Resources to Help Take the Stress Out of Holiday Travel

It’s the most wonderful time of year but despite the merriment all around, it may not seem like it for some. That’s because sometimes the holiday travel season brings more stress than we bargain for. Between scurrying around plan last minute travel, there are gifts to pack, a budget to track and children to keep calm on that long flight your final destination. If you are feeling frazzled, here are a few tips to get your through your holiday travels.

Take Advantage of Apps
Are you still looking for flight and hotel deals through individual websites? To find the best deals quickly, download apps like Hipmunk which simultaneously compare flight/hotel prices from sites like Booking.com, Travelocity, Priceline, AirBnB and others, allowing you to quickly select the best deal for the day and time you plan to travel.1

Ship your Presents Home
Planning to pack gifts in your suitcase and unpack them when you get to your destination? Don’t do it. Instead, pack all your gifts in a box and ship it to you final destination. This will save you time in the security line and the hassle of paying to check additional bags. This is the perfect solution that can work for gifts you plan to give and the gifts you get!

Credit Card Points and Gift Cards
Traveling can be expensive, especially for families. Before you book your trip, check to see how many points you have on your credit card and if you can use those points towards flight tickets, a hotel or rental car. Who knows… you may be able to travel to grandma’s house for a very low cost.

Be Flexible
If your family can be flexible, plan to travel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It’s well known that traveling on the holiday itself can get you cheaper flights and welcome you with a sparsely populated airport which means less stress getting to your destination.1

Buy a Travel Insurance Plan
Let’s face it. Sometimes even the most well laid out holiday trips sometimes don’t go as planned. Flights get cancelled, luggage gets lost and people get sick. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Remember to pack a travel insurance plan this holiday season. Most plans come with 24/7 assistance services to help you re-book cancelled/delayed flights, hotels and find missing luggage so that you can have a stress-free holiday.


1 https://www.everydollar.com/blog/save-time-and-money-travel-tips

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Etiquette Tips for Air Travel

Choosing to travel to your destination by air can offer the convenience of a faster arrival time and fewer variables to worry about. Unfortunately, air travel may also expose travelers to a host of bad travel behavior from others. While a lot of these antics aren’t meant to offend fellow travelers, they can jostle the mind of even the most patient person. If you’d like to set a good example for your cabin mates, here are a few things to keep in mind while traveling by plane.

Boarding
When most airlines begin boarding, passengers are boarded according to the zone in which they will sit. People who have special needs or who have earned the right to board first (or have paid to do so) are the first allowed on the plane. When the attendants begin to announce that your flight is boarding, be sure to adhere to boarding rules and get on the plane in an orderly fashion. If possible, try not to crowd the walkways around your gate, so that other travelers may easily pass through on their way to their own flights!

Overhead Compartments
After you board the plane, you can put your carry-on luggage in one of the overhead bins. The etiquette in this situation has to do with what a traveler plans to store in this area. If you have a large piece of carry-on luggage, go ahead and put it in the bin. If you have a purse, a coat, or a regular-sized backpack, stow it under the seat in front of you. There is limited space in overhead compartments and that space should be reserved for items that don’t fit under the seat. When you limit the space you use above your seat, you leave more space for those who really need the overhead bins.

Before You Recline
Who knew a small button on the side of an airline seat could be so controversial? While you have the right to recline if your seat has that option (those in exit rows do not), doing so can invade the space of the person behind you and make that person’s flight decidedly less enjoyable. If you need to lay the seat back, talk to the person behind you and let him or her know that you need to recline. This at least gives your fellow passenger time to return that seatback tray to the upright position or stash that bottle of water so it doesn’t get hit.

Electronic Devices
Check the volume on your electronic devices before you kick back and relax. Sometimes, even when your earbuds are in, the sound may seem loud to your seatmate. Before viewing adult content, try to consider whether your device may be in the line of sight of young children or others who may feel uncomfortable as a result.

Scent Free
Some people don’t have a tolerance for strong scents in perfumes or lotions, and when they smell those scents, they can get headaches, migraines or a general feeling of malaise. As you don’t know who will board or sit near you, be sure to forgo putting on your favorite scented products until after you reach your destination.

Disembarking
When the plane finally lands, most people are anxious to get off of it. While you may be tempted to jump out of your seat and rush to the front of the plane after it reaches the gate, try to wait your turn. Allow the people in rows in front of you to leave first; it’s the courteous thing to do and allows everyone to exit in an orderly fashion. Alternatively, a flight attendant may ask that you let passengers with tight connections debark first, regardless of where they’re seated; keep in mind that you’d hope for the same privilege if you were in their situation.

Moving Sidewalks
Moving sidewalks can be a relief to many time-crunched or weary travelers. When you use moving sidewalks, always make sure to adhere to the rules on the sign. If you are not in a rush, be aware of your surroundings and allow rushed travelers the room they need to get by quickly. If you are in a rush, be courteous and respectful of slower-moving travelers.

It’s not always an unruly seatmate that throws a wrench into your trip. Sometimes, it’s an unforeseen medical emergency, lost luggage or a cancelled flight. For the times when an unexpected travel mishap may occur (potentially anytime), remember to pack a travel insurance plan from Travel Guard. A travel insurance plan with 24/7 assistance may help to take some of that stress off your mind so you can concentrate on enjoying your vacation. Travel Guard’s ’round the clock assistance team can go to work on your behalf to re-book flights and hotels, help find lost luggage, and more. Plus, a comprehensive travel insurance plan offers coverage for contingencies such as travel delays due to inclement weather, trip cancellation/interruption, and medical expenses so that you may travel with confidence

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Money-saving Tips for Booking Last-Minute Holiday Travel

It’s that time of the year again – the time when travelers start thinking about where they’ll be spending the holidays. If you’ve booked holiday travel before, you know that this time of year may be associated with rising travel costs. So how do you score good deals with the holiday fast approaching? Check out these simple tips to save money on your travel this holiday season.

Fly on the Holiday
If you want to travel in relative peace, avoid crowds, and score a deal on flight tickets, you may want to consider flying to your destination on the holiday itself. Often, the most expensive days to travel are the days before and after the holiday, because that’s when most people travel.1 If you can work family gatherings around flying on the actual holiday, you’ll likely end up with a happy family and a happy wallet!

Research is Key

Sometimes, the best fares are unadvertised, so searching websites on your own is wise when you’re seeking the cheapest flights.1 However, don’t limit your search to a single website – try multiple aggregator sites in addition to airline sites and online travel agencies in order to find the best deal.

 Act Fast

It’s no surprise that flight prices continue to rise as the actual holiday gets closer. Therefore, if you aren’t flying on the holiday, you may obtain the most economical fare by booking as soon as you see a reasonable deal.

Coupons and Deals

No matter when you decide to travel, discounts abound if you know where to look. Need a coupon f or travel? There are apps for that. There are also a lot of deals you may find with a simple Google search. Before you pay full price for your last-minute travel, poke around and see what you can find.

 Ship Gifts and Extra Luggage

A deal isn’t always a deal if you need to shell out extra cash for numerous checked bags. During the holiday season, consider shipping gifts and extra luggage to your destination. Taking this step will help you save on checked luggage costs and alleviate the need to lug all that extra baggage around.

Consider Travel Insurance

We know, we know…travel insurance is an additional cost. But you know what’s an even bigger cost? Having to fork over money for an unexpected medical emergency, lost luggage, or the need to re-book a new flight if your original one has been cancelled. Plus, many travel insurance plans come with 24/7 assistance services to re-book flights and hotels on your behalf.

For more tips on holiday travel savings, check out this article on USNews.com.

 1 http://www.travelzoo.com/from-the-deal-experts/tips-for-booking-thanksgiving-airfare-this-year/

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6 Scary Places You’ll Love to Visit

Looking for a little excitement on your next vacation? October is a great time to hit haunted spots around the world. You may think you’re not afraid of ghosts, but when you catch a glimpse of a hazy figure in the distance or see the eerie flicker of lights at one of these notoriously haunted spots, you might sing a different tune. We’ve compiled some tips, below, on the best haunted destinations around, so check them out (if you dare).

Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam

Located near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, the Cu Chi tunnels initially were developed as a way to house troops, transport supplies and lay booby traps in a war against the French. Years later, the same tunnels were expanded and used against American and South Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam War. The residents of Chu Chi slept, ate, wed, and even gave birth in the tunnels to avoid enemy detection.1 To get to this site, you’ll need to be prepared for a 2.5-hour drive from the city, but the tunnels’ intricate weaving is worth the effort. The immaculate Cao Dai Temple is nearby, so you can make a day of it!

 One if by Land, Two if by Sea in New York

One if by Land, Two if by Sea is an upscale restaurant in New York City’s West Village, which is said to be haunted by former Vice President Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia.2 But they aren’t your typical vengeful specters; at this restaurant, the ghosts are practical jokers. Earrings of female patrons have been known to go missing and plates have gone flying for seemingly no reason. Ironically, the restaurant is also a famous place for romance – according to its website, more people are said to have announced their engagement there than at any other restaurant in Manhattan.

Capuchin Crypt in Rome, Italy

3,700. That’s the number of skeletal remains you’ll find at the Capuchin Crypt in Rome. The remains, which belonged to Capuchin friars, are located beneath the church of Santa Maria and they’ve been there since 1631. It was in that year that the monks moved to the church and brought many deceased friars with them to be arranged in a burial crypt. Over the years, long-dead friars were exhumed to make room for their recently deceased counterparts and their bones were placed intricately into extravagant arrangements that added to the crypt’s design. Visitors to the crypt will note chandeliers and bone designs adorning the walls in superior artistry.

Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio

Ash Cave is known for its beautiful landscape, waterfalls and caves. While the scenery alone is worth a trip, visitors out for a spookier experience may be interested to know that the park is also said to be haunted by a ghostly lady, dressed in 1920’s clothing, who walks the trails. Tours offered during October take visitors through the trails at night to try to catch a glimpse.

Edinburgh Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland

The presence of inhabitants may be felt in the Edinburgh Vaults in Scotland. Hidden beneath Edinburgh’s South Bridge are more than 120 rooms that were used as secret living places for Edinburgh’s poor.2 Though the vaults originally were meant for business storage, constant flooding lead to their deterioration; hence, they became a place for the city’s slum dwellers and red light district. In the 19th century, the vaults were closed, but in the 1980s, they were rediscovered and opened for visitors.

Hotels in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia is known as America’s most haunted city.3 If you’re after thrills, it won’t disappoint. Hotels such as The Marshall House and the Olde Harbour Inn offer the chance to sleep with the spirits, as many hotels in the Savannah area claim to be haunted.

 Don’t find yourself in a scary situation without help! Be sure to pack a travel insurance plan from Travel Guard. A travel insurance plan with 24/7 assistance can help to take some of that stress off your mind so you can focus on the hauntings at hand. Travel Guard’s round-the-clock assistance can go to work on your behalf, re-booking flights and hotels, finding lost luggage and more. Plus, a travel insurance plan offers coverage for events such as trip cancellation/interruption, medical expenses and travel delays due to inclement weather, so you can book your vacation with confidence.

 

1 http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/13-creepy-man-made-underground-attractions#!5-the-cu-chi-tunnels

2 https://www.hauntedrooms.com/one-land-two-sea-new-york-ny-haunted-ghost
3 http://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/savannah/haunted-places.php

 

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6 Tips for Fright‐Free October Travel

While Halloween season may have piqued your interest in scary movies, when you travel, you’ll likely want to leave the nightmares behind! Whether you’re venturing overseas or staying in your country of origin this October, consider these tips to help protect yourself and ensure happy and safe travel.

Learn Emergency Numbers
Truth be told, not every country has “911” or a similar emergency call service. If you’re headed out of the U.S., learn the local emergency numbers for the places you’re traveling. It’s also a good rule of thumb to have contact information for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate on hand.

Check in with the State Department
Did you know the U.S. State Department provides updated security information for all of the countries in the world? Be sure you search its site before you depart to get details about where you’re visiting. If there are security warnings and other updates to be aware of, you’ll know what you’re heading into.

Make Good Ground Transportation Choices
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. citizens abroad. No matter your country of origin, be sure you research the best modes of transportation before you depart. This might include finding out the track record of a bus company you are planning to use and forgoing the use of rickshaws and mopeds, which may fare worse than cars in the event of a crash, on your trip.

Confirm Hotel Visitors with the Front Desk
How do you know the person outside your hotel room door is actually from housekeeping? Especially if you didn’t recently order room service, it’s a good rule of thumb to call the front desk to verify that someone affiliated with the hotel needs to enter your room. You should apply the same caution in the event someone calls your hotel room to request personal information – outside of an emergency, all of your business should take place at the front desk.

Review the Escape Route from your Hotel Room
Checking the map on the back of your hotel room door is likely not one of your priorities while on vacation, but if an emergency triggers an evacuation, do you know how to safely get out of your hotel room? Study the emergency escape routes – doing so may come in handy, especially if there’s an emergency in the middle of the night and you must escape without the direction of others.

Consider Travel Insurance
Let’s face it – travel dangers may befall even the most prepared people. While travel insurance can’t prevent bad things from happening, it’s designed to provide coverage for contingencies such as medical emergencies, lost or delayed luggage and trip cancellation/interruption. Plus, 24/7 assistance services included in most Travel Guard travel insurance plans can help with needs like flight and hotel rebooking as well as offering security updates.

For more travel safety tips, check out this article on USATODAY.com.

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Your Official Fall Color Destination Guide

As the days get shorter and the air becomes crisper, traditional summer foliage trades in its greenery for fall’s signature, golden hues. It’s during this time that many travelers take pleasure in traveling the countryside to view colorful displays at their favorite destinations. Here are several great places to enjoy the scenery this season.

Vermont

As one of the most well-known places in America to see fall foliage, Vermont offers particularly breathtaking views in the central and southern parts of the state. Places near Burlington, Lake Champlain Islands, and the Green Mountains typically offer the best views.1 To learn about the recommended areas to drive, visit Vermont’s tourism website, which offers a printable list of more than 20 drives around the state. The map includes drives of 30-210 miles and showcases points of interest and historical markers along the way.

New York

When you think of New York state, you may think immediately of its largest city, with all the concrete buildings and sidewalks. But if you travel upstate, you’ll have the opportunity to see many orchards and bodies of water that offer outdoor activities for enjoying the vibrant colors of fall. Kayaking on Lake Otsego and hiking at Glimmerglass State Park are just two of the activities most enjoyed by travelers who wish to see what a New York autumn has to offer.

Oregon

The Cascade Mountains are already a grand place to quench your wanderlust, but when you add fall colors, the destination borders on breathtaking. Boasting cottonwoods, big-leaf maples, and Oregon Ash, this beautiful backdrop can be witnessed during a drive along the Columbia River, a hike on the area’s trails or a rafting trip on the river.

Tennessee and North Carolina

Scarlet oaks, maples, sweetgums and hickories show off their colors with 800 miles of scenic roads and hiking trails that go deep within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Travelers can get lost in the wonder of color during the day and then take in all that Gatlinburg, Tenn. has to offer at night.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

“Take your pick” is the name of the game in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Michigan’s state forest system, encompassing approximately 4 million acres,2 is the largest in the eastern United States. This vast acreage includes 20 state parks and the beautiful Great Lakes. Brilliant fall colors are a sight to behold when reflected in the varying tones of blue lake waters. Remember to visit one of the area’s popular, historic light houses. Fodor’s Michigan Travel Guide will point you to fall foliage viewing you will never forget.

Missouri

Hosting the expansive Lake of the Ozarks, central Missouri has a lot to offer when it comes to great fall colors combined with pleasant temperatures. Enjoy leaf peeping via a horseback ride through the rolling, colorful hills or opt for a workout by mountain biking on trails through the large state park. The area also offers yacht rides, plenty of wineries and great golf courses where travelers can get their fill of the vibrant countryside.

1http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/budget‐travel‐vacation‐ideas‐best‐places‐to‐see‐fall‐foliage,13382/
2 http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/10‐best‐fall‐foliage‐trips‐in‐the‐us#!9‐upper‐peninsula‐michigan

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6 Tips for Joyful Travel

So you’ve planned for months and your long awaited vacation is finally here. While we all know that trips don’t always look like they do in the movies, there are ways to try to ensure your trip contains joy and memories for years to come. Here are five tips for more joy-filled travel.

  • Plan well: Oftentimes travel goes poorly due to lack of planning. While it’s fun to take random trips, sometimes not knowing enough about your destination or how you are going to get there leads to stressful travel (long wait lines, road construction, a hotel in the wrong part of town etc.). At minimum, take the time to plan where you will be staying and learn the ins and outs of your destination by researching things to do and times various activities are available.
  • Take your time: Being in a rush will inevitably lead to chaotic thinking and less joy. Get up early to get to the airport well before you need to be there. Enjoy each step you take at a favorite destination. Take in the sights, sounds and smells around you and pause to reflect on each one. Being in a rush to see “everything” may lead to not fully enjoying the present.
  • Give thanks: Find an area to reflect on the good things you have in your life. According to this health article published by Harvard, gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions and relish good experiences.1

  • Practice the art of giving: Standing in line to get a cup of joe before you start your sightseeing? Pay it forward and pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line. Studies show that giving actually helps us feel rewarded and thus, more joyful.
  • Reflect in solitude: Whether you are traveling with a partner or an entire family, sometimes a little solitude is all we need to feel joyful. Get up early before your fellow travelers and enjoy a little time on the hotel balcony or walk down by the beach and catch the sun rise.
  • Celebrate: Wherever you traveling and whatever you do, make sure you choose a celebratory attitude. Celebrate your accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of your fellow travelers. Don’t be afraid to celebrate what you had for breakfast if it adds a small amount of joy to your morning. Cultivate an infectious enthusiasm for life, and others will be drawn to you and your joy will multiply exponentially.2

 

1 http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

2 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meimei-fox/the-life-out-loud-7-secre_b_857265.html

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