Six ways to make your own travel “luck” in March

Let’s face it – traveling can be expensive, and if you aren’t careful, it can create more hassle than staying home. If you know where to look, there are many ways to catch a break when you travel. There’s no need for the luck of the Irish – just follow these six “magic” tips!

• Skip the lines with TSA Pre ✓: Get to the front of the airport line faster with TSA pre-check services. One study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that business travelers who are enrolled in the Transportation Security Administration’s expedited screening program, TSA PreCheck, are much more satisfied with air travel than those who have not signed up.1

• Remember the magic number: As a guideline, book airline tickets for domestic flights within the U.S. 47 days before your trip. The most recent CheapAir.com study shows this is when airline tickets are likely to be at their lowest price.2 For less exacting travelers, researchers say booking between 104 and 29 days before travel is a good rule of thumb for securing the lowest possible price.3

• Take advantage of “Lucky Tuesday”: According to farecompare.com, the best day of the week to book your flight is Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern time. What’s behind the lucky number three? Airlines are said to release the most competitor-matched sales at this time.4

• Use your credit card points: Looking to travel at a fraction of the cost? You may not have to look any further than your credit card. Many credit cards offer travel points for deep discounts on airline tickets and more. Usually, you can call the credit card company to schedule your flight tickets for you; sometimes, they’ll even be free.

• Want an an upgrade? Ask for it: There are a few ways to ask for an upgrade. First, ask your travel agent if he or she may secure one through his or her relationships with some of the airlines. Sometimes, when flights don’t fill up, there are seats left open in business class, and you may ask about a free upgrade to them at the check-in counter. Finally, if you have a title, use it – judges, ministers and doctors are more likely to get upgrades than other travelers.5

• Research discounts/deals at your travel destination: Review the visitor’s bureau website or other resources local to your travel destination. Often, these sites will provide information on free activities, including concerts, festivals and more to give you a taste of the local culture.

• Learn to love off-season travel: Traveling during less popular months could benefit you in several ways, including shorter lines at popular destinations, and discounts on hotels and other accommodations. When planning your trip, look at the off seasons of a few destinations, and take note of special offers for travelers who visit them that time of year.

 

1 http://skift.com/2016/02/01/business-travelers-like-avoiding-long-lines-at-the-airport/ 2 https://www.cheapair.com/blog/travel-tips/when-to-buy-airline-tickets-based-on-1-5-billion-airfares
3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/01/best-time-to-book-a-flight_n_4875266.html 4 http://www.farecompare.com/travel-advice/tips-from-air-travel-insiders/#/
5 http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/travelers-ed/first-class-for-free-how-to-get-an-airline-upgrade

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Five Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

February is known as the month of love. While many will acknowledge their sweetheart by giving roses, chocolates, and other tokens of their love, others will whisk their partner away to a destination where love is likely to be in the air. Check out our favorite spots to spark romance this Valentine’s Day:

1.) Savannah, Georgia
Take a step back to yesteryear and old-fashioned love when you travel to Savannah. The rustic cobblestone streets, wispy Spanish moss, and southern hospitality are sure to inspire you and your significant other to get close and savor each moment. As lovebirds, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy nature and each other’s company while paddling a canoe for two on a Wilderness Southeast tour.1 Stay close while viewing the coast when you travel along the Savannah River on a brunch or dinner riverboat cruise. When you arrive back in the city’s historic district, you’ll find many stately, classic, yet upscale restaurants and cozy bed and breakfasts at which to extend your stay. Be sure to visit the 158-year-old fountain in Forsyth Park and make a wish!

2.) San Juan, Puerto Rico
No passport, no problem! If a quick, sunny and fun beach getaway is what your relationship needs, take a trip to Puerto Rico. With no passport requirements and speedy, direct flights from many airports in the continental United States, this destination is an easy Valentine’s Day choice. Let your love grow in San Juan, a historic city perfect for strolling or lounging.1 Spark romance by opting for an oceanfront room, champagne, a massage, and a trip to the Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo.1 Witness a magical phenomenon when the bay glitters at night due to the microscopic plankton in the water.

3.) Venice, Italy
Venice is a great spot for hopeless romantics. Merely thinking about the destination conjures up images of a couple on a gondola, being rowed in gentle waters as the city bustles by. Don’t forget to stop at Saint Mark’s Square, where you can view Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, enjoy fine-dining restaurants, shops and eateries.

4.) Santorini, Greece
Santorini is smokin’ hot – and not just because it’s part of a still-active volcano. This destination is the place to be for couples, no matter the season, because of its pristine location on the Aegean Sea. As Viator’s Travel Blog has shared, “regularly making the list of one of the most romantic destinations in the world, Santorini boasts whitewashed buildings, blue-capped churches and stunning views of the sea. Take a donkey ride or hop on a boat to check out a steaming volcano, and then unwind in hot springs and tour a vineyard.”2

5.) Prague, Czech Republic
While Prague be a bit chilly in February, it’s a wonderfully romantic destination to jet off to for Valentine’s Day. This picturesque city features the largest ancient castle in the world3, as well as Gothic churches, vibrant buildings and cozy restaurants. Legend has it that if you kiss your darling in front of the statue of the romantic poet Karel Macha, your mutual love will be eternal.4 Celebrate your relationship on a river cruise or take a romantic stroll through narrow, cobbled streets in the Old Town on a moonlit night. Get to know firsthand why Prague is also famous for romantic dining.

No matter where your romantic journey may take you, explore travel insurance options in advance to help ensure that your vacation will be hassle-free. Valentine’s Day is for celebrating love, not pining over lost luggage, trip delay/cancellation, or emergency travel medical needs.

1 http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/romance-and-honeymoons/articles/valentines-day-vacations
2 http://travelblog.viator.com/top-10-romantic-destinations-in-europe-for-valentines-day/
3http://content.time.com/time/travel/cityguide/article/0,31489,1925095_1921770_1921751,00.html
4 http://www.10best.com/destinations/czech-republic/prague/attractions/romantic-things-to-do/

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Cruise Etiquette – How to have happiness on the high waters

It’s “Wave Season,” the annual time when many cruise vacation discounts traditionally are offered, and  you’ve booked your voyage and are ready for a little excitement at sea. But don’t forget that a cruise ship often houses thousands of people and where space is limited, patience may also be limited. Don’t let that reality equate to limited courtesy. Here are some pointers on cruise ship etiquette.

Spatial awareness: Given the throngs of passengers aboard many ships, remember to show common courtesy. There’s no harm in taking the stairs if there’s a long line at the elevator. If you’re at a large table with a small group of people, make sure passersby are aware you’re willing to share the space.

Deck chair reservations: Enjoying the sun is fine, but don’t be a deck-chair hog. Don’t leave your belongings on a chair in an attempt to reserve it all day. And, certainly, clear space for someone else if you’ve been in the sun awhile and the deck is crowded.

Keep kids under control: Don’t let your kids run wild. A cruise vacation is not an excuse to stop parenting.1

Talk quietly: Slamming cabin doors and echoing voices can be heard up and down hallways in close, sometimes cramped quarters. Keep your voice down and don’t let your door slam on the way out – especially if it’s early in the day or late at night.

Follow dress codes: Many cruises have a dress code for special dinners or events. Don’t be “that guy” who shows up wearing shorts and a t-shirt without a care in the world. Be sure you read the itinerary and show up dressed accordingly.

Avoid saving seats: If you are traveling with a large group of people and you are the person who shows up early at a cruise event, don’t save 10 seats around you so your party can sit together. Either plan with your companions to show up at the same time or be okay with sitting separately.1

Don’t complain: People on vacation want to enjoy themselves. The last thing they care to listen to is someone complaining. If your day didn’t start the way you were hoping, keep that fact to yourself. If you have a legitimate complaint, make your request known to the cruise staff; they may be able to assist you.

1 http://experience.usatoday.com/cruise/story/cruise-buzz/2013/10/07/cruise-ship-etiquette-101/2936697/

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How to Travel More in the New Year

The new year often brings New Year’s resolutions. Among the most popular resolutions are to lose weight, get in shape, save money, or travel more often.1 While many people mean well, only about 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolution.2 Most of us know the rules to lose weight, get in shape, or save money, but how much do we know about how to travel more? If you’re interested in keeping a resolution to travel more in 2016, then read on.

Plan ahead: Write down the dates during which you’d like to travel in the new year. Studies show that people who write down their goals have a much higher chance of achieving them.3 While you’re at it, tell everyone you know that you plan to travel more. People who talk about their goals tend to have a better chance of accomplishing them.

Research: Once you have your top destinations on paper, take the time to research the places you’ve selected. Note the cost that it will take to travel to your dream location and observe the best times of the year to travel there. The more your plan, the more likely you will be to succeed at your goal to travel more in 2016.

Gauge costs: For some lucky travelers, cost is not a factor when planning to travel more often. The rest of us have to plan our travel and the money we spend. If the cost is more than you expected, look for ways to cut expenses or for a comparable destination that you can visit at a more affordable cost.

Save more money: If cost is one of the factors that keeps you from traveling frequently, make a plan to save more money. Instead of eating out during the week, put that money toward traveling. If you like to snack during the work day, pack treats from home instead of spending money at the vending machine. Have a long commute to work that adds up in big expenses? Carpool with a co-worker to save money. Comb through your billing statements and cut unnecessary expenses with the goal of applying the savings toward your next getaway.

Take shorter trips: While frequent travel overseas may be desirable, it might not be financially feasible. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel; it just means that you’ll have to travel within your means. Take more trips closer to home. Pack a cooler and take a road trip with a few friends, or pack up the family and set out to explore theme parks and national parks close to home.

Weekend warrior: If you believe you just don’t have time to travel, consider becoming a weekend warrior. It’s possible when you hop on a red-eye flight on Friday after work and take the red-eye home on Sunday. Imagine how many more places you’ll be able to see!

Frequent flyer credit cards: Credit cards that offer points that are valid toward travel may be invaluable if you wish to travel more in 2016. Don’t have any cards like this? Research the most appropriate card for your needs and consider signing up! But use credit wisely and keep in mind that if you don’t pay your card balance off in full every month, the resulting interest charges may erode your travel budget.

Seek free or discounted travel: While researching where to travel, note any vacation sweepstakes offered by reputable companies and be on the lookout for travel discounts. Sometimes employers even offer travel discounts to their employees. Do your due diligence and look at all of your options before booking your travel.

1 http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/2015s-top-new-years-resolution-fitness.html
2 http://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-backs-up-strategies-for-achieving-goals

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Trends for 2016 Travel

As we get ready to ring in a new year, many travelers may wonder what will be trending in travel throughout 2016. The answers may not be so surprising. From mixing business with leisure travel to seamless travel, more mobile enhancements and individualized travel experiences – here are the top four trends in 2016 travel.

Bleisure Travel
Some travel for business, some travel for leisure, but there’s a new type of traveler out there who travels for “bleisure.” Thanks to the millennial generation, the travel industry will see more people who travel for business, bring their family along and stay a few extra days after the business trip ends to enjoy the sights and sounds of a new place.1 Savvy and well-connected, these travelers also do much of their “business” work in a café, restaurant or park when they can.  Talk about the best of both worlds, this trend is projected to grow in 2016 and beyond.

Even More Mobile
This may go without saying, but mobile is growing faster than ever before. Mobile keeps travelers connected with each other and keeps them up-to-date with what’s happening around them at all times, so that they can have a more enjoyable experience while away from home. 2016 will see more vacation destinations and those in the travel industry creating or enhancing mobile apps that offer tailored experiences for their customers. The apps will provide travelers with a more “immersive” experience at their destination.1

Seamless Travel
Whether you book your own travel or enjoy the white-glove expertise of a travel agent booking your trip, travel is becoming more seamless. Research, planning, booking venues and cars, excursions and more can all be done in a simple transaction in some of the most personal spaces. The mobile experience will become more seamless, and the guesswork will continue to be removed in 2016.1

Experiential Travel
Those who travel will continue to look for an authentic experience that leaves them wanting more. More travel experiences will be created for individual traveler tastes in 2016. Travelers will purposely seek out travel opportunities that are unique and tailored to their specific needs and wants.

No matter where you plan to travel in 2016, or whether you will participate in any of the up-and-coming travel trends, remembering to pack a travel insurance plan so your 2016 travel is always en vogue. A Travel Guard® travel insurance plan offers coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, lost luggage and medical expenses and most plans include 24/7 travel assistance services that can work on your behalf to re-book hotels, flights and even book event tickets, make restaurant reservations for you and much more.

1 http://fortune.com/contentfrom/2015/08/03/travel-trends-2016/ntv_a/AMwBA4EcDAfxgFA

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Tips for Traveling with Gifts

‘Tis the season for traveling. Whether it’s a trip across the country or around the world, many travelers will be making a trek to see friends and family with gifts in tow. Before you stuff all those pre-wrapped gifts in an extra suitcase, consider these helpful holiday travel gift tips:

To Wrap or Not to Wrap:
Those who travel over the holidays may think about bringing wrapped gifts with them in their luggage. There’s only one problem: The TSA reserves the right to unwrap those gifts as they go through security, though gifts are less likely to be unwrapped if they are put in checked luggage.1  Our recommendation? Save yourself some time and hassle by packing the gifts and wrapping paper separately and wrap gifts upon arrival at your destination.

Ship Gifts to Your Destination:
Traveling with gifts can result in more hassle than travelers bargain for. If you pack the gifts in an extra bag, you may run up a hefty bill at the checked luggage station. Plus, dragging extra luggage around isn’t always the best for your back (or your sanity). That’s why it may be smart to ship all of your gifts to your final destination. If you’re worried about the package getting lost, you can add insurance and tracking to your package to keep tabs on it.

Fragile Gifts:
If you have a fragile gift that you need to transport in your luggage, try wrapping it in a sweater or other clothing item in your bag and be sure to place it in the middle of your suitcase to protect it on all sides.1

Oversized Gifts:
Let’s face it, holiday gift shopping can be expensive. That’s why you probably won’t be too excited to learn that the oversized gift you purchased for your child may cost you an additional $200-400 to check in an oversized bag. If you are opening all gifts away from home this year, try wrapping a small box with a photo of the oversized gift inside of it. When the recipient opens the present, mention that the gift is being shipped to them or if it’s someone in your family, tell them that the actual gift is waiting for them back home.

Gifts Received at Your Destination:
Receiving gifts is always a joy. Don’t let that joy turn into dismay when packing up to return home. Remember to pack a compact duffle bag in your suitcase so that when your stay away from home is complete, you can pack all your worn clothing in the bag and use the suitcase to transport your gifts back home. Of course, if your family receives a large amount of gifts, it may be wise to consider shipping them (with tracking and insurance) home.

 Want to learn about more tips to travel during the holiday season? Click here.

 

1 http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2013-11-11/flying-with-gifts-presents-holiday-airport-travel-tips

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Giving Thanks in Travel

November is a month filled with turkey, pie, shopping, family and friends. The month that kicks off the holiday season is full of joy but can become quite overwhelming if we aren’t careful. Oftentimes we have more than one place to travel to, with so many people to see. Let’s not forget Thanksgiving is a time for us to be thankful. While you are planning your holiday travel here are a few things to consider being thankful for.

People
Many of us travel with family or friends. Some of us meet people along the way when we travel. How much more enriched did our lives feel after we had spent a day at the Christmas market in Vienna and chatted with the local vendors while taking in the sparkling lights? Have any of us been brave enough to chat up the local owner of a coffee shop in Milano and learn about his life in Italy? The people we meet while traveling change us and change our perspective.

Foodie Frenzie
From the perfect pastry in Paris to sensational sushi in China to the tasty turkey at grandma’s house clear across the country, it’s a season to be thankful for the smorgasbord of food available throughout the world and our taste buds that can’t help but be tantalized by all of the options. To travel as a foodie is to capitalize on food creations we’ve never thought of before and keep us hungry for more.

Travel Technology
Where would we be without cell phones – the amazing devices that allow us to instantly record or photograph moments and help us get from point A to B using the built in GPS. Not to mention the plethora of apps that help us decide where to dine or list daily events to participate in while traveling. For example, some apps allow travelers to upload their ticket to receive mobile flight updates and alerts.

Education in Travel
The ability to see life from different perspectives while traveling is truly something to be thankful for – so is the opportunity to learn about different cultures. It might be a voluntourism experience building shelter for people in the remote villages in Africa or teaching English to school children in Japan. No matter the experience, there’s much to be learned from each trip.

Travel Insurance
While it might not always be exciting to talk about, travel insurance can be something to be thankful for. But don’t just take our word for it. Millions of customers around the globe are thankful for coverage when they need to cancel their trip due to a covered reason, become ill or injured while traveling or lose/damage their luggage. But don’t just take our word for it – read about travel experiences and what caused these travelers to be thankful.

For what in your travels are you most thankful?

 

 

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