Category Archives: Travel Thursdays
I made it. No hassle, no worry, no anxiety. I arrived in Barcelona in one piece at 8:30 this morning after an hour and a half flight from Houston to Atlanta and a 9 hour flight from Atlanta to Barcelona. The 9 hour flight was basically empty, so I was able to have an entire row to myself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t utilize this entire row to myself for sleep because I was too excited. And, of course, I didn’t want to miss the great window shots as we flew over this magical city (below).
Getting off the plane, finding baggage claim, and locating my luggage was a piece of cake. But I will admit that I was a little nervous to take a cab to the hotel. I tend to second guess myself whenever I travel to a foreign country – Am I sure this is REALLY the correct hotel address?! – Can I trust this driver? What if I get taken?! Needless to say, everything turned out fine. My cab driver was super sweet and didn’t speak a lick of English. It was really fun trying to communicate with him, digging in my brain for some recognition of the words he was speaking. I mean, I did take 4 years of Spanish in high school. Come on. I was able to successfully ask him how long he had lived here and understood his response – 40 years. I’m guessing by his “pregnant” hand gesture that he was trying to tell me he’d lived here ever since he was born. While exiting the cab, I gave him a 10 euro tip for putting up with me and my broken Spanish. YOLO.
(That last sentence was a joke. I despise that acronym and everything it signifies )
I arrived at the hotel and a strapping young lad named Jacobo helped me get a room at 8:30AM… even though check-in wasn’t until 3. He even provided me with international plug adapters (since I forget to buy them EVERY time I travel) and offered to help me to my room. I graciously took the plug adapters. You know us crazy Americans, have to be plugged in constantly. Because one day without our iPhones, iPads, iPods, i-Anythings is absolutely barbaric and unbearable.
Although I wanted to go explore right then and there, I knew I needed to nap since I hadn’t slept on the flight. I want to enjoy Barcelona as my best self… and my best self is always well rested. I’ve been mapping out my weekend for the past hour or so, drawing circles on maps and writing all of the must-see sites in a notebook. You may think this is archaic, but I don’t care. Because the next time you’re traveling in a foreign country and your phone dies, you’ll wish you had my map and notebook!
It’s 8PM now and I am literally famished. I’m off to a restaurant called Cerveceria Catalana. It’s said to have amazing tapas, or small bites, and is recommended for a lively dinner which is just what I need after this long day of traveling. I have a full day planned tomorrow, so until then… Adiós!
Sipping on some San Miguel beer on the terrace.
I apologize for the lack of posts, but things have been insane at the office. I never thought booking work trips could be so tiring
It’s official. Between Q1 & Q2, I will be traveling to Switzerland and Brazil for work, with a potential few other countries on the backburner. I could not be more excited to start traveling the world. Do what you love, but more importantly, love what you do!
How to Fly Comfortably
Smart steps for the best travel experience
By Carol Kaufman from Reader’s Digest | July 2008
1. Fly early in the day. At airports scheduled to capacity, any delay in the morning means there will be at least that much of a delay for every flight thereafter.
2. Leave a day early. Depart a day in advance for crucial trips, such as a business meeting or a wedding.
3. Check the delay statistic for your flight. How often that flight is more than 15 minutes late on a scale of 1 to 9 (the lower the number, the more often it’s late) — before you book your tickets. Airlines are required by law to give you the stat if you ask for it; many post it on their websites. If the number is 5 or below and time is of the essence, consider another flight.
4. Skip the lines. Sign up for the registered traveler program to take some of the pain out of the preflight experience. Travelers who pass a voluntary background check can use special lanes to whisk through security at nearly 20 U.S. airports, including in Denver, Oakland, Orlando, and San Francisco.
5. Make a call. If you get to the gate and the airline says you’ve lost your seat, contact the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights at 877-359-3776. Kate Hanni, the group’s founder, says stranded passengers have told her that seats were suddenly found for them when they called CAPBOR from the airport and let airline personnel know they’d done so. If your flight is canceled, the group’s volunteer staff will help you book hotels, research your flight status, offer alternative routes, help with car rental, and relay weather information.
6. Understand your options. When you’re stuck on the ground for hours after boarding, there’s a reason. “If the airlines lock the doors, they don’t have to provide refunds, credits, lodging, and food expenses,” says Paul Hudson, executive director of the Aviation Consumer Action Project. You can circulate a petition demanding to be let off the plane and take it to the cockpit. An airline can’t hold people against their will unless there’s a safety reason, and the captain has the authority to let people off. If the situation worsens, call the police or a local TV or radio station from your cell phone. CAPBOR hotline volunteers can also put you in touch with the media.
7. Don’t let it drop. If you have a truly terrible experience, write a reasonable letter afterward to the airline CEO, explaining what happened and asking for compensation. Refer to the contract of carriage listed on the airline’s website; it explains the compensation policies. It’s up to the airline whether to remedy a passenger’s bad experience. If you used plastic to buy your ticket, your credit card company can challenge the airline for violating its contract with a customer.
8. Fight for passengers’ rights. Join the fight to enact an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, federal legislation that would mandate, among other things, that passengers be allowed to deplane when they’re held on the tarmac for more than three hours as well as require airlines to provide delayed passengers with food, water, sanitary facilities, and medical attention. The major U.S. carriers are dead set against the bill, arguing that cockpit crews should make these calls. Decide who’s right after you learn more at flyersrights.com.
[Read more here]
Travel plans are calling for more belt-tightening than usual these days, making budget vacations extremely desirable. But such trips aren’t possible if you pay too much for airfare and unless you know where to look, finding affordable flights can be a huge hassle. Below are eight insider secrets to stretch your travel budget and book cheap airfare:
Book six weeks in advance. Passengers pay the lowest price, nearly 6 percent below the average fare, if they buy six weeks before their flight, according to a study by the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). After compiling data from every U.S. travel agency over the last four years, it determined that most people booked the cheapest airline tickets 42 days in advance. But the six-week rule isn’t necessarily a surefire strategy for snagging the cheapest fare. “This is just a trend,” explains Chuck Thackston, ARC’s managing director of data and analytics. “Airlines will make valuable deals available all the time. But, on average, we see this 42-day approach works.”
Scan for morning deals. Airlines only post a limited number of seats at a reduced fare at night, so Thackston advises snagging seats early. “Those tickets may sell out later in the day,” he says. The early morning is the time you’ll see most of these deals available, although a few airlines release discounted tickets throughout the day.
Best time to buy: Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern. If you don’t find the discounts you’re looking for in the early morning, a study by Farecompare.com says the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for travel (domestically) is on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern. However, George Hobia, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, argues that the best deals vary frequently, so there’s not one specific day or time of the week to buy.
Cheapest day to fly: Wednesday. According to a recent Farecompare.com study, the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday for domestic travel. “The day with the most seats is likely to have better supply, and thus … more empty seats that require discounting to fill the plane—meaning they have to release more seats at their cheapest price point,” according to the website. Other low-cost days to fly are Tuesday and Saturday, says Farecompare (Friday and Sunday are the most expensive days to travel).
Fly out early. The cheapest flight is typically the first flight of the morning. “Yes, that means you have to get up at 4 a.m.,” says Rick Seaney, chief executive of Farecompare.com. The next-cheapest flight times are during or after lunch or at the dinner hour. “Of course, the absolute cheapest time to fly is on those limited routes with red-eyes,” he says.
Check low-cost airlines individually. Comparison sites like kayak.com don’t necessarily do all the work for you. Some low-cost airlines, like Southwest in the United States and Ryanair in Europe, don’t allow their tickets to be quoted on popular comparison websites, says Seaney. So be sure to check them separately. And do your homework to make sure the so-called “low cost” airline doesn’t tack on extra fees that drive up the cost, like a bloated baggage-check charge, which Seaney says is a tactic employed by some of the budget airlines.
Sign up for free alerts on AirfareWatchdog.com. Almost every major online booking site offers airfare alerts that ping you when fare prices fall. AirfareWatchdog.com stands out from the pack by using people to vet deals rather than computer systems. “We only send updates when we think we’ve found a good deal, whereas other sites might update you when a flight drops $2,” says founder George Hobia.
Build a relationship. “The question isn’t how much is it to fly from here to there, the question is, ‘Who’s asking?’” Brancatelli says. If you’re an elite member of the airline’s frequent-flyer program or if you have a credit card that’s tied to the airline, you automatically have a leg-up on other travelers. “The more the airline knows you, the more it tailors its pricing to you,” Brancatelli explains. Credit cards tied to the airlines now offer perks that were once standard, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and seat selection, so they may be worth signing up for if you fly frequently on one airline.
It’s that time of year. Shopping malls are filled with crowds of frantic shoppers, restaurant tables are filled with loving, yet lingering families, and airports are packed with stressed travelers heading home for the holidays. While I am grateful for planes and pilots, I do think one of the most unpleasant places to be around the holidays is at the airport. It’s entirely too crowded and people seem to be in a frenzy to get to their gate four hours ahead of time, only to find that their flight has been delayed.
Oh, flight delays. How we love them. I know we’ve all fallen victim to untimely planes at one point or another. You immediately think of all that you could be doing had you not arrived at the airport four hours early. Damn those newscasts urging you to “leave early” and “expect horrendous security lines”. This is the last time I’ll believe them, you think angrily while shaking your fist in the air.
Fear not! There is good news. I may have found something to help pass the time. If you’re a fitness buff like me, this next piece of information will rock your socks off. Airport gyms. Yes, you heard right.
What is an airport gym, you ask? For those who are still in awe, let me explain. It’s a gym located near or inside an airport. Pretty spectacular idea, right? In the USA alone, there are 183 airport gyms. I looked up a few states I travel to most- Texas has 15, Arizona has 4, and California has 18. Sadly, the gyms in Houston are “near” the airport, about a 10 minute taxi ride. However, California’s San Francisco Airport has a yoga room inside the terminal and is free to all ticketed passengers. Hopefully this trend will continue to grow, resulting in gyms in every airport. It’s just one way to kick your travel stress out the door.
To check if your airport has a gym, click here.
If you’ve hit a roadblock when it comes to gift-giving for frequent travelers, look no further! Fodor’s Travel Intelligence recently released an article loaded with gift ideas and stocking stuffers that are perfect for any world traveler. Not to mention they’re all under $50! Read on, jetsetters!
Let’s start with the fun stuff, shall we? Jetsetters get points taken away if their sunglasses aren’t up to muster. We love these 50s-style shades from Madewell in dark camel ($49.50)—don’t they remind you of Gwenyth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley? Continue the cool-girl-on-the-go thing with a classic Moleskine notebook ($19.95) for jotting down lessons learned, cute men met, and adventures had around the world. Moleskine also makes cute travel notebooks, but we’re suckers for the original.
Frequent travelers know about the need to stay organized on the go—help a sister out with these bright green Baggu zipper pouches ($12). With three matching bags in different sizes, it will be easy to remember what’s stashed where. Airport warriors love bragging about the food courts they’ve suffered through and gates they’ve run for (we know, it’s weird) so why not let them wear their pride? These t-shirts by Pilot & Capt make airport codes ($25.60, was $32) super fashionable. No one wants a lost or stolen bag on vacation, so make sure their bags stay right where they belong with this awesome “This Bag is Not Yours” leather tag ($26).
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t head straight for cash—get at least a little creative with a gift card that’s right up their alley. Think iTunes, Amazon, Sephora, or even a Vegas gift card ($25-$100) to help with hotel rooms, show tickets, or club passes on their next trip to Sin City. You can always go for quintessential needs in cool designs, too. Who wouldn’t love packing up this sleek little travel toothbrush by OHSO ($9.95) on the road? Even phone chargers can get a little upgrade with this BlueLounge mini-dock ($19.95)that gives your phone a little more dignity than letting it just lay on the floor next to the outlet.
Looking good on the go isn’t always the easiest thing, which is why we got way too excited when we saw Dr. Hauschka’s Travel Beauty Kit ($30) made for 3FlOz.com (the best travel beauty site around). It’s basically the top Dr. Hauschka products in nifty TSA-approved sizes. Once they look good, it will help to know where they’re going. We adore these awesome and informative illustrated maps by Herb Lester. They do individual maps (4 GBP; $6.40) too, but we like this European Vacation set (24 GBP; $38) that includes whimsical and clever maps for Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid, Paris (x2), and Rome.
[View the original article by Nicole Campoy, Fodor's Contributor]
Happy & safe travels,
As mentioned here, I wrote about some great news I received from my boss about traveling to Switzerland in Q1 2013. I was called into his office yesterday with more great news. The travel plans for next year have been extended and will be more frequent. Potential places being added to the list include:
This is definitely music to my ears. I love traveling and seeing the world and like I’ve always said, you’ve gotta do it young before things get real serious! 24 seems like the perfect age to start.
I know I keep talking about Thanksgiving weekend, but it was literally one of the best trips I’ve had. It was a much-needed vacation. My very large (and amazing) group of friends decided to get together for a little reunion. We took part in many rounds of drinks (zipparitas are lethal but delicious), baskets of golden wings, and intense games of pool at Zipp’s Sports Bar & Grill. We plan to do this every holiday season which I’m hoping will be twice a year because that’s what the holidays are about right? Spending time with the people you care about most. A wise person once said, “If you don’t have friends, you don’t have anything.”
And that wise person was me
During a meeting with my boss yesterday, I was informed that I’d be traveling to Switzerland Q1 of next year. Naturally being the overexcited type, I started googling and pinteresting anything and everything related to Switzerland. I’m not exactly sure which cities we’ll be traveling to, but judging from the pictures, it won’t matter because they’re all beautiful. Actually, the word breathtaking might be a better description…
I can’t wait!