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Friday, November 1, 2013

Super Useful Travel Links

Are you freaking out that it’s already November? Have you booked your travel yet for the holidays? Whether you’re visiting family and friends or going on a real vacation, the sooner the better. This is something that I wrote about in my last newsletter – you can read it here and also sign up for future issues here – and I know a lot of people struggle with. I’m not going to talk about where to go and what to do on your trips, because that’s not what this series is about, but we are going to talk about some new things happening in the travel world that could make your holidays (and all your other trips) better and/or cheaper.

Would you book a flight to an unknown destination if you could get a great deal? The folks at FlyRoulette think you will and will give you enough notice to pack your carry-on with the right items and will even give you a rockin’ deal on a hotel. This is not the type of travel for everyone, but budget travelers with a sense of adventure may find this to be the new way to see the world.


Shorter lines at the airport might just be around the corner. Does it feel like sometimes security takes  F O R E V E R  to get through? Let me tell you, I once came back to Portland through Miami and because we were flying internationally, we had to leave security, get our luggage and wait in line to go back through security and we must have been in that line for a good hour. Worst set-up ever. It didn’t help that every single person who worked at the airport (with the exception of two awesome ones – TSA agent who checks your ID against your real-life face and customs agent who stamped my passport) was the grumpiest person who ever walked the earth. I will never fly through that airport again if I can help it, even if lines get massively shorter. The USTA is fighting for this reality. Dare we dream?


Speaking of awful airports – *cough* LAX *cough* – some are just better at things than others…like actually getting you somewhere on time. I guess not every airport prides itself on having flights that leave when they say they will or having a layout that is conducive to getting to your next gate. If you have to get from Gate A1 to Gate D45 (God, help you) for a connecting flight, you should not have to rent a Vespa to get you there in a reasonable amount of time. Check out the gate-to-gate convenience and on-time records of the best and worst connecting airports as reported by eTurbo News.

photo credit

Getting around in a new city can be hard, even if you’ve studied the map so much that it’s embedded in your brain. Just because you know where Main Street and 234th Avenue meet doesn’t mean you know how to get there or navigate public transportation efficiently. Gitana Stark has 9 tips to get you around that make you say “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

I love gadgets! Not that I need more for traveling, but that doesn’t mean I won’t buy any anyway. Real Simple has compiled a list of 10 things that will not only make your travel easier, but also more fun! Who doesn’t want to get excited just by planning a trip?
This is free!
Have I mentioned how much I love Lonely Planet? I do. I really, really do. Not only do they cater to travelers who don’t have an unlimited travel budget – looking at you, Frommers – and are fun to read, but they are crazy-informative. Hardly a trip goes planned that I don’t hit up their website (or books. I still buy those!) for suggestions on what to do, where to eat, how to act at my chosen destination. If you start to hyperventilate before the planning is over, then they have some tips for you on how to deal with travel anxiety.

Let's do this!
Apparently, I’m not the only one who wishes a plane was more like a bus. Not in the stinky weirdos sitting next to you, trying to smell your hair kind of way, but the multiple door boarding kind of way. Why must we lowly coach passengers have to march through the first-class cabin getting sour looks from those fancy people who pay thousands of dollars to have some extra legroom? Obviously, they don’t like us doing it either, especially when we accidentally whack them in the shoulder with our carry-on and send their free champagne into their lap. Yep, that was an accident. Anyway, back to what I was saying about planes being like buses. Alaska is trying the two-door boarding technique. If it works out, then probably it will do it on all their flights and maybe more airlines will do it too. But, what about paying for priority boarding? Would you do that? FareCompare also shows us some other options as well as why traditional boarding sucks for everyone.


Like me, most of you are stuck riding coach. It can’t be helped for the budget-traveler, unless you amass billions of frequent flyer miles and get that coveted business class or first class seat. I feel as if this somehow ever happened to me, I would be ruined for coach travel for life and be sad every time I stepped aboard a plane from that point on. It’s better for me to not know what I’m missing. So, for those of us that never get upgraded and aren’t willing to pay gazillions of dollars to get a free hot towel and meal served with real metal utensils – I can just pack my own – then check out Skift’s post on airlines with the most “extra legroom” seats and how much it’ll cost you to snag one.


So, what do you think? Is this making your holiday travel look more promising? If you’ve found a great travel link in your perusing of the interwebz this week, please feel free to share it in the comments so we can all be enlightened! Until next time, or as the French say: Jusqu’à la prochaine fois! {I’m guessing.}
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