March 27, 2007

Travel Tips from a Weary Traveler

Having spent several weeks on the road shuttling through airports and hotels, I wanted to share some travel tips that I learned along the way:
  • Hotel Rewards Programs - Make sure you register for your hotel chain's rewards program when you book your hotel stay or at some point during your hotel stay (during check-in or check-out probably makes most sense). If you register for the rewards program after your hotel stay, you may not be able to get credit for your previous stay (something I learned the hard way).

  • Airline Rewards Programs - Did you know that you can get airline mileage credit for flying on other airlines? So, for example, if you happen to collect all of your mileage through U.S. Airways, if you take a flight on United, you can apply your United flight mileage to your U.S. Airways frequent flyer account. Check your favored airline's website to see its specific policies.

  • Getting a Better Airplane Seat - I love web check-in but find that it's hard to switch to a nicer seat online. If you have the time, even if you've done web check-in, go to one of the automated self-service machines and check-in again. You may actually be offered better seats (as has happened to me). And, of course, there's always the tried and true method of directly asking one of the airline's customer service agents.

  • Rental Car - Before you drive off the lot, check your car to make sure all dents, scratches and other problems have been documented. Rental car agencies in big cities are busy and are happy to send you off as quickly as possible. Taking a couple minutes to inspect your car before driving away can save you the headache of filling out an incident report when you return your car and the rental agency "discovers" scratches and dents.

  • Forget Your Toiletries? Many hotels will provide a complimentary toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and just about anything within reason. So, if you're annoyed by or can't figure out all those ridiculous TSA restrictions on what you can and cannot bring on the airplane, rest assured that you should be able to at least brush your teeth for free.

  • Airport Security Screening - Save yourself a headache by packing your belt, jewelry, watch, cell phone, Blackberry, coins, etc. in your laptop bag, purse or bookbag so that you can get through the security screening with as less hassle as possible. Also, if you happen to buy a one-way ticket at the last moment at full refundable fare, be prepared to be selected for additional security screening. And, if your name is Robert Johnson or Gary Smith, you're probably screwed.



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