Are you lured by clever commercials that promise 4 star accommodations for the cost of a 1 star? Consider this: Booking directly with a hotel or chain has far more value than a quick fix. Here's why: Generally, hotels will not take your money until you show up. If you no-show or cancel, they will take only 1 night's cost, no hassle changes can be made to your reservation, and their website always has to have a better deal than what you can get from those 3rd party 'tempters'. Choose wisely!
But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well.
When flying a crazy long-haul flight it is often nice to experience the business class lounge. Although Etihad’s lounge in Dublin is lovely, their lounge in Abu Dhabi is often crowded and warm (Etihad has recently been in the process of renovating their Abu Dhabi lounges). The food is good, though, and there is free top shelf alcohol. It is the extra special amenities that are offered that truly enhance the experience.
Great list of travel tips Dave and Deb. I would like to recommend to fellow travelers to book in very last minute, ideally on the day when you travel, to get the best rates. Most hotels and hostels are willing to give you half rate or even better price just to not have a free room (which does bring them exactly 0). I booked couple of rooms for just $1 with this method on my trip to Japan!
Set yourselves up for a fun family vacation by properly packing for your travels. Giving the kids their own tote bags or duffle bags filled with handy distractions such as snacks, crayons, books, handheld video games, portable DVD players, and travel games will help keep them busy and take some of the pressure off of you. Anticipating "emergencies" such as depleted electronic devices, and messy faces by having extra batteries, and baby wipes on hand can be a parent's best friend. Packing sun block, children's cold medications, bandages, diapers, and other necessities will save you the hassle, and expense of purchasing them on your trip. A change of clothes stowed away in your children's carry-ons is always a good idea in case of spills or accidents.
If looming baggage costs and stronger airport security measures have you in a tizzy, you're not alone. Things we once took for granted when flying, such as complimentary beverages and checked luggage, are fading fast. Most U.S. airlines charge at least $25 to check a bag, and some even charge for carry-ons exceeding backpack-size—but there's no need to panic. Learning how to pack efficiently is the key to lightening your load (but not your wallet). Here, our travel experts share their tips to streamline your packing for a stress-free vacation.
As I mention above, every minute you pass without a seat assignment is another minute that your aisle or window seat is given to someone else. Your best bet is to check in online, which can typically be done up to 24 hours before your flight. But note that not all flights, airlines or classes of travel permit advance check-in (or seating assignments).
Spice up a basic outfit with compact accessories, such as belts,jewelry and scarves. These suitcase space-savers add instant color and can easily take an outfit from day to night. Kelly Vrtis, an organizational travel spokeswoman for The Container Store relies on a lightweight Pashmina shawl as her go-to accessory while traveling. "You can use it over the shoulder, around your elbows or even wear it as a scarf."
Maintain your in-flight comfort and cleanliness by wearing breathable fabrics (materials that allow air and moisture to pass through them) such as cotton, silk, or linen. Fabrics that don't allow air to circulate will hold sweat on the skin, likely making you feel dirtier faster and probably necessitating a good spin in the washing machine upon landing. Natural fabrics are great, but moisture-wicking manmade fabrics are suitable options as well.

At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
Also, there are plenty of ways to take photos of yourself without asking strangers to do it. I’ve asked someone to take a photo of me exactly twice over the past five years. Buy a tripod, use a selfie stick, balance your camera on something. Regardless of that, being annoyed by someone who could be on a trip of a lifetime and wanting to capture a special moment, is kind of sad to me. As I said in the post, I really recommend not judging people because they travel in a different way to you. Or in this case, wish to capture their travels in a different way.
If using room service, be nice to the order taker and make him or her your friend. When they tell the chef about the nice person from whom they just took an order, you’ve assured yourself of getting good food. If the food is great, call back and ask the order taker to thank the chef. I’ve had chefs call me back and say that no hotel guest had ever said thank you to them in their career. Always be nice to hotel workers and go out of your way to greet them with a good morning or good afternoon. They deal with loads of jerks and rude people. Visit the bank before your trip — hotels never have money to make change — and change $100 into $5 bills.
It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.
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