Travelers: Walking

Have you ever been trapped behind a whole family walking together, slowly through an airport or on a city street?

It’s nice they all want to walk together. But, taking up the whole sidewalk or walkway is not only annoying, it’s rude. In fact, this was one of the complaints I recently read about in a survey of most annoying things travelers do!

Especially in an airport, everyone is in a hurry. Catching a flight…getting to baggage claim…going through customs. The last thing you want to do in an airport is get caught behind a group of people not paying any attention to other people.

Pay attention and try to get out of the way. Your fellow travelers will thank you.

Travelers: Hotel Provided Items

I don’t pack a hair dryer when traveling. It’s not because I want my hair to look like I just crawled out of bed, either. I check with the hotel, B & B, or apartment website of the place where we will be staying. Most often hair dryers are provided.

It seems hotels are now providing a wide range of items for travelers. Kimpton provides zebra print ounge socks, toothpaste, and mouthwash at its properties. Hyatt is following suit.

Forgot your charger? Did you know that mobile phone chargers were the number one most left behind item in hotel rooms? Some travelers check the desk drawer first before calling the front desk to see if they have loaners.

Need a portable place for your child to sleep? Many hotels offer free kid’s items from bathtub toys to small cribs.

Bottom line…check with your hotel or B & B before you go to the store to pick up what you forgot. Chances are, the front desk staff will have what you need.

And, check before you leave home to see what you don’t need to pack. Might as well save some room in your luggage.

Travelers: Italian Sites

Want to spend less and see more the next time you are in Italy? You’re in luck.

In Rome, centuries-old paintings, frescoes, sculptures, glass works, and more are available for you to see at no cost. From St. Peter’s Basilica  to a variety of churches to the Pantheon, you can wander for days and still not see it all.

The Trevi Fountain is free to visit as well. Spend time watching people throw their three coins into the fountain.

Check out the Duomo in Milan or Florence to view more ancient art up close and personal. Remember to look up…ceilings are magnificent and so are the windows.

In Florence, visit the Basilica of Santa Croce for art from over 20 different artists and sculptors. Take time to look at the funerary monuments as well…from Dante to Galileo.

More fountains, art, and statues can be seen at piazzas throughout cities in Italy. Check out St. Marks in Venice and the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

These are just the tip of the iceberg to viewing amazing works of art…all for free.

Travelers: Jet Lag Foods

Remember the jet lag issues?

You probably will be dehydrated once you land. That makes you tired and weak. Before your flight and once in the air, fill up on water, or 100% fruit juices, or herbal teas. Try to avoid salty foods, caffeine, and alcohol.

Once you’ve arrived, opt for lighter meals, with a good balance of protein, complex carbs, and plant based foods.

Travelers: Lost Luggage

Recently I read a post on the Independent Traveler’s website about lost luggage. Many of these tips I have reported on prior, but this is a great post including suggestions and resources you may not know about. Hopefully, you will never need to use any of these!

Happy traveling…

You’re standing at a baggage carousel for what seems like forever when the steady flow of bags onto the conveyor belt slows to a trickle, then stops. Your bags are nowhere in sight. Or your bags do show up, but look like an angry gorilla has been throwing them around his cage for sport. Who’s responsible?

Delayed Luggage
If your bags are delayed, try not to panic. The airlines typically have ways to track them, and the vast majority of all misplaced luggage is returned eventually. If your bags are on the next flight, you could have them within a few hours. If they’ve been sent to the wrong airport, it could take a couple of days. Make sure to file your claim immediately at the airport and to give the attendant a hotel or home address, as well as a phone number where you can be reached.

The airlines will typically bring you your luggage when it is found; you will rarely need to return to the airport to pick it up. Additionally, many airlines will reimburse any unexpected expenses caused by the loss or delay (keep your receipts!). But be careful here — the airline sometimes has the option to deduct any reimbursement or stipend from any subsequent awards.

Before you leave the airport, be sure you know how to check on your bag’s status; some airlines have an online system while others will provide you with a phone number to call for updates.

Lost Baggage
If the airline loses your bags, make sure you get a written claim for damages. This may require a different form than the original “missing luggage” form. This can be done at the airport or by mail.

According to the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement, the maximum an airline pays on lost bags and their contents is limited to $3,300 per passenger on domestic flights, and a varying rate per passenger for checked baggage on international flights based onthe Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention. In the United States, if you paid a checked baggage fee for your lost bag, the airline must refund your fee. Check your carrier’s website for specifics.

You may need to produce receipts to prove the value of items you had in your suitcase. If you have them, include copies in any documentation you send to the airline. (Keep in mind that you will be reimbursed for the depreciated value of your items — so the airline won’t give you the full $1,000 you paid for that suit you purchased two years ago.) You can purchase “excess valuation” protection if your checked baggage is worth more than these limits (but before doing so, make sure the items aren’t already covered by your homeowner’s or travel insurance policy). Some credit card companies and travel agencies also offer optional or automatic supplemental baggage coverage.

The airlines typically have a long list of items for which they will not be held responsible; these include jewelry, money, heirlooms and other valuables. These sorts of items should always be left at home or packed in your carry-on bag.

Stolen Bags
Head directly to the baggage carousel when you get off your flight to minimize the potential time for your bag to be stolen. Many airlines scan bags when they’re loaded into the baggage claim area and keep records, especially at larger airports. If your bag goes missing after you’ve left the baggage claim area, your claim is no longer with the airline, but with the police. Your homeowner’s insurance may cover a stolen suitcase; if it doesn’t, consider purchasing travel insurance.

Damaged Baggage
Once you’ve gotten your bags off the carousel, immediately check them for damage or other signs of tampering or mishandling. Report any damage before leaving the airport; airline customer service will often want to inspect the bag. Keep in mind that most airlines won’t cover minor wear and tear.

You will most likely need to produce a receipt for any repairs, or be required to use airline-sanctioned luggage repair vendors. Ask the baggage claim attendant for specific information. You don’t want to find out that you have paid for a repair that isn’t covered.

How to Prevent Lost Luggage
1. Put your name on the outside and inside of your bags. Even better, put a copy of your itinerary in each checked bag so the airline can locate you.

2. The most common causes of lost and delayed bags are late check-ins and tight connections. Avoid both when you can.

3. Pack all valuables in your carry-on bags. Cameras, computers, medication, wallets, heirlooms, jewelry, passports, as well as confirmation numbers, itineraries, contact information and other documents necessary to your travel should never be in your checked baggage.

4. Itemize. It sounds tedious, but when an airline asks what was in your bag, you don’t want to forget anything of value. If you make a packing list before you travel, hang on to it — this is an easy way to remember everything you put into your bags.

5. Make sure the person who checks your baggage attaches the correct destination ticket to every bag, and get a claim ticket for each.

6. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bag so that you’ll have something to wear if your checked bag is delayed. If you’re traveling with a partner, consider spreading each person’s clothes between your checked bags; this way if one of the bags is lost, you’ll each still have some of your belongings.

7. Travel insurance is the best guarantee that you’ll recoup any losses.

8. Consider using a baggage tagging service such as SuperSmartTag or ReboundTAG. These services offer luggage tags with unique serial numbers that can be linked to the suitcase owner via an online database. The site will contact you as soon as your lost item is found. (An annual fee applies.)

If All Else Fails
If your bag is lost, stolen or damaged, be sure to file a complaint immediately. If you still can’t get satisfaction, or feel the need to report the airline, contact the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Finally, if you’re wondering where lost bags go after they die, here’s your answer:!

Travelers: Airline Food

According to a reader poll in Travel and Leisure Magazine, the best airlines for food on domestic flights are: Number 1: Virgin America
Number 2: JetBlue
Number 3: Hawaiian Airlines

The best for international flights are:
Number 1: Singapore Airlines
Number 2: Emirates
Number 3: Cathay Pacific

Do you agree?

Travelers: Protect Your Luggage

If you are really concerned about going the extra mile to protect your luggage, there are some things you can do.

You could purchase baggage insurance. Be sure to check to see what is covered.

You could purchased Excess Valuation from your airline.

You could wrap your luggage at the airport. A TSA agent may cut through the wrap if they need to open your bag.

You could ship your luggage to your destination or back home. This could be a better option, especially if you have breakable items.

You could pack some duct tape. It comes in handy if you need to repair a broken zipper, a rip in your bag, or a torn handle. Did you know you can buy a travel size roll of duct tape so you don’t have to bring the whole heavy roll? Or, wrap some around a straw if you don’t need a whole bunch.

Travelers: Airfares

You’re searching and searching for the perfect airfare. Suddenly, you find it. You bookmark the site, check and double check all the plans, wonder if the price will go any lower, and return to the site a few hours later…only to find that fair has disappeared or the flight is now sold out.

Next time, nail down all your plans before you start shopping for airfare. Once you find the fare you like, you can book your flight and move on to other things.