Friday, May 30, 2014

Travelers: Credit Card Numbers


By now you probably know to call your credit card company before you travel. By letting them know you will be in Venice, Italy or Venice Beach, California makes life easier for everyone. For one thing, you won't have your purchases denied. The credit card company will monitor any purchases not in the areas where you are traveling.

But, what if you lose your credit card? Do you have their number? Be sure to have both numbers, including the international number, handy. Store it somewhere that's easy for you to get to but easy to lose.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Travelers: Look Like a Tourist


Sure, you are a tourist. But, do you really need to look like one? Perhaps you could leave the over-stuffed fanny pack and dozens of guide books at home.

What do you do to blend in when you travel?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Travelers: Miscellaneous Tips


There are probably a gazillion travel tips out there. Sometimes I come across a new one and sometimes a tip finds me when I'm traveling.

Did you know binder clips have seemingly endless uses?

Did you know you could use an old eye glass case to hold things you want protected or don't want to lose in the bottom of your carry on...chargers, cables, jewelry, small pill bottles, nail clippers, cough drops, and so much more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Travelers: Suitcase Issues


You're traveling and your suitcase just ripped. What do you do? Pull out the trusty duct tape and tape it up...right? But, what if the tape won't stick to the suitcase?

Use a garbage bag to completely cover your suitcase and tape the bag shut. It's not a long term fix but it will get you away from the baggage carousel without leaving a trail of clothes.

What if the zipper breaks and you can't get it fixed? Use heavy duty safety pins as a temporary fix.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Travel Scams

I just read about this latest travel scam. While it's a good idea to pay attention to all "freebies", this appears to be the latest now that summer travel is here. Hey, we all like to get something free. But, not when it's not legit.
Check it out...

SACRAMENTO – The Better Business Bureau is warning the public of a a travel scam sweeping across the country.
Thousands of consumers across America have received fake airline vouchers in the mail, claiming the recipient has been awarded two free round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States. The gift certificates look legitimate but lists fake companies with names such as US Airlines or American Airways.
According to the BBB, the envelopes are usually postmarked from Phoenix or Scottsdale, Ariz. This is considered clever on the part of the scammers, because the corporate headquarters for actual airline, US Airways, is located in nearby Tempe, Ariz.
The mailer does not provide a return address, but includes a phone number and a deadline for the recipient to redeem the voucher. Gary Almond, Better Business Bureau Sacramento president, says the language in the letter can be very deceiving.
"There's a big sense of urgency in the letter," said Almond. "You know, contact us immediately, this is a limited time offer, and this is the last time we're going to contact you, so people are already highly motivated."
Once contact is made, scammers will try to collect the consumer's personal information, telling potential victims they need money wired from a savings or checking account to pay for taxes and insurance fees for the voucher. If a caller is unwilling to provide his or her bank account number, the scammer will continue using high-pressure tactics to acquire credit card information. Either way, the crooks are then able to acquire the funds through your account.
The Better Business Bureau says more people will begin receiving these notices in the next few weeks, especially around the Memorial Day holiday weekend, which typically marks the unofficial start to the summer travel season.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Travelers: Do you worry about identity theft?


Protecting your identity is crucial...especially when traveling. Is it something you take extra precautions for and pay attention to while you travel?

Do you know what to look for when in a new place or country? Check out these tips...

Some may seem obvious, but they all have merit.

Pay attention when using ATMs. First, make sure it is a real ATM and not a fake. Use one at a bank you know is real. Cover the touch pad when entering your PIN or have someone stand behind you.

If you are using credit cards, check your statements while traveling.

Protect your passport. Keep it in a secure place, pocket, or purse compartment.

Think before you use public computers. Most hotels, B&Bs, and rentals have free wi-fi that is secure when you need to use your computer. If it's not secure, be sure to log out of whatever site you were using as soon as you are finished.

Turn off your smartphone's settings that allows the phone to automatically connect to nearby wi-fi hot spots. It's a good idea to lock your smartphone as well.

If you are staying in a hotel and receive a call in your room or on your smartphone to add an additional credit card to your room...don't give out one over the phone, even the hotel phone. Visit the front desk in person. Chances are they didn't call you.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Travelers: Are you ready to go?


When thinking about a vacation, do you plan your spending ahead of time? Do you save money to use while on vacation? If so, what's your plan?

Some people throw all their change in a jar or piggy bank. Spare change adds up. Our bank doesn't let us bring in loose change, however. They give us the paper wraps and we need to count it and roll it. Not too bad for change that might just sit in a drawer or at the bottom of your purse. This year my spare change added up to almost $300.

Recently I read about a site that lets you save online. It's called SmartyPig.com. Apparently you can set goals and SmaryPig keeps the transfers going until you reach your goals. I haven't tried it but it seems like a fun way to accumulate some extra travel money.

You could also open a dedicated savings account just for travel. You might want to check with your bank to avoid any fees if the account has required amounts.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Travelers: Wine of the Day!

Just read this and thought I would share...

Happy National Sauvignon Blanc Day!
That’s right, it’s that time of year again where is time to celebrate this delicious grape – as if we needed another excuse.
In honor of such a day, we’d like to take a trip to Styria - the place for Sauvignon Blanc in Austria with a style that’s uniquely its own. You won’t find any aromas of cat pee here, no, instead you will find bright fruit, minerality, refreshing citrus, and overall pleasure in a glass.
To start, let’s review the region of Styria. The region of Styria boasts a generally young winemaking history. Many of the estates found in the area were developed from agricultural properties from many generations before. It can be broken down into three main areas: Weststeiermark, Sudoststeiermark, and Sudsteiermark, and it is in the latter two that one will find world-class Sauvignon Blanc.
The highest producing area, Sudsteiermark, is a landscape of rolling hills, steep slopes, and soils full of ancient sea fossils that are, in some cases, as large as a human head. Variation in soils throughout the region, though, creates complexity and interesting stylistic differences and a variety of grape varieties grown. It is the Sauvignon Blanc, however, that has become best-known. Often referred to as the “Tuscany of Austria,” Sudsteiermark is a breathtaking arena for vineyards is truly special and it’s easy to lost oneself on a multi-hour hike. The wines are known for their fresh aromatics that are best portrayed in their “Klassik” style of wine.
Moving to the east, Sudoststeiermark hosts volcanic soils that add a delicate, mineral spice to the wines and readies them for long-aging. In comparison to Sudsteiermark, which boasts a Mediterranean climate, Sudoststeiermark combines this with a hot, dry, Pannonian climate to create an interesting microclimate for the region. Here, one will find make buschenschank, the region’s name for the heuriger or wine tavern, but also top-rated restaurants and many tourist attractions. Definitely worth the visit!
We leave you with a few breathtaking pictures of the region…So pop something delicious this evening and celebrate Sauvignon Blanc the Austrian way… with Styria.

From Austrian Wine

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Travelers: Water Bottles


If you've flown anywhere in the last several years, you know you can't bring water through security. You need to purchase bottles of water once you have cleared security. If you need more than one bottle for a long trip, they get cumbersome to carry. Not to mention heavy.

Think about using the collapsible bottles that are basically flat when empty. Fill them up just before you board and you won't have to drag around heavy bottles.

After they are empty, store them in your carry on and reuse them next time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Travelers: Airport Parking


You know you'll remember exactly where you parked your car in the humongous airport parking lot. Right?

However, if you're excited about your upcoming trip, remembering where you parked might not be at the top of your things to remember.

Next time, take a photo of the parking lot section sign with your phone or digital camera. Then forget about it until you return.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Travelers: Addresses


How do you convey the address of your hotel to your taxi driver in Paris when you don't speak his version of French and you can't understand the questions he's asking you? Maybe you saved the emailed copy of your confirmation...but you're in a cab without wifi...and your phone doesn't work in Europe.

What then?

You could show him your confirmation email that you printed and have with you. It may be 'old school'...but it works.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Travelers: Travel Documents


Do you back up your travel documents that would be catastrophic to lose? Copies of your passport, travel insurance policy, credit card info, or other identification info are vital to have when traveling.

You can keep these safe by using cloud technology like Dropbox, Google Drive, InfoSafe, and others.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Travelers: Too Much


I know you want to see it all when you travel. But, you know what? That's impossible.

In fact, you should leave room in your schedule for those unexpected delights. If you slow down and enjoy the trip...chances are your entire experience will be better.

Guess what...you can come back to take in the sights you missed or want to revisit. It's a whole lot more fun that way.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Travelers: Fare Searches


Many of you probably start planning your trips fairly early, especially if looking for flights to Europe, across the US, or a complicated itinerary.

When you start checking airfares, do you wonder if they will go down? Should you wait? How do you know?

One tool I found is to use Kayak. Put in your cities and dates. Then use their feature called Price Trend which shows whether the fare for your flight has been rising or falling. It also advises if you if you should purchase now or wait, with a confidence percentage.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Travelers: Rental Cars


You know you need to fill up the rental car before you return it. But...you forgot to check where the closest place to do that is.

Next time, on your way out of the rental car facility...check for gas stations. Or...check your smart phone before you're in a rush to catch your flight.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Travelers: Check Out H.R. 4156


According to a post on Smartertravel.com…
Transparency in airfare. That sounds like something everyone can get behind, right?

But the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R. 4156), currently pending in the House, has ignited a firestorm of controversy about the nature and benefits of pricing transparency.
There are, it turns out, two rather different conceptions of transparency in conflict here: transparency as understood by consumers of travel, which facilitates comparison shopping; and the kind of transparency advocated by the airlines, which obscures the true cost of travel throughout most of the buying process.
The first conception, encapsulated in the 2012 DOT Full Fare Advertising regulation that would be overturned by H.R. 4156, stipulates that airfare ads must prominently display the total price of a ticket, including all taxes and fees, up front. The taxes and fees may be listed separately, so long as the all-in price is the headliner.
That approach captures the common-sense understanding of transparency, and addresses the persistent practice of airlines' quoting low "net" fares and burying the associated taxes and fees in small-type notes at the bottom of the page. Importantly, it allows travel consumers to readily make apples-to-apples comparisons of ticket prices.
The competing notion of transparency focuses on the taxes and fees, at the expense of the total ticket price. In a nutshell, H.R. 4156 "declares that it shall not be an unfair or deceptive practice for an air carrier or other covered entity to state the base airfare in an advertisement or solicitation for passenger air transportation if it clearly and separately discloses: (1) the government-imposed taxes and fees for the air transportation, and (2) its total cost."
It's the airlines' way of highlighting the effect government fees have on the overall price of airfare. (According to Airlines for America, an industry trade group that is aggressively promoting H.R. 4156, federal taxes currently account for 20 percent of the total cost of a ticket.) And, not coincidentally, it will allow a return to the bad old days when airlines and other travel distributors only revealed the total ticket price after a consumer had all but completed the booking process. It borders on bait-and-switch.
It may well be that some of the government-imposed taxes and fees included in the total price of a ticket are unreasonable or inappropriate. But that's a separate issue, best dealt with by the airlines' extensive networks of lawyers and lobbyists and trade groups. Positioning H.R. 4156 as a pro-consumer piece of legislation is cynical and misleading. But that's nothing new. It is, in fact, exactly the sort of behavior the DOT's 2012 Full Fare Advertising rule was designed to forestall.
As the New York Times opined in a strongly-worded editorial (pointedly headlined "Making Airfares Less Transparent"), "The cynically named Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 can only hurt consumers... This push to mislead consumers is particularly galling since recent mergers, like that of American Airlines and US Airways, have made the industry less competitive. This bill will only hurt travelers."
If H.R. 4156 wins, it will be a win for the airlines at the expense of consumers.