For many Filipinos, returning to our native homeland has been out of reach because of time and budget, however with the influx of competitive rates, many more Filipinos have been able to fly home more consistently. With the growing number of Asian and Middle Eastern carriers to expand their routes to the Philippines, many players such as Korean Airlines and Delta Airlines have begun to lose their market share which in turn has caused competition and allowed airfare prices to drop. Today, Filipinos can enjoy an assortment of choices to travel to the Philippines and we have benefited with more affordable prices.
Although we are able to select different airlines based on itineraries, service and added benefits, many travelers ask me, “When is it the best time to fly to the Philippines?’. Here are a few tips to consider when planning your next trip.
From January to March and also from September to November, you will normally find some of the best deals to Manila from the U.S. Children are in school and the majority of travelers wait until the summer to fly back home. Most of the airlines begin promoting special rates and lower fares to attract passengers to book early. Keep in mind during these months, promotional fares usually run 4-5 days before they expire. Have your tentative dates and be ready to book as soon as these amazing deals begin to run.
Like many top destinations, the high season for travel is during the summer months between May – August. Most people prefer to travel with their families and wait to travel all together. Usually rates during these months can range between $1,200 – $2,000 per traveler. The demand for flights are high and if you have specific dates, I would recommend booking at least 3-4 months in advance to avoid price hikes. Waiting to purchase your tickets within 2 months will limit your choices and expect to seats to be limited. During the Christmas season, expect even higher prices due to the holidays. If you plan to travel between December 15 to January 15, don’t expect to see any promotions without sacrificing with longer layovers or multiple stops.
Avoiding Holy Week
Consequently to avoid paying higher fares, traveling at the end of March through the beginning of April, specifically around Holy Week is a no-no. Since the Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country and the festivities surrounding this religious time can create a high demand on balikbayans traveling back home. It will be difficult finding affordable prices during the Easter holiday.
Finding fares within your Budget
If you are trying to stay within a certain budget, consider a couple of tips to help you minimize the cost.
- Be flexible – Airline prices are based on availability which means that depending on the number seats available on a flight, prices will fluctuate daily. If you do not have a set time to travel, advise your travel agent and they can find the best deals 2-3 days before and after your preferred dates.
- Avoid weekends – Leaving on Friday – Sunday may be convenient to maximize your time, but you will end up paying more when leaving on these days. Midweek rates are fare more cheaper especially if you leave/ return on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Don’t be afraid to try a new airline – With the Manila market exploding with competition, many international carriers are offering lower fares to Manila to gain a piece of the market. These rates are more reasonable and can save you a lot of money. Airlines like Emirates, Etihad, EVA Airways and Air China have some amazing deals while providing superior service.
As you know the holiday season as upon us all and domestic travel will be on the rise. Luckily for us, and many of you, the TSA blogs about confiscated items that are left behind. While most of us understand between what will pass and what will not, here are a few items collected this month from the TSA. We are so happy that the TSA continues to be diligent in their prevention of dangerous and harmful items from boarding our aircraft.
- The Walking Dead’s “Lucille”
Fans of the ever popular “The Walking Dead”, has seen its share of cameos especially since the majority of the scenes are filmed near Atlanta. This replica baseball which is lined with barbed wire (really, its rubber bands and imitation blood) was quickly confiscated at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL). A very cool gift, however baseball bats are not allowed in the cabin areas and must be stowed in your checked in luggage.
2. Flashlight Dagger
In case you need some help finding where to go, it’s always nice to bring a flashlight, except if it becomes a dangerous dagger! This item was confiscated at Los Angeles (LAX).
Carving a turkey can be very stressful, especially of you don’t have the right utensils. Problem solved – just bring a machete and your golden. Eh! This twelve inch machete was obtained in San Diego (SAN) right after Thanksgiving. We know how important the holidays are, but all knives, including machetes, must be checked into your checked in luggage. Thanks!
4. Flashbang Grenade
This was an interesting item which was obtained by TSA in Kahului (OGG). FYI: Anything that resembles a bomb or grenade is prohibited on both checked in and carry-on bags. Also note that officials will be on high alert which will cause major delays. In some instances a complete shutdown of operations and evacuation may occur.
5. Razor blades in the shoes
Well at least you know why you have to take your shoes off at the checkpoints. This person at Laguardia Airport (LGA) decided to try to sneak on a razor blade in their shoes. Probably would have gone with a different (cleaner) type of shoe, but this is crazy!
Well thankfully, we have the TSA to make sure that our planes are safe from harm. These are just some of the most wildest items to show up on the TSA Blog, however there will be more!
What is the craziest item that you have ever seen at a TSA Checkpoint?
It can be quite expensive traveling internationally and although we all loathe to spend our hours in First Class, or even Business – the truth of the matter is that most of us will have to settle for Economy Class fares. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with traveling in the Main Cabin, and many airlines have improved amenities, seat size and of course entertainment and food to lure passengers on their planes. On my recent trip to Asia, I decided to try out American Airlines brand new 777-300 and share my reviews with you all.
Since the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, the American Corporation has been quietly improving their airplanes, expanding their destinations, while fine tuning their domestic operations and transitioning into the World’s Largest Airlines. I was very impressed with the new changes and attention that American has concentrated on such as the inflight entertainment, overall flight experience and the quality of food and snacks while in the air.
DALLAS/FORT WORTH (DFW)
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is one of American’s busiest hubs in the West with 84 percent from domestic flights and 13 percent coming from international connections to Asia. From Dallas, Fort Worth you could connect on American to Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and Japan, however only Hong Kong uses the new 777-300. American flies a non-stop flight from Dallas to Hong
The Boeing 777-300 can hold up to 310 passengers which consists of 8 First Class (flat bed seats), 52 Business Class (flat bed seats), 48 Premium Economy Class (standard) and 202 Main Cabin (standard) seats.
Here’s the American Airlines 777-300 Economy class seatmap, via SeatGuru.
When you first board the plane, you can feel the different atmosphere with contemporary style decor and modern furnishings. As I continued to my seat, I was astonished to find the newly improved and interactive monitor behind every seat. I love catching up on movies and sitcoms, and I already knew this was going to be a pleasant experience. Also, I quickly realize that American had also focused on allowing passengers more options for connectivity with ease to find ac plugs, USB chargers and touchscreen seat functions.
Now the size and width of the seats did not change, however it did feel like there was more space when I sat down. Typically the standard for Main Cabin seating is 32 inched Seat Pitch and 17-18 width, which was the case for this flight.
I also enjoyed the that the menu was given out in the beginning of the flight to give you enough time to think about what you would like to eat. This helps avoid deciding on the spot when the flight attendants are trying hard to serve every person in a timely manner. Did you know that beer and wine is complimentary on international flights? Big thumbs up!
As each person situated themselves in their seat, there was more than enough overhead space for carry-ons and backpacks, I even noticed a few bins which were empty. The flight attendants were quick to prepare the flight for departure and within 10 minutes from boarding we were already in the air to Hong Kong.
Once we were at cruising speed, I was excited to see if the service in American also improved. US Carriers have not scored as high as international carriers such as Korean Air or All Nippon, however American has mentioned that they aim to change their consumer perception. Beverages and drinks came out within 45 minutes from our departure and I would be able to enjoy a nice cold drink while watching a movie.
One of the biggest changes to the inflight entertainment was the huge screen and selection of movies and TV shows. I was in awe on the amount of time I could keep occupied with over 300 movies (50 being newly released) and then over 300 channels of television shows. You were able to rewind, fast forward and save selections for later in the flight. Even the games that were loaded on the system were entertaining for 10 minutes or so.
Did you have a playlist that you want to listen to? Well you can even connect your smart device and play pre-loaded playlists to the system. Now that’cool!
Now for those who need the Internet, well – American Airlines has an option for you! Inflight Wi-Fi throughout the entire flight. To purchase Wifi, it costs $19.95 for the entire flightv (14hours) and the connection speed was pretty good. I was able to play an online game and make a Wifi call from my cellphone. Who would have thought Iw ould be able to make a call at 50,000 feet!
This made a BIG DIFFERENCE!
Throughout the flight, I did deal with very understanding flight attendants, however I was not blown away with their service and attention to detail. I still feel that Asian carriers have an advantage when it comes to being proactive. I was satisfied and this by far was one of my better experiences on American Airlines.
American Airlines has made some major changes to its place int he airline world especially for those who plan to fly internationally. These new planes with major advancements in functionality and atmosphere has been a big eye opener and will attract more passengers to consider flying on American. Although changes have been made in the equipment, American Airlines and the other US Carriers will need to improve on their overall customer service. Friendliness and sincerity are expected, but if American wants to compete internationally, they will need to learn to do more and exceed expectations.
Cruising has gain popularity amongst travelers with its “all-inclusive” pricing. With transportation, lodging, food and an assortment of activities and entertainment already included on cruises today, how do some cruisers end up breaking the bank with that final bill at the end of the cruise?
Although cruises pricing includes so many amenities, not everything is included and if you don’t plan properly or get advice from your travel agent, you may end up dipping into your savings and spending more than you initial budgeted.
Beverage Packages (Alcoholic & Non-alcoholic)
As a responsible travel agent (and friend), I encourage everyone to drop the soft drinks and stick to water, juice and tea. It’s very hard to get off the sugary drinks especially with so much energy you get after consumption, but not only will your health appreciate it, but also your wallet. But what about bottled water, most beverage packages include getting premium bottled water as well? TIP #1: Drinking water on a cruise ship is extremely safe. The water is filtered on the ship itself and is regularly checked to meet sanitation regulations. The (free) drinking water is more likely better and cleaner than that of the bottled water they are selling to you.
Cruise lines make a killing when it comes to this add-on because honestly what’s a few dollars compared to your comfort. Well, A LOT! Most beverage packages begin at $8-$10 dollar per person per day, which at first glance seems small but when you calculate the cost for say a 7 day cruise, it’s $56-$70 per person (for two people $112-$140). Again, I may not have the same passion for soft drinks, but I can’t imagine the need to spend that much on pop. I mean a 2-liter bottle is about $1.99 at home, so one person will practically need to drink 10-12 bottles of soft drinks throughout the cruise to even make it comparable.
Now what what about the alcoholic packages that offer free beer & wine, and even premium liquor. Okay, the lure of being able to buy unlimited drinks has its appeal, but honestly you would have to drink about 4-5 drinks a day to make it worth your time. Remember, you will not be on the ship the entire time and you will have access to go onshore and drink there, where most of the time it will be cheaper.
If you need to some liquid courage, check the daily guides for drink specials and you can save a lot of money. TIP#2: Remember your bartenders name and make sure you tip them big in the beginning. For me, I always tip when I am ordering to make sure they bartender knows that I am going to hook them up. You remember their name, they will remember you when it comes to cashing out.
IMPORTANT: Never skimp on the tip – I completely understand the need to save money, however you pay for what you get and if you are not willing to give them an extra something, I really doubt you will get anything extra from the staff.
The need to CONNECT
In this day in age, the need to be online and post your pictures on Facebook is as important as brushing your teeth, however internet on board cruise ships are horrible and simply not worth your money. Cruise lines use satellite’s to connect to the internet which often lead to long waits and interrupted service, however you pay per minute which is often around $0.65 per minute. You can purchase package with up to 500 minutes but it will cost you about $200 for that. TIP#3: Most cruise ports offer free Wi-fi and if they don’t, just find a local shop once onshore and buy a drink and they will be happy to let you jump on their signal.
Just avoid the Casino
If casinos were in the business to help people, this headliner would change immediately, but we all know the house always win. Casinos onboard cruise ships are most likely filled with smokers who enjoy the luxury of smoking inside and of course another way to throw your money down the drain. Again, if you have a need to gamble and that is y our way of having fun, just be mindful of how much you spend. It’s not like Vegas, where you get free drinks if you play, it’s just a nicer way to give your money to the cruise line.
Unless your celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, try to limit the amount of times you dine at one of these premium venues. Included in your cruise fare is a wide range of food throughout the ship which include the buffet, room service and of course the main dining which is available during breakfast, lunch and dinner. TIP #4: If you need to make reservations for a specialty restaurant, then I suggest making on the first day. Most cruise ships like to fill their restaurants immediately and will offer 20%-50% off if you purchase it you plan which night you want to dine. However, if you plan on going on a Celebrity Ship, I would highly recommend Qsine. This is a fabulous restaurant and experience. Completely worth it!
Going to the Spas
Spa treatments onboard can be very costly and can easily skyrocket that final bill. Make sure to budget what services you plan on taking by asking your travel agent for the spa prices (you should only be asking me). Here is a sample of prices to get you prepared:
Facials range between $100 – $300
Massages range between $125 – $200
Women’s Haircuts range between $70 – $150
Men’s Haircuts range between $30 – $65
Manicures range between $40 – $90
Pedicures range between $70 – $120
Tip #5: To save money on spa treatments, make sure to book your reservation during shore days. When everyone leaves the ship, the spas usually run specials to entice those who plan on staying onboard.
Today I witnessed an amazing marvel, and unbelievable accomplishment and honestly a masterpiece that I cannot deny. A work of art that I cannot wait to experience and boast about, the NEW EMIRATES A380!
My sister and I were fortunate to be invited to this VIP Event (thanks, Barry & Zeenat!) and witness the unveiling of Emirates flagship aircraft which will have daily service from Washington, D.C – Dulles (IAD) to Dubai. I have been a major advocate for Emirates with my own personal experiences, however with this new aircraft, I cannot wait to tell each and everyone of my clients that they must experience it firsthand.
Rob Gurney, Vice President of North America – Emirates & Chris Browne, Airport Manager of Washington, D.C. Dulles International Airport cut the inaugural cake for the new A380
Today, travel has been overshadowed by cheap fares, low cost airlines and online travel agencies which fail to provide the two things that this industry first began on – immaculate service and relaxing comfort. Often times, I am bombarded with questions about comparison shopping and add-on charges for overweight or extra baggage, but rarely asked which airlines provides the most comfortable experience. I cannot Fathom (look out for another post!, hint! hint!) being uncomfortable for 3 hours, let alone sitting shoulder to shoulder to someone for 14 hours or more without carefully weighing out my options (How many stopovers? Layover time? Which airport i will be connecting to?). All of these are questions that passengers should ask themselves before considering which airline to use for their travel. Price cannot be the only factor, but if it is – you always get what you pay for!
With that said, I introduce to you the Emirates A380. This newest addition to the Emirates fleet which is a wide body, double decker jet aircraft that is a masterpiece in the sky. Emirates has the most A380s in their fleet with 73 currently operating in cities such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now Washington, D.C. With a passenger capacity of 489 people ( 14 closed suites, 76 business class and 399 economy class) you can only imagine the size of this aircraft. Added with Emirates world renowned customer service, I cannot help by recommend this flight.
Since the A380 is a double deck aircraft, the lower deck comprises the Economy class with rows beginning form 43 – 88. The configuration is 3 – 4 -3 which means three seats on the left, 4 in the middle and three on the right. The Economy class is divided into 4 sections with rows 52 – 65 and rows 67 -79 being the largest and rows 43 – 51 and rows 80 -88 being the smallest (also the quietest). Regardless of your location, there is ample space and legroom at every seat and experience is almost the same. Seat dimensions is at an industry high at 18 inches with a seat pitch of 32 inches.
TIP #1: Best Seats
Want to get the premier seats? If possible try to get row 43 A/B/C, row 43 H/J/K, row 52 A/B/C and row 52 H/J/K. These seats are in the front of the sections and have no seats in front of them. Row 43 is the best option since it also has the second smallest section, which means more quiet and most likely cleaner bathrooms.
Window Seats with Legroom – Both of best worlds!! Try row 68A, 68K, 81A and 81K. These four seats are right in front of the exit rows and have no seats in front of them (shhhhh….. Travelwise secret!!!).
Need elbow room and leg space – Try Row 67 B/C, row 67 J/K, row 80 B/C or row 80 J/K. Since these rows are in front of the Exit Area they do not have a window seat beside them, and only have two seats. Tada!
TIP #2: Family Seats
For those who are traveling with their babies or children, then you can take advantage of
row 54 D/E/F/G, row 67 D/E/F/G and row 82 D/E/F/G (I would say this would be the best, because it is in a smaller section and less people, hence no so many people waiting for the bathroom). These seats have bassinet crib positions if you need to use them. Also did I mention the awesome Kid’s Program and Amenity Kits? Just ask one of our travel agents to request these kits beforehand, so they can have them ready for you when you board your plane.
As you find your way to the rear of the plane, you find a staircase that leads to the Upper
Deck and find my favorite part of the plane – the inflight Bar. This feature is not accessible to Economy class, and you will need to be in First or Business class. Fully stocked with wine, premium spirits and hors d’oeuvrs , imagine sipping on a drink while onboard headed to Dubai. Meet new friends, enjoy delectable canapes and socialize at 45,000 feet. A different way to view the the Mile High Club (pun, intended!).
Walk a few feet further and you arrive at the 76 Business Class seats which are probably like First Class seats on any other airlines. Configured in a 1 – 2 – 1 setup, each seat has an 18.5 inch width, 48 inch pitch and converts to a 79 inch flat lie down bed. In addition, each seat has access to an AC Adapter, 2 USB Plugs, an iPad and of course an Amenity kit which includes socks, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste and other toiletries.
If you are food buff – Emirates does a great job creating gourmet cuisines prepared with locally sourced ingredients from regions they travel to. Mix and match your meals with a carefully selected wine with favorites chosen by their sommelier.
Other amenities included in the price for flying Business Class include
- Complimentary Chauffeur drive to and from the airport
- Priority Check-in
- Dedicated lounge access
- On demand dining with wine service
- Mini bar at your seat
Now, I may never experience this extremely luxurious product, however if enough of you read this – hopefully Emirates will allow me to try it – ha ha! Anyways, if you find yourself in need of top notch service and full suite service- you can find it in either one of these 14 First Class Suites. I was highly impressed with the comfort and accessibility of snacks, drinks and of course the comfortable reclining seats. First class seats boasts a seat width of 23 inches and 86 inch seat pitch. Not as large as other airlines, but the one thing that I really loved, was the privacy. You can close the suite off and you can be completely secluded from other passengers. They even have a “Do Not Wake” Feature which lights up to inform the flight attendants to leave you alone.
Every First Class passenger receives an Amenity Kit to take with you, but Emirates has outdone themselves by partnering with Bvlgari. The comfort kits contains facial moisturizer enriched with vitamin E and made up of antioxidants and oils. Also included are a drawstring bag, a foldable hairbrush, deodorant, Bvlgari lotion and toiletries for men or women.
Although the seats to most would be the talk of the town, the most unexpected highlight of this tour was the bathroom. Yes, I said it the bathroom. The surreal experience is more like a Spa Service. The Spa Room as they call it is larger than my own bathroom and they have two onboard!
With rejuvenating products by Timeless Spas at your disposal you have a choice to “Relax” or “Revive”. These Shower Spas must be booked when onboard to avoid scheduling conflicts, however if there is an open slot, you may use them. They have two Spa Room attendants who are consistently cleaning and restocking the shower spas after each passenger. You are give 5 minutes of water when showering and the pressure is great considering you are on a plane. Even the floors beneath you are heated, crazy, right!
On the commercials, Jennifer Aniston claims she enjoys the Shower Spa Rooms and I now know why!
With the introduction of the new A380 to Washington, D.C, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The magnificent aircraft will allow more passengers the ability to explore other destinations around the world and connect to via Dubai. With daily service from Dulles, clients of mine will be able to enjoy world-class comfort in any class of service in style and luxury. Beginning in March, Emirates will begin service to Cebu and Clark, Philippines while they continue to grow in the Manila market.
For anyone who have not been convinced, you can visit my sister’s virtual tour and see how impressive this aircraft really is. Click here to view.
Call our office for more information and to find your next flight on Emirates! (301) 248-8898 or www.travelwiseonline.com
On my most recent trip to Manila, I connected through Narita, Japan – the Asian hub for Delta Airlines and world SkyGate for passengers to connect to other destinations in Asia. Traveling internationally is one of the most rewarding experiences which allows you to see first-hand the culture, the people and the history of many countries, however no matter how much you plan, travel is uncertain. Flight delays, cancellations and misconnections can often time lead to frustrations, anxiety and worse a layover not planned in a country you may not be familiar with.
As I travelled to Manila, it became evident on my international segment that I would miss my connection and would have to stay overnight in Narita, Japan. For most travelers this can be overwhelming and stressful, however Narita airport is a wonderful airport with many facilities available to travelers. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself in case you find yourself on an extended stay in Narita, without breaking your wallet.
Narita Airport is made up of three terminals and all are accessible by a free shuttle bus on the lower floor once you arrive. Finding your way is easily marked by numbered signs once you exit the terminal, for instance if you arrived in Terminal 1 (Oneworld Alliance) you can proceed to Bus Stop 16, where shuttle buses run every 20 minutes – travel time is about 5 minutes. Terminal 2 is comprised of Star Alliance carriers like JAL, All Nippon Airways, Delta and Lufthansa.
One of the best things to do in Japan is the shopping! Like most international airports, big brand names fill the concourse with beautiful displays and high-end fashion; however, there are more retail stores throughout the terminal where you can find gifts, souvenirs and other goods that you may not find elsewhere. One of the best features that really stand out and which separates this airport is that the shopping area is outside of the security. If you are stuck and have to stay in Japan longer than expected, you can easily spend a few hours shopping which have stores for everyone. From specialty urban apparel stores like UNIQLO and DesignGraphicTees to more specifics like custom-made stationary sets and cultural stores that offer high quality sake – there is something for everyone. I always find myself shopping in the (find the brand that you lie to shop at). It is easily to find yourself adding more and more bags to your already packed suitcase.
Not only do you have lots of shopping available to you, the food in Narita airport is awesome. Unlike US airports, which are usually filled with chain restaurants and fast food places, you can find authentic Japanese cuisine all around the terminal. You do not need to go into the city to enjoy some of the local food such as ramen soup bowls, teriyaki chicken and of course sushi. Most of the restaurants are on the top level, right behind the check-in counters. You will need to go up the escalators and browse through the many selections. One of my favorite places to eat is Kineyamugimaru (located in Terminal 1 on the 5th floor) which has some of the best udon noodle soup I can remember. I always stop by and get some soup and of course a good cold mug of Kirin beer. If you really want to experience some amazing food, also check out ……………………
TRAVEL TIP #1 – To enjoy some of the best views at this airport, go to the top floor and find the Observation Deck, where you can go outside and see the planes land and take-off. This is one of my favorite places to go and relax while waiting for flights because of the view and the serenity of the area. One thing to keep in mind though, if you are a smoker, you cannot smoke anywhere. Throughout the terminals, inside and outside, you will find smoking lounges, which are designated for smoking. It is illegal to smoke in public areas.
Now if you are stuck overnight in Japan, you do not have to worry about trying to find a comfortable couch to sleep. There are many hotels close by the airport, which you can book directly at the airport. Do not waste your time trying to get online and booking online. It is usually cheaper to book a one-night stay at the Hotel Registration areas on the lower level by the arrival areas. They have negotiated rates for travelers and you can find a hotel for about $50 a night including Wi-Fi. For budget travelers, I would suggest trying Hotel Tobu or Hotel Nikko, which are about 5-10 minutes away and only, cost about $50 a night for a single traveler. Note: There is a big difference in price and the size of room when booking a single or double occupancy room. In addition, all the hotels have a free shuttle bus to and from the airport, just ask the information desk for the schedule of pick up times. Japanese people are very punctual, so the pick-up times are usually on time. In addition to hotels, there are also capsule rooms at the airport, which you can stay in. These rooms are like studio apartments with a bed and access to a shower and bathroom.
Now if you are traveling internationally, it is safe to say that you probably have large suitcases with you and it can be very strenuous carrying them around the terminal.
TRAVEL TIP #2 – Find the luggage storage areas which is a paid a service to store your bags while you go around and explore the airport. They have luggage lockers which you can store one to two luggage for about $5 for 3 hours. You may not want to spend the money, however think about this what is $5 dollars when thinking about how annoying it is to lug around your bags and then to carefully watch them at all times. Do yourself a favor and just throw down some money.
Now if you find yourself adventurous, traveling to Tokyo is only 26 minutes away by high-speed train. This is really a great adventure and is really a great experience. Go downstairs and find the many trains, which are easily accessible for a one-day pass. You can travel throughout Japan on these high-speed trains and make the better of your one night.
TRAVEL TIP # 3 – Make sure to take advantage of the FREE WIFI. The internet in Narita is high speed and you can stream videos and check your Facebook to let your friends and family know you are safe. Remember to preload you phone with apps such as VIBER, Vonage and even use Facebook to call using their VOIP service.
The actual thought of flying is dreadful! I would never want to sit in a cramp, overcrowded plane with horrible food, unless it was important. No one really loves to fly (except maybe the pilot), but the thought of flying to go somewhere different and new, is what really gets us to take a step on the plane. Now you know my secret! A Travel Agent who does not like to fly, but LOVES TO TRAVEL!
Well with over 15 years of traveling all across the globe, I have a few tips that may help you ditch the fear and thought of flying. Although flying is not my forte – it is really the only way to see the world…
Tip #1: Pack Early
This is the tip that everyone knows, but never follows. We always plan to pack early, but somehow we always find ourselves really wanting to do something else than packing. Honestly, this has saved me in more than a few trips and I suggest instead of planning to pack, just DO IT. Get it over, pack, and never have to worry about it again.
SIDE NOTE: Do get in habit of physically locating and looking at your travel documents (visas, passports, itineraries) and storing them in a clear Zip-loc bag for easy access. Having a clear bag allows you to see what’s inside without opening it and storing all of your “must have’; documents together is always a good idea.
Tip #2: Charge your Batteries
If you are like me, then having a phone is a necessity. When travelling, your phone can be your savior and not having power and searching around for charging stations at every layover is VERY stress-free. Every time I fly, I always make sure to charge every electronic device I plan on bringing. The must have of charging…
- Portable Chargers
- International Wall plugs
- Three outlet Extender
TRAVEL HACK: Use old sunglasses cases to store your cable and plug together. The ones that zip are the best and it is so convenient when you have to pull it out of your backpack or purse.
Tip #3: Adjust your clock a week before you trip
People tend to forget about jet lag and think that they are not susceptible to its effects. To avoid this, set your clocks to match the time at your destination. This will help you adjust before arriving and allow you to enjoy your vacation from the very start.
Tip #4: Be comfortable but presentable
We are no longer in the Golden Age of travel where suits and dresses fill the seats and the ability to fly was so revered. We now live in the modern age where comfort is key and you must be able to transform outfits as you see fit. Layering is the game and you have to learn how to pack clothes that complement each other. Stick with solid colors and remember to be comfortable, although not too comfortable. Stick those PJs back in the drawer.
It took me a while to give in, but flying to button down and some khakis get me better seats and better service than a t-shirt and jeans. A fact to swallow, but it is what it is. Remember it is hard to take someone seriously when they look like they got dressed in the dark.
Tip #5: Check in the day before or make sure you arrive early
Being able to check in early is such a blessing that people just do not take advantage of. Just login into your airline carriers website and enter in your record locator and you can see a summarize version of your itinerary online. You can check-in, pay for excess baggage, upgrade your seats and obtain your boarding passes (pdf or paper). If you do not find your reservation, at least you have another day to resolve any issues with your ticket.
Also, remember to arrive to an international flight at least 3 hours prior to our departure. Being early is always best to change seats (if available), go through security and not having to worry about speeding to the airport. REMEMBER: International flights close the doors to the aircraft 15 minutes prior to departure. Once the door at the gate has been closed, the agent will not open it for any reason.
Tip #6: H20 To-Go
It is important to keep yourself hydrated on long flights to prevent hunger pains, headaches and bad breath. You can save a lot of money of carrying a bottle of water with you to avoid spending big bucks in the airport on inflated pricing. Hate dumping that bottle at security? Did you know that you could bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up on the other side? Most airports now have water filling stations that you can fill your bottles with.
Tip #7: Trim down the Carry-On
The most memorable definition of a carry-on was the time when a passenger was stopped at the gate holding an IKEA blue bag (yes, the BLUE bag with straps) as her carry on. Not only did I realize how much I really want an IKEA bag, I also realized how much easier it would be to travel without a carry-on. IDEA!
Lose the carry-on! Well, not completely, but get it down to 10-12 lbs. total. You have to be able to move around quickly but still have enough supplies for a day or two. If you really take advantage of Tip #1, try to consolidate and bring a carry-on that fits underneath the seat in front of you or on top of other bags.
TRAVEL HACK: Not having a carry-on is more of a benefit these days to quickly get from gate to gate, avoid getting stuck in crowds and being able to relax and board last because you know you will not need to fight for cabin space.
Tip #8: Lounges are the BEST!
Having long layovers and waiting take a toll on you while you travel, but do not worry. You can take advantage of the lounges in international airports to give yourself a break. Yes, the day pass can range between $25-$65 per person; however think about the benefits opposed to the cost.
TRANQUILITY | SPACE | COMFORT – Enjoy ample room while you wait and maybe even enjoy a pre-flight snack and drink before your next flight.
STAY CONNECTED – With most lunges offering free Wi-Fi in their lounges, you can stay connected with friends and family no matter where you are in the world.
REJUVENATE | RELAX – With the expansion of amenities offered by airlines to premium passengers, lounges have been upgraded to maximize your level of comfort. International lounges have increased their spaces and have included showers and studio type rooms for maximum comfort. Refresh yourself while waiting on those long layovers.
In this day in age, almost everything is at our fingertips – information, music, even the ability to purchase goods and services are only a click away. But unfortunately there is no app or technology that can accurately predict the future. It is for this simple reason that as an experienced travel agent, I highly recommend to purchase travel insurance.
When most people think about travel insurance, I don’t think they realize how much of travel is filled with uncertainty. Weather is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unforseen circumstances that prohibits you from traveling. Events such as airline strikes, mechanical delays, and cancellations of services can happen in a blink and travelers are not aware how often this happens.
Check out these eight reasons why travel insurance is a must!
REASON # 1: A LOT CAN HAPPEN BEFORE A TRIP
Selling bucket list vacations and once-in-a-lifetime memories in its own is a perk. Seeing the faces of my clients who are excited that they have booked their dream vacation, pure elation. But then, imagine their faces when something unexpected happens and they have to cancel such as a work emergency, your child getting ill, or even a sickness to your travel companion. Having travel insurance will allow you to travel worry-free and give you the time to relax and concentrate on your trip. Depending on their coverage, travelers can be reimbursed for a vacation they may not be able to take.
REASON # 2: WHERE’S MY BAG?
Traveling to far off destinations can be amazing, but we all need our stuff to feel comfortable. What happens if your bags or delayed in arriving to your destination? How about if they got lost or stolen? My clients know that they deserve better and thats why travel insurance is handy when situation arise. Being able to be reimbursed for a fresh set of clothes, toiletries and personal items while abroad is one less thing to worry about. This assurance will make any traveler to be optimistic and know things will get
REASON # 3: WHAT’S REALLY COVERED IN THEIR WALLETS?
Credit cards have been adding additional amenities to their services to give value to their services by offering complimentary travel insurance with the use of their credit card for purchase. Many people feel safe knowing that they have some coverage, but many people do not know they amount of coverage they really have. Credit card companies were not built to protect vacations and their complimentary travel insurance are not as extensive as you would think. Credit card companies are in the business to collect payments not to reimburse them. Keep this in mind when comparing the coverage plans from a travel insurance company plan and a free plan from the credit card companies.
REASON # 4: GETTING SICK OR ILL?
Getting sick is the worse! But having to be sick while being on vacation is even worse. Who wants to travel with a headache and then end up crashing in the hotel room for a couple days. Using medical care facilities abroad can be quite costly and can increase expenses not budgeted for the trip. Travel insurance will reimburse you for covered reasons – so you can get back to enjoying your trip.
REASON # 5: ORGANIZED CHAOS
The economy is so unpredictable and travelers need assurance that their vacations will not be affected due to bankruptcy of the tour operators, cruise lines or even governments who have seen a rise in monetary defaults. History proves that no company or business is assured their future; even large companies internationally. Having protection for pre-paid expenses for your trip allows travelers to be at ease when making their claims for reimbursement.
REASON # 6: MORE ADDED FEES AND CHARGES! OMG!
Have you ever felt like the airlines were after all of your nickels and dimes – well! In cases of travel delays and unexpected costs, travel insurance helps travelers to get a reimbursement for extra costs the will incur – including rebooking fees, change fees, meals and overnight accommodations.
REASON # 7: VIP SERVICE, IF YOU PLEASE
It’s our goal to ensure you have the best vacation possible. Added features such as personal Concierge services which are included with travel insurance plans helps you find whatever you need. Forgot your medication, call their 800 line and they can direct you to the closest pharmacy. Need last-minute tickets to the Opera? They can do that too!
No matter the destination, they are always around to protect you.
REASON # 8: CASH IS KING
Refunds in forms of credit vouchers with numerous stipulations is not the same thing. Travelers want their refunds quickly and they want to use it however they want. Travel insurance can get your money back fast. It’s the best way to protect your investment and assure yourself that even if things go awry, you can take your money and plan another vacation in the future.
No matter how confident you are, unexpected events can happen before and during your trip. No one wants to pay for insurance, until they need it. Make sure to cover yourself and your money and purchase your insurance within 2 weeks of your deposit date to include additional pre-existing conditions.
If you need help choosing the correct plan, feel free to contact one of our travel agents at (301) 248-8898 or for more information, visit our webpage at www.travelwiseonline.com.