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Thread: Travel tips

  1. #1
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    Travel tips

    I thought, since I travel so much, others might as well, and we might have some good tips for the not-so-frequent traveler, to make life easier. Throw your tips in here!

    Here are a few of mine, I'm sure I'll remember more later:

    1) Don't use wake-up calls or the hotel alarm clock. Your cellphone probably has an alarm on it. Use it, or bring a small alarm clock. There's nothing more frustrating than not getting woken up in time.

    2) Always, always, go to the gate desk, and ask if you can have an exit-row seat or bulkhead. I'm tall (6' 7"), but if you're not, make up a good reason. Once in a while, you'll get bumped to first class, and you'll almost always get at least an exit row seat.

    3) Most car rental places have annual fees for their "premium service". Not Thrifty. It's free, and in most airports it allows you to bypass lines, and it quite frequently gets you much better cars than you've reserved. I can't tell you how many times I've reserved something smallish only to be bumped to a Chrysler 300M or a Pacifica.

    4) If you've got premium status with one hotel chain, call the one you want and ask for an upgrade. They'll want a copy of your card or stay history with the other chain, but they'll usually make you a deal. When I first started traveling, I was staying in Holiday Inns, and got platinum with their chain. I called Hilton, and they gave me Diamond VIP status after looking at my stay history, and I've never looked back. Hilton Diamond VIP has saved my butt more than once when I've had the last flight of the night cancelled, and had to stay an extra night somewhere. I just call them, and they hook me up in a previously "unavailable" hotel. I even showed up in Vegas one weekend with no reservations, everything was booked, but my VIP status got me a room for the weekend at 2am on a Saturday morning when everyone else was booked.

    5) The first thing you do when you get to your hotel is hang everything in the bathroom, turn the shower on its hottest setting, and close the door. Let it run for a half hour or so, and then move everything to the closet. It's all wrinkle-free, and ready for however long you're at your destination. Don't live out of a suitcase - it's bad for your mental health.

    6) If you're changing time zones, set EVERYTHING to your new time zone immediately, preferably while you're on the airplane. You'll never sleep well unless you force yourself into that time zone and get on their schedule. Make yourself go to bed at a reasonable local time, and get up on their time as well.

    7) Check in on-line. Seriously, this is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Go to the library or a friend's house if you have no printer, but DO IT. A TSA friend of mine informed me that you'll never be "randomly selected" for additional screening if you have an on-line boarding pass, and my bountiful experience has borne that out. It's quick, it's easy, and it saves you time.

    8) If you're traveling with a carry-on, and it's a small plane (i.e. they mention something about green tags over the loudspeaker), go get a green tag for your carry-on. You're going to need to check it. Take anything important out, and put it in your purse or laptop case. Don't worry, it'll be unloaded and waiting for you next to the plane when you land, but don't slow down the rest of the line by having to green-tag it WHILE you're boarding.

    I guess that's enough for now. I'll post some more when it's not 1am

  2. #2
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    I thought of some other tips, some of which I've posted previously.

    1) Use www.itasoftware.com to check flight prices, if you don't care who you fly. It's free, and it will GUARANTEED find you the lowest price available on any airline.

    2) Use www.seatguru.com to find out which seats suck before choosing a seat. It's a lifesaver for someone as tall as I am.

  3. #3
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    I like the seatguru.com one John. I'll have to start using that. At 6'3" i have that leg room problem also.
    One simple thing I keep swearing I'm going to do but never have is marking my luggage with some distinctive tape, stickers or something. There are far too many black tote bags out there on the carousel at baggage claim.

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    Hypermediocrity Amanda's Avatar
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    That's a good one, Unklescott. I have pretty generic luggage, but I snipped a piece of yarn off of a relatively bright pink scarf I have, and tied it to my luggage. It helps identify it a lot.

    I've seen other people use really elaborate Christmas ribbons, and that always seems like a good idea too.

  5. #5
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    Good idea, Unk. You can also buy paint markers, and just put your name on it pretty large on both the front and back.

    As far as luggage goes, I've been through a lot of it in my traveling career. I've found that the single-bar handle ones don't work well. They break quickly (the first one I bought broke on the way to the train station, 2 block away, in Chicago). Get one with 2 bars going out to the handle. If you have a laptop case too, it won't spin around, and it won't break as easily.

    I've been lucky - I've only lost my luggage once in the 6 years I've been traveling extensively (last year, I was on the road 44 out of 52 weeks), and it appeared 3 days later. I've learned to throw at least some undies and socks in my carry-on just in case, along with whatever pills I need.

  6. #6
    FORT Fogey Cornedbeef's Avatar
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    If you are travelling to a city for the first time use www.fodors.com to find museums, restaurants, boutiques, bars and other points of interest. It is always better doing this in advance than trying to decide once you get there.
    Last edited by Cornedbeef; 02-18-2007 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Removed hppt address

  7. #7
    That's all folks! Unklescott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John;2245876;
    As far as luggage goes, I've been through a lot of it in my traveling career. I've found that the single-bar handle ones don't work well. They break quickly (the first one I bought broke on the way to the train station, 2 block away, in Chicago). Get one with 2 bars going out to the handle. If you have a laptop case too, it won't spin around, and it won't break as easily.
    And make sure the bars aren't exposed. They should be encased in the piece of luggage itself and telescope out when the handle is released as they can get broken when being loaded and bounced around in the cargo section. That's one I learned the hard way with a cheap bag I had once.

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    I'm going to need some advice for when I take a trip later this spring. I am on medication (it's not insulin) that needs to be kept cold at all times. It's injectable, so I will also have to travel with a stash of needles. I won't pack the needles in my checked luggage because if they get lost I can't get replacements without a prescription. Well, I guess any pharmacy could call my doctor or I could get backup prescriptions to take along... but I don't want to deal with that in a strange city. It could be tricky though, keeping this cold during the flight and in the hotel unless I can get a room with a small refrigerator. I guess I can always get some ice on the plane. I'm kind of answering my own questions here.

  9. #9
    Premium Member DesertRose's Avatar
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    Marley, when I travelled to Italy last year, my son was 7 months and had to be bottle fed. Of course, the milk had to stay cold. I called the Airline (Air France) who assured me that they would be able to keep the milk in their fridge on the plane. They were very accomodating. I'm sure they would do it for your meds too. I think the trick is to ask them ahead of time and not spring it on them.

  10. #10
    Scrappy Spartan Broadway's Avatar
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    Most hotel rooms will have a small refrigerator, Marleybone, but it wouldn't hurt to call the hotel first just to confirm.

    On the flight, take along a cooler type lunch bag with the ice pack and make sure you have your medical prescription and doctor's information out and readily available to explain what the medicine is. Perhaps in a plastic baggie in the cooler. And I'd definitely call ahead to the airline to have them tell you exactly what you need to do to avoid hassle through security.
    Never let the things you want make you forget about the things you have.

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