Archive for the 'Travel' Category

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13 Ways You Waste Money on Your Car

CBS Money Watch has a fun article on 10 ways to waste money on your car.  This article has all the usual tips, for example: “Don’t buy higher octane fuel than your car needs” and “There is no need to change your oil every 3,000 miles.  Most of these tips are good and if you are new to being frugal, you should definitely check them out.  However, I personally don’t agree with all the tips.  For example:

9. Buying expensive performance tires.

For the average driver, this is probably true, but it really depends on the type of car you drive and how you drive it.  It also depends on what you mean by “performance”.  For example, many modern cars require run flat tires.  Some cars require “performance” tires to maintain stability at highway speeds and in cornering.  So, I would say this tip is fine, as long as you get tires that are at least as good as the OEM or factory recommended specifications.

The second tip I disagree with is Tip #10:

10. Paying for built-in navigation.

Yes, the average built-in navigation system will set you back and additional $1500 to $4000.  However, what the author forgets is that in many cars the “navigation options” is actually the “computer controlled everything option”.  Many cars now integrate the radio, alarm, climate control, system monitoring, Bluetooth phone support, reverse camera / sensor and much more into their “navigation system”.  So it is important that you compare apples-to-apples when following this tip.  The $200 TomTom VIA 1505TM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps will give you great navigation, but it won’t tell you what song you are listening to or if something is behind you when you are backing up.

Finally, while probably good advice, Tip #3 in the article is pretty inaccurate:

3. Failing to change your air filter. “If you have not changed your air filter by about 40,000 miles, it is probably clogged and hurting your gas mileage,” says George Sadowski. That MPG penalty could be as much as 10% to 15%, he estimates. So if your mechanic recommends a fresh filter after about 25,000 miles, say yes.

The EPA released a study back in 2009 saying that in modern cars, with computer controlled fuel injection, the air filter only benefits acceleration and has no benefit on MPG.  However, for older cars with carburetors, there is a benefit as noted:

Tests suggest that replacing a clogged air filter on an older car with a carbureted engine may improve fuel economy 2 to 6 percent under normal replacement conditions or up to 14 percent if the filter is so clogged that it significantly affects drivability.

 

To replace these two tips, I will give you few quick tips of my own on how to stop wasting money on your car:

  • Make sure your tire pressure is correct – This is probably one the simplest and cheapest ways to save gas and increase tire longevity.
  • Skip the vanity plate – The extra $50+ is probably better in a savings account or paying off debt.
  • Don’t over insure your vehicle – Make sure you are not paying for more insurance than you need.  If you have an emergency fund, raise your auto insurance deductible and get rid of the rental car reimbursement insurance.  These quick changes could save you a few hundred a year.

10 Ways You Waste Money on Your Car | CBS Money Watch

 

Photo Credit: Stig Nygaard

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Quick 8 and 18 month review of the BMW 335d

BMW 335d 2011 Review

The Diesel Driver recently ran an 18-month review of the BMW 335d.  The review is pretty much all positive.  They call out that few people have even noticed its a diesel, meaning that anecdotal “average Joe” can’t see any of the classic diesel concerns such as smell, noise, etc.

Few if any passengers have guessed it’s a diesel although many have commented on the car’s power. The 425 pound-feet of torque is not only fun but has come in handy many times over.

And on fuel economy they note:

The best sustained fuel economy we’ve recorded was 40 mpg (5.9 l/100 km), although we’ve seen as high as 42 mpg (5.6 l/100 km) for brief periods of time. On a drive from Philadelphia to New York, the 335d used 6.0 l/100 km (39.2 mpg) with an average speed of 65 mph (105 km/h).

I have had the car for about 8 months now and have driven approximately 3,500 miles.  To put it plainly, I absolutely love this car.  On the highway, I have been able to get 40+ MPG, and my average city/highway driving has given me with an average of 31-33 MPG.  The car is fun to drive, handles great and has excellent pickup (especially at higher speeds).

My only complaints with the car so far are:

  • When I first took delivery of the car, there was definitely a noticeable smell.  I did some research and this apparently due to “Particulate Filter Regeneration“.  After about 2500 miles though, I haven’t noticed the smell.
  • The HD radio reception is spotty.  This seems to be a common issue with BMW’s and is not limited to the 3-series.
  • I still miss the old “wrap around the driver” feeling of the old E46 style BMW 3-series seats and dashboard.

You can read our other diesel articles here:

More of 18 month review at the source…

BMW 335d 18-Month Report and Review | The Diesel Driver

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Southwest Airlines fares not the lowest anymore

 

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the dramatic increase in Southwest Airlines airfares over the last 5 years.  The big headline statistic is:

Southwest’s average ticket price has jumped 39% in the past five years, while the average ticket price for domestic trips for the industry was up 10%, according to the Department of Transportation.

In a spot check of 24 markets for travel over the Fourth of July weekend, Southwest had the lowest prices in only 11.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737That’s a big increase.  Percentages can be confusing though and since Southwest’s fares started out much lower, there are still many routes where Southwest is the cheapest option.  This is most likely true if you live near a Southwest hub airport like BWI, LAS, MDW, PHX or HOU.   Southwest Airlines made headlines in the past for its aggressive use of fuel hedges.  When fuel and oil prices skyrocketed, Southwest enjoyed must lower price fuel than other airlines.  They used this advantage to expand their business as the “low fare leader”.  Unfortunately, hedge contracts don’t last for ever and the article points out that many of those advantages are now gone:

The end of the fuel hedges made the biggest change in pricing, however. For many years Southwest’s fuel costs were significantly lower than rival airlines because Chief Executive Gary Kelly decided when prices were low before the U.S. invasion of Iraq to pre-purchase fuel and buy hedges against higher prices.

I, personally, have never flown Southwest.  This is mainly due to the fact they don’t serve Seattle anywhere near as well as Alaska Airlines does and that they do not offer First Class seating.  When I used to be a very frequent traveler, the ability to get free upgrades to First Class was enough to steer me clear of the airline.  Their frequent flyer program is also pretty limited and only gets you flights and rewards on Southwest, as someone that likes to save my miles for big international flights, this is a non-starter.

If getting the lowest fare is your priority, and you have always assumed Southwest had the best rate, shopping around a little bit may now make more sense.  Of course, be sure to compare apples-to-apples, the articles points out:

One major reason Southwest prices can seem higher than competitors, he noted, is because Southwest doesn’t charge fees to check baggage or penalties to change tickets. Check one bag for $25 each way and a Southwest ticket that is $50 higher than another airline may, in fact, cost the same.

More information is available at the source.

Can’t Call Southwest a Discount Airline These Days | The Wall Street Journal

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The ultimate guide to stretching your dollar when renting a car

The following are the 18 best tips and tricks for renting a car that 3 savvy business travelers, with 100′s of car rentals under their collective belts, could come up with.  These tips are targeted at people who want to maximize the dollars they spend on a rental car.

At BYM we don’t recommend being a cheapskate for the sole reason of hoarding pennies, but we do believe in only spending money if it is genuinely worth it to you.  Many of these tips help you have an equivalent experience for the same price, and help you limit expenses that sound reasonable at the time, but don’t really add much to your happiness in the long run.  Vacations and travel are a typical place where you can overspend if you don’t have your priorities straight in your head.  You’re on vacation and you’re worth it, so spend the money, right!  Wrong.  You deserve to have a great time and come home to your intact emergency fund and paid-off credit cards (or, if you’re new to living below your means, come home to your hard-earned progress on those two fronts intact.

Getting the most bang for your buck while traveling is a great way to let you see more places and spend more of your hard-earned money on fun stuff when you get there!   Renting a car when on vacation can be a real convenience and — depending on how much you need to get around — it could actually cost less than using other forms of transit.

Like many industries, the rental car industry makes the majority of its money through the obfuscation of its pricing structure, add-on services and fees.  Not only do prices vary widely from company to company, but the exact same car from the exact same company, for the exact same dates and location can have a drastically different price depending on what deal you get.

So know what’s important to you, have fun, and consider these ideas to help you get the best value for your dollar on your rental car:

 

DECIDING ON THE RENTAL

 

#1 – Decide if you really will use the car

Before renting a car, make sure it makes sense.  For example, most would say renting a car in a taxi and subway friendly like Manhattan is crazy, as even the locals don’t own cars.  Doing so will cost you not only the price of the rental, but as much as $50 a night in parking fees.  Even with pricy taxi fares, it may actually be cheaper and easier to not rent a car.    At a theme park vacation many hotels provide free or discount transportation between the hotel and the park, as well as other area attractions and major airports.  Think about what you are going to be doing on the trip, and how much you will use the car compared to other sources of transit.  Be sure to check your hotel parking rates, especially in a city.  And don’t forget to consider the cost of gas.

 

#2 – Make a reservation, but make it really early or very last minute

Reserving a car in advanced, especially when done via a website prevents all the hard-sell hassle of the rental counter.  It also can help you get the car you want and the best possible deal.

Like many industries that have time-sensitive inventory, the rate of a rental car changes over time based on availability.  If you show up the day you need the rental, you may end up paying the full retail rate — or in hotel terms the “rack rate” — which will definitely cost you.   Worse, you could be forced to rent much more car than you need, because it is the only vehicle available.  Booking ahead of time will help guarantee both that there is going to be the car you want / need waiting for you, and that you take maximum advantage of discounts, etc.We researched intermediate / mid-size car rental rates for every major US rental company at 4 major US airports.  This was done via each company’s website and no corporate or coupon codes were applied.  We researched rates at 14, 30, 45, 90, 180 and 240 days out from the reservation time.  The results were very interesting:

As you can see, “last minute” or in our case 0 to 30 day reservations rates were by far the best.  This was followed by a mountain of price increases that peaks around 90 days out.  The conclusion of our research is that you should book no more than 30 days from your arrival date or at least 240 days in advanced to get the average best price.

Quick Tip: Many companies let you cancel your reservation for no charge.  If this is the case, consider booking early, but then shopping around for last minute deals as your travel date arrives.  You may be able to cancel and re-reserve the same car for less money.

 

#3 – Consider paying up front

One of the advantages of living below your means and actually having savings is that you can pay for things up front.  Car rental companies (and hotels) provide discounts for doing so.  The discount ranges from 5 to 20% and is definitely something to consider.  Our research has shown that on a short notice rental, Budget has offered up to 60% off for using their “Pay Now Rate”.

Quick Tip: Be sure to read the fine print, sometimes when you prepay there are fees associated with modifying or canceling your reservation.

 

#4 – Reserve the smallest car you need

Why rent more than you need?  Most cars seat the same number of people and larger cars sometimes only offer marginally more room for comfort.  As a rule, I rent the smallest car I need… this stretches my dollar in multiple ways.  First the rental price is less, the lower rental price means the taxes and fees are less as well.  Smaller cars tend to get better gas mileage, so you spend less at the pump.  You also always have a chance of being upgraded for free, so you may end up with a larger car than you book anyway.  But see Tip #12 for thoughts on the cost of those ‘free’ upgrades.

 

#5 – Shop Around(Duh!)

This one is obvious, but it needs to be mentioned.  Shop around not only between different rental companies, but also different online rental sites, and rental aggregator sites like Expedia, Kayak, Priceline and others vs. the car rental sites themselves.  A recent check on Expedia.com shows a basic 4 day rental from Regan Nation Airport Renting an ‘economy car’ can range from $240 to $358 depending on the company you go with.  In our example the most expensive choice was Hertz, however when we checked Hertz.com, we found the exact same car, the exact same dates, for $282, or $76 less than the Expedia.com price.

Again, price is not everything – sometimes loyalty has its own rewards such as frequent flyer miles, points, upgrades, free rentals, etc.  To maximize this, consider picking two programs to join and stay between the two of them.  If the difference in price is minor, try to focus your rentals with one over the other to maximize the frequent rental perks.  I personally belong to Hertz Gold and Avis Preferred and will simply shop between the two of them to get the best deal.  When the difference in rental is $10 or less, I usually go with Avis to stay in their First tier.While not always true, especially when corporate or coupons are taken in consideration, our research shows that Hertz and National are the almost always the most expensive option, while Dollar, Thrifty and Enterprise are almost always the lowest.  Avis, Budget and Alamo rid the middle.

The follow chart shows single-day, mid-size rental car rate averages for 4 major US airports at 14, 30, 90, 180 and 240 day reservations.  We compared prices for all major US carriers: Avis, Hertz, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Alamo and National.

Quick Tip: Save yourself some time and don’t bother comparing between Dollar and Thrifty, our research shows there prices are almost 99% identical for all locations and dates that we sampled.

 

#6 – Be mindful of hidden fees and fine print

In addition to the usual fees and options like insurance (See Tip #8) and frequent flyer mileage program fees (See Tip #14) there are numerous other fees you need to look out for.  Here is a short list, but there are others:

  1. Under 25 Renter – Some companies charge extra if you are under the age of 25. Note: Some insurance companies allow you get around this through especial agreements with particular rental car companies.
  • Per Mile – Some companies or rental options require you to pay for miles instead of offering the standard unlimited option.
    1. Smoker Cleaning Fee – If you smoke in a non-smoking car, you may get charged $250 or more in cleaning fees.
    1. Alternate Driver Fee – Sometimes only the renter is allowed to drive, other times it is anyone in the party.  This varies based on state law and individual rental car company policies

 

#7 – Avoid fancy vehicles

Remember, this is a rental. Aspirational rentals are an even bigger waste of money than aspirational purchases. Unless the highlight of your trip is the car you drive, avoid renting fancy vehicles.  Hummers, Corvettes, Camaros and convertibles are nice to look at, but will cost you 2 to 15 times as much as a “lesser” vehicle.  Is it really worth it?   The $200 to $500 bucks you don’t spend on your rental can be put to something that will be much more memorable to you then an overpriced ride.

As an example, consider a two day Las Vegas rental for Friday through Sunday, where you could pay $51 for a generic compact car, or $319 for a Cadillac CTS.  That’s a $268 difference for two days of “luxury”.  If having a larger car is important to you, why not rent a Buick for $78?  And what are you in your rental car anyway?  You should be at the pool, or taking the money you didn’t spend on the car and booking a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, or even gambling if that is your thing.

Living Richly Caveat: If having the sweet ride is a key part of the experience for you, then go for it.  But, how do you know if it really is key?  Like everything it helps if you are well centered in what is important to you.  But ask – does it fit in your overall vacation budget?  Is there something you’d rather do either on the trip or with the extra money?  Odds are that if you asked yourself “if I could spend this $250 on anything, what would I buy?” you’ll find the answer, and it won’t be ‘rent a Corvette’.

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My travel tips for those that are new to business travel

This is not exactly my typical type of post for this blog, but there is a lot of really good stuff in here (if I do say so myself).  Enjoy:

Tip #1 – Loyalty Matters

Believe it or not, loyalty counts and can be “rewarding”. While the points, miles and status you earn are really a “consolation prize”, they do make traveling for business a little nicer and can actually come in handy when it is time to travel for personal reasons. All reward programs basically work the same way. Each program has some form of “currency”, be it points, miles, gold stars, whatever. You accumulate these points over time and as you hit particular thresholds throughout the year, you are given “status”. Status, then brings with it some kind of bonus such as “a free bottle of water in your hotel room”, or 25% bonus points, etc. The more you earn, the higher the level of status, the more points, the more perks. Once you get these points, you can then spend them on all kinds of things; from free airfare, hotel rooms and car rentals to Amazon.com or William Sonoma gift cards. Each program’s status levels are different and each program’s point value (in dollars) is different. The important thing to remember is, when possible… pick one program for each aspect of travel (Air, Hotel, Car) and stick with it as best you can.

Tip #2 – Miles Matter – Join a FF program and stick with it or one of its partners

The most important program to join for the business traveler is an airline Frequent Flyer plan. Each airline is different and values its status differently. But none of that matters if the airline is not convenient for you. For this reason, most people pick the airline that provides the most “direct” (aka non-stop) flights from their primary home location. This means that if you live in Seattle it is probably best going with Alaska Airlines, if you live in New York, it will probably be American Airlines, Atlanta would be Delta and DC would be United. Whatever your carrier, be sure to get in the program.

Now, “miles” are a funny thing and their value is mutable. The first thing to know is that there are two types of miles. There are plain old “miles” and “elite qualifying miles” (EQM). EQMs are the miles you earn for actual flight and they count towards your status… other miles, such as the miles you get for using 1-800-Flowers, etc are just standard miles. Most programs require that you earn between 20k and 25k miles in a calendar year to hit the first “tier” of status. After that it is typically 50k or 60k for the second, and so on. Status perks usually include:

  • Free upgrades to First class 
  • Preferred seating (Exit rows, bulk heads, economy plus, etc) 
  • Bonus miles (25%, 50%, 100% depending) 
  • Priority Standby, Boarding, Baggage handling 
  • Waived fees (like change fees, baggage fees, etc) 
  • Discounts of club memberships 
  • Priority access through security lines (This can save you hours on holidays and other busy times) 

If you travel a lot, it’s all about getting status and earning “EQMs”. When you join your frequent flyer program, be sure to read up on the partners that your program supports. This is very important. There are three types of partners:

  • Those that let you earn EQM 
  • Those that only let you earn standard miles 
  • Those that let you earn / spend miles for non-air travel 

Obviously, EQM miles are worth a lot more to the traveler. I use Alaska Airlines and as such, I can earn EQM whenever I fly on Alaska, Air France, Delta, Horizon, KLM, LAN, Northwest or American Airlines. As you can imagine, I will go out of my way to only fly on one of those 8 airlines.

Tip #3 – Join a hotel reward program

Just like airlines, hotel programs let you earn points and climb the ladder of perks. There are many programs out there, but if you travel a lot… it is recommended that you pick one of the big guys, otherwise you will be unlikely to find a partner hotel near that random Air Force base in the middle of nowhere. The big four are Hilton, Priority, Starwood and Marriott. I have stayed in them all and I don’t think there is much of a difference any more. I currently am Gold on Starwood (through my credit card) and Silver on Hilton (through stays). They all work the same way and they all value their “currency” differently. Hilton points are worth about $0.005 each, but let you earn miles at the same time; while SPG points are worth about $0.015, but don’t let you earn miles at the same time (however you can often transfer them to miles and get bonus value when you do so). I picked Hilton because it has over 3,000 partnering hotels, which is 3X as many as SPG. Just like airlines, with each program there are a variety of partner hotels you can stay at. What is important is that you try to stay within the family and earn points towards your status. The following table is useful:

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/account/member_benefits/program_comparison.html

Tip #4 – Rental Cars Programs

Personally, I find rental car programs the least rewarding in terms of status. I am “First” on Avis and frankly don’t notice. The big advantage with this programs though is saving time; faster reservations, faster pickup and faster drop off. Whether you join Hertz Gold or Avis Preferred, your car should be waiting for you when you get there, with your name of a board, the keys in the car and you just get in and drive off. The extra hour you save is definitely worth it. Just like airlines, the more you rent the more you get… I think I get a free weekend rental every now and then and occasional free upgrades as well. Avis’s program is free (so there is no excuse not to join), Hertz charges $60 a year… $30 a year for AAA and its free for USAA and others. Again, I recommend the big guys as you are more likely to be able to rent from them where you are going.

One other tip with rental cars is to avoid the stupid “up charges”. With car rentals, be sure to check with your credit card or insurance carrier… typically they cover you for the rental, so there is no need to spend the extra $15 to $40 a day to buy the rental company’s garbage insurance.

Tip #5 – Take advantage of discounts

Whether it’s a hotel stay or a car rental. Consider taking advantage of discounts. While you could have the “spend as much of the customers money as I can, so you can earn 1% on your credit card point program” attitude, it’s pretty lame and a little big slimy (See Tip #11).  Why not save the customer or the company some money and actually get a better reward at the same time. This saved money will general find its way into more hours for the project, more money for the bonus pool or an upgrade for yourself. Consider the following – Most hotel chains provide a “AAA” discount. On a recent trip, I was able to get an “Executive Floor Suite” with free WiFi and free breakfast for $114 a night… vs. the $120 + $10 + $10 other traveling with me spent. So by using the AAA discount, I saved the government money, I saved the company money on WiFi and I saved myself money on my Per Diem. The same is true for rental cars. If you rent a car and pay full price you are doing it wrong. Between your insurance provider or your credit card provider, you are more than likely eligible for a 5 to 30% discount. USAA for example offers 25% off Avis and Hertz… that is money that can be better spent on an upgraded car or back in the customers pocket.

Also, keep an eye out for promotions. Visa Signature ran a Hilton special last year that gave you 25% off their “Best Rate” and bonus points for your stay. This means that I was able to get nicer rooms and more points for less money.

Tip #6 – Be aware of hotel value

See this post: http://www.belowyourmeansblog.com/2009/08/hotel-value.html

Tip #7 – Take advantage of credit cards

First off, if you can and don’t carry a balance… use a credit card for everything! It’s easier to track and you earn points, miles or whatever. Second, make sure you pick a credit card that doesn’t suck. As of now, I recommend two cards:

  • The American Express Starwood Preferred Guests Card – You earn Starwood points (worth $0.015 instead of the typical “credit card point” of $0.01) and you can earn SPG status. In addition, you get a 50% off coupon each year… which if used wisely can save you several hundred dollars on a vacation hotel stay.

  • Some form of airline card – Generally speaking, whatever FF program you joined, you should strongly consider the corresponding credit card. They usually let you earn miles, have things like “discounted companion tickets” (Which saves me easily save $800 a year) and some even let you earn EQM (which is nice if you don’t travel enough to get to that next tier)  

The key here is to not carry a balance. If you pay late fees or pay interest (even once), it typically negates an entire year of perks.

Tip #8 – Spend your points wisely

Once you earn all these miles, points or what have you… be sure to spend them wisely. Points and the like can be spent on all kinds of things, but before you do… it is a good idea to figure out the value / conversion rate you are getting. For example, if you use airline miles for domestic coach flights you are typically getting about $0.018 to $0.02 per mile… if you use it on domestic First Class you get between $0.02 and $0.025 and if you can save them up and use them on International First Class or Business Class you get approximately $0.04 to $0.15 a mile!!! That is a big difference. To figure out the value you are getting, just find out how much the thing you are about to spend your points/miles on costs in dollars, then divide that amount by the number of miles.

Example:

  • First Class for two from Seattle to Miami on American Airlines… costs approximately $3200 or 125k Alaska Airline Miles
  • For this trip my miles are worth approximately $0.026 a mile
  • First Class for two from Seattle on Sydney… costs approximately $24k depending on carrier or 260k Alaska Airline Miles
  • For this trip my miles are worth approximately $0.092 a mile
  • One extreme example was a few years ago, I took a $19,000k trip on British Airways for 140k miles… almost $0.14 a mile. 

Points for hotels, credit cards, etc work the same way. Make sure you get the most bang for the buck. If you have miles, points, etc in a dead end program… consider using a tool like Points.com to transfer them between programs.

As a general rule, never use miles or points to buy “stuff” and only use them for gift cards or the services on which you earned them (Miles for flights, hotel points for stays, etc). 90% of the time, that thing you want to buy is a total rip off. It is not on common to see things like; Apple iPod for 200,000 points. If that iPod only costs you $89 at Best Buy and you could convert 200,000 points into a $200 Best Buy gift card… why on earth would you “throw away” $111?

Tip #9 – Fly wisely

When flying, consider what city your flight connects through. Chicago is a mess during the winter and southern states have really bad thunderstorms during the summer. Cities in hot valleys like Las Vegas and Denver tend to have bumpy take offs and landings. Keep this in mind when booking trips. It can mean the difference between getting stuck and making it home on time.

Tip #10 – When you do travel, make the most of it…

Take in the sites, see the city, sample the local foods, relax, swim in the pool, whatever. Business travel gets old, but can be mildly enjoyable if you take advantage of the places you go. Also, consider bring your significant other with you. If they share the hotel room with you, it can be a like a free vacation. Two years ago, my wife was able to join me in Germany for next to nothing. Work paid for my flight, car, meals and hotel and for her, we found an ultra cheap Seattle to Munich flight for $299! It was definitely worth it.

Tip #11 – Don’t be an ass

When it comes to frequent travelers, jerks and the like are a dime a dozen. It has been my experience that if you are nice to the person behind the counter or on the phone you will get a lot further a lot faster. A kind word and an extra please can mean the difference between a corner room and one next to the train tracks or between an Exit Row seat and a middle seat next to the bathroom. On my most recent trip, I had flown in on a redeye and arrived at my hotel 6 hours before check-in. On the phone, I kindly asked for a “courtesy suite” so I could get cleaned up… the lady said they didn’t offer these and that I would have to wait until 1PM to check-in, I thanked her and told her I would very much appreciate anything she could do. When I got to the hotel, she had actually arranged to check me in to a room temporarily and then move me to my room later on. Definitely a bonus, I got 45 minutes of sleep and a much needed shower.

Tip #12 – Pack and travel light

This may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked. For starters, if you are traveling for business and checking luggage… you are doing it wrong. Simply bring less stuff with you. Consider buying things you need when you get there. Know that most hotels have free soap, shampoo, tooth paste, shaving kits, sewing kits, etc… you just have to ask. Also, do you really need to bring 3 different chargers with you? Your PSP, iPod and cell phone can all probably be charged by a single universal USB charger… or if you are even more hard core; you can charge them off your laptop. And who needs a music player and a cell phone… get a phone that does both.

Tip #13 – Stay Healthy

When you travel you tend to get less sleep than normal and you may have elevated levels of stress. Both of these things can weaken your immune system. Add to it the coughing and wheezing stranger from Imsickistan next to you in 6D and you have a good mix to get you sick. Wash your hands often, bring a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer with you and gets lots of vitamin C, E and D. Other things to know – don’t drink the water from airplane faucets (nasty) and don’t use the glasses that they give you in hotel rooms (I have seen one too many news specials that show how the cleaning crew just use Windex to clean them). If you take your shoes off when you fly, put them back on when you go to the bathroom… airplane bathroom floors are freaking nasty.

Enjoy…
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.