-10% on many hotel stays. Even if it doesn't save money, rates booked through AAA are usually cancellable until the day of arrival, which helps a lot with flexibility.&quot;</p> <h3>2. Use Hotel Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses</h3> <p>Matt Kepnes aka <a href="">Nomadic Matt</a> is author of <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0399159673&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=55LXWNOPLJ2PJKLH">How to Travel the World on $50 USD Per Day</a>, and has been traveling the world since 2006. Matt advocates applying for hotel credit cards with hefty sign-up bonuses that will afford you up to a week's worth of free accommodation. (See also: <a href="">The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards</a>).</p> <h3>3. Transfer Miles From Universal Credit Cards</h3> <p>Although Matt likes the occasional sign-up bonus, his steadfast hotel hack surrounds the use of universal miles, using travel rewards credit cards that allow you to transfer points to any number of airline and hotel programs. &quot;You can transfer those points to hotel loyalty programs and redeem them for free rooms.&quot; (See also: <a href="">The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>4. Get Automatic Status With Your Credit Card</h3> <p>Al-Nawaz Rajan generally pays 2-star prices for 4-star hotels, and shares his travel hacking tips on <a href="">Credit Walk</a>. He's a fan of using platinum cards that get you upgraded status at hotels just for being a card member. Some of those cards come with a hefty fee, but the upgraded status is worth its weight: &quot;Some of the benefits of higher status include late checkout, free breakfast, Internet, upgrades to suites/better rooms, additional point earning, and welcome gifts.&quot;</p> <h3>5. Get Your Status Matched</h3> <p>Once you have status with one hotel or brand, you can get that status matched with other hotels. Elizabeth Houck has flown over a million miles in search of budget premium experiences, and has lots of great advice to share at <a href=""></a>. She says getting your status matched is as simple as calling the loyalty line and requesting a Status Match or Challenge.</p> <p>&quot;Brand Y will want a copy of your most recent status statement from Brand X faxed or emailed (sometimes mailed) to them. Follow Brand Y's requirements and instructions and usually within a couple of weeks you will have status.&quot;</p> <h3>6. Earn Status With Cheaper Hotels</h3> <p>If you're still working on getting status to begin with, Elizabeth suggests focusing all your efforts and hotel points on one brand. This doesn't have to cost a fortune either: &quot;Most hotel loyalty programs are based on nights, not dollars spent. If you need X number of nights for status in a particular program, consider short one-night stays in a 'lesser' property to achieve status for less bucks. Think Park Hyatt vs. Hyatt House or Hyatt Place.&quot;</p> <h2>Hotel Hacks for Booking</h2> <p>The trick to hacking your way into booking hotel bliss is to know where to find the deals, and how to book them. Here are some creative ideas.</p> <h3>7. Email the General Manager</h3> <p>Elizabeth Houck is now consistently upgraded to the king suite at one particular hotel, because she emailed the general manager after having a mediocre experience at their hotel. &quot;I wrote the GM about the experience and he was happy to extend a fantastic rate for me to give the hotel another chance. Needless to say, the upgrade to the king suite on my next visit was well worth the few minutes it took to write the email.&quot;</p> <p>Once she had a relationship with the GM, Elizabeth wasn't afraid to ask for more. &quot;In a follow up phone call before my next arrival, I asked for exactly what I wanted &mdash; a good rate, no resort fee, and a king room. I then emailed him confirming my stay.&quot;</p> <h3>8. Use Bidding Sites</h3> <p>Dalene and Pete Heck of <a href=""></a> sold everything in 2009 to travel the world, and have been named 2014 National Geographic Travelers of the Year. They enjoy the deep discounts offered by using hotel bidding sites.</p> <p>&quot;We are recent converts to <a href=""></a> and <a href=""></a> &mdash; two sites that have allowed us to save big money on hotel rooms. While we never know the exact hotel we will be staying at before we book it &mdash; we only choose by location and &quot;star&quot; rating &mdash; their prices are deeply discounted we have never been disappointed.&quot; (For more information on how to bid on hotels, see <a href="">3 Ways to Get Hotel Deals</a>).</p> <h3>9. Call the Hotel</h3> <p>If it's your first stay at a given hotel, and you don't have a reason to contact the general manager, you can still negotiate a good deal. Mike Richard has been a professional traveler since 2006, and is the founder of <a href=""></a>. His advice is decidedly low-tech but effective: Simply call the hotel and ask them for a deal.</p> <p>&quot;This works especially well with mom-and-pop hotels or smaller chains. Find the best possible deal online, then call the hotel and see if they'll do better. I find better deals more than 75% of the time.&quot;</p> <p>Mike adds that the hotel has incentive to give you a deal, since by calling them directly to book, they won't have to pay commissions to a third party booking site.</p> <h3>10. Go Last-Minute With Groupon</h3> <p>If you have some flexibility (and nerves of steel), wait until the last minute and use sites like <a href="">Groupon</a> to nab a deal. This tip comes from Kristin Addis, a former investment banker who quit her job to travel full-time, and now blogs about her nomadic adventures at <a href="">Be My Travel Muse</a>.</p> <p>&quot;You can get a room somewhere like Las Vegas the day of or the day before for much, much less, but of course you must be very flexible!&quot;</p> <h3>11. Use Country/Currency Arbitrage</h3> <p>A few professional travelers polled use country/currency arbitrage to nab a hotel deal. Kristin says &quot;sometimes looking at booking engines specifically geared towards Australia, for example, can result in savings if booking in Australian Dollars. If I'm using a travel credit card that doesn't charge fees for foreign transactions and has fair rates for currency conversion, it can be a great way to save some money on a room.&quot;</p> <p>Erin Bender of <a href="">Travel With Bender</a> concurs. &quot;Search in different country-specific versions of the same website and also try an incognito browser window. For instance <a href=""></a> can be cheaper than even when you take the currency exchange rate difference into consideration.&quot; Erin has traveled the world since 2012 with her husband and two young children.</p> <h3>12. Go Long</h3> <p>Erin also suggests if you are staying somewhere for more than a week, contact the hotel directly to negotiate a lower rate. It's less work for the hotel to keep one customer than to turn over the room constantly; &quot;we have saved up to 75% on nightly rates by negotiating a better monthly rate with the owner.&quot;</p> <h3>13. Use Price Guarantees</h3> <p>When she's not actually traveling, Deia Bong spends her time figuring out how to travel more, and then writes all about it on <a href="">Nomad Wallet</a> (and on Wise Bread). She benefits from price guarantees offered by major hotel chains.</p> <p>&quot;Some hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton will match the lowest price you can find and give you freebies or further discounts on top of it.&quot; As an added bonus, by contacting the hotel for their price guarantee and booking directly with them (as opposed to using the third party site where you may have found the lowest rate), you'll earn loyalty points for your stay. &quot;Each hotel chain has a different system for handling price-matching requests, so check their website before making a claim. If your claim is approved, the extra discounts are added automatically.&quot;</p> <h3>14. Use Booking Sites With Low-Price Guarantees and Loyalty Benefits</h3> <p>&quot;If you don't like the idea of sticking with one hotel chain's loyalty program, use booking sites with lowest-price guarantees instead. I personally like the loyalty program at <a href=""></a>, which gives you one free night for every 10 nights you book through the website &mdash; this goes for the 100,000 eligible hotels on the website,&quot; offers Deia.</p> <h3>15. Advise of a Special Occasion in Advance</h3> <p>Although you can always mention a special occasion at check-in and hope for an upgrade if it's available, Nicole Connolly does it in advance.</p> <p>&quot;If you are visiting a hotel for a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary, let the property know when you make your booking as many hotels will give you a complimentary upgrade to help you celebrate. You might be lucky enough to find yourself in a Deluxe Spa Suite with champagne and chocolates awaiting your arrival.&quot;</p> <p>Nicole and her husband Michael have been full-time travelers since 2012. They are travel writers, bloggers, and travel consultants, and they share travel tips and destination guides at <a href="">Suitcase Stories</a>.</p> <h2>Hotel Hacks at Check-In</h2> <p>Even if you've booked your hotel without points, status, or a special occasion to celebrate, you can hack your way into a decent room with these tips.</p> <h3>16. Slip 'Em a $20</h3> <p>Elizabeth Houck once read that the easiest way to get an upgrade in Las Vegas is with a $20 tip at check-in.</p> <p>&quot;I tried it and jackpot! I've literally done this dozens of times and only once was I not upgraded. At check-in, you always provide ID and a credit card. I simply pull out a $20 bill, fold it, and place it under my cupped hand at the counter; reception always notices. If I get a special view, or upgrade, or some other perk, they get the money; if nothing is available I've not committed myself. One time I asked for an upgrade and only had a $5 on me, but it was enough to get a king corner room.&quot;</p> <h3>17. Offer a Review</h3> <p>Sabrina Iovino of <a href=""></a> has been traveling almost non-stop since 2008 and spends a lot of time in hotels and resorts around the world. If she doesn't book a good hotel deal in advance, she tries to get a deal on the spot.</p> <p>&quot;It helps to mention something like 'are you also on <a href="">Tripadvisor</a>? I'd love to write a review...' &mdash; sometimes it leads to an upgrade, better rooms, or a free breakfast.&quot;</p> <h3>18. Ask to See a Few Different Rooms</h3> <p>Nick and Dariece are the nomadic couple behind <a href="">Goats On The Road</a>, which inspires others to turn their travels into a lifestyle. During their many years of sleeping in foreign beds, they've learned a few tricks to make their stay comfortable.</p> <p>&quot;We recommend asking to see a few different rooms when you arrive. Why? Because more often than not, the owner or manager will try to get rid of the least desirable rooms first. You may find yourself sleeping in a dark damp room with a view of the neighbouring building, when there's a lovely bright room with an amazing view of the city right next to you! Rooms in hotels can vary greatly. Ask to see a few &mdash; it can't hurt.&quot;</p> <h2>In-Room Hotel Hacks</h2> <p>Once you've checked in and are pleased with your digs, here are a few hacks to make your stay even more comfortable.</p> <h3>19. Ask for Dishes</h3> <p>Rhoni Speed of <a href="">Living Our Life</a> and her son have been traveling on a budget for over 16 months, enjoying culture, language, food, and helping others. Instead of spending a small fortune eating all meals out, she keeps some meals simple.</p> <p>&quot;I will always ask for some dishes in our room even if we do not have a fridge, in order to have breakfast or snacks on our own to save money and time and for just relaxing.&quot;</p> <h3>20. Towel Heaters Are Clothes Dryers</h3> <p>Hotel laundry services are ridiculously expensive, and a little hand laundry is a necessity when you travel full-time as Rhoni and her son do. &quot;If they have towel heat racks in the bathroom I will do some hand-washing of clothing and use the racks for dryers.&quot;</p> <h3>21. Stream Shows to the Hotel's Big-Screen TV</h3> <p><a href="">Matt Gibson</a> is a Canadian travel writer and photographer who has lived in Taiwan, Guatemala, Mexico, the USA, and traveled extensively on four continents in the past decade. He always carries a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00DR0PDNE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=MO57NG36EB2IFZFW">Google Chromecast</a> with him.</p> <p>&quot;If your hotel has Wi-Fi and your TV has an HDMI input (which most do), then you can use the Chromecast to stream video online to the hotel TV from your computer, tablet, or phone, so you can keep up on your favorite series' on Netflix no matter where you are.&quot;</p> <h3>22. Use the &quot;Do Not Disturb&quot; Sign for Security</h3> <p>Matthew Karsten of <a href=""></a> has been exploring the world as a professional travel blogger and photographer for four years. &quot;If you're staying in a cheap or sketchy hotel somewhere and don't want to leave your expensive stuff alone with housekeeping, just keep the &quot;Do Not Disturb&quot; sign outside your door for the length of the trip. They won't know if you are in there or not, and who really needs the room cleaned every single day?&quot;</p> <h3>23. Don't Use the &quot;Clean Room&quot; Sign</h3> <p>As an addendum to Matthew's tip, don't use the &quot;Clean Room&quot; sign. It not only tells housekeeping that you would like your room cleaned, but it also tells everybody &mdash; including potential people up to no good &mdash; that you're not in the room.</p> <h3>24. Override Thermostat Motion Sensors</h3> <p>Being on the road three to four days each week as a flight attendant, Glenn Ward appreciates a comfortable (and cold!) hotel room. He uses <a href="">this trick from Lifehacker</a> to override the thermostat. &quot;Now when I go to bed at night I don't have to worry about not moving enough to engage the sensors and keep the room cold,&quot; says Glenn.</p> <h3>25. Keep the Power On With a Spare Card</h3> <p>Many hotels use key card systems that are rigged so the power is only on in your room when you stick your room key/card into the slot by the door. This means when you're out, there's no air conditioning and no power to charge your electronics. Override this by sticking an old credit card or membership card (in some cases a simple business card will work) into the slot.</p> <p><em>What's your best hotel hack? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Hotel Hacks From Professional Travelers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel hotel hacks hotels lodging travel hacks Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:00:08 +0000 Nora Dunn 1240314 at 24 Train Hacks From an Amtrak Veteran <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/24-train-hacks-from-an-amtrak-veteran" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="train travel" title="train travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Amtrak isn't easy to love, and yet so many of us do.</p> <p>The pleasure of watching one region of the country transform to another before our eyes &mdash; without having to keep those eyes on the road or stay strapped into seat belts &mdash; makes up for our rail system's failings. (See also: <a href="">Here's Why Bus Travel Is Cheaper, Easier, and More Awesome than You Think</a>)</p> <p>This summer, my husband and I took our three children from Chicago to Oakland by rail &mdash; 2,729 miles on the Southwest Chief and Coast Starlight. Along the way &mdash; and on some of our past Amtrak adventures &mdash; we learned these hacks to help make American train travel cheaper and more comfortable.</p> <h2>Cost</h2> <p>Travel by train isn't as cheap as we would like it to be &mdash; here's how to cut the price.</p> <h3>1. Coach Ticket Prices Can Vary Depending on When You Book</h3> <p>Try buying your ticket 11 months in advance. If the price goes down at any time after that, call Amtrak and <a href="">ask them to adjust your fare</a>.</p> <h3>2. You Probably Qualify for a Discount</h3> <p>AAA members get 10% off. For our trip, that discount was more than the cost of the AAA membership fee, so I joined, even though I <a href="">don't own a car</a>. Discounts are also available for <a href="">military, seniors, and other organization members</a>.</p> <p>Up to two children (age 2-12) ride half price, per paying adult.</p> <h3>3. Sign Up for Amtrak Guest Rewards</h3> <p>Amtrak's <a href="">rewards program</a> is like frequent flyer miles, except that you earn points based on how much you spend, not how far you travel. I earned enough on our summer trip for a free local trip.</p> <p>Not only can you earn points to spend for future travel, but you can buy points. Why would you want to do that? Because for a few routes around the country, it's <a href="">cheaper to purchase points and use those to pay</a> than it is to simply buy coach tickets. I learned about this hack on the blog Nonstop Awesomeness, but the <a href="">numbers in that post</a> are out of date. It still works though. For example, to travel from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, OR., costs $88 for a coach ticket, if you pay with cash or credit card. Or you can pay for it with 1,500 points, which you can <a href="">buy from Amtrak</a> for $41.25. That's more than 50% off!</p> <h3>4. Check for Special Offers</h3> <p>If you are leaving in one to two weeks, check the <a href="">SmartFares section</a> for 25% coach discounts.</p> <h3>5. Consider a Rail Pass</h3> <p>The <a href="">California pass</a> gets you seven days of travel within three weeks for $159, and the <a href="">USA pass</a> has 15-, 30- and 45-day options. Compare the pass cost to a straight coach fare; for our trip, booking individual tickets was more affordable.</p> <h2>Upgrading to Sleeping Rooms</h2> <p>Sleepers are a <em>lot</em> more expensive than coach. For instance, if I were to book two tickets from Chicago to Los Angeles for next week, getting a two-bed sleeping compartment would add $587 to the price. That's $293 a night &mdash; pretty pricey for a tiny room without a private bath.</p> <p>But if you don't sleep well without lying flat, or if you're easily awakened by lights and sounds, it's worth trying to find a good deal on a sleeper for overnight trips. Keep in mind that the cost of the upgrade to a room includes meals in the dining car &mdash; which cost a fortune if you pay the menu prices.</p> <h3>6. Book Far in Advance</h3> <p>Amtrak bases its sleeper prices on availability, so the more beds available, the cheaper they are. When I tried booking the same trip mentioned above 11 months in advance, Amtrak quoted me the same price for the coach seats &mdash; $169 each &mdash; but the bedroom was only $461 extra for the trip, or $230.50 for the night.</p> <h3>7. Book at the Last Minute</h3> <p>This strategy only works if you are okay with sleeping in coach if you fail to snag a last-minute upgrade.</p> <p>After having a hard time sleeping in coach on the first leg of our cross-country trip, I started checking sleeper prices for the second leg, an overnight from Williams, AZ., to Los Angeles. The website showed the same high prices as a month before departure. However, it also showed that plenty of rooms were available, so I suspected a last-minute price drop might occur.</p> <p>When I called Amtrak several hours before departure, I was quoted a lower price &mdash; just $221 extra for one night in a family bedroom. That's a steal! The same bedroom, for a trip several months from now, is currently priced at more than $500 above coach. Warning: If you are using a discount like a AAA membership, you might lose it if you change your ticket less than three days in advance.</p> <h3>9. If You Don't Like the Price Now, Price the Trip Again Later</h3> <p>Some travelers report that prices dip on Thursdays and Fridays, or early in the morning. Be aware that if you ask to change rooms, the price might go up, because the room you are already holding <a href="">decreases the availability</a> on the car as a whole.</p> <h3>10. If the Website Won't Let You Book the Room, Call</h3> <p>We have five people in our family, but the two younger kids are both pretty small. According to the Amtrak website, family bedrooms are only for four people. But when I called a reservation agent and asked for the family bedroom, she was able to book it &mdash; and when we got on board, there was plenty of room for all of us.</p> <h3>11. You Probably Can't Upgrade Onboard for a Discount</h3> <p>In the past, some passengers have reported being able to snag a cheap sleep if any bedrooms were empty after the train departed. I asked the conductor about this on the Southwest Chief, and he said this is no longer allowed. The reason he gave is that too many conductors were pocketing the money!</p> <p>Other passengers reported <a href=",3052299">as recently as 2013</a> that you could book a sleeper onboard, but at the same price as online.</p> <h3>12. Check the Price of a Bedroom for Daytime Trips</h3> <p>The price might be similar to coach, and riding in the bedroom is more private. You might even get a meal if you travel at the right time.</p> <h2>Baggage</h2> <p>Trains are good at hauling freight &mdash; even if it's just your luggage.</p> <h3>13. Check Your Baggage Up to 24 Hours in Advance of Departure</h3> <p>If you plan on touring a city before getting on the train, you don't have to pay for lockers &mdash; just drop off your bags at the check-in window. This can also make boarding time much less hectic.</p> <p>I couldn't find the 24-hour rule listed on the Amtrak website, which notes only that baggage must be checked a minimum of 45 minutes to one hour before departure, depending on the station. But when I called an agent, she told me that you can check bags 24 hours early systemwide. Still, it's not a bad idea to call and verify that your particular station's baggage claim is open and willing to take your bags before making a special trip.</p> <p>Note that if you do this, your bags might reach your destination before you do. But unlike airlines, Amtrak will check your claimcheck before handing over your bag, so they should be safe waiting for you there.</p> <h3>14. Don't Stress Over Carry-On Restrictions</h3> <p>No one looked twice at the mountain of luggage our family dragged on board. In fact, the train staff happily helped us pile it onto the abundant shelving. This is also good to keep in mind if you miss the cut-off for checking in luggage, or if you're taking a route that doesn't allow checked bags.</p> <h2>Food</h2> <p>There's no denying the elegance of the dining car and there's no denying how costly it can be.</p> <h3>15. Bring Plenty of Food</h3> <p>On our summer trip, the longest leg of which was two days, we limited ourselves to a small soft-sided cooler and a grocery bag of shelf-stable food. Next time we will bring much more food, including a rolling cooler. There was plenty of room onboard, and prices in the dining car are high &mdash; like $7 for a kid's hot dog and $16 to $26 for adult dinner entrees.</p> <h3>16. The Cafe Is Much Cheaper Than the Dining Car</h3> <p>It's only microwaved pizza and such, but it'll get you through the day if necessary.</p> <h3>17. Get Free Hot Water in the Cafe</h3> <p>The cafe will not microwave your food, but if you bring instant noodles or anything else designed to be warmed up with hot water, you're golden.</p> <h3>18. Buy Food in Stations or the Neighborhood on Longer Stops</h3> <p>The staff will let you know when the train will be stopped for 15 minutes or even half an hour. This is the time to dart outside and forage.</p> <h2>Comfort and Enjoyment</h2> <p>Traveling by train isn't exactly speedy. You'll have a lot of time to ponder the nature of existence, to read a good book, or to interrogate your fellow travelers.</p> <h3>19. Bring Supplies to Hack your Environment</h3> <p>Clothes pins or safety pins can hold your curtains closed so the light doesn't wake you up at dawn. Duct tape can secure any squeaky wall panels &mdash; or any holes in your baggage.</p> <h3>20. Bring Earplugs and Eye Shades</h3> <p>In coach, there are always some lights on for safety, and I wouldn't have slept a wink without my eye mask. Despite posted rules, some passengers on our train persisted in taking phone calls and watching movies without headphones well past 10 p.m. And there are always station announcements in the wee hours.</p> <h3>21. You Can Probably Get Away With Bringing Your Own Booze</h3> <p>I heard the cafe car attendant admonish one passenger who was drinking a beer in the lounge that he could not have alcohol not purchased onboard outside the bedrooms. However, it's not like anyone's searching your bag. My husband and I brought a good bottle of bourbon and subtly enjoyed a nightcap without a problem.</p> <h3>22. Make Friends With the Staff</h3> <p>Being on good terms with the staff can help with many of these hacks. Plus, friendly staff members will let you know when an upcoming stop will afford enough time to get off and walk around, and keep you posted on how much time remains before your stop.</p> <p>In the sleepers, your car attendant can make or break your trip. Ours' was so kind that he went to the 6 a.m. serving of breakfast and got five to-go plates for us so that we would be able to eat in our room before getting off the train. (Yes, they accept tips!)</p> <h3>23. Expect Delays</h3> <p>Download the Amtrak app to for updates on when your train will really depart. If you are not taking the train from the beginning of the line, you can also call Amtrak the day before to ask if the train is running behind. Keep in mind that they can make up time along the way.</p> <h3>24. Enjoy the Trails and Rails Program</h3> <p>If your train is part of this program, you can hear National Park rangers make presentations in the lounge about the parts of the United States you're crossing. This program &mdash; in which we learned about the Santa Fe Trail &mdash; added hours of entertainment to our trip.</p> <p><em>Do you have any Amtrak Hacks (Am-Hacks?) that weren't covered? Let us know in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="24 Train Hacks From an Amtrak Veteran" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel amtrak railroad train travel travel hacks Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:00:07 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1233184 at 5 Hidden Comforts to Consider When Choosing an Airline <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-hidden-comforts-to-consider-when-choosing-an-airline" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="passenger sleeping airline" title="passenger sleeping airline" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life is unfair and so is air travel. Two passengers may pay the same price to fly the same route, but have completely different experiences. Because airlines have varying standards of service, your comfort depends a lot on which airline you choose. Before you purchase your next airfare, check to see whether the airline offers the little things that might make the flight more enjoyable for you. (See also: <a href="">Tricks to Make Flying in Coach Almost Luxurious</a>)</p> <h2>1. Seat Design</h2> <p>Airplane seats seem to shrink by the day. Passengers regularly fight over reclining seats and armrests. At the end of the journey, tall people limp off planes with bruised knees, while everyone else is just happy to be able to stretch again.</p> <p>To get more personal space in Economy Class, <a href="">stick with these airlines when you fly within the U.S</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Frontier Airlines</li> <li>JetBlue Airways</li> <li>US Airways, and</li> <li>WestJet.</li> </ul> <p><a href="">For international flights</a>, choose:</p> <ul> <li>Aerolineas Argentinas</li> <li>Air China</li> <li>Air Namibia</li> <li>Air New Zealand</li> <li>Avianca</li> <li>Ghana International Airlines</li> <li>Malaysia Airlines</li> <li>Royal Jordania Airlines</li> <li>Saudi Arabian, or</li> <li>Thai Airways.</li> </ul> <p>At the other end of the spectrum are airlines with extra small seats.</p> <p><a href="">Domestic airlines with cramped seats</a> include:</p> <ul> <li>AirTran Airways</li> <li>American Airlines</li> <li>Hawaiian Airlines, and</li> <li>United Airlines.</li> </ul> <p>However, in the case of AirTran Airways, the prices may be <a href="">cheap enough to excuse such tiny seats</a>.</p> <p>And because small seats are even more painful for long international flights, you may want to <a href="">avoid flying Economy Class on these airlines</a> altogether:</p> <ul> <li>Air France</li> <li>British Airways</li> <li>Cathay Pacific</li> <li>KLM</li> <li>Lufthansa, and</li> <li>Qantas Airways.</li> </ul> <h2>2. Entertainment</h2> <p>Experiencing the miracle of flight means staying still in the same seat for hours, staring at the back of the seat in front of you. This is why in-flight entertainment is crucial.</p> <p><a href="">For domestic flights within the U.S.</a>, Virgin America provides the best in-flight entertainment, with free live TV and basic cable channels. If you're willing to pay more, you can gain access to movies and TV shows. If in-flight entertainment is important for you, you may want to avoid American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and US Airways.</p> <p>If you're flying internationally and want first-class entertainment, you can't go wrong with <a href="">Emirates</a>. This airline has consistently won the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards for the World's Best In-flight Entertainment every year since 2005. Besides hundreds of channels of entertainment, Emirates also offers live updates from BBC News. You can also use the in-flight system to phone someone, send text messages, or send emails.</p> <h2>3. Food</h2> <p>Airplane food has been the butt of many jokes, but some airlines do try to offer decent food on board.</p> <p><a href="">Delta Air Lines</a>, for example, creates its dishes by collaborating with Michelle Bernstein, who is an award-winning chef, and Andrea Robinson, who is a Master Sommelier.</p> <p>Thanks to similar efforts on the part of non-American airlines, you can get a taste of authentic international fares while flying. Some of <a href="">the best</a> <a href="">airlines</a> in terms of food are Air France, Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates Airline, and Etihad Airways.</p> <h2>4. Wi-Fi and Power Outlets</h2> <p>Gone are the days when you could truly unplug during flights. Not all airlines offer Wi-Fi and in-seat power yet, but it's now possible to stay productive in the air.</p> <p>According to a research by Routehappy, 38% of domestic flights now offer Wi-Fi on board. If this is something you want, choose Virgin America or AirTran next time you fly. Many of Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines planes are also equipped with Wi-Fi.</p> <p>Only a small percentage of international flights offer Wi-Fi. You'll have better chances of getting Wi-Fi on board if you fly Lufthansa.</p> <h2>5. Customer Service</h2> <p>It's tough to rate airlines based on something as intangible as their quality of service, but Skytrax, a UK consultancy company, tries regardless. <a href="">Skytrax gives airlines star ratings</a> based on &quot;the quality of their front-line product and staff service standards.&quot; Seven airlines have received its five-star rating: ANA All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Hainan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.</p> <h2>Additional Resources</h2> <p>If you need more in depth information about the comfort and amenities of an upcoming flight, refer to these additional resources.</p> <h3>Routehappy</h3> <p>If you're a discerning passenger, <a href="">Routehappy</a> is the booking site for you. It gives every airfare a happiness score, which is determined by a slew of factors: seats, entertainment, Wi-Fi, power supply, food, airport amenities, and many more.</p> <h3>Momondo</h3> <p>When this website shows you its search results, there is a smiley (or frowny) face for every airfare. <a href="">Momondo</a> rates every flight on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how long the flight will be and how cheap the airfare is.</p> <h3>Hipmunk</h3> <p><a href="">Hipmunk</a> sorts its search results by &quot;Agony,&quot; taking into account the airfare price, flight time, and number of layovers.</p> <h3>SeatGuru</h3> <p>This site is a treasure trove of information on plane seating. If you already know your flight, <a href="">SeatGuru</a> can help you find the best seat in the plane. It has also rolled out a feature to search and book flights. Its Guru Factor (or G-Factor) rates flights on a scale of one to five based on seat comfort and in-flight amenities.</p> <h3></h3> <p>At <a href="">AirlineEquality</a> you can find ratings and reviews on legroom and service. The website design needs a little updating, but it's run by Skytrax and has some useful information.</p> <p><em>How do you fly comfortably? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Hidden Comforts to Consider When Choosing an Airline" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airline comfort flying Fri, 10 Oct 2014 09:00:04 +0000 Deia B 1230390 at Here's Why Bus Travel Is Cheaper, Easier, and More Awesome Than You Think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-why-bus-travel-is-cheaper-easier-and-more-awesome-than-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="megabus" title="megabus" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buses are making a comeback. The number of <a href="">inter-city bus departures has been rising</a> since 2006, according to a study by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.</p> <p>And it's no wonder why. Airfares used to be cheaper in the recession days of 2009, but <a href="">they have risen by almost 12% since then</a>. As of January 2014, the average domestic roundtrip flight would cost you $363.42. As airfares get more expensive and plane seats get smaller, people are increasingly seeking other alternatives, and that means a bus boom. (See also: <a href="">Alternatives to Flying: Other Ways to Get There From Here</a>)</p> <p>And these are not the buses your grandparents used to take either; these companies have impressive social media followings and equip their vehicles with high-tech toys.</p> <p>So here's why &mdash; and how &mdash; you should take your next trip by bus.</p> <h2>Reservations</h2> <p>There are a couple of aggregate booking websites for buses, but they leave out some of the bigger companies, which makes them rather useless for comparison shopping. Generally, you're better off booking through the bus company directly.</p> <p>The biggest and most established long-distance bus company is <a href="">Greyhound</a>, which covers the U.S. and Canada. Other bus companies &mdash; like <a href="">Trailways</a>, <a href="">Megabus</a>, <a href="">BoltBus</a>, <a href="">Lux Bus</a>, <a href="">Vamoose</a>, <a href="">Tripper Bus</a>, and <a href="">RedCoach</a> &mdash; may not serve as many cities, but may compete on service or amenities.</p> <p>All of these bus companies have websites through which you can check bus schedules and make reservations. You can also purchase the tickets over the phone or at the station. If possible, visit the station ahead of your travel date to buy the ticket in person. I've heard horror stories about technical issues with online booking that lead to hours of frustration with various customer service representatives.</p> <p>You can't choose your seat at the time of booking, so come early and get in line if you want seating options.</p> <h2>Price</h2> <p>Most bus companies offer low prices. After all, they know that customers would probably rather pay a little bit more to fly if bus fares weren't ridiculously cheap. On average, an inter-city bus fare is 79% cheaper than an advance-purchase airfare. The difference is even bigger when bus fares are compared with airfares purchased at the last minute, according to the Chaddick Institute study.</p> <p>Some companies, such as Megabus and Tripper, often advertise $1 seats. But these promotional fares are rare, and you need to time your reservation just right to get them. To improve your chances of getting these fares, check the bus websites a few weeks before your travel date.</p> <p>There may be other discounts that bus companies don't advertise, so explore the website thoroughly if you book online or ask the company representative if you book by phone or in person. Greyhound, for example, offers special companion fares if you travel with a friend and advance purchase discounts if you book your seats at least one week before the trip. There are also discounts for students, members of the military, and veterans.</p> <h2>Amenities</h2> <p>The inter-city buses of today are generally clean, comfortable, and reliable. A typical bus has a lavatory on board and air conditioning.</p> <p>Power sockets and Wi-Fi are becoming common as well, although the Wi-Fi can be rather spotty, in my experience. In rural areas, there may not be any phone data service, so prepare to be disconnected from the Internet. Check your emails and post your social media updates while you still have Internet connection at home or at the bus station. <a href=",7430/">For the best Wi-Fi connection, travel with Vamoose, RedCoach, Tripper, or Lux Bus</a>.</p> <p>If you happen to travel on a luxury bus, you may get to watch movies on the screens on board. However, the selection is likely to be limited, so store some good movies on your laptop or download a nice ebook before the trip.</p> <p>Most buses have plushy seats that recline and plenty of legroom. But some bus companies take things one step further, with Lux Bus and RedCoach providing leather seats in their vehicles.</p> <p>There are even luxury buses with attendants who distribute free snacks and alcohol as you sit back in your big seat. Yes, bus travel can get quite classy.</p> <p>But even with the comfy seats, it can be difficult to sleep. Inter-city buses often make multiple stops along the way to your destination and you may even have to change vehicles. Check your route for these stops and transfers, then pack some sleep aids if you think you'll need them.</p> <h2>Safety</h2> <p>You may meet some colorful characters when you travel by bus, but the biggest danger of bus travel is the possibility of traffic accidents. For example, the vehicle may not comply with safety regulations or the driver may drive under the influence.</p> <p>The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains safety records of bus companies and rates companies based on their safety standards. You can access this information on your smartphone using the <a href="">Saferbus</a> app for Android and iOS. There is also a guide for the app on FMCSA's website and Facebook page if you need help using it.</p> <p>There's always a small risk of your bag being misplaced, regardless of whether you fly or take the bus. Keep your valuables with you instead of checking them in for storage underneath the bus.</p> <p>When you travel by plane, it's usually easy to hail a taxi at the airport. But when you get off a bus in a small town, you may find yourself alone in the middle of nowhere at an ungodly hour, so pay attention to the times and the locations of your pick-ups and drop-offs. Don't assume that every bus station is a busy transportation hub; make transport arrangements beforehand to get yourself from the bus station to your bed for the night.</p> <p><em>Any more bus travel tips? Let us know in comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Here&#039;s Why Bus Travel Is Cheaper, Easier, and More Awesome Than You Think" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel bus bus travel cheap travel inter-city bus Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Deia B 1224429 at 5 Ways Airline Travel Sucks — and What You Can Do to Make It Better <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-airline-travel-sucks-and-what-you-can-do-to-make-it-better" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="flight delay" title="flight delay" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Call it the week that airline travelers couldn't take it anymore. Three different <a href="">flights were diverted</a> so passengers could be removed, all of them squabbling over one issue: Reclining seat backs.</p> <p>In one case, a traveler <a href="">used a Knee Defender</a> device to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining. In all the cases, the real issue was that flyers are now packed so close together in coach airplane seats that they can't help invading one another's space.</p> <p>&quot;Travelers aren't sardines. There's a line there of comfort and the quality of experience,&quot; Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx told <a href="">Condé Nast Traveler</a> in an interview after the rash of in-flight meltdowns. &quot;My hope is that the industry sees these incidents as a message from consumers that maybe they are getting a little close to that line.&quot; (See also: <a href="">The 8 Scariest Things Possibly Coming to Air Travel</a>)</p> <p>Legroom isn't the only issue bugging us in the air these days. Overall, airlines garner <a href="">worse customer satisfaction scores</a> than almost any industry. How far we have come since jet setters made selections from cheese carts and wandered freely through <a href="">lounges with live music</a>?</p> <p>Like flight delays, this list could go on forever, so we've kept it to the top five things that suck about flying.</p> <h2>1. You Can't Move Your Legs</h2> <p>It's not just the Knee Defender users who noticed.</p> <p>A standard coach seat has always been too narrow for most people to sit comfortably, with 17 to 19 inches between armrests. But as airlines have pushed to add revenue, they have moved the rows closer and closer together, so that now there is only <a href="">31 to 35 inches</a> from one seat to the one behind it. Not only does this cause reclining seats to bash into knees, but it makes it nearly impossible for a window seat passenger to get up and use the restroom without sticking her butt in the face of the middle and aisle-seat passengers.</p> <p>Many international flights now have an <a href="">extra seat squeezed into each row</a>, too. Too-narrow seats force passengers to let their arms dangle into the aisle, where they get clobbered by the drink cart and by other passengers hauling bags and car seats.</p> <h3>What You Can Do About It</h3> <p>It's pretty clear at this point that Knee Defenders aren't the way to go, and besides, most airlines ban the devices. All you can really do is pony up for an extra legroom section like <a href=";utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=business_pillar&amp;utm_term=extra_legroom&amp;gclid=CKif5_L47cACFUMYfgodYSMALA&amp;gclsrc=ds&amp;dclid=CLCo9PL47cACFTDPRAodRm4Anw">United's Economy Plus</a>, finagle an <a href="">exit row seat</a>, or at least try for the aisle so you can throw your legs out there (watch out for the beverage cart).</p> <p>Also, consider leaving your own seat upright to avoid contributing to the discomfort of others. A recent survey revealed that if you recline your seat, <a href="">other passengers hate you</a>.</p> <h2>2. You Can't Get Anything to Eat</h2> <p>Once upon a time, your wish was your flight attendant's command.</p> <p>&quot;People were given pillows, blankets, magazines, playing cards, pens and a hot meal, wine, top-shelf liquor &mdash; and that was just in economy,&quot; former Pan American World Airways flight attendant <a href="">Anne Sweeney told ABC</a>.</p> <p>Nowadays, many airlines &mdash; AirTran, Southwest, Spirit &mdash; have no meals on board, while others &mdash; JetBlue, American &mdash; <a href="">sell boxed meals</a>. Most international travelers still get a hot meal, at least &mdash; probably to avoid violating any international treaties on torture of prisoners.</p> <h3>What You Can Do About It</h3> <p>Not much, except carry a meal onboard.</p> <h2>3. You Can't Find Room for Your Bag</h2> <p>Spud Hilton, travel editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, kicked off a carry-on controversy when he created the the <a href="">Carry-on Hall of Shame</a> to highlight passengers trying to haul larger-than-regulation bags onto planes.</p> <p>They don't want to pay to check the larger bags &mdash; and who would? But Hilton says these passengers aren't just cheating the airline, they're cheating you.</p> <p>&quot;The increasingly aggressive disregard for the size standards &mdash; which has led to flight delays, a much longer boarding process, abusive passengers, and increased theft from gate-checked bags &mdash; also is disregard for everyone else on the plane,&quot; Hilton wrote on his blog.</p> <h3>What You Can Do About It</h3> <p>Call out overhead bin hogs. If you don't have the nerve to tap someone on the shoulder to inform them that their suitcase doesn't qualify as a carry-on, you can snap their picture and <a href="">upload it to Twitter or Instagram</a> with the hashtag #CarryonShame. The publicity could push the airlines to start enforcing their own rules.</p> <h2>4. You Can't Get Away From People Like This</h2> <p>Remember when people used to dress up to fly? Or at least get dressed?</p> <p>Passenger Shaming, on <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Instagram</a>, posts photos of <a href="">shirtless</a> and <a href="">barefooted</a> passengers, people <a href="">making out in their seats</a>, and even a kid <a href="">using a potty chair</a> in the aisle. Even <a href="">Superbowl champions in first class</a> can't always avoid other passengers behaving badly. Then there's the auditory pollution from passengers who play movies with no headphones, and the air pollution from those who douse themselves in cologne.</p> <h3>What You Can Do About It</h3> <p>Bring a <a href="">curtain to shield your eyes</a>? Take a sedative and try to sleep through the indignity? Play Bozo Bingo? Whatever gets you through the flight.</p> <h2>5. You Can't Get There on Time</h2> <p>2013 was the <a href="">worst year for flight reliability</a> in the past five, with only 78% of flights arriving on time, according to FlightStats, Inc.</p> <p>The most miserable delays are tarmac delays, when passengers are stuck in planes on runways for hours without going anywhere. Tarmac delays have gotten so bad that the government stepped in to assert passengers' right not to be held hostage on runways, but they still happen. In fact, last year <a href="">United had to pay $1.1 million</a> in fines for 13 times it left passengers stranded in their seats for more than three hours &mdash; including two planes where the toilets weren't working.</p> <h3>What You Can Do About It</h3> <p>Fortunately there are strategies for <a href="">avoiding flight delays</a>. Fly nonstop, fly early in the day, and don't connect in Denver in the wintertime. If you have a choice, some <a href="">airports have fewer delays</a> than others.</p> <p>This list could go on and on.</p> <p>Poor customer service, lost luggage, germy tray tables, out-of-control children, turbulence, security lines &mdash; what's not to hate about air travel these days? While there is not much we can do about many of these discomforts, we actually have a ton of power over the flight experience &mdash; of other people. Be the change you want to see in the air. Be polite. Help parents of small children. Don't leave your gum in the seatback pocket. Thank the flight attendant. Flush. Don't block the aisle. And for goodness sake, keep your shirt on.</p> <p><em>What's your worst in-flight experience? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Ways Airline Travel Sucks — and What You Can Do to Make It Better" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airlines airplanes airports Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:00:07 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1224393 at 23 Airport Hacks to Remember Before Your Next Flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/23-airport-hacks-to-remember-before-your-next-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman airport" title="businessman airport" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Traveling is always a fun and exciting experience, but getting through the airport can be a struggle. If it happens to be an unlucky day, you'll get stuck with long lines, rude airport security officials, or delayed flights. Luckily with just a little bit of research, there are many ways you can make your journey faster and more comfortable. We rounded up all the tips and tricks so you don't have to! Learn to navigate airports like a pro with the advice below. You'll be surprised how much time and money you end up saving.</p> <p>RELATED: <a href="">Expert Travel Tips You Never Thought Of</a></p> <h2>1. Bring Your Own Ziploc Bags</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Since TSA requires you to separate your liquids into clear plastic bags, it is always a good idea to bring spare Ziploc bags in case you lose one or if you're buying tiny travel liquids last minute. For carry-on bags, TSA has a <a href="">3-1-1 liquids rule</a> and you are only allowed to have one quart-sized clear plastic bag.</p> <h2>2. Freeze Your Liquids to Bring on Planes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The only con to this trick is your liquids must actually be frozen solid like a rock. If you're on a long flight, however, consider freezing your favorite drinks.</p> <h2>3. Pack Your Own Snacks</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you can, you should avoid buying snacks and drinks at airports because they're overpriced. Instead, pack nuts, cereal bars, candy, and other dry goods to munch on while you wait for your flight.</p> <h2>4. Bring an Empty Water Bottle</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Like snacks, water usually costs a lot more at airports. The best way to cheat the system is to bring an empty water bottle or canteen and fill it up once you get past security checkpoints.</p> <h2>5. Take a Nap at the Airport</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Some airports, like London's Heathrow, offer <a href="">sleeping pods</a> where you can catch up on rest between long flight transfers. Pay $39 for four hours and you can take a shower (body wash and towels are provided) and enjoy a comfortable nap (not on the airport floor). If you're traveling internationally, check to see if your airport location offers this sleeping amenity. Your body will thank you.</p> <h2>6. Pick the Checkpoint Farthest to the Left</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>If you hate waiting in line (and who doesn't?), research shows that most people are right-handed and tend to turn right first, so do the opposite and go left. For more on how to find faster airport security lines, follow <a href="">these tips</a>.</p> <h2>7. Sign Up For a VIP Airport Lounge</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>If you're a frequent flier, you can use your flyer miles to buy a membership to <a href="">airport lounges</a>. Most lounges also offer day passes (under $50). These private, fancy spots are perfect for resting and offer amenities such as a great bar and knowledgeable staff.</p> <h2>8. Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Free Things</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Especially when it comes to flight upgrades. Take advantage of special events; if you were recently married (on your honeymoon) or have a birthday, tell the airline staff &mdash; they may be willing to upgrade you. Traveling alone also makes it easier to ask for a flight upgrade as well as just simply asking! Do so quietly, and the worse that can happen is a polite no.</p> <h2>9. Bring Alcohol on the Plane</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>You're allowed to take bottles of alcohol that are 100ml or less through security as long as they fit into your one-quart Ziploc bag.</p> <h2>10. Wear Your Extra Luggage</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Worried about your carry-on going over the weight limit? Wear the heaviest items and wear layers to get past security. Then head to the nearest bathroom and switch out of the clothes.</p> <h2>11. Fly Red-Eye</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>If you really hate packed airports and rush-hour traffic and don't mind overnight flights, try booking a plane that leaves past 10 p.m. You can simply go to sleep and wake up at your next destination without all the usual airport hassle.</p> <h2>12. Collect Unused Hotel Toiletries</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>And bring them with you next time you travel. These mini bottles are the perfect carry-on items, and you won't have to shell out the extra money for reusable bottles or travel liquids.</p> <h2>13. Sign Up For TSA Precheck or Global Entry</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>These programs allow you to bypass long lines and get into another country twice as fast. <a href="">Check to see</a> if you can apply for global entry.</p> <h2>14. Store Your Laptop in an Easy-to-Access Place</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>If you don't have a laptop case, invest in one. Security usually makes you scan your laptop separately, so always have it in an easy-to-reach spot of your bag or suitcase.</p> <h2>15. Always Check For Free WiFi</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>There is also a trick circulating that adding &quot;?.jpg&quot; to the end of a URL allows you to access the Internet for free.</p> <h2>16. Wear Glasses</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you wear contacts, you'll notice how your eyes often get really dry during the flight (as well as the rest of your skin). Glasses may not make a fashion statement, but you'll be comfortable, and you can always switch into contacts once you land.</p> <h2>17. Bring a Light Scarf or Sweater</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Always expect an airport or plane to be cold. Bring a light blanket or extra sweater, hoodie, or scarf to keep yourself warm before and during the flight.</p> <h2>18. Bring Wet Wipes</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Planes are one of the easiest places to catch germs and a cold. Pack wet wipes to use during the flight or while you're at the airport. They'll keep your hands clean and refresh your face after a flight.</p> <h2>19. Check Airport Real-Time Conditions</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Check to see <a href="">what's happening</a> at your airport (whether there's a delay in flights, long lines, or other issues) before you leave your home.</p> <h2>20. Wrap Your Luggage Handle</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're the type to worry about someone else taking your luggage, make your suitcase identifiable by tying brightly colored fabric or ribbon to the handles. You'll be able to spot that red bow amid all the black suitcases rolling out.</p> <h2>21. Carry a Portable Battery Charger</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Airports have charging stations, and that's usually the spot everyone gravitates toward. And often you can't get a seat next to an outlet, so you end up standing off to the side while keeping an eye on your phone that's charging. To be on the safe side, carry around a small portable charger that you can pull out anytime.</p> <h2>22. Skip the Taxi Service</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Check out the local transportation systems at your airport destination. See if there are air trains you can take to a regular metro or a bus that will take you to your destination. Avoid taxi services if you can, but if you really want to travel via car, check out services like Uber (which can be a lot cheaper in European countries).</p> <h2>23. Download Offline Google Maps</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>In case there is no WiFi when you land at your destination and you have a limited online data plan, download the Google Maps app beforehand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The airport is no picnic, but you can make it bearable with this collection of clever air transport how-tos and workarounds. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a style="border:none;" href=""><img style="height:95px; width:300px" src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>POPSUGAR Smart Living</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">Pack These 11 Travel Essentials to Save Money</a></li> <li><a href="">10 Ways to Earn Money While You're on Vacation</a></li> <li><a href="">6 Travel Apps For the Best Vacation Ever</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Travel air travel airlines airport flying Fri, 26 Sep 2014 21:00:03 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 1214846 at Best Money Tips: Tips That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Next Trip <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tips-that-will-save-you-hundreds-on-your-next-trip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy bank vacation" title="piggy bank vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on tips that will save you hundreds on your next trip, things you can rent out for extra cash, and things you can get for free.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">39 Tips That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Next Trip</a> &mdash; To save on your next trip, check out underrated places and buy your tickets at the right time. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">Surprising Things You Can Rent Out For Extra Cash</a> &mdash; Did you know you can rent your driveway for extra cash? [PureWow]</p> <p><a href="">8 Surprising Things You Can Get for Free</a> &mdash; Don't pay for eBooks, you can read books for free by checking them out from your local library. [DailyWorth]</p> <p><a href="">15 Small Purchases Costing You Big Money: Stop Throwing Money Away</a> &mdash; If you purchase apps or video games, you may just be throwing away your money. [MainStreet]</p> <p><a href="">Get Free Retirement Advice From Financial Planners On September 25th</a> &mdash; Today is Jump-Start Your Retirement Day, so be sure to get retirement advice from Kiplinger and NAPFA. [Kiplinger]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">Build a Budget and Make It Last</a> &mdash; Make a budget that will last by first calculating what you spend. [AllYou]</p> <p><a href="">Common &ldquo;Debt Traps&rdquo; That Keep You Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck</a> &mdash; Skimping on insurance can cause you to live paycheck to paycheck. [Lifehacker Two Cents]</p> <p><a href="">7 Bad Décor Shopping Habits to Stop Right Now</a> &mdash; When decorating your home, don't purchase everything from the same store. [Domaine Home]</p> <p><a href="">3 Reasons You Should Definitely Keep Your Landline</a> &mdash; By keeping your landline, first responders will know where you are calling from in an emergency. [Real Simple]</p> <p><a href="">8 Tips to Help Your Preschooler Focus on Reading, Writing &amp; Numbers</a> &mdash; To help your preschooler focus on reading, writing, and numbers, make it fun and be observant. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Tips That Will Save You Hundreds On Your Next Trip" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel best money tips travel Trip Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:00:06 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1219953 at 7 More Travel Destinations That Aren't Worth the Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-more-travel-destinations-that-arent-worth-the-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bangkok" title="bangkok" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems I may have struck a chord (or a nerve in some cases) with my last post <a href="">about popular vacation spots that aren't worth your time and money</a>. When it came to collating the list, there were <em>way</em> more than seven pins in the globe, and now I'm turning my attention to another seven spots that I'd like to at least warn you about.</p> <p>These popular destinations may get all the press, and the tourists, but they're just not worth the price of admission.</p> <h2>1. Buenos Aires</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>The name alone conjures images of a paradise on a par with the Garden of Eden. It's not. And you will pay a hefty price to find that out.</p> <p>A quick search on gives an average cost of $1580 for one round trip ticket with two stops, if flying out next week from Denver. That's quite a chunk of cash before taking into account hotel rooms, rental cars, food, and entertainment. This is a popular business destination, too, and it caters to those people looking for function over beauty. The hotel rooms can be plain to say the least, the food is nothing special, the buildings are in a state of disrepair, and the crime rate is nothing to brag about&hellip; unless you're a crime lord.</p> <p>Avoid it, and instead try the quiet beauty of Cartagena in Colombia (made famous in <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000FO0AA6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KQ77TP4AVCSUYDE6">Romancing the Stone</a>), or the stunning architecture of Lima in Peru.</p> <h2>2. Loch Ness</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Being from a small Northeastern town (Northeast <em>England</em>) just six hours drive from the infamous home of Nessie, I had no excuse not to visit this place in my youth. It was, after all, on my doorstep.</p> <p>What I can tell you is that you will not see, and I guarantee this, a prehistoric monster swimming around in the icy waters of Loch Ness. It was a hoax that caught fire, and people continue to believe that it's true. The waters have been scanned over and over again, and nothing resembling a dinosaur has ever been found. However, that doesn't stop the tourists descending on this sleepy little town every year from all over the world. And that, readers, is the problem here. It's not that Loch Ness isn't scenic and beautiful; it's that it's full of tourists and crappy tourist souvenirs. If you really want to take in a loch, try Loch Lomond, Loch Ken, or Loch Awe. All of the beauty; none of the tack.</p> <h2>3. Bangkok</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>There are many wonderful parts of Thailand. Sadly, most people flood to Bangkok, and while it certainly has appealing aspects, it's not the jewel in Thailand's crown.</p> <p>With so many tourists flooding the city every day, it has attracted the seedier elements of society. Scam artists are everywhere, and you really have to be on your guard. Bangkok is also famous for its &quot;ladyboys,&quot; and that also attracts a certain crowd of people looking for ways to, shall we say, broaden their horizons. All of this makes Bangkok just too much of a let down for many travelers. Those who have experienced places like Sukhothai, Krabi, and Chiang Rai, find the urban sprawl and flashiness of Bangkok to be just too much of a tourist attraction. Definitely visit those Thailand destinations before checking out Bangkok.</p> <h2>4. Athens</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Home of the Acropolis (where the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia, and Temple of Athena Nike are situated), Athens is one of those spots everyone has on their &quot;places to see before I die&quot; list. Sadly, it's an extremely expensive trip for what amounts to a few hours of historic building tours. After that, you have the city itself to explore, and that's not nearly as grandiose or breathtaking. Athens is known to have a lot of active pickpockets, and if you look like a tourist you're going to get marked. Some of the back streets house drug dealers, and thieves have become so brazen that they are holding up people in broad daylight.</p> <p>If you really want to appreciate Greece, stay at much more friendly (and less touristy) places like Halkidiki or Pelopennese, and then take a day trip to the Acropolis.</p> <h2>5. Pisa</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Are you really so desperate to have your picture taken holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa? It seems that way for so many tourists each year, who spend thousands and thousands of dollars to come to a city that has one major attraction&hellip; and not much else. You will basically be surrounded by tourists who have all had the exact same idea; taking the same silly photo, and then scratching their heads wondering what to do with the rest of their vacation. Make Pisa a stop on a journey to a much better place, like Florence (birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci).</p> <h2>6. Bora Bora</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>More than one travel writer has referred to Bora Bora as Boring Boring. It really depends on what you want from your vacation, but if it involves anything beyond sitting in a hut and staring at the ocean, you're going to be disappointed.</p> <p>There's no denying that Bora Bora has some incredible clear water and white sandy beaches. However, there's no nightlife to speak of, and not much else in the way of exciting or interesting ways to pass the time. Why not skip Bora Bora and visit Guam? Yes, Guam. I have been there and I can personally recommend it. It may cost just as much to fly there, but there's much more to do, the beaches are just as stunning, and Guamanian food is incredible. The scenery is amazing, and there is a real sense of belonging and acceptance from the locals.</p> <h2>7. Hollywood Walk Of Fame</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>As a cinefile, there's a lot about the entertainment industry that I want to see. I love movie props and memorabilia, and the idea of walking around some of the sets of my favorite films is very exciting. What's not so exciting is walking up and down a gaudy sidewalk filled with pink and black stars featuring the names of famous celebrities. Seriously, what is the draw here?</p> <p>Every year, millions of people descend upon this section of glittery pavement, and every year a large portion of them must wonder what all the fuss is about. You're not going to bump into the owners of the stars and chat about it. You'll be lucky if you see a lookalike. If you really want the Hollywood experience, go to Universal Studios in off-season. During peak time, it will be as bad as Disneyland, but when it's less busy you can get on some amazing rides and movie experiences at a price you can afford.</p> <p><em>Agree? Disagree? Where have you gone that turned out to just not be worth it?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 More Travel Destinations That Aren&#039;t Worth the Money " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel bad travel tourist traps vacation vacation deals Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1219250 at The 8 Scariest Things Probably Coming to Air Travel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-8-scariest-things-probably-coming-to-air-travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="stressed traveler" title="stressed traveler" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hands up if you remember getting free meals on your flights.</p> <p>It wasn't too long ago that we got free checked bags, and did not have to pay for headphones or blankets, either. As time goes on, the airline industry is making changes that keep themselves in profit, and us wishing we had the money to fly first class. Or better yet, have our own plane. And things are only going to get worse. (See also: <a href="">Tricks to Make Flying in Coach (Almost) as Luxurious as Flying First Class</a>)</p> <p>Here are eight &quot;innovations&quot; that may be coming to an airline that you fly regularly. Don't be surprised if you see these changes sooner rather than later. What was once something comedians joked about is going to become the reality for almost all of us.</p> <h2>1. Vertical Passenger Seating</h2> <p>That's a fancy ways of saying &quot;standing seats.&quot; If that sounds like an oxymoron, it is. But, the one thing this invention has going for it is money. Fairuz Romili, an aerospace engineering professor at the Universal Putra Malaysia, says the standing seat would &quot;lead to a 21% increase in passenger capacity, while dropping ticket prices by as much as 44%.&quot; Think about that for a second. Yes, it sounds (and <a href="">looks</a>) very uncomfortable. Yes, it will also lead to a huge amount of people in economy class, meaning it will take even longer to get drinks and snacks. But, if it dropped the price of a ticket from $300 to $156, would you take it?</p> <h2>2. Limited Lavatories (Or Toilet Fees!)</h2> <p>Can you hold it? You might just have to.</p> <p>Cheaper airlines, also known as budget airlines, are looking into a few bathroom ideas that can chop the price of your ticket. One idea is to have just one toilet per plane. On a smaller aircraft, not such a big deal. On a 747 or 777, you better learn to cross your legs and think of something else. The other option is to charge you to go; literally, spending a dollar to spend a penny. Either one of these would be pushed on you with some great marketing spin. &quot;We're reducing frills to bring you the best possible price on your flight.&quot; Great&hellip; until you have to wait 45 minutes to answer the call of nature.</p> <h2>3. The Fat Tax</h2> <p>Some airlines are already &quot;suggesting&quot; or insisting that obese people buy two seats instead of just one. Sometimes, in the case of <a href="">Les Price</a>, they don't even give you two adjacent seats, which makes no sense at all. However, soon it won't be just purchasing extra seats. You may very well have to &quot;weigh in at check in,&quot; and if you tip the skills over a certain weight, the price of your ticket will go up. For example, males over 250 pounds and females over 200 pounds will pay extra to fly on the plane, even if they fit into a single seat just fine. This could also impact healthy people, like bodybuilders and professional athletes, who are heavy without being obese in the real sense of the word. Imagine being told your ticket will cost one third more because you're a bit on the heavy side. It's coming.</p> <h2>4. Women Only in the Cabin Crew</h2> <p>Not that having only women in the crew is bad for passengers, but it certainly isn't good for any men looking for a career in that field. How will that save money, or be beneficial? Well, we already know that women earn less than men in the same role. But according to GoAir, <a href="">hiring only women makes sense</a> because they are, on average, &quot;15-20 kilos lighter than the average man.&quot; Is that sexism, or simply a statement of fact from GoAir? Well, however you feel about it, you can expect to see either less men in the air, or only people weighing less than a certain amount.</p> <h2>5. In-Flight Phone Calls Are Coming</h2> <p>Currently, the U.S. government says <a href="">no to mid-flight cell phone conversations</a>. However, lobbyists will change that sooner or later, and when it happens you can expect your flight to be filled with inconsiderate people who absolutely cannot wait to make that call. This is, without a doubt, going to be the most irritating and awful thing to change the way we fly. Pack noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs. Lots of earplugs.</p> <h2>6. You're Doing Everything Yourself</h2> <p>We all like autonomy, but when we're flying there are still some things we like to have a trained professional for. Sometimes, they can really help when it comes to getting us on different flights, changing times, adding to our itinerary, and so on. The future is going to be completely automated. Right now, you can get onto a plane without really seeing anyone if you're doing a short hop without checked bags. That is going to change. You will be tagging your own bags and loading them onto the conveyor belt. You'll use a thumbprint to identify yourself and get on and off the plane. You'll even have to get your own food and drinks on the plane. Why pay people when you can do it for the airlines for free?</p> <h2>7. More Overbooked Flights</h2> <p>In the past, you would often fly with enough empty seats on the plane to lie down and take a nap. That will never happen in the future. To ensure &quot;maximum profit margins,&quot; every flight will be seriously overbooked. This will result in more delays at airports, and incredible complications with connecting flights and hotel reservations. You could always go and complain to someone, but of course, you'll be greeted by a computer terminal with no feelings about the matter either way.</p> <h2>8. Massive Aircraft</h2> <p>We already know about the ginormous <a href="">Airbus A380</a>. That's only just the beginning. Plans are already underway to build something bigger. One such idea is the <a href="">Sky Whale</a>, which would hold 755 passengers split into three different classes (and only those in first would enjoy the experience). Getting onto a plane that big will take a long, long time. Getting anything to eat or drink will take equally as long. And getting off, well, don't make any immediate plans when you arrive at the airport. Of course, if one of these things ever crashes, it's going to be a devastating tragedy. And one day, Sky Dinosaurs could carry 1500 people at once. The cost of fuel by then will be so expensive, it will probably not cut the price of the ticket by much.</p> <p><em>What nightmarish future airline plans are you dreading?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 8 Scariest Things Probably Coming to Air Travel" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airlines cost cutting customer service Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1211247 at The 10 Cheapest Ways to Fly First Class <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-cheapest-ways-to-fly-first-class" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="first class airline" title="first class airline" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There was once a time when you could show up at the gate early, dressed nicely, and have a smiling attendant hand you a free upgrade to first class without even asking for it. Now, access to the front of the plane isn't as easy, and requires a bit more of a scientific approach. But this doesn't mean you need to pay the full fare; in fact very few passengers ever do. (See also: <a href="">15 Airport Hacks by Professional Travelers</a>)</p> <p>Here are 10 of the cheapest ways to fly first class.</p> <h2>Before You Go</h2> <p>Before you even pack your bag, here are a few handy tricks for nabbing a first class fare.</p> <h3>Search and You Might Find</h3> <p>Most people search for economy fares, figuring that first class fares are out of reach. However this isn't always the case. I was recently searching for a ticket from Toronto to Lima. I did the standard search on a variety of search engines, all in economy class of course. Then, I performed the same search in first class, and &mdash; glory be &mdash; I found a first class flight, for $50 more than the equivalent economy ticket. Airlines will occasionally (and very quietly) offer deep discounts on first class airfare. It always pays to search your desired flight itinerary in both economy and first class.</p> <h3>Mystery Shopping</h3> <p>Using your eagle eyes to fill out a detailed questionnaire about your experience, you can score half price flights, free hotels, and other travel deals with mystery shopping. Half price off a first class flight is a pretty good deal, but it's even sweeter if you wait for a seat sale and get half price off the sale-priced ticket, or take advantage of periodic mystery shopping promotions that entail a free upgrade to first class. (See also: <a href="">How to Sign up For Half Price Flights and Free Hotels</a>).</p> <h3>Frequent Flyer Miles</h3> <p>Although a somewhat obvious approach, I'm surprised at how many people stare at me with wonder when I tell them that all my long-haul flights are in first class, mainly due to frequent flyer mile accumulation. With a little patience and some attention to detail, you can acquire enough frequent flyer miles to fly in first class, which often represents the best value per mile you can get. (See also: <a href="">Everything You Need to Know About Frequent Flyer Miles</a>)</p> <h3>Frequent Flyer Mile Upgrades</h3> <p>Frequent flyer mile gurus will attest to the value of purchasing economy tickets and using miles for upgrading to first class. Although I can't attest to this technique (I usually book it in first class to begin with, just to be sure), you can learn more about it through the <a href="">Travel Hacking Cartel</a>.</p> <h2>At Check-In</h2> <p>You've still got an economy ticket in your hand and your bags are packed, but hope is not lost. Here are some techniques for cheap (or free) first class upgrades.</p> <h3>Mention a Special Occasion</h3> <p>Make it known (in as natural a way as possible) that you're just married, or traveling home to hug your mother for your milestone birthday, or celebrating a noteworthy anniversary, and you might find yourself upgraded to first class for free.</p> <h3>Dress the Part</h3> <p>If you dress and act the part, an upgraded boarding pass could land in your hands. Depending on the route and airline, however, don't hold your breath. If you fly frequently for work, you're more likely to score an upgrade with your elite frequent flyer status rather than by having a snazzy suit at check-in.</p> <h3>Ask About Miles/Cash Upgrades</h3> <p>Occasionally at check-in, you can nab a good deal for a cash or frequent flyer mile upgrade to first class. It might be worth an extra couple of hundred dollars if you're getting an upgrade to a first class ticket which sells for thousands more.</p> <h2>At the Gate</h2> <p>No luck yet? That's okay. Here's how to play your cards right at the gate&hellip;</p> <h3>Arrive at the Gate Early</h3> <p>After checking passengers in at the front desk, airline staff usually move to the gate to print out rosters and do other administrative things. If you're at the gate early, you might catch them in this lull before the next rush for boarding begins.</p> <p>If you're sitting there looking nice and were cordial at check-in, the gate attendant might shuffle a few seats around and bump you up to first class. A sob story/special occasion can help if you manage to get chatting with them and ask them for an upgrade. This is how I got my first-ever free upgrade to first class. I'd miscalculated the time after 20-something hours of travel and was sitting at the gate with hours to spare and got chatting with the gate attendant about my mammoth journey, at which point she decided to make the next leg of it much more comfortable for me. It happened again in Australia after a ridiculous amount of continuous travel. I asked (some might say begged) the gate attendant for some reprieve on my final flight, and she pitied me with an upgrade to first class.</p> <h3>Volunteer to Be Bumped</h3> <p>Some airlines overbook their flights, such that at the gate they ask for volunteers to be bumped off their pending flight. In exchange for your benevolence, you'll be remunerated with things like vouchers for food, accommodation, future flights (in addition to your missed flight being rebooked for you), straight cash, and sometimes, an upgrade to first class.</p> <p>If you're eager to take advantage of this deal and don't mind missing your flight, don't wait to be asked to bump; volunteer in advance by (showing up early, and letting the gate attendant know that you're available if they're overbooked.</p> <h2>By the Way</h2> <p>Don't forget about business class. With most airlines and routes, there is very little &mdash; if any &mdash; difference between business class and first class. Although in some cases first class flights offer an additional level of opulence, few people could turn their noses up at a business class upgrade or ticket. It's not &quot;first class,&quot; but trust me &mdash; it's better than coach.</p> <p><em>Do you fly first class &mdash; for cheap? What's your secret? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The 10 Cheapest Ways to Fly First Class" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airline business class first class seat upgrade Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:00:06 +0000 Nora Dunn 1207169 at Wise Bread Reloaded: The Surprisingly Easy Way to Defend Your Knees and Other Air Travel Tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/wise-bread-reloaded-the-surprisingly-easy-way-to-defend-your-knees-and-other-air-travel-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="angry airplane passengers" title="angry airplane passengers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By now you've heard of the contretemps aboard an airliner last weekend during which one passenger prevented the seat in front of him from reclining through use of a device called the Knee Defender. Frustration ensued until the passenger seated ahead doused the passenger seated behind and the Captain diverted to another airport and <em>both passengers</em> were escorted off the plane. Ever since, the Internet has been all worked up about whether or not the Right to Recline is an actual right (<a href="">a recent poll suggests a majority of Americans think it's a right</a>).</p> <p>Economy air travel is not as comfortable as it could be these days. And certainly episodes like last week's are probably best avoided with the simplest knee defense of all &mdash; common courtesy. Crowded travel is uncomfortable for everybody. A little courtesy takes the edge off and brightens everyone's day.</p> <p>With courtesy the floor, what else can one do to make economy air travel more pleasant? Wise Bread's writers have had plenty of suggestions over the years. Here are a few.</p> <p><a href="">How to Get Through the Airport Faster</a> &mdash; Pro traveler Nora Dunn shares the tips and tricks she's learned about navigating that terrifying space between ground transportation and the plane &mdash; the airport.</p> <p><a href="">9 Things You Must When Travelling With Kids</a> &mdash; Air travel is tough, but adding kids maxes out the difficulty setting. Elizabeth Lang walks you through it.</p> <p><a href="">6 Things to Keep You Sane on the Plane</a> &mdash; Kentin Waits shares what he stows in his carry-on to make a long trip bearable, and maybe even enjoyable.</p> <p><a href="">8 Airline Fees That Are Actually Worth Paying</a> &mdash; Penny wise, pound foolish applies to air travel too, and Deia B explains which airline upgrades are worth the cost.</p> <p><a href="">Alternatives to Air Travel: Other Ways to Get From Here to There</a> &mdash; And if none of that makes air travel an attractive option, Nora Dunn suggests other ways of going. They may not be as fast, but they're bound to be more comfortable.</p> <p>Whether you're Team Recline or Team Knee, the next time you're on a crowded plane, remember this: your fellow passengers didn't decide to cram an extra row of seats on the plane &mdash; the airline did. Keep your cool, stay courteous, and aim your complaints high.</p> <p><em>How do you stay comfortable when flying? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Wise Bread Reloaded: The Surprisingly Easy Way to Defend Your Knees and Other Air Travel Tips" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Lars Peterson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airline flying reclining travel Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Lars Peterson 1199892 at Skip the Buffet and Other Simple Rules for Healthier Travel <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/skip-the-buffet-and-other-simple-rules-for-healthier-travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man sick vacation" title="man sick vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 20% to 50% of travelers &mdash; about 10 million people &mdash; get traveler's diarrhea every year. No bull. (See also: <a href="">How to Travel This Holiday Season Without Getting Sick</a>)</p> <p>It may be impossible to truly eliminate the risk of getting food poisoning, but you can take some precautions to reduce that possibility.</p> <h2>Food Groups</h2> <p>There are some food groups that are especially risky.</p> <h3>Meat and Seafood</h3> <p>Raw meats and seafood may contain viruses, bacteria, or parasites that can make you sick. It's only when they have been handled and cooked properly that they're safe to eat. If you're not sure the local food safety authority properly monitors eateries, eat only hot meats and seafood that are opaque in color.</p> <h3>Produce</h3> <p>Fruits and vegetables may come into contact with harmful microorganisms in the soil or water where they grow. They can also become contaminated when they're harvested or stored. When it comes to eating raw produce, choose fruits that you can peel like bananas. Even thin-skinned produce like apples and cucumbers benefit from peeling as many common types of pesticide residues and <a href="">contaminants can't penetrate the peel barrier</a> (though thicker peels make it even harder for contaminants to penetrate). If you have the time to do some grocery shopping yourself, buy any fruits and vegetables you like, then wash them yourself using clean water.</p> <h2>Restaurants to Avoid</h2> <p>When you're dining out, choose your spots carefully.</p> <h3>Buffets</h3> <p>It's safer to eat food that is hot and freshly cooked than food that has been sitting around all day like at buffets. Stick with popular eateries that cook their dishes when you order them and serve many people throughout the day.</p> <h3>Unpopular Restaurants</h3> <p>Look around. Are you the only one about to order? There may be a reason.</p> <h3>Non-Local</h3> <p>Beyond the obvious &quot;you're not in Japan to eat Mexican tacos,&quot; local chefs will likely be more familiar with local food than they are with exotic specialities. Meaning eating local can be eating safe.</p> <p>Before you choose where to eat, ask the locals for recommendations. If you have a travel agent, he could also be a good resource. You can also check out local food blogs or review websites like Yelp.</p> <h2>Water</h2> <p>In many developing countries, tap <a href="">water is not safe for consumption</a>. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a database of travel destinations that you can check for country-specific information.</p> <p>If the tap water at your destination is not safe, you have to boil it first before you drink it. If you prefer to drink cool water, you'll have to boil it in advance and place it in the fridge. This means you'll have to plan ahead.</p> <p>If that sounds like too much work, drink bottled water. It's clean and safe. Just pay attention to the seal; if it has been broken or tampered with, request another bottle. Make sure the bottle hasn't simply been filled with tap water. In some restaurants in India, waiters would bring the bottle to your table and open it in front of you before pouring the contents into your glass.</p> <p>Avoid ice cubes because they may have been made using dirty water. Instead, ask for bottled drinks that have been chilled inside a fridge.</p> <h2>Water Purifiers</h2> <p>If you travel a lot, consider buying yourself a portable water purifier, which makes it safe for you to drink tap water anywhere in the world.</p> <p>One type of water purifier works by filtering out contaminants, letting only clean water through. This filter is available as a stick through which you drink the water. Known as <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B006QF3TW4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=D5VB6KIFAGSMMGEF">LifeStraw</a>, it can filter up to 1,000 liters of water. It's also available as a water bottle called LifeStraw Go. And best of all: when you buy one LifeStraw, the company provides clean water to one school child in a developing country for a year.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can also buy a device that works by using ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, viruses and protozoa. It comes in the form of a stick called <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0041EB6EU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=V6TZMPEWS3SXCPSS">SteriPEN</a> that you submerge in a glass or water bottle for a few minutes to treat the water.</p> <p>Another option is to buy water purification tablets that contain iodine. To use, simply dissolve the tablet in water and let it stand for a few minutes before drinking. You can find these tablets at stores that sell camping gear.</p> <h2>Smartphone App</h2> <p>Certain places may be unsafe for travel in the event of an illness outbreak. An iOS app called <a href="">Sickweather</a> keeps track of these outbreaks, so you know which areas to avoid. The app tracks people's updates on social media and keeps a database of Sickweather users' reports. You can view a map of your local area and filter the information so you only see specific symptoms or illnesses.</p> <h2>Milk</h2> <p>Stick with pasteurized milk, powdered milk, or canned condensed milk that you buy yourself at the local grocery store. Avoid eating or drinking items that contain milk when you eat outside; the milk may have been sitting around all day out in the sun and may have spoiled. There is also some possibility that it hasn't been pasteurized.</p> <h2>Insurance</h2> <p>Despite all your precautions, it's possible that you'll still get food poisoning. That's unfortunate, but your life will be a lot easier if you have travel medical insurance. At the very least, you'll be able to get medical treatments if something happens during the trip.</p> <p>The right <a href="">travel insurance for you depends many factors</a>, including your destination and length of stay. Consider what exactly you want the insurance to cover. Do you want your insurer to cover the loss of your laptop or just the cost of medical emergencies? Also take into account what you'll be doing during the trip. If you plan to engage in extreme sports, you may need additional protection on top of the standard policy.</p> <p><em>How do you avoid food borne illness while traveling? Please share in comments (your advice, not your illness)!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Skip the Buffet and Other Simple Rules for Healthier Travel" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel food poisoning Health travel illness traveler's diarrhea Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Deia B 1197956 at The Secret to Getting Great Hotel Rates Anytime <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-secret-to-getting-great-hotel-rates-anytime" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hotel receptionist" title="hotel receptionist" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know that you can shave thousands of dollars off your travel expenses just by timing your trip correctly?</p> <p>Hotels all over the world discount their rates at certain times of the year, sometimes by more than 50% during the less popular vacation months. So assuming you've got a little flexibility, try booking your hotel for for these times and places.</p> <h2>Beginning of the Year</h2> <p>Travel seems to be a great way to start a new year, <a href="">according to Agoda</a>, a growing online hotel booking service. Out of the 25 cities Agoda studied, all offer lower hotel rates during the first two weeks of the year compared to the year-long averages.</p> <p>Hotel rates in New York City, for example, are dramatically slashed at the beginning of the year. On top of that, prices for other activities like watching Broadway shows and ice skating are lower as well. Agoda says that you can save as much as 40% off the average hotel rate if you travel to New York City in January or February. Trivago agrees that the cheapest month to <a href="">visit the Big Apple is in February</a>, when the average hotel rate is $267 per night &mdash; a lot cheaper than the $436 average nightly rate that hotels charge in October.</p> <p>You can also find great deals in Boston in January, when Trivago says hotel rates are $190 cheaper than they are in October. However, to enjoy this discount, you'll have to contend with Boston's winter, which can see temperature lows in the 20s. For the same reason, hotels in Chicago are $138 cheaper in January than they are in June.</p> <p>Barcelona, Istanbul, London, and Rome are similarly cheaper during the first two months of the year. (And probably not 17 degrees Fahrenheit.)</p> <h2>After School Break</h2> <p>Theme parks are packed during school holidays. If you want to visit Orlando, do it when the kids are back in school. You'll enjoy shorter lines and may actually have enough time for all the rides. Trivago says that hotel rates in Orlando are $38 lower per night in January than they are in March during the spring break season.</p> <p>For the same reason, Miami Beach hotels are cheaper in September, when families are busy with school. Worries about the hurricane season may also have something to do with these low hotel rates. In March, Miami Beach hotels charge an average of $387 per night, in contrast to the $194 average nightly rate they charge in September.</p> <h2>Skiing</h2> <p>Going skiing? You don't have to do it in the dead of winter.</p> <p>The ski resorts in Colorado, for example, offer their best rates at the beginning and end of the season. Go in January or sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.</p> <p>If you plan to travel further north, you can go later in the year. In Whistler, British Columbia, there's often great snow even in spring, when the hotels rates are much cheaper. For example, in April the <a href="">Fairmont Chateau Whistler charges $189 less</a> per night than it does in February.</p> <h2>Anytime But Summer</h2> <p>Traveling in the summer has it's advantages: outdoor festivals, busy nightlife, and long sunny days. But you'll also have to deal with the heat and the crowds, not to mention the sky-high hotel rates. According to Agoda, hotels in Oslo and Istanbul can be 50% more expensive in May compared to the year-long averages.</p> <p>In much of Europe, you can get the best hotel deals from November through March. Some hotels may be closed during this off-peak season, but those that remain open often offer great rates.</p> <p>You can find the best bargains in San Francisco from November through May. In December particularly, hotel rates average $201 per night, compared to $324 per night in September.</p> <h2>The Holidays</h2> <p>Hotel rates during the end-of-year holiday season are notoriously high. However, some cities actually have their low season during the last week of December. If you want to spend Christmas away from home, choose Oslo, Stockholm, or Riyadh for the lowest hotel rates.</p> <h2>Stable Cities</h2> <p>In some places, hotel rates don't change much throughout the year. If you plan to travel during peak season, you may do well be to choose these cities.</p> <p>Agoda's survey finds that popular Asian destinations don't discount their hotel rates much. In Tokyo, for example, hotel rates during the first week in January are only 17% cheaper than the average. Around the same time of the year in Seoul, hotel rates are only 10% cheaper than the average.</p> <p>Taipei's hotels are at their cheapest during the first week of July, but even then they're only offering about 9% discount off the average nightly rate.</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of off-season discount pricing to travel? Where did you go?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Secret to Getting Great Hotel Rates Anytime" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel discount discount travel off-season travel Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Deia B 1189787 at 7 Ways You're Wasting Gas Without Realizing It <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-youre-wasting-gas-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="driving car" title="driving car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>At the time of this writing, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is $3.52. And while most of us can remember significantly higher prices at the pump, today's costs don't quite qualify as bargain-basement by anyone's definition. (See also: <a href="">How to Turn Groceries Into Gasoline</a>)</p> <p>So, if you'd like to save some cash on gas, it might be time to change the way you drive. Go from a slurper to a sipper by avoiding these seven fuel-wasting habits.</p> <h2>1. Idling for More Than 10 Seconds</h2> <p>Want to learn how to reduce your fuel efficiency to zero MPG? Let it sit with the engine running. For modern fuel-injected cars, idling for more than 10 seconds is a waste of gas, even when you compare it to the alternative &mdash; just turning off the engine and restarting it when it's time to move again.</p> <h2>2. Driving Too Slow</h2> <p>Everyone knows that driving too <em>fast</em> can waste fuel, but did you know that driving too slow can do the same thing? Driving below your car's optimal speed means the engine is putting out a lot of effort and not accomplishing much. And while optimal speed is a bit of a gray area and depends on the type of transmission your car has, it's usually achieved by balancing the lowest possible RPM with an appropriate speed for the roadway you're on. Just remember: Trying to conserve gas by crawling down the expressway is both dangerous and ineffective.</p> <h2>3. Racing to the Reds</h2> <p>Ever notice how anxious some folks are to floor it when a red light changes to green in heavy traffic? It's as if the drivers don't realize they'll be hitting another red light or stop sign in mere yards. Quick acceleration is a fuel burner and the only thing it efficiently achieves is a smokin' case of car sickness. Instead, retire your drag-racing uniform, lighten up your lead foot, and accelerate slowly to boost fuel economy and save gas.</p> <h2>4. Avoiding Cruise Control</h2> <p>I've always considered the cruise control feature on my car to be the foil against my own driver's ego. But whether we realize it or not, many of us fall into a familiar rhythm when we're driving on an interstate. We speed up to pass, gun it for a mile or so, and then slow down again. Sometimes we even speed up when we anticipate being passed by another motorist. Using cruise control to maintain a reasonable and steady pace makes a lot more sense from a safety and fuel-efficiency perspective.</p> <h2>5. Buying High-Performance Tires</h2> <p>High-performance tires are those super-grippy numbers that hug the pavement and make even the most humble cars feel just a bit more capable and confident. But tires that grip take more energy to move and that takes more gas. Opt for a high-quality standard tread tire instead and don't give your engine more friction to work against.</p> <h2>6. Taking Multiple Short Trips</h2> <p>Is your day filled with short hops and skips in the car? Unless you're planning them right, you're probably wasting fuel. Since engines work most efficiently when they're warmed up, driving a short distance, stopping, letting your car's engine cool down, and going again is a fuel-sucking strategy. Instead, combine trips, schedule the longest one first, and keep each stop brief enough that the engine doesn't cool down in between. Better yet, get a bike for quick errands or consider walking.</p> <h2>7. Deferring Maintenance</h2> <p>Dirty fuel filters, clogged air filters, and malfunctioning oxygen sensors are just three maintenance issues that can be a drag on your car's fuel efficiency. And remember those high-performance tires? You can make any old set hug the road (and slowly lower your MPG) by tooling around while they're under-inflated. Keep on top of basic auto maintenance issues to improve your gas mileage and lower overall costs.</p> <h2>Start Really Saving Gas by Hypermiling</h2> <p><em>Hypermiling</em> is the practice of increasing a car's fuel efficiency by making tweaks to the way you drive or modifications to the car itself. Techniques like turning off the AC while driving, keeping tires properly inflated, and modulating speed to reduce the need to brake so often are just a few simple <a href="">ways to start hypermiling</a> now. And yes; there's an app for that. <a href="">Hypermiling MPG Calculator</a> lets drivers track fuel usage and apply tips and hypermiling strategies to reduce consumption.</p> <p>For more ideas on how to save money at the pump, download Wise Bread's free <a href="">Wise Driving Guide</a>. And for more fuel-defensive driving tips, learn the <a href="">techniques of extreme hypermilers</a>. But remember, with any driving strategy, safety always comes first. Some hypermiling driving methods may not be legal in your area or not advisable under certain conditions.</p> <p>In the end, conserving gas is a lot like conserving any other resource &mdash; it all starts with sharpening our awareness. With a little planning, better choices, sensible techniques, and maybe even an app or two, saving gas can become second nature. And until science perfects the hydrogen car or solar-powered engine, saving at the pump will only have a bigger impact on our personal budgets.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve gas? What's the simplest and most effective tip you have for others?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Gas Without Realizing It" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Travel 7 Ways You're Wasting Gas Without Realizing It Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Kentin Waits 1189080 at 15 Airport Hacks From Professional Travelers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-airport-hacks-from-professional-travelers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="businessman sleeping airport" title="businessman sleeping airport" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you want to save money on drinks and baggage fees, skip airport lineups, get good prices on flights, keep the kids amused, and stay safe when arriving in airports at unwieldy hours? Then read on, because I've rounded up 10 professional travelers and invited them to share their <em>best</em> airport hacks. (See also: <a href="">How to Get Through the Airport Faster</a>).</p> <h2>1. Apply for Global Entry</h2> <p>U.S. Citizens can clear customs quickly with <a href="">Global Entry</a>. (Citizens of Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and other countries have <a href="">similar pre-screening programs</a> that work in tandem with Global Entry). Application involves a rigorous background check and interview, but once you're a member you can clear customs in a jiffy, and also take advantage of special security lines and procedures.</p> <p>Lisa Ellen Niver of <a href="">We Said Go Travel</a> is a global citizen who has traveled to over 100 countries on six continents. After traveling with her parents and experiencing the benefits of Global Entry, she lodged her own application. &quot;After you apply and have your interview, you no longer have to stand in long security lines. You are whisked ahead with no need to remove shoes or take computers out of cases. It makes travel seem almost civilized again!&quot;</p> <h2>2. Bring Your Own Liquor</h2> <p>Are you taking a domestic flight (and/or flying a budget airline) and want to have a drink but don't want to pay the airline's prices for liquor? Carry on a mini bottle of your favorite libation and mix it with the free soft drink, says Tamara Elliott, who offers savvy practical travel advice on <a href="">Globe Guide</a>. &quot;This works well since mix (Coke, juice, etc) is already included on-board &mdash; plus, the TSA doesn't have restrictions about what liquids you can bring, just how big they are.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Hitchhike Into the First Class Lounge</h2> <p>Turner Wright of <a href="">Once A Traveler</a>, who has lived in Japan, South Korea, Peru, Thailand, and New Zealand, has an unconventional method for accessing first class lounges:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Some first class lounges allow you to bring in a guest for free, so as long as you're not too smelly and relatively personable, just hang out at the entrance and ask someone if he or she wouldn't mind signing you in (including a sob story about how you've been cooped up for 30 hours and/or missing your family wouldn't hurt).</p> <h2>4. Pay for the First Class Lounge</h2> <p>If schmoozing into the first class lounge doesn't work (or isn't your style), you can often buy a pass. It usually costs $30-$50 and gives you access to all the lounge amenities such as comfortable seating, free food and drinks (including alcohol), Internet, and sometimes even showers and quiet rooms for sleeping. If you have hours to kill before your flight or between flights, this can be money well spent.</p> <h2>5. Wear Your Extra Luggage</h2> <p>Benny Lewis as been on the road for over 11 years and was named National Geographic's Traveler of the Year in 2013. He travels with everything he owns (including books!), and flies budget airlines with over 80 pounds of gear without paying for it. His secret? He <a href="">wears his luggage</a> with the unfashionable but arguably practical <a href="">Jaktogo</a>. &quot;It's not a great fashion statement, and uncomfortable to wear while you do it, but that's only necessary while you [check in and] board the plane (since that's the only time your number of bags are truly checked). The rest of the time, you can walk around the terminal and even go through security with it in its extra bag folded up mode.&quot; (Benny himself a polyglot who teaches people to become <a href="">Fluent in 3 Months</a> with a variety of tools including a free crash course.)</p> <h2>6. Fly Red-Eye</h2> <p>Matt Stabile, founder and Editor-in-Chief of <a href=""></a> and <a href=""></a> says the best way to avoid the hassle of getting through airports is to choose red-eye (overnight) flights, especially if it's a long flight. &quot;If you book a flight that leaves past, say, 10:00pm, you'll avoid rush hour traffic on the way to the airport, lines at check-in are going to be minimal, security will take a fraction of what it takes earlier in the day, and once you settle in for the flight, you can simply go to sleep and wake up at your destination.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Get Help Booking Flights</h2> <p>If flying red-eye doesn't appeal, Benny Lewis also recommends using <a href="">Flight Fox</a> to book flights; he says they can often find a convenient travel time for the same cost as a red-eye flight.</p> <h2>8. Ask for Assistance</h2> <p>Airports usually involve lots of walking and standing in line, which not everybody can manage. If you or somebody you're traveling with has trouble getting around (due to age or injury), don't let pride get in the way; ask for assistance.</p> <p>Jeanne Dee of <a href="">SoulTravelers3</a> discovered this life-saver while suffering serious medical challenges and traveling with her family. &quot;Airlines can help you with wheelchair assistance, making the whole process doable for someone with health challenges, and they escort the whole family through security and customs and such.&quot; Jeanne and her multi-award-winning digital nomadic family of three have been on the road non-stop for almost nine years, visiting 47 countries on five continents for $23/day per person.</p> <p>Although wheelchair assistance shouldn't be taken advantage of, it's a huge time-saver if you have a tight connection and are unable to move quickly. I discovered this myself after suffering a near-fatal accident and traveling to the States for medical attention. I would never have made the connection in my condition without being skirted through the airport's &quot;secret passages&quot; and ushered through special lineups. (Bonus: Your travel companions are escorted through with you!)</p> <h2>9. Eat at the Airport</h2> <p>Tiffany and Chris Soukup of <a href=""></a> have been traveling and working around the world for the last 10 years. They've learned through experience that eating a solid meal at the airport can actually be cost-effective, and arriving well-fed helps battle <a href="">jet lag</a> and even helps you make better (money-saving) decisions. Tiffany uses some hacks to make it cost-effective and fun. &quot;I can't say the airport is my favorite place to eat, but I look forward to walking around to find where I'll dine. [Also], look ahead to know what restaurants are at the airport and see if you can get coupons.&quot;</p> <h2>10. Family Travel Hack: Entertain the Kids Without Gadgets</h2> <p>Rachel and Greg Denning of <a href=""></a> have been traveling since 2007 with their five (now six) children. They know better than any parents how hard it is to keep kids entertained during long hours of waiting in airports, and they say using less technology (tablets, smartphones, etc) creates better travelers.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">The mind-numbing, easy entertainment of many [tablet/smartphone] games can lead to boredom, because children get accustomed to being passively entertained, instead of actively entertaining themselves. Reading books, talking, singing, playing games (cards, iSpy, etc.) can hold their attention and lead to bonding and personal interaction, which makes travel more enjoyable for parents and children alike.</p> <p>She adds, however, that if your kids are already addicted to technology, going cold turkey in an airport isn't wise; best to start &quot;weaning&quot; them several weeks before traveling. (See also: <a href="">The Digital Detox &ndash; How and Why to Do It</a>).</p> <h2>11. Jump the Line (and Other Perks) With Frequent Flyer Status</h2> <p>&quot;The Guy&quot; dubs his website <a href="">Flights and Frustration</a> for good reason; he has been traveling internationally with his work nearly every month for over 14 years. He has found a way to use business class and priority lineups even if he's flying economy. It's all about achieving elite status with frequent flyer miles. (See also: <a href="">Everything You Need to Know About Frequent Flyer Miles</a>).</p> <p>&quot;A prime example is my KLM Flying Blue card. With higher status I can use my economy ticket and still go to the business class check-in queue.&quot; For those with miles but no status, try asking for a points-upgrade. &quot;Inquire at check-in (or even before you go to the airport) to see if you can redeem points to upgrade your ticket to business class. Then it is queue jumping and luxury travel all the way.&quot;</p> <p>Having status with one airline can give you access to perks on all airlines in the alliance. &quot;I collect frequent flyer points on my Singapore Kris Flyer card for Star Alliance flights. I held a Gold Status with this Kris Flyer card whilst checking in for a domestic flight in the US with United. Due to my frequent flyer status with Star Alliance, they waived the baggage fee.&quot;</p> <h2>12. Go Through Priority Lines Anyway</h2> <p>Turner Wright (of <a href="">Once A Traveler</a>) doesn't even bother flashing a frequent flyer mile status card to jump the line. &quot;Depending on the rush, I find it pretty ridiculous to cue up in one security line when there's an empty one for first class or priority passengers. Usually I just walk up and ask if I can go through, assuming they don't just wave me in. The same goes for lines at immigration and customs.&quot;</p> <h2>13. Flash Your Travel Rewards Credit Card</h2> <p>Even if you don't have super-elite frequent flyer mile status, you can flash a travel rewards credit card to gain lounge access. Stephanie Zito has been to over 115 countries living and working on the road for the last 20+ years. In addition to her humanitarian work and <a href="">Wandering For Good</a>, she's also the managing editor of the <a href="">Travel Hacking Cartel</a> and a travel-hacker extraordinaire.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">If you live and work on the road and take advantage of lounges for showers, meals, Wi-Fi, and free drinks, it's worth carrying a card that&nbsp;gets you Priority Pass which allows you to access more than 600 lounges around the world. If you just need a pass or two, many co-branded airline credit cards offer one or two lounge passes a year as a sign-up bonus.</p> <h2>14. Catch a Rest in the Chapel (and a Shower Nearby)</h2> <p>If you've got a long layover or delayed flight and need some peace and quiet, look for the airport chapel. It can be a great place to catch a catnap, meditate, or simply enjoy a cell-phone free environment. Stephanie Zito also says it might lead you to a shower in certain parts of the world: &quot;If you're traveling through the middle east, there is almost always a public shower room somewhere in the airport &mdash; you just have to find it. The trick is to locate the prayer area. The showers will always be nearby.&quot;</p> <h2>15. Sleep in the Airport</h2> <p>Wade Shepard has been traveling since 1999 as founding editor of <a href="">Vagabond Journey</a>, and he has a formula for sleeping in airports. &quot;I usually sleep in the airport when I have an early morning flight leaving between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. or when I land between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. It's free, relatively secure, and cuts out the hassle of taking [costly] late night transportation and checking in/out of a hotel at an hour when humans are better off tucked away in bed.&quot; He even argues that it's safer to sleep in the airport than to navigate a foreign city late at night, where you might be more of a target.</p> <p>He consults <a href=""></a> to find the best places to sleep, and likes to be out of the way but still around other people (who are preferably sleeping) so there is security in numbers. As for his luggage, he secures it: &quot;I either lock my bag to the chair I'm sleeping in or I tie it my wrist &mdash; so if someone was to try to snatch it I'd wake up.&quot;</p> <p>Wade even does this with his wife and child in tow. &quot;Having three people to fend for makes the money saved even greater! I also found it works better just to let my daughter stay up late, go crazy in the airport, then crash on the plane rather than waking her up in the middle of the night and moving her out [of a hotel].&quot;</p> <p>For more from frequent travelers, check out these 25 other fantastic travel tips and secrets: <a href="">25 Secrets From the World's Most Frugal Frequent Travelers</a>.</p> <p><em>Do you have any reliable airport hacks? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Airport Hacks From Professional Travelers" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel airport secrets airports credit cards frugal travel travel secrets Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:06:06 +0000 Nora Dunn 1185372 at