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Sunday, May 27, 2007

28 Red Hot Travel Tips

1.Dump Your Foreign Currency When checking out at your hotel, first pay your bill with foreign bills and coins, then pay the balance with your credit card. 2. Get Free Web Access If you don't have a laptop, Sears and Kmart have free interent access in CA, HI and 15 other states. Or visit the local public library or the nearest junior or 4 year college library. 3. Pack A Small Portable AM-FM Radio On A Caribbean Cruise AM signals travel easily over water and you'll get to listen to lots of different island music while the ship is in port. 4. Pack A Rubber Jar Opener It works better than tape roller lint brush and takes up hardly an room. 5. Check Out A Hotel,Charter Package Or Cruise Ship Before You Book Ask the hotel or resort whether there will be a wedding or a convention during your stay. On a ship, ask how mature or young the crowd will be, whether there will be singles or children present. For detailed info on cruises, check:www.CruiseCrtic.Com When shopping for cruises, check out www.CruisesOnly.Com ,www.CruiseStar.Com and www.Cruise411.Com If you don't get the price you want, then let cruise brokers fight over you at www.CruiseCompete.Com Brokers bid against each other for your business and you are under no obligation to buy anything! If you book a cruise, make sure you arrive at the port the night before the ship leaves. If your flight gets delayed because of bad weather, the ship will leave without you and it's up to you to catch up. 6. Passport Safety Besides making a copy of your passport, scan it and e-mail it and your itinerary to yourself and someone back home. That way you can always access a copy online. 7. Don't Trust Hotel Ratings 100% Sometimes the difference between a 3 star hotel and a 4 star hotel is a phone in the bathroom. Plus some online hotel photos may date back 20 years, may hide construction, rooms may seem bigger than they are or the room pictured is far better then the one you booked.Always check out what other travelers had to say at: www.TripAdvisor.Com 8. Always Join Loyalty Programs Make it a point to join FREE car rental, hotel or airline or airport lounge loyalty programs even if you just use it one time. You get better treatment and way faster check in and check out times. 9. How To Bid On Priceline Priceline is best for hotels in big cities but stay clear of 2 stars hotels or less. For best results, bid on business hotels for weekend stays,at resort towns for weekday stays,and anywhere off season. To see successful Priceline bids, check out: www.BiddingForTravel.Com c 10.Charter Tour Operators & Consolidators May Have Cheapest Flights Tour operators like Apple, Funjet and Vacation Express that sell packages also sell flights seperately. The downside is that they only leave once a week. So if you miss your flight, you're out of luck. Consolidators buy airlines seats in blocks and re-sell them at a discount. One of the best is www.1800FlyEurope.Com 11. How To Override A Travel Vendor's Voicemail If you get an operator that sounds like an idiot or a jerk, just hang up before you give your name or use a fake name and hang up. Wait a few minutes and then call back. Or visit:www.GetHuman.Com 12. Delete Your Cookies Make sure you delete your cookies every time you visit a travel website. This will keep the site from giving you the same price each time you visit. 13. Always Confirm Always confirm all your reservations, rates, perks and cancellations with a confirmation number and an e-mail. If you don't have proof in writing, it's tough getting a charge off your credit card. 14. Never Pay Cash Never pay cash or even make partial deposits in cash for travel. Always use a credit card. If the tour operator goes broke or something goes wrong, you've got recourse. Always try to use your American Express or Discover card when booking travel. They have a better track record of siding with consumers involving any dispute as compared to other cards. 15. Always Insure Your Trip Even if you are flying within the US and staying with friends or relatives, insure your trip. Reason? In a medical or dental emergency, your health insurance may not cover you outside of your home state. If you get sick or break your leg, you may not want to recover in a hospital hundreds of miles from home. So you may need a medical airlift to your home state. That can easily cost 10 to $25,000. When going abroad, it's imperative to have medical, dental and airlift coverage in a foreign country. Plus new trip insurance policies allow you cancel for any reason including terrorism. The best site to compare costs and buy insurance is: www.InsureMyTrip.Com 16. Never Check Your Bags In this age of terrorism, checking bags and lost luggage are a huge hassles and big time wasters at airports and on criuse ships. Learn to pack light and do laundry at your destination. The other advantage is that you can check in and print your boarding pass 24 hours before you arrive at the airport. Then you can avoid the long check-in lines and go straight through security. If you have to check your bag, mark it with a colorful strap or sticker and take a photo of the bag in case it gets lost. Or you can ship your bags ahead to your hotel or destination via Fed Ex. If you do this yourself, you'll save 50% of what a baggage forwarding service would charge. When you carry your own bags, you can walk right off a plane or a ship and head for home immediately.17. How To Get A Good Seat Always reserve a specific seat when you book a flight or package. Visit www.SeatGuru.Com to check out a plane's worst and best seats. If you end with a bad seat, try to switch to a better one at check-in. If that doesn't work try again at the gate and again when you board the plane. 18. Breeze Through Airport Security At home ,place gels and liquids in 3 oz containers and put them in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Wear slip on shoes, and wear socks. When your 3 people from the front of line, remove everything except your ID and boardpass from your pockets, remove your shoes, take off your jacket and remove your laptop from your bag. You'll breeze right through. 19. Avoid Upscale Hotels Upscale hotels usually charge for phone calls, internet, breakfast, the gym and more. If you book an upscale hotel on the cheap, make sure you inquire as to what's included. Mid range hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Four Points By Sheraton,Coutyard by Marriott, and Hampton Inn include lots of perks for free. 20. Avoid Room Service & Mini Bars Room service food is just fair, over priced and may take forever. To chill out in your room, whip out the phone book and either have a pizza or some other take out delivered to your room. It's way cheaper and faster. Plus don't touch anything in the mini -bar. Modern mini-bars have sensors that know when you remove something. 21. Be Safe Always use the hotel safe to store extra cash, jewelry , airline tickets, and other valuables. And always make it a point to use a money belt even when traveling in the US. 21. Car Rental Tips Alays reserve the least expensive model. If they don't have your car, rental companies always upgrade you to a better model for free. Prepaid gas is for people with expense accounts. Always gas up before you turn your car in. In general, unmarried couples can often skip the extra driver fee. Laws vary by state so make sure you tell the clerk you are domestic partners. Always turn down CDW or collison damage waiver fees. Its a big money maker for car rental companies at $10 to $20 daily. Always use a credit card that covers this for free. Also, if your car insurance policy has collision, you may be covered to drive any car. Ask your insurance company or agent before you book a car. 22. Airline Passenger Rights If you're bumped from a domestic flight and you get on another flight within two hours, the airline must pay you the equivalent of a one-way fare or $200 maximum. If it's more than two hours they got to cough up to $400. Voucher are an option too. If your checked bag is delayed, the airline must cover expenses for toiletries and clothing until it delivers the bag to you. For a lost bag, the carrier must reimburse you up to $3,000. If your hotel is overbooked, it must find you a comparable room nearby at no extra charge. 23. Free Or Low Cost Airport Parking Airport parking frees run about $140 a week or $20 a day. Sometimes, you can park at the far end of an airport hotel parking lot and no one will bother you. Just park your car on the property, and take the hotel shuttle bus to your airline terminal. If that's not an option,go to www.AirportParkingReservations.Com for a list of off-site, low cost parking lots. 24. Try Bribery If you need a special favor, try slipping the front-desk clerk , maitre'd or other service personnel at $20 bill. It goes a long way. But just don't try it with cops, custom or border agents. You might end up in jail. 25. Document Eveything Buy a digital camera with a minimum of one gigabite of memory or make sure your cell phone has a camera. If that's not an option, then buy a disposable flash or video camera at CVS. Then you can snap before pictures of damage to your rental car before you sign off on it, how full the gas tank was when you returned the car, where you parked your car, a ferry schedule or roaches or bed bugs in your hotel room. You can always delete digital photos later. PS The diriest item in any hotel room is the bedspread. As soon as you enter your room, take it off and put it in the corner. If you see bed bugs in your bed, demand a refund, and leave the hotel. If you bring them home, bed bug infestations are difficult to eradicate.26. Avoid Long Lines Some museums such as the Louve in Paris, have more than one entrance. The lesser known ones often have shorter lines. Also, you can purchase tickets at locations other than the end of a long line at the front door. Tickets for Versailles can be purchased in advance at Fnac record stores in France. In Rome, tickets pourcahsed at the Palatine Museum lets you walk right in the Colosseum. Check various guide books for tips before you go. 27. Buy City Passes Most major cities sell ciy passes to majot attractions. For instance, a NYC pass costs $53. But that good for five diferent major attractions that sell for $100 if purchased seperately. 28. Bring It Home Tax Free When returning to the US, Americans can bring back $800 of goods for personal use without paying duties or taxes. For a couple, that's $1600 in tax free goods! You can also send $200 worth of goods per day to yourself at a US address. That's $400 a day for a couple. You can also send duty-free gifts worth up to $100 per person per day to friends and relatives in the US. Keep in mind that shipping rates will vary depending on the country your mailing from. So compare postal rates and insurance to FedEx and UPS rates from the county of origin.