When you plan where to go, make sure your choice is a safe one. Visit the US Department of State online where you will find worldwide travel advisories and alerts as well as valuable safety, security and health information: TRAVEL SAFE
When you are ready to book, think of the internet first. It is the most convenient, time and money saving way to reserve your flights, accommodations and car rental or airport transfers.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR TRAVEL ONLINE
Select travel companies that search and find for you the best deals offered by numerous suppliers. That way you can compare and choose from a variety of products and prices and book directly with the vendors who best meet your travel budget and trip requirements.
Here are some companies that do that for you.
KIWI.COM can save you time, effort and money by searching millions of flight combinations to find the best fares, and if baggage fees are not included in the ticket price, you will have the option to purchase checked baggage during the booking process.
Their user-friendly website features an interactive reference map and a handy fare calendar showing a ticket price for every day. You will also get a unique flight guarantee when using more than one ticket to reach your destination:
You may sometimes see low fare connections using different airports. I recommend that you do NOT use them. Although serving the same area, some of these airports are far apart and need lots of time to travel between them. You usually pay for the transportation, too.
* – VERY IMPORTANT – Before booking air from any source please read the FLIGHT TIPS at the bottom of this page. Having the facts, knowing what is included and being prepared can make all the difference between a happy travel experience and one to forget.
BOOKING.COM offers the world’s largest selection of places to stay including everything from a full selection of hotels and motels ranging from basic up to 5-star resorts, apartments, vacation homes, family-run B&Bs, hostels, tree houses and even igloos. There are no accommodations booking fees, and they promise to match prices. Take a look:
YOUR CAR RENTAL
AUTO EUROPE has been a leader in worldwide car rental services for more than 60 years helping over ten million travelers find the best options. The company has long-term relationships with top suppliers like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, National, Budget, Dollar, Alamo and Europcar to offer the best rates at 20,000 pickup locations in the United States, Europe and more than 180 countries worldwide:
and if you need PARKING:
AIRPORT PARKING RESERVATIONS.COM with over 3 million reservations booked, lets you compare and save up to 70% using off-site airport parking compared to on-airport locations. For every major airport in the United States, you will find multiple parking options that include self-park, valet, indoor and long-term plus free transportation. Guarantee your parking spot at:
or if you are not driving:
YOUR AIRPORT TRANSFERS
GROUNDLINK provides safe, reliable and professional chauffeured car service in the major cities of more than 110 countries worldwide. They also offer excellent customer service and the industry’s only ON TIME EVERY TIME® or your next ride is free guarantee:
Optional city and area tours are very much worth considering. They provide knowledgeable guides and transportation. Some also include food and/or drinks while others offer early admission or no-wait-in-line attraction features not available to the general public.
Tours let you explore a city, go on land and sea adventures or even enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They are an especially good choice if you have little destination knowledge or limited time but still want to see all the sights.
VIATOR is a member of the TripAdvisor family and the leader in discovering and booking the world’s best travel activities. You can choose from 100,000 things to see and do that range from traditional tours and attractions to special private and VIP events. Also take your pick of helicopter rides, hot air balloons, cruises, one and multi-day excursions, food and wine tastings and lots more in 2800 destinations worldwide. Avoid sell-outs and long lines by booking tours and activities in advance:
CITY SIGHTSEEING makes a city tour even more fun on a shiny red open top double-decker bus that includes multilingual commentary. In 110 cities around the globe, you can hop on and off as many times as you like at any of the bus stops on the route(s) and see all of the city’s best sights and attractions. Be a part of a worldwide city sightseeing adventure:
You should seriously consider buying travel insurance, especially if you paid a lot for your trip.
Also be aware that US medicare and many other plans do not apply when traveling overseas.
TRAVEL GUARD is America’s leading travel insurance provider with more than 20 years of experience giving millions of savvy travelers valuable trip protection and assistance that helps protect their travel investments and health. They can cover canceled or interrupted trips, delays, lost baggage, medical emergencies and more.
While benefits vary by plan, you’ll never travel alone. All plans include LiveTravel® 24/7 hotline assistance to change a flight or hotel room along with World Service Center assistance programs, emergency cash transfers and e-mail and phone message relays to family, friends and business associates.
You should carefully weigh the personal advantages of buying travel insurance and take time to compare the different plans offered.
Travel insurance gives you peace of mind for your trip:
PLEASE NOTE: Travel insurance is not the same as health insurance. Travel insurance covers items (as mentioned above) for a short period of time while you are on a trip. If you will be living in a foreign country for an extended period (usually more than the maximum days permitted as a tourist or business traveler), your host country may require you to purchase full health insurance in amounts they specify.
FLEXIBILITY is the key to getting the best airfare. Sometimes moving your flight by only a day or two can dramatically lower the ticket price. Also, see if there are other airports near you and/or close to your destination. Fares using alternate airports are often less expensive. For example, flights to and from Florida’s Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) are usually much cheaper than those using Orlando International Airport (MCO).
WHEN YOU FLY ROUND TRIP: Buying a round trip ticket on the same airline is not necessarily the cheapest way to fly anymore. As I discovered recently, a one way fare on two different airlines was noticeably less than using the same carrier round trip. So always check which days and fare combinations are best for your travel.
LOWEST/HIGHEST PRICED TRAVEL DAYS: Flying on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday often gives you the lowest fares while Friday and Sunday flights can be the most expensive. As a general rule, the closer to departure, the higher the fare. Also, be aware that air prices can change from day-to-day.
LOWEST/HIGHEST PRICED TIMES OF YEAR TO FLY: Fares tend to be the lowest after the first few days of January through mid-May and from after Labor Day in September through mid-December (except around the Thanksgiving Day holiday). The most expensive times to fly are peak summer (mid-June until the end of August) and for several days before and after major holidays.
BEST TIME OF DAY TO FLY: During the morning hours. As the day progresses, delays increase until they peak at around 6 PM. Also, chances of turbulence and thunderstorms increase in the afternoon as the surface air warms and rises.
KNOW THE FLIGHT RULES: Like most travelers, you will probably want the lowest priced Economy (Coach) fares, and unless you are willing to pay more, these fares have restrictions. Most will be non-refundable and some may be non-changeable and/or not allow cancellations within 24 hours of booking. Even if your ticket allows cancellation or changes you will pay a fee to do so. These fees can be quite expensive, vary from airline-to-airline and usually do NOT permit a routing change. (For a change of route, even if only to use a different connection city, you may have to buy a new ticket.)
WHEN USING MORE THAN ONE TICKET TO REACH YOUR DESTINATION: To give you the lowest fares, many travel booking companies now use more than one airline to fly you to your destination and that requires a ticket for each carrier. Because you can save money, this may not be a big deal. However, you must allow enough time to make connections.
At domestic connection airports, you will have to claim your baggage from the carousel, check-in for your connecting flight and again go through security to reach the gate. Although not written in stone, consider a minimum 2 hour connection time.
For international arrival connections at the same airport and using multiple tickets, consider a minimum 3 hours between flights. This is because you must clear immigration, retrieve your bags and go through customs, then check-in for your next flight and proceed to security (and passport control if your onward flight is to another country).
In addition to your passport, some countries you are connecting through may require a transit visa or a valid visitor visa. To save you grief, before leaving home GET ALL THE DOCUMENTS YOU NEED.
When using multiple tickets, if the delivering airline’s flight is delayed or canceled, it is not responsible for missed connections. Neither is the connecting carrier. For this reason, Kiwi.com offers a unique flight guarantee. If needed, be sure to follow their requirements and instructions.
KNOW THE BAGGAGE RULES: They vary by carrier and fare type regarding cabin carry-on limits, free baggage allowances, size and weight restrictions and related fees.
Some airlines now offer low cost basic economy fares that only include a small under seat item and not use of the overhead bin. (Here are some packing tips when using a basic economy [personal item only] airfare.) If you want to add more baggage, buy it when you buy your ticket because it will usually cost more at the airport. If you are not sure if baggage is included in the airfare price, ask the seller. If not included, some travel booking companies such as Kiwi.com alert you with a baggage purchase option during the booking process. Be sure to look for it, and if added, you will see the new ticket price.
SEAT SELECTION and AMENITIES: Choose a window seat if you want to see the world outside or rest your head to sleep. An aisle seat offers more freedom to move without bothering others and gives you a little more space. (Learn how to find the secret button.) For comfort, avoid the middle seats if possible.
Few domestic USA flights serve meals anymore. Instead, they sell snacks and other light food items. So you may want to bring your own eats onboard. In addition to the usual free audio and video entertainment, some flights also provide Wi-Fi for a fee.