Sure, you know how to book a hotel on your own because you’ve got a credit card and the Internet. But chances are you’re not booking a hotel as well or as cheaply as you could. Don’t feel bad about your amateur mistakes. All you need is a little instruction, and, well, a credit card and the Internet. To turn you from hotel amateur to hotel pro, we’ve probed the minds of lodging experts to hear their tips on saving the most money and maximizing every hotel stay you book. These are their essential hotel hacks.
Hmmm, it really depends on which countries you’ll be visiting and how you’ll be travelling. During my first year, I stayed mostly in hostels, spent the majority of my time in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe and was on a tight budget and spent around $11,000. Last year, I was travelling on a mid-range budget — lots of Airbnb apartments and a few splurges in luxury hotels — and spent my time in Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand and spent $20,000.
1. Pack for today’s overhead-bin reality. Since airlines started charging for checked baggage, travelers have resorted to extreme measures to ensure their bags make it on the plane. But most people get it wrong. Look around the boarding area. Almost everyone has a big roller bag and a briefcase. But one roller bag can fill an entire overhead bin. If your flight is full and you aren’t among the first on the plane, you will have to gate check that bag. A better strategy is to take two more equal-sized bags. One should be the maximum size that will fit under the seat and the other should be flexible so it can fit into any odd space available between roller bags in the overhead bin. Using this strategy, I have never had to gate check a bag in 20 years of travel. An added bonus–you can save the extra fees airlines charge you to board early in order to cram your huge bag on first, which is just a rip-off. For a list of what this luxury and other “premium” services will cost you, take a look at airline services fees on Kayak and SmarterTravel.
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
Studies show that frequent business travelers, who travel on average more than two weeks per month, are at a higher risk for a number of health concerns, including weakened immune systems, obesity, or mental health problems. Being prepared and smart throughout the booking, traveling, and working away process can influence some major attitude adjustments when it comes to business travel. Limiting stress on the mind and body can make more of a difference than you could ever imagine, so why not try out a few, and turn the worst part of your job to something truly enjoyable?
If you travel frequently for business outside your home country, an annual travel insurance policy is a great way to ensure you have coverage when you need it, even at a moment’s notice. This type of plan gives employers peace of mind, knowing their employees have high levels of medical protection, an emergency medical evacuation benefit, and coverage for lost luggage and baggage delay. As the global business world continues to expand, it’s important for business travelers to know their domestic health insurance may not follow them when they travel abroad. And, if they are traveling to an area without appropriate medical care, emergency medical evacuation coverage is key in making sure they can be moved, if needed, to a location that has proper medical care.
I love your suggestions, but I want to strongly caution against #73. I’m a retired chemist from the pharmaceutical industry, and I can tell you that prescription drugs sold in blister packs are that way for a very good reason; not simply because pharma likes higher manufacturing and shipping costs. They are that way because the drugs require them for stability, generally because of moisture, UV, or even atmospheric oxygen. Best case, they lose potency. Worst case, they create toxic degradation products. I personally take drugs out of the box, but not the blisters, and store them where they won’t get a lot of light and heat.
There are other, more nuanced things to consider, however, when choosing the perfect flight. Weathered business travelers recommend learning the (important) difference between a “direct” and a “non-stop” flight – being that while a direct flight might still touch down, but continue travel aboard the same airplane, a non-stop flight will. not. stop. There are also specific “booking codes” to look for before you press “confirm,” so keep your eyes peeled for a Y or a B. Selecting either will get you a full fare ticket, but grant you a complimentary upgrade to the next class if a space is left open.
But what about work trips? Suddenly, the inconveniences of travel are mixed with the potential awkwardness of spending 24/7 with your co-workers. Like it or not, though, you’re bound to have conferences, client trips, or company meetings on the calendar at some point. So before you pack your bags, here are a few tips on making it tolerable and even—dare we say it—fun.
Unique Business Class Benefits: Along with Etihad, I find the food on Qatar to be quite good. The service was good as well, a lot better than when we flew economy on the Qatar Dreamliner. The business class amenity kit is one of my favorites, with Giorgio Armani products, including perfume and cologne. They provide different amenities for men and women.
The number one mistake business travelers make is eating like they are on vacation. This type of lifestyle is unhealthy and expensive, especially if you eat out for every meal; however, convenient food service can seem like the easiest solution after a long day. To make your travel easier for you and your wallet, stock the hotel fridge with nutritious items that you can consume throughout your trip. Hard-boiled eggs make a great breakfast or snack option with protein to keep you full. A rotisserie chicken is another great option that allows you to reheat different size portions easily, storing the rest in the fridge for another meal. Also, try buying a veggie platter—they aren’t just for parties!—which will maximize your wallet by providing multiple days’ worth of nutritious snacks in one bulk purchase.
Trying to figure out what to wear on a business trip can be a real struggle. The modern, professional woman needs a wardrobe and a service to keep up with her busy lifestyle. Take the stress out of packing and consider a continuously changing wardrobe, without the guilt of buying new clothes, growing tired of them, or going through the hassle and cost of dry cleaning. Businesses like Armoire offers a data-driven and curated closet for women based on style and fit preferences. This includes unlimited exchanges so you always have something new to wear for every occasion. Forget about the days of “What should I wear?” and focus on what really matters.
This rip-off is especially noxious because it is based on a lie—that the fuel surcharge somehow isn't part of the regular fare. How bad it is? Recently, British Airways posted a round-trip from Boston to London with a base fare of $208, plus $230 in government/airport/security taxes and fees and a $458 "carrier imposed" (read: "fuel") surcharge. Ridiculous!
You can always spot the first-timers, hands subconsciously guarding their money belts, faces set to "suspicion", always trying to figure out what the scam is, who's trying to rip them off. It's hard when you first start out to spot the crooks from the friendly locals, so plenty of people just mistrust everyone. That's a mistake though. The vast majority of locals aren't out to get you. It can pay to trust them every now and then – you'll make a lot more friends.
One of the perks of flying business class is being able to board early. I would rather be sipping champagne in my business class seat and checking out my amenity kit than hanging in the airport. Etihad has provided us a mixed experience on this front, with a rather poor performance during a past flight through Abu Dhabi, and again at Dublin airport. We were asked to wait on the side while they started to board economy, which was a little strange. Someone became bothered enough to insist we be allowed to board. I swear it was not me. When flying the Emirates A380, though, there is exclusive boarding from the lounge to the flight. There is no need to exit the lounge into the terminal! It’s one of the best business class travel lounges and the best perks of business class on Emirates!
Unfortunately, UK residents (and basically anyone who isn’t in the US) just don’t have access to the crazy amount of points that Americans can get with credit cards and whatnot. It’s not much of a thing in the UK — there are rarely signup bonuses, and if there are, they’re crap. I’m really not loyal to one particular airline, either — I fly with budget airlines 99% of the time, which don’t have rewards programs, and I only take one or two long-haul flights a year. Also! Because I spend a lot of my time in developing countries, I very rarely pay for things with a card, so I probably wouldn’t meet spending requirements.
I would definetely prefer an aisle seat on International flights, I frequently use the bathroom and it could be a little bit uncomfortable to bother other people while I´m on the window seat, plus on long flights I go to my hand luggage very frequently, to take out a book, to put it back, to take some slippers, to take them out, etc… I´m such a mess hehe…
I always smile, say thank you, and compliment the people I interact with. If I like a necklace or a smile, I let them know. People appreciate honest praise. You might be the friendliest person they meet that day. I don't do it to get upgrades, but it has been known to happen. A ticket agent or desk clerk who hears complaints all day is happy to be treated as a person and shown respect. I do it because I used to do those jobs back in the day. I never regret being nice to people.
To each their own! I would rather have photos that differ to the million identical photos that other people have taken of a place. It’s a souvenir; it’s something to send my family and friends, so they can see I’m safe and happy (my mum definitely wishes I’d take my photos of myself to send her when she misses me!); it’s something I can one day show my grandkids, so I can teach them the importance of travel and show them what I spent my twenties doing.
Long distance, "The next best thing to being there!" I say, "Well, better than nothing anyway." But now, there's a new way of "being there" that I find much more satisfying. SKYPE. Be sure to install Skype on your laptop and use it for video calls home each evening. No built-in camera? You can buy one for as little as $30 if you need to. It is also good for video conference calls back to the office if those are needed (you need the "business" version to conference). I'd highly recommend it.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed versions of them! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
While the external stresses of travel are often outside your control, how you manage them is completely within your control. If you let an unplanned delay throw you into a state of panic or rage, travel can become unbearable. When faced with anything from unending delays to slow-moving crowds, pay attention to your stress levels and take a deep breath, listen to music, or otherwise maintain your calm, and you'll find travel much more bearable regardless of what's thrown your way. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments. I've been threatened with deportation, found myself in Beijing back-alleys and completely lost, extorted, and dropped off at the wrong location with no way to communicate with my driver, but a deep breath and a smile ultimately allowed for recovery.
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.