By far the best way to enjoy maximum value in hotel accommodations and rental cars is to buy through one of the opaque agencies, where you either "bid" on a room or car or accept a price "blind" without knowing the hotel or rental company until after you make a nonrefundable purchase. The two biggest opaque agencies are Priceline (bid) and Hotwire (blind price), but several other OTAs now offer opaque options. 

This is an amazing article. I use to travel a lot for my business meetings. I use to stick with same schedule each time. Not planning for some really interesting things to see around. But after reading your article, I am really interested to change my complete schedule to spend some extra time looking around for some interesting local site seeing and food.
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"Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase," says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. Instead of packing a heavy sweater and jeans, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric. Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs, which can be worn as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit coverups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. "There aren't many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck," she says.
When I travel, I am often invited to stay with a local contact. I almost always accept the invitation. Staying in someone's home provides an opportunity to get to know them on a much more intimate personal level. Either I get a home-cooked meal or we eat at the best local restaurants. The closer connection allows for a deeper, more enduring relationship...or pretty fast clarity that it isn't a good match. In any case, it adds an interesting angle to the trip. (The photo is from a recent business trip.)
“Place all your clothes into your bag vertically so it looks more like a filing cabinet; this way you can see all the clothes you have with you without having to lift up or remove the ones on top. From here you not only have a better view (and reminder) of how many shirts or pairs of pants you have but you can also see which shirts (or whatever clothing item) stand out and potentially don’t match your outfits. Remove the oddballs.”
Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.

  As President of Fastport Passport, a passport and visa expediting company, I know that one of the most important changes for 2016 involves adding passport pages. Previously, the U.S. Department of State issued a standard passport with 28 pages (17 of which could be used for visas). As of January 1st, 2016, U.S. travelers who run out of visa pages will no longer have the option to add pages. Travelers must now apply for a
Traveling is a funny thing, it can be the best experience of your life or the worst. The best tip that I can give to ensure that you have the best travel experience possible, is to choose your travel companions really carefully. In my opinion, travel is an opportunity to experience things that you wouldn’t necessarily come across in your daily life.
“For summer travel, choose clothing and fabrics that dry quickly, and if possible, are not too heavy even when wet. Whether from hiking hard or getting caught in a rain storm, wet clothes can add considerable weight to your pack. For colder weather, choose one great outer-layer that will keep everything dry underneath. Also, a trash bag or rain-cover for your entire pack can be essential.”
Never forget to pack multiple power banks/portable phone chargers when traveling for business. Low battery anxiety is real—there’s even a name for it: Nomophobia (Google it!). Please note: low battery anxiety is exacerbated when traveling. There is no reason to land at your destination on 10 percent phone power. As a businessperson, I cannot afford to lose my connection to my customers, social media, email, the outside world. Even a small power bank solves the problem and eliminates unnecessary stress.
If you're going to be traveling routinely, it's worth buying duplicates of key items and leaving them in your travel bag, versus remembering to repack them after using them at home. For me, this is things like laptop and phone chargers, toothbrushes, and basic toiletries. I rarely forget these necessities since I have a travel set that's always in my suitcase or laptop bag.
It may seem touchy-feely, and I've often been guilty of forgetting this admonition, but generally kindness is repaid with kindness, whether it's helping a fellow traveler, or giving a smile and kind word to one of the many travel industry employees you'll come across. It's just as easy to become angry and rude, but you just might get slightly better service and also keep yourself less stressed with a little kindness.
The western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range, defining California’s eastern border, are known as the Gold Country, named after the rich Mother Lode discovered here in the mid-1850s. While gold is still found in the region, new riches include top museums and art in Sacramento, the state capital, plus whitewater rafting, tucked-away towns, farm-fresh dining, and award-winning wines.
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live without your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going au-natural – it’s liberating!)
I am particular about having my toiletries organized and in one place. So, I was excited to find the "Hanging multi pocket cosmetic bag" from The Container Store. The hanging hook is the key to the product. It's great to bring to budget hotels that may not have much sink space. I can hang it on a lamp or on the door, and have my shampoo, perfume, makeup, cotton balls, etc. in one place. This is a travel essential must have!
You can also land a cheaper flight by knowing when to shop. Although not all business travelers have the luxury of planning a trip six weeks in advance in order to catch that well-known Tuesday at 3:00 P.M. trick, most flights are also slightly cheaper just after midnight any night, after all 24-hour holds are lifted. Deleting browser cookies can also work to your advantage, as, with them, ticket prices tend to go up after you’ve visited multiple travel websites.
Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi, or a dog-eared travel guide, download it before your trip.  Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday.  And don’t count on wi-fi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair.  Make sure it’s on a water-resistent covered device (check out Otterbox for some serious protection for your cherished e-reader, phone or tablet).

Autumn (September through November) brings mild weather and, in some parts of the state, spectacular foliage (especially the High Sierra). This is a great time to visit California’s beautiful wine regions during during grape harvest time, known as “the crush” (generally August to October). The San Francisco and North Coast regions, often shrouded in fog during summer, typically see some of their sunniest days during “Indian summer,” (September through October).
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.
I pack lots of scarves. They use practically zero room in a suitcase and are so versatile. They allow me to create multiple outfits from the same top and bottom by providing different colors and textures, and they also can serve as protection against the cold or sun. I have used a scarf as a picnic blanket and as something soft (or protective) to sit on. Also, I pick up scarves wherever I go so it turns into a travel moment, too! Misadventures with Andi

Longing for a long-distance getaway but don't have a passport? You can still jet off to a faraway island overseas. Consider Puerto Rico, officially an unincorporated territory of the United States; the U.S. Virgin Islands, mere minutes from Puerto Rico by plane; Northern Mariana Islands, a collection of Micronesian islands governed by the United States since the Battle of Saipan in 1944; Guam, which is home to a heavy U.S. military presence; and American Samoa, a collection of five volcanic islands and two atolls between Fiji and the Cook Islands.

Longing for a long-distance getaway but don't have a passport? You can still jet off to a faraway island overseas. Consider Puerto Rico, officially an unincorporated territory of the United States; the U.S. Virgin Islands, mere minutes from Puerto Rico by plane; Northern Mariana Islands, a collection of Micronesian islands governed by the United States since the Battle of Saipan in 1944; Guam, which is home to a heavy U.S. military presence; and American Samoa, a collection of five volcanic islands and two atolls between Fiji and the Cook Islands.
"Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase," says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. Instead of packing a heavy sweater and jeans, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric. Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs, which can be worn as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit coverups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. "There aren't many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck," she says.
So many people email me for advice on their itineraries and I nearly always go back to them recommending that they visit half the number of places. You’ll enjoy your trip more if you work in rest days, and you’ll get a better taste for a place if you spend more time in it. Don’t plan a trip that has you jumping from capital city to capital city every few days. And take account of travel time! Don’t be like two nights in Bangok, two nights in Phuket, two nights in Koh Phi Phi, when it’ll take a day to travel between them all, leaving you with one day to actually see those places. Oh, and you’ll likely be jetlagged, too, so you’ll want to take that into account too.

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at patrick.gray@prevoyancegroup.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
When traveling abroad, know the 4 key words that open doors for you in that country's language: Hello, thank you, please, and goodbye. I've used those key words in German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian and have gotten big smiles, lots of friendliness, and superior service. If you can say, "I'm sorry I don't speak French or German or..." in that language and sound like you really mean it, that's the icing on the cake.
If you know that there is a good chance you will be traveling, especially if you will be traveling during a peak season or holiday, start looking into your travel arrangements. Many times, it’s best to book your flight, hotel and car together as you will get a better deal. If you have to travel last minute, there is always the Skiplagged option, but make sure you are fully aware of the stipulations associated with booking travel through such a site. If you find you are booking travel for more than one employee often, it’s best to use a travel management site like American Express Global Travel. I know it doesn’t seem like a cost-effective option for all small businesses, but it is something to consider as they have saved my clients and me the expense of having to change last-minute travel plans.
That’s right, I’m not a carry on bag kind of girl … in fact, I like to OVER pack for fear that I might not have everything with me. My favourite suitcase of all time is the Briggs & Riley suitcase because it’s so massive and they come with a lifetime warranty!! When it comes to packing for the kids, I like to use CINDA B bags! I was first introduced to Cinda B bags when I was on The Bachelor over 10 years ago and have been using them ever since!
Though Amtrak is the largest train service in the state, it’s not the only way to roll. In Northern California, Caltrain has regular service between San Francisco and San Jose. In Southern California, Metrolink offers service on seven regional lines that connect L.A., Ventura County, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Trains dedicated to certain themes and in specific locales, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train, also provide a unique way to see some of California’s premier destinations.
One of my favorite tips for business travel is to get a serviced apartment, especially if the business trip is longer than a couple of weeks. What I like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that I am significantly more comfortable. A good apartment comes with all the amenities such as a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a cozy couch and a tv, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine and a drier.

Make your business travel more enjoyable by combining it with a tax deductible weekend getaway! End your business meeting at noon Friday and enjoy the weekend at your location. Have another business related meeting on Monday, such as with a business associate, a prospect or even a seminar that ties into your business. Bring a spouse with you and deduct 100% of the hotel costs and your meals. Keep records of the reason of your business both before and after the weekend, and keep all receipts.
Duct tape can fix just about anything—including baggage. That's why we picked duct tape as one of the Top 10 Travel Essentials that Cost Less Than $10. Pack duct tape in your bag to protect your bag. Broken zippers, rips, and torn handles can be fixed with a sliver of trusty silver tape. Don't worry. You don't need to pack the whole heavy roll. Pick up a package of travel duct tape before your next trip.
My advice is never to watch a movie on an airplane. By that, I mean to make the most of travel time to work on projects or business-related tasks. An airplane is a great place to get work done because you’re stuck in one spot for an extended period with few options for how to spend it. You literally have people waiting on you! Without the regular distractions of being a workplace, you can get a lot accomplished, especially work that requires deep thought like strategizing or writing. Plan out what you’re going to work on beforehand, so you have any materials you need and aren’t distracted by in-flight entertainment.
Chances are you’re familiar with Google Flights. The flight search engine does everything you assume it would, like locate flights based on your ideal outbound time, inbound time and number of stops. After all, it’s the same technology that powers both Kayak and Orbitz. The site also includes a whole host of features that aren’t so easy to imagine, probably because they’re so unimaginably amazing. In some cases, this online tool can beat out any human travel agent. Don’t believe us? Check out these six tricks.
Before you go on a big trip, it is tempting to try and plan every aspect of it. As tempting as it might seem, make sure to leave plenty of room for serendipity. Try to just plan the skeleton of your trip and leave room in between for discovery and for things to come up which you didn't plan. Talk to other travelers that you meet on the ground and you'll have a much better idea of what you want to do once you land.
Thanks to technology and various services available today, business travel isn’t as cumbersome as it used to be. Most seasoned business travellers even develop travel habits that allow them to travel more efficiently regardless of the timing and travel destination. We spoke to some seasoned travellers and gathered the top 10 tips that will help you travel for business more efficiently as well.
If your business travels become frequent, it may be best to have a travel agent that you trust on call. Doing this allows you and your team to focus more on the activities instead of worrying about transportation and accommodation. They would also be able to give you deals that you would not normally find. However, not all travel agencies are equal. Want to find out how four secrets to picking the right travel agent? Read this article.
Analysts at CheapAir.com reviewed more than 351 million individual airfares sold on more than a million international routes in 2016. They tracked flights from the day they went on sale (usually about 11 months in advance) until the day of takeoff to see when each fare hit its lowest point. The resulting map shows how many days before takeoff you should buy your ticket to score the best deal, on average, depending on your destination. 
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