(Recently posted on CNN)
Don’t be surprised if your favorite city feels a bit more crowded the next time you visit.
(Recently posted on CNN)
Don’t be surprised if your favorite city feels a bit more crowded the next time you visit.
(This article was written by Christine Johnson who has a travel blog called mytravelingkids.com)
Who doesn’t like to save money when possible? Traveling can be expensive, but with the right strategy you can bring down the cost. Try these 15 tips on your next vacation and your wallet will thank you.
1. Look for free activities. If you do a little research, you’ll see there are often lots of free activities in the area. Look at community calendars to see what is going on in town while you are there. Do a self-guided walking tour to familiarize yourself with your destination. Museums often have a ‘pay what you can’ day once a week and sometimes have discounted admission after a certain time of day.
2. Book a room with a refrigerator/microwave or kitchen area.Although some people might not like to cook while on vacation, I don’t mind making breakfast in my room. I love having a cup of coffee on my deck, but room service can be very pricy. I’d rather eat-in for breakfast and lunch and then splurge on a fancy dinner. A microwave and fridge will also be helpful for reheating leftovers.
3. Shop at farmer’s markets and local stores. Farmer’s markets often lower the price of their food towards the end of the day. Also, shopping at local stores allows you to taste the local cuisine without having to pay the price of a restaurant. Buy some local fish and cook it up at your condo.
4. Before you book, be aware of the location of where you’re staying.Transportation can add up quickly, so you may want to stay in a central location. Ideally, somewhere you can walk everywhere would work best. If you’re staying in a city, will you be near a subway or bus stop?
5. Carry snacks/water during outings. Kids will need snacks while you are exploring, and it drives me crazy to spend money on silly snacks. Throw some granola bars in your bag and pull them out when the kids need fuel. Don’t even get me started on how much I hate spending money on bottled water when I can buy an entire case for the same amount. Always carry your own water. However, splurge when it comes to treats that you can only find in that location.
6. Use points or miles. Chain hotels, like Hilton and Marriott, have a reward system that give you points for staying there and they are great to use for free overnight stays. When traveling, try to exclusively stay at those hotels and fly the same airlines to build your points.
7. Look for city tourism cards. Depending on the card, you can gain free entry to top visitor attractions, discounts at restaurants and shops, skip-the-line options at busy attractions, free public transportation, and even free guidebooks. Depending on your itinerary, it might be worth the money.
8. Don’t get the best room. How much time are you actually going to use your room? Will you just be sleeping there? Do you need a room with a good view or so much extra space? Will you use the amenities, such as a pool or a fitness room?
9. Be flexible when flying. If you are not on a tight schedule, can you be flexible with the time of day you fly, the number of stops, or your seat selection? Do you mind having a long layover? If possible, check the dates of your trip and see if the price would go down if you tweaked the dates a bit.
10. Stay outside a city. You often pay for location, and it’s sometimes cheaper to stay away from areas with big tourist attractions. You can always go to the attractions and then head back to your hotel to sleep.
11. Rent an apartment instead of having to get two rooms. My friends with three or more kids are often complaining how expensive it is to stay in a hotel because they need to get adjoining rooms. An apartment or condo is often much cheaper. I love to use VRBO, HomeAway, and have even used TripAdvisor.
12. Go off season. You can usually find cheaper plane tickets and hotel rooms by going off season, and there may be more availability. You will not have to deal with large crowds and attractions could also be cheaper at that time. Just make sure places are open.
13. Have a big lunch. Restaurants often offer lunch specials with less expensive prices. You could also buy extra food at lunch and save it for dinner later.
14. Don’t eat in areas that are close to tourist destinations. In some cities, walking just a few blocks can slash prices at restaurants. I try to never eat at attractions because they tend to raise the price to their captive audience.
15. Create a budget and stick to it! Know when to save and when to splurge. We always eat at a nice restaurant on our last night of vacation. Look for ways to save money but also treat yourself during the trip. Having a budget is a wonderful way to keep yourself on track.
What are your tips for saving money while traveling?
Break out those reading glasses.
Read up on your destination. Be aware of any visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical systems in the country—or countries—you plan to visit, all of which can inform next steps of your preparation.
Flip through your passport.
Make sure that little blue (or green, red, or black) book is up to date. All passports should be valid for up to six months from your exit date in the country, and should have at least two blank pages. (Not all countries require six months of validity, but as other travelers learned the hard way, it pays to be safe.)
(Now make a copy of it.)
Copy the page that has your photo and full name on it, and keep these copies in separate places—at the bottom of your bag in different pieces of luggage, or even with different people who may be traveling with you. Leave one copy of your passport at home, with coworkers if on a work trip, and to take extra precautions, leave one with an emergency contact. Really nervous about your passport getting stolen? In the odd chance that you need to replace your passport, have photos at the ready and bring extras with you, too.
Get a visa.
If you need one, that is…
Research Travel Warnings or Travel Alerts.
Both may affect your travel plans. As previously reported by Traveler, travel alerts are issued on the heels of specific, one-off events. According to the State Department, examples of reasons for issuing an alert might include an election season that could mean strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. Travel warnings, meanwhile, are a broad-reaching caution, and may stem from unstable governance, extenuating circumstances, frequent violence and terrorist attacks, or civil war. (It also helps to check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be traveling for the latest, local security messages.)
Make sure you get a shot (or five).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommendations for vaccines you should get before you head abroad, as well as note other health precautions travelers should take.
Read the fine print on your medical insurance.
Reach out to your medical insurance provider and ask if your policy covers overseas emergencies. If the answer is no, consider how long you’ll be gone for, what you’ll be doing, and adding extra coverage through supplemental insurance plans.
Manage your money.
Create a travel alert on your bank’s website, via phone, or in person to let them know what dates you’ll be traveling, where you’ll be traveling, and what cards you’ll be using. Research exchange rates. Research your destination. Are ATMs easy to find? Do most places—even in the middle of nowhere—take credit cards? Get answers before you’ve ordered two tacos al pastor in Mexico City—and are wondering how you’ll pay.
Get a letter.
Traveling alone with a child? Foreign officials may require proof of custody or written consent from the other parent. Bringing medication? Get a note from your doctor, as some countries may have different laws.
Figure out your phone plan.
Research phone plans in other countries, and see if it’s cheaper to get a local SIM card and use a new number and carrier service, or shell out for an international roaming plans. If you’re only going on a short trip, or looking to save money, turn your phone on Airplane mode and use Wi-Fi to call via Skype or WhatsApp.
Dive deep into the world of adapters and converters.
You’ve got to charge that iPhone, after all, and not all plugs are alike. Research sockets in the places you’re visiting, and invest in adapters or portable chargers that can be charged off of your laptop via USB. (This luggage will charge your phone, too.)
Talk to the post office.
Gone for more than a week? Put your mail on hold—a pile of letters and packages have been known to go missing, and notify would-be burglars that you’re not home.
Enroll in STEP.
An oft-overlooked State Department resource, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, is a free service that lets users register trips and get messages relevant to their trip area and dates of passage.
Here’s how it works: After booking their flights and hotels, travelers enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and provide requisite information—think name, date of birth, passport number, travel dates, email addresses and phone numbers, and an emergency contact. Once you’ve filled in your information, you’ll receive warnings, alerts, notifications, and news about where you’re traveling, or may even be contacted by family members having difficulty getting in touch with you while abroad. And while larger travel alerts and warnings often appear in the news by themselves, these local messages from STEP (received via email) can be helpful in detailing specific safety, security, and practical travel information relevant to specific dates and destinations.
Jot down the number of the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate with you, in English and the local language: All provide emergency help 24/7 overseas and in Washington, D.C.
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Summer travel season is here!
Some aviation experts are predicting a record 234.1 million passengers will travel the world on United States-based airlines between June 1 and August 31.
We put so much thought into booking flights and hotels and packing our bags, that we sometimes overlook important things at home before we hit the road.
Today’s “Lauren’s List” has some helpful hints of what you should be doing any time you leave town for a few days or more.
1. Give Your Bank Notice- No one wants to hear those dreadful words, “I’m sorry. Your card was denied.” Especially not while on vacation. If you planned ahead, you should have plenty of cash, but you can avoid that headache all together if you just call your bank ahead of time to let them know you will have some unusual activity from a specific location that isn’t your hometown. This is especially important when traveling abroad, but even just across state lines. My card was waived for fraud once because of a $10 bagel and coffee in New York City!
2. Unplug- We usually try to unplug while on vacation by stepping away from our smartphones and tablets. But in this case, I mean you should literally unplug those appliances and electronics that could be sucking up power while you’re out of town. Kitchen gadgets, TVs and DVD players don’t need to be plugged in when they’re not in use.
3. Keep Up Appearances- Make sure to put your mail on hold or have someone set to pick it up. If your grass is due to be cut, make sure the lawn service still shows up as planned. Also, rather than just leaving your porch light on at all hours, set a timer so it goes on and off at the usual times. Another interesting tip, security experts actually suggest leaving some blinds partially open. If all the blinds are closed, it looks like no one is home. Just make sure you can’t see any expensive electronics through the blinds you do leave open.
4. Prep Food For Homecoming: This may seem counter-intuitive, but now that I’ve read up on it, I’m definitely doing this for my next trip. Definitely get rid of anything that will expire while you’re gone, but it stinks to get home to an empty fridge after a long travel day. You probably don’t want to cook, or spend even more money on take out, but if you have a meal prepped, frozen and ready to just throw in the oven, it will definitely make for a nice homecoming. Even better, have some frozen breakfast ready for the next day too, so you don’t have to wake up extra early just to go to the store.
What’s on your list of things to do before going on vacation?
Tell me on Facebook or Twitter.
(Recently published in Travel Agent blog)
51 percent of U.S. vacationers admit they’re more stressed today compared to a year ago, and it’s causing more than one in three (37%) to cancel or delay their trip, according to a new survey by Wyndham Vacation Rentals.
The new study aims to identify what’s holding U.S. travelers back from being vacation-ready – that state of mind where they feel liberated from the rigors of daily life and ready to enjoy their time off, Wyndham said. Respondents identified the most common travel pain points, from planning and packing to relationship challenges:
“Times have changed and the daily demands of everyday life have travelers thinking differently about vacation,” said Gail Mandel, CEO, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, in a written release.
The survey revealed the following ways travelers can make their vacation stress-free:
With the overload of vacation planning information available today, nearly half (48%) of all respondents said having a ready-made vacation itinerary would reduce stress.
(This was recently published in Travel Agent Central)
Looking for a good sales hook? Many travelers are looking to experience destinations that are in danger of disappearing, according to a new report.
U.S. adults who have traveled during the past year feel it is important to visit “vanishing destinations” before they disappear, according to the latest travelhorizons survey of 2,300 U.S. adults conducted by travel marketing organization MMGY Global.
In the survey, “vanishing destinations” include the Great Barrier Reef, Glacier National Park and Venice, Italy. Nearly four in 10 feel it is very to extremely important to visit these destinations. MMGY said that this trend is most prominent with Millennials, the affluent and those with college degrees or higher.
The level of importance of visiting vanishing destinations seems to decrease with age, MMGY said. Half (51 percent) of Millennial travelers feel it is important, significantly more than all other generations, followed by nearly four in ten Xers (37 percent) and one quarter of Young Boomers (27 percent). Those with an annual household income of $100,000 or more display the highest level of importance to visit vanishing destinations. Similarly, interest tends to decrease as household income decreases. Four in ten travelers with an annual household income of $150,000 or more (42 percent) and $100,000 – $149,999 (39 percent) feel it is important to visit these destinations. More than four in ten (44 percent) of travelers with a college degree or higher feel it is important to visit vanishing destinations, significantly more than those with partial college education (32 percent) or a high school diploma or less (27 percent).
U.S. travelers were also asked about the impact of climate change on their decision to visit destinations that are affected, MMGY said. Four in ten (40 percent) U.S. travelers report climate change does impact their vacation destination decisions. Millennials, travelers with an annual household income of $50,000 – $149,999 and travelers with a college degree or higher are most likely to consider climate change when making destination decisions. More than half of Millennials (53 percent) report climate change impacts their decision, significantly more compared to other generations (Xers: 37 percent, Young Boomers: 30 percent, Older Boomers: 28 percent, Matures: 23 percent). More than four in ten travelers with an annual household income of $50,000 – $99,999 (43 percent) or $100,000 – $149,999 (43 percent) report climate change has an impact, followed by 38 percent with an annual household income under $30,000, 35 percent with $30,000 – $49,999 and 34 percent with $150,000 or more. Half of travelers with a college degree or higher (49 percent) report that climate change has an impact, significantly more than those with lower education levels (some college: 31 percent, high school diploma: 30 percent).
Every day millions of bars of soap and half-used bottles of shampoo are discarded in hotel shower trays around the world; abandoned by guests who didn’t stay long enough to use them up.
Many of these toiletries are scooped up by chambermaids, thrown into bin bags and sent off to landfill sites, which is a disaster for the environment and a social travesty given that many people around the world are going without proper sanitation.
The figures are startling: according to the World Health Organisation, millions of lives could be saved if the planet’s poorest people had access to soap, a humble product that most of us take for granted.
If only there was a way of diverting all those leftover toiletries to the people who need them most. Cue Shawn Seipler, a Florida-based entrepreneur who quit his high-profile job at a major tech company to recycle hotel toiletries. This unlikely career change began one night when Seipler found himself on the road with work.
“I called the front desk of the hotel and asked them what happened to the soap when I was done with it,” he told Telegraph Travel. “Of course they said ‘well we throw it away’.”
So Seipler did some [back-of-the-envelope] calculations and concluded that millions of half-used bars of soap were being sent to landfill daily around the world. He was also aware that poor sanitation was killing millions of people in the developing world.
“I had a eureka moment,” he said. So, in 2009, Seipler started collecting leftover toiletries from Florida’s hotels, which he began recycling in a relative’s garage in Orlando. Clean the World was born.
“We would sit around on upside down pickle buckets with potato peelers and scrape the outside of bars of soap to surface clean them,” Seipler recalled. “We had meat grinders to grind down the soap, cookers to cook it into a paste and soap moulds, which we poured the paste into.”
This laborious process is now fully automated (including the addition of an antibacterial agent, which kills any germs) and Clean the World has now distributed more than 40 million bars of soap to impoverished people in 115 countries.
The organisation has recycling centres in Orlando, Vegas, Montreal and Hong Kong and is currently looking to open a fifth in Europe (there are already collection centres in Birmingham and Hanover).
Clean the World has behemoths such as Hilton, Disney and IHG on its books. It charges them £1 per room per month and in return those companies get a chance to demonstrate some corporate social responsibility.
“We now have 303 hotels participating in the programme,” said Paul Snyder, vice president of corporate responsibility at IHG.
“Clean the World has recycled 603,810lbs of soap and amenity waste from our hotels which has helped create more than 1.9 million bars of soap.”
Most of the hotels taking part in the programme are based in North America, but Clean the World has started working with some European hotels. In fact London Heathrow Marriott recently enlisted the services of the organisation.
Other hotels have started introducing their own processes to minimise waste. TheHoxton, which has properties in Shoreditch, Holborn and Amsterdam, told Telegraph Travel that it has done away with individual toiletries.
“We’ve recently switched to using larger shampoo and conditioner dispensers in our rooms, which we refill to reduce waste,” said Alice Tate, Hoxton’s communications manager.
The Marriott has also introduced refillable dispensers at some properties, but guests shouldn’t necessarily be waiting for hotels to make the first move. In fact there’s something simple travellers can do with leftover toiletries that will leave them with clean consciences as well as bodies.
“Take them with you,” said Seipler. “Use them at home or donate them to a homeless shelter.”
Baby Boomers are set to account for a rising share of luxury travel as the generation continues to retire, according to new data shared at Virtuoso’s annual Symposium in Vancouver, British Columbia.
According to a presentation by keynote speaker Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., CEO of Age Wave, households headed by those 65 years and older have more than 21 times the median wealth of households headed by people under 35.
From a travel perspective, the figures become even more resonant, Virtuoso said. Consumers 50 years of age and over account for 33 percent of the population, yet they are responsible for 51 percent of entertainment expenses, 53 percent of airfare expenditures, 59 percent of lodging expenditures, 70 percent of all disposable income, 74 percent of ship fares, 76 percent of total net worth, and 92 percent of all affluent households. What’s more, those aged 55 and older will soon face time affluence like the world has never experienced, with 2.5 trillion hours of leisure time over the next 20 years.
Dychtwald shared data from the joint Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study his group produced. With plenty of downtime ahead of them, Dychtwald stated that 47 percent of retirees are most excited about their newfound ability to travel. They are in search of peak experiences (48 percent) and adventure (45 percent), with 95 percent of retirees saying they prefer to have more enjoyable experiences than more things. His message to the Virtuoso travel agency executives in the audience: optimize invaluable expertise. Dychtwald said that travel agents are poised to become more important than ever, as they help clients imagine their dreams by reimaging tomorrow’s travel marketplace, and provide an unseen layer of safety and protection during the actual travel experience.
During another keynote presentation Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch built on Age Wave’s research and zeroed in on the scalability of loyalty at a time when interrupting the trust that comes from genuine human connections appears to be the primary driver of so many travel organizations, Virtuoso said. He shared that when the ownership of the coveted client is at stake, scaling loyalty and creating a system that expands while also growing allegiance must be the goal. Success comes from combining both the structural and emotional components of loyalty.
Upchurch talked of the opportunity facing the luxury travel industry, citing the emerging customer base and an IATA statistic showing anticipated air passengers nearly doubling to 7.2 billion by 2035, as well as the growth of the cruise industry and the innumerable niche products. And while there have never been more choices, consumers are looking for someone to simplify their lives as they become even more overwhelmed by information. They are turning to travel advisors to make their lives more secure and fun.
Said Upchurch, “Today we are in the era of exponential choices. We’re swimming in options and there are so many more products. The goal for all of us should be enduring loyalty, which is not to be confused with repeat business. It’s building lifetime connections and lifetime value.”
Continued Upchurch, “There is a legitimate commodity play based on price, convenience and accessibility, but this is not what we in the luxury and experiential business are working to create. Points and cards are everywhere. They’ve become a new currency, which, like real money, can increase and decrease in value. We want to scale enduring loyalty – experiences worth paying for.”
Upchurch went on to say that structural components like mobile apps that register guests provide new conveniences and reward behaviors, but to some degree have created a structural arms race within the industry. However, he pointed out, human beings don’t make decisions solely on facts, points or price. They make choices largely based on emotions, quoting Harvard Business Review’s The New Science of Customer Emotions: “On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied ones.”
Human connection matters and it is this desire that has fueled the growth of travel advisors as a profession. Luxury and experiential customers come with high value and high expectations. Structurally, they want things to be fast, efficient, productive and in the way they like to communicate. They also want the personal touch, and to feel cared for.
Upchurch called on Virtuoso’s partners to elevate and integrate the next phase of the digital revolution, going from a direct-only bias to compensating on the whole. He surmised that scaling loyalty will take a combination of game-changing elements, including synchronizing structural systems like data conformity and providing assets that support travel agencies as they develop their own systems to support their advisors and the many ways they go to market.
Lastly, he concluded by restating that authentic human connections amongst its travel agencies and preferred partners make a notable difference in how his network’s customers experience travel. And the power to scale loyalty begins with the everyday touchpoints that occur before, during and after the trip. The emerging advisory sector will co-create the peak experiences of the future and uncover new opportunities. And the emerging customer, with unprecedented wealth, time and need for powerful experiences, will lead to the sustainability of the travel industry as an economic powerhouse and a force for good.
Viking Ocean Cruises is continuing its run of expansion with an order for two new cruise ships, set to be delivered in 2021 and 2022.
The order is part of a memorandum of agreement the cruise line just signed with Fincantieri. The memo also includes an option for two additional cruise ships.
The new ships will be the same size as the current three ships in the line’s ocean fleet: Viking Sea, Viking Star and Viking Sky, which just made its debut in February. The new ships will have a capacity of 930 passengers in 465 all-balcony cabins, and will be the same design as the line’s current ocean ships.
Designed by the same team responsible for Viking’s fleet of river-going Viking Longships, Viking’s ocean ships incorporate details that pay homage to its Nordic heritage. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer options for al fresco dining; huge windows and skylights let in light; and a wrap-around promenade deck is available for strolling. Dining options range from the World Café, which serves global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; to Mamsen’s Norwegian-style deli. The Chef’s Table celebrates cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant serves Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.
The announcement follows a run of recent expansion for the cruise line. In addition to the February launch of Viking Sky, Viking Ocean Cruises is set to launch its fourth ship, Viking Sun, this November. On the river side, Viking River Cruises just christened two new Longships, Viking Herja and Viking Hild, in Koblenz, Germany, last month. Also coming up for the river cruise line is new cruises on the Nile set for 2018 onboard the Viking Ra.
In terms of onboard experiences, the line just launched a new Viking Resident Historian program onboard the Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, aimed at providing guests with an onboard educational experience tailored to their itinerary.