5 Steps to a Stress-Free Vacation from Work

With the holidays around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about taking some time off from work. That can be difficult for some of us who suffer from “workaholism,” a condition common to people in the Tri-State area. We work harder and longer than most people, and then feel guilty about taking some well-earned time off. This is not only unnecessary, it’s potentially unhealthy. Taking time off has shown to be healthy for our body, mind, and spirit, and can actually improve our overall outlook and productivity when we return to work. Here’s how to take time off from work without feeling bad about it.

Step 1: Be strategic with your days off.

When scheduling your vacation days in advance, look at a calendar and be strategic about it. Take time off when it’s not your busy season. Consider returning to work a day earlier than you announce, to build in some extra time to ease into your work routine. Also, try to avoid booking anything important the day before your vacation or the first day back. And plan effectively so you can leave work a few hours early the day before, rather than doing what many people do and leave late, adding substantially to their stress level.

Step 2: Let colleagues know you’ll be away. 

Managers and coworkers will appreciate advanced notice that you will be going away. Send a notice in writing via email, and, if necessary, schedule one or two brief meetings, or talk to colleagues one on one about ongoing projects, what could potentially come up, and who to contact in your absence. Leave a number where you can be reached if it is urgent—but more importantly — ask a trusted colleague to step in as the contact in your absence.

Step 3: Set up messages and email.

Before you leave, set away messages for your e-mail and voicemail, making sure to include your return date and the names and numbers of coworkers who can be contacted in your absence. Also give a copy of important files to a colleague who can step in on your behalf if the need arises.

Step 4: Disconnect when away.

You know how it goes: You finally take a vacation away from the office or business, but you can’t help yourself from checking email or calling in just to make sure everything’s OK. The problem with this seemingly responsible behavior is that it can confuse colleagues. If you say you are not working, but are checking and returning phone calls and emails, you’ll send a mixed message. This applies especially to managers, whose vacation behavior sets the tone for the entire group. If the boss answers e-mails within 30 minutes even while on vacation, the workers will likely assume they’re expected to do the same. More importantly, not disconnecting prevents a person from enjoying the mental, physical and even spiritual benefits of truly restorative downtime.

If your job responsibilities and/or company culture truly prevents you from totally disconnecting from work during vacations, try to limit how often you check in. Do what works for you, but realize the importance of limiting your work time when away.

Step 5: Give credit where it’s due.

Upon your return, block out some time the first few days to meet with your manager and/or colleagues to catch up on what occurred during your absence. Take time to acknowledge the good work of those who covered for you while away. If appropriate, bring back a small gift as a token of your appreciation.

Remember, you deserve this time off. Taking time away from work responsibly is healthy on many levels, from physical rest to renewing your spiritual purpose. So prepare ahead of time, talk to people, and don’t feel guilty about it. Taking earned time away can also show managers and coworkers that you respect healthy boundaries when it comes to work and life.

2017 New York City Holiday Events Calendar

For those of us living in the Tri-State area, we’re lucky to be just a short car ride away from one of the most festive and exciting cities in the world: Manhattan, better known as, “The Big Apple”! To help you plan your upcoming activities, here’s our 2017 New York City Holiday Events Calendar.

Fun and free: Holiday windows in NYC!

One of the most cherished Manhattan holiday traditions is also a free one—enjoying the department store window displays of some of New York City’s finest and most iconic department stores. Here are some stores and addresses to put on your holiday look list:

  • Barneys New York, 660 Madison Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets
  • Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue at 58th Streets
  • Bloomingdale’s, 59th Street and Lexington Avenue
  • Cartier, 653 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street
  • Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue at 56th Street
  • Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue at 39th Street
  • Macys, 34th Street and Sixth Avenue 
  • Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets
  • Tiffany & Co., 727 Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets
  • Van Cleef & Arpels, 744 5th Ave, between 7th and 8th Avenue

91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Considered the official kickoff to the holiday season, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is watched by more than 3.5 million people on the streets of Manhattan and more than 50 million people nationwide.

In 2017, new balloons will include Jett from Super Wings, Harold the Baseball Player, Macy’s Golden Snowflake Stars, and the Macy’s Blue and White Star. You’ll also see appearances and performances by Sabrina Carpenter, Jojo Siwa, 98 Degrees, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Flo Rida, Wyclef Jean and The Goo Goo Dolls. Plus, numbers from Dear Evan Hansen, Anastasia, the upcoming Once On This Island and the new SpongeBob SquarePants musical.

The parade starts at 9:00 am sharp at West 77th Street and Central Park West, then proceeding to Central Park South to 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), and ending at 12:00 noon at 34th Street in front of Macy’s Herald Square.

Recommended areas for watching the parade include the first leg along Central Park West, Time Warner Center and, finally, along Sixth Avenue between Central Park South and 38th Street. Note the section from 38th Street to Herald Square and Macy’s department store is the telecast area and closed to the public.

When: Thursday, Nov. 23, 2016, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Where: 77th Street and Central Park West to 34th Street/Herald Square, Manhattan
Info: www.macys.com/parade 

85th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

Another iconic Manhattan holiday moment is the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting! The 2017 tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Rockefeller Plaza and will remain on display through January 7, 2018.

The giant tree is traditionally a Norway spruce, and is lit with 30,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights on five miles of wire. And to top it off: a Swarovski crystal star.

The annual tree lighting is free and open to the public on a first come, first-served basis.

When: Tree lighting is Nov. 29. The tree stays lit and can be viewed until 9:00 pm on Jan. 7, 2018.
Where: Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th & West 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan.
Info: www.rockefellercenter.com

Newly-Updated Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes

Since 1933, people of all ages have been enjoying the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show. But this New York City holiday tradition is anything but stale. The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) announced recently that the 2017 production of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, has undergone a complete technological overhaul.

Technological enhancements in this year’s Christmas Spectacular include updated graphics in every production number as well as complete visual transformations of scenes such as the energetic tap number, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and the finale number, “Snow.” For the first time ever, all eight of the venue’s iconic proscenium arches will have imagery projected onto them using the most advanced 14K digital mapping technology available.

From a unique take on “The Nutcracker” to the original “Here Comes Santa Claus,” the show features 140 performers, including ice skaters, dancing teddy bears, the world famous Rockettes, a live Nativity, and of course, a guest appearance from Santa Clause himself!

The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, will run from November 10, 2017 – January 1, 2018. Tickets are on sale now at www.rockettes.com/christmas and the Radio City box office.

When: Nov. 10 through Jan. 1
Where: 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York City
Info: radiocitychristmas.com

2017 New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train show

One of the lesser known, but equally festive and family-friendly New York City holiday events is the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train show. Enter the Botanical Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory—a stunning Victorian-style glasshouse and a landmark itself—and watch the Garden-gauge trains loop a quarter-mile of track past 150 New York landmarks, including the original Yankee Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Trans World Airline Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport, and several bridges that remind that Manhattan is, indeed, an island.

This year’s exhibition features 3,000 square feet of additional exhibition space, making room for dozens of new trains, bridges, and tracks, as well as, a captivating short film of the show’s behind-the-scenes magic, and a stunning multisensory finale of light and sound.

When: Nov. 22 – Jan. 15
Where: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
Info: www.nybg.org/hts

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™

Another timeless New York City holiday classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is the holiday ballet of all ballets. From the moment the lights go down, you will be transported to a magical place inhabited by marching toy soldiers, a glowing one-ton Christmas tree, adorable children, mischievous mice, crystalline waltzing snowflakes, the Land of Sweets and some of the most glorious dancing on earth. As in years past, 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and about 100 students from the School of American Ballet team up to make The Nutcracker a magical performance for all ages.

When: Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 31
Where: West 62nd and 65th Streets and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, New York City
Info: nycballet.com

Three Decades of Driving: Hoyt Celebrates 30 Years!

This October, Hoyt Livery celebrates 30 years in business serving Fairfield and Westchester Counties and surrounding areas with their ground transportation excellence. Owners Santo and Lynda Silvestro of New Canaan, CT purchased Hoyt Livery in 1987, and through three decades of hard work and dedication, have expanded the company to over 60 vehicles with more than 40 drivers. A key factor in Hoyt’s success has been a continual commitment to learning about changes in the industry and improving on their already superior customer service. Hoyt was recently named Best of the Gold Coast Winner for Best Limousine Service 2017—proof that their attention to detail has been recognized by their clients.

The Hoyt Experience

Hoyt’s mission from day one has been “The Hoyt Experience.” To make sure each client is transported with the utmost satisfaction from the moment they make their initial reservation until the moment they reach their final destination. This is accomplished with Hoyt’s friendly, helpful reservationists and professionally-dressed, knowledgeable chauffeurs.

“Our success is largely thanks to our stellar staff and loyal clients,” says Lynda Silvestro. “We have the best of both, and we couldn’t have lasted this long without them. “We know that there are other transportation options out there, but time and time again we see the same clients calling back. We truly appreciate that,” adds Santo.

Rewards Programs

Another reason for client loyalty is Hoyt’s Referral Rewards Program. When a client’s friend or colleague hires Hoyt, the company will send the person who referred them a $25 American Express gift card.

And for frequent travelers, Hoyt offers the Marquis Rewards Program. When a client completes 10 rides, they receive a free airport transfer.

Hoyt Livery Travel App

“We realize that customer preferences and expectations change and evolve, so it’s on us to keep up with the times,” says Lynda. To meet the demands of digitally savvy clients, in 2013, Hoyt launched their mobile app, which allows clients to schedule a new trip, check their reservation and keep a record of their frequent destinations to make booking easier for future trips, all from their iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

“Most of our clients are very busy business travelers—they’re not behind their desks, they’re on the go,” said Lynda. “We felt they needed this app to be able to book and manage their trips from the palms of their hands.”

Download the app here.

Drivers are Employees

Another major differentiator: Hoyt’s drivers are employees — licensed, insured, and trained in Hoyt’s standard of excellence. Many other limousine companies, on the other hand, are merely transportation “brokers.” Upon taking reservations, they hire freelance drivers without any regard for their experience, insurance status, or vehicle condition; a reminder for the buyer—or in this case, rider—to beware.

Always Adding to Fleet

Hoyt has consistently added new vehicles to their fleet over the years. The lineup now includes more than 60 Lincoln Town Cars and stretch limousines, Chevrolet Suburbans, Ford E350 Vans, and more—all impeccably maintained and cared for. “When that car pulls up to a client, that’s their first impression of us as a company, so we want it to be a positive one,” says Santo.

With an open mind and an open ear, Santo and Lynda continue to talk with customers about every aspect of the business, and encourage feedback and welcome emails. Cheers to 30 more years of excellent transportation service!

To make a reservation with Hoyt, visit us online or call (203) 966-5466.

Quick Tips on Hiring a Limousine

Many of us have ridden in a luxury limousine for a prom, wedding, or funeral, but it’s OK to rent a limo just for fun, too! Hiring a car to drive you and guests to dinner and a show, a girls’ night out, concert, shopping, sightseeing, or other activity is not only fun, it reduces stress, wear and tear on your car (hello West Side Highway!), and eliminates any potential for drinking and driving. It can also be a lot more affordable than you think. Here are five reasons to feel good about hiring a Hoyt limo for your next night out.

1. Research the company beforehand. Like any other industry, all limo companies are not alike, and choosing the right one could mean the difference between an enjoyable experience, or a nightmare on wheels. Before you make a reservation, check out the company. Go online and search local limo companies. For example, “limousine companies, Fairfield County, CT.” Read some websites, and better yet, call the company. Ask them how long they have been in business. Can they provide any testimonials? Does the company’s insurance policy also cover passengers? Do they belong to the National Limousine Association?

2. Stay within your budget. Know how much you want to spend on a car, but don’t choose a limousine service just because it’s cheap. This may work when booking a coach flight—not so much a limousine. There are other factors to consider, such as a company’s reputation, years in business, toll and tipping policy, and hourly minimum to rent a vehicle.

3. Decide kind of car you want. There are many different types of limousines. Some are basic and others have all the bells and whistles. Are you traveling alone or with a party of people? This, along with your taste and budget, will help determine the kind of limousine you want, whether it’s a regular Town Car, a standard stretch limo, a luxury van for a group, or a specialty Hummer or Mercedes. Ask the company about the quality of their cars, and perhaps ask for a newer model. If you have a certain limousine in mind, make sure the make and model is indicated in your reservation or contract.

4. Ask if the driver is a trained employee. This is an important one. With some limousine companies, their drivers are not employees of the company — they are sub-contractors hired to pick you up at a given time. This is a quality and safety no-no. Make sure the chauffeur that will be driving you is an employee of the company, and has been trained, licensed and insured by that company. Also, that he or she is an experienced driver and knows the area roads and routes. When you make a reservation, consider sending your itinerary to the driver ahead of time with your correct address and time for pickup.

5. Know what’s included in the contract. Like any purchase, buyer beware. Know and understand the terms and conditions of the contract. Is there an on-time guarantee? Does insurance cover passengers as well as the chauffeur? Are tips and tolls included or are they extra? (It is standard to tip a deserving driver.) What about amenities, such as snacks and champagne. Is this included in the price of the car, and will they be in the car when it arrives? Going the extra mile ahead of time will help ensure an excellent experience with your limousine and chauffeur.

New study: Business Travelers More Productive Thanks to Technology

If you travel for business, you might be feeling more productive lately. According to a new study released August 24 by Carlson Wagonlit Travel called the CWT Connected Traveler Study, business travelers are feeling more productive when on the road, thanks to technology and the use of more devices.

The CWT Connected Traveler study included 1,900 International business travelers aged 25-65 across 16 countries in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific (APAC). To qualify, participants had to have made more than four business trips in the past 12 months.

Business travel study takeaways

  • The survey of more than 1,900 business travelers found that more than 80 percent of business travelers across the globe rely on their phones to conduct business.
  • On average, business travelers carry four different types of technology—mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.—with the smartphone being the one travel tool they can’t live without.
  • Not surprisingly, 54 percent of those surveyed said that they bring too many devices with them while traveling.

Benefits of business travel

The CWT study shows that business travelers still view “being there” in person as highly important, despite time spent away from the office and family, and the discomforts of traveling.

  • Further findings showed that almost all (93 percent) of those surveyed find that the positives of business travel outweigh the negatives when it comes to building and maintaining relationships at work, and 77 percent say this also applies to their home lives.
  • CWT finds that 86 percent of business travelers believe that travel can help build knowledge and perspective and 80 percent say travel actually boosts productivity.
  • A majority of travelers (78 percent) actively seek opportunities to travel for work, and 72 percent find that business travel is stimulating.

Tech makes it easier to navigate

  • The CWT survey reveals that 88 percent find business travel easier to navigate today thanks to technology.
  • More than half (55 percent) of travelers apply prior travel experience while planning trips, and rely on hotel (54 percent) and airline (50 percent) websites to fill the gaps.
  • Almost half of travelers surveyed (45 percent) actively use airline and hotel apps as their primary travel technology and 41 percent also rely heavily on map apps.

Devices shorten the gap

  • The business travelers surveyed also actively use technology to limit the “disconnect,” or time away, with co-workers and family.
  • To stay connected with family and friends most (44 percent) will call, but 24 percent use Skype and 17 percent use text messages as their preferred communications.
  • To communicate with co-workers, most (44 percent) will use email, 24 percent will call and 14 percent will use text messages.

Health and well-being on the road

  • While 67 percent of travelers said they believe travel is safer today, 46 percent still expressed some concerns in this area. As a result, 68 percent said they “sometimes or always” buy travel insurance.
  • Business travelers also said they find it difficult to “maintain personal well-being while traveling,” with 54 percent saying that travel disrupts exercise and wellness routines.

The CWT Connected Traveler Study was created by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and conducted through Artemis Strategy Group March 30-April 24, 2017. It was conducted with the purpose of understanding how business travelers stayed connected to both work and home while on the road.

Source: CWT Connected Traveler Study

TSA denies Most Lost/Stolen Property Claims, Says Study

If something valuable disappears from your checked baggage or is damaged during your next flight, your chances of getting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to approve a claim for your property aren’t so good, according to a new study by Stratos Jet Charters.

Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service provider, surveyed nearly 8,000 TSA claims that were resolved by the agency in 2016 and early 2017 and found that travelers’ claims for lost or damaged items during this period took up to six months to get a response, and that more than half of those claims were denied.

While many of these claims are still under review, claims that were approved in full ranged in value from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some airports may experience more of these lost or stolen item claims than others. In fact, JFK International Airport was once described as a “flea market for airport employees,” with reports claiming that more than 200 items are stolen from passengers’ checked luggage every day.

According to the study:

  • More than half of all the requests (68 percent) were completely denied in 2016, while less than 32 percent were fully approved.
  • In 2016, the average settlement payout was slightly more than $260.
  • Jewelry, cash, and camera equipment are the items with the highest percentage of claims denied by the TSA. These claims are rejected at least 70 percent of the time.
  • The most likely items to be approved by the TSA include travel accessories, home decor and personal electronics, but even with those items, the TSA settles less than half of the time.
  • Around 50 percent of requests for reimbursement for travel accessories, such as charging cables, toiletries and adapters, were fully accepted during the study period.

Making a claim

According to a TSA representative, “Every effort is made to resolve a claim when property is proven to be damaged or lost during TSA’s security screening process” and “TSA takes seriously the responsibility to fairly adjudicate claims.”

In order to get approved for a claim, passengers must provide proof of their loss, as well as evidence of TSA negligence. Travelers are also encouraged to provide as much detail as possible, such as receipts, appraisals and flight information.

The Federal Tort Claims Act governs the way a traveler’s claim is processed and establishes their rights in regards to their claim.

Once a form is submitted, the claimant will receive a letter with instructions and a control number for their records.

A claim will be denied if and when the investigation determines that TSA officers never opened a bag for a physical inspection. If a claim is approved, the TSA can take up to six months to fully investigate a claim, though cases involving law enforcement may take longer. If a passenger is denied or doesn’t receive a prompt response, they can file a suit against TSA with the U.S. District Court.

The best advice comes from the TSA, who has long recommended that travelers refrain from packing valuables in checked luggage and opting instead to keep them in their carry-on bags or shipping them to their final destination.

To find out more about filing a claim, visit the TSA’s Claims page.

Source: Stratos Jet Charters

How to Stay Safe Online, On the Road

One in five travelers has been hit by cybercrime while traveling abroad, according to Kaspersky Lab, a global cyber security company. To help avoid being hacked, read these expert tips for practicing safe Internet use when traveling, courtesy of consumer advocate Christopher Elliott and USA Today Travel.

Only use HTTPS – “Never trust open Wi-Fi networks that require no passwords,” says Michael Canavan, a Kaspersky senior vice president. What’s wrong with an open network? “Hackers may set up fake Wi-Fi spots masquerading as a genuine hotel network,” says David Balaban, an expert on ransomware. “They create duplicate Wi-Fi networks using the hotel’s branded online materials. They use stronger signals and lure users to connect to them instead of the genuine hotel network.”

To be safer, only use HTTPS — Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) — when you’re online, especially when you’re on the road. “It’s a more secure option set up by a website that knows security is essential,” says Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. Look for https:// in the address bar, signifying it’s a secure page. Even on an open, unsecure wireless connection, HTTPS is more secure.

If you have to be on a public Wi-Fi network, always use VPN while connected on any public Wi-Fi network,” say cyber security expert Sanjay Deo. “This will encrypt your communications and help reduce chances of being hacked.”

Update your device – Another common error: hitting the road with obsolete operating systems or software. Before you go, remove unnecessary information from your laptops and mobile devices and backup all the data you want to keep and set your web browsers to the highest security setting possible.

Also make sure your devices are updated with the latest versions of your applications, anti-virus, anti-malware and other software updates. To protect your devices while on vacation, secure them with a lengthy PIN number or strong password, and encrypt any data locally stored on those devices.

Internet safety expert, Darren Guccione also recommends activating anti-theft applications such as “find my phone” that allow you to lock the phone if it’s stolen. “So if your phone or tablet is stolen, you can track it, disable it and change all the passwords,” he says.

Don’t advertise you’re away – Don’t post location updates or geo-tagged photos on social media. They can reveal your current and future travel plans to criminals and ne’er do wells. The latest threat: virtual kidnappings, which are becoming more common in Latin America. Cyber stalkers contact your family, claim you’re their hostage, and demand immediately a sum of money, usually affordable and easily wired,” says Mark Deane, CEO of ETS Risk Management.

Don’t leave your device unattended. “The biggest danger travelers have is losing their devices,” says Jason Hong, a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. “Don’t leave your devices unattended in public places, because they can be quickly and easily stolen.” Pro tip: Put your name on your device, in case someone returns it to lost and found. Hong tapes his business card to the bottom of his laptop.

Source: USA Today Travel

Business Travel Accommodations Getting More Homey

Travel for business? You may be among a growing group of people who crave more home-like accommodations on the road. While traditional hotels have been the standard accommodation for corporate travelers, interest in and the use of home-sharing—renting someone’s house for a short stay—for business travel is on the rise.

Read about this growing trend, and how home-sharing companies such as Airbnb are responding, courtesy of Travel Weekly. 

The future of business travel is … a house.

The sharing economy has connected millions of individuals looking for alternatives to traditional services and there’s a growing trend among business travelers to want to stay in a real home versus a standard hotel room via home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb.

Why? For one, a home “hotel” can be less expensive than an executive hotel. A more convenient location is another reason business travelers may opt to stay in someone’s house.

The home-sharing marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace and demand for home-sharing accommodation is on the rise, but business travelers should make sure their company travel policy allows such properties in their travel policies.

Some travel managers cautious about home-sharing

In April, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) released a report, “Many Business Travelers Staying at Home-Sharing Properties Unsupported By Travel Policy.”

The study called “Home-Sharing and Travel Policies – A Shifting Landscape” conducted in partnership with AccorHotels, revealed that home-sharing properties are allowed in one out of every six travel polices (17 percent). But more than double the number of business travelers are under the same impression (37 percent), meaning many travelers are booking and staying in properties unsupported by their travel policy.

Why are some travel managers slow to approve home-sharing? The study revealed they’re most worried about the safety and security of home-share properties (87 percent) as they have a responsibility to maintain duty of care for all travelers, compared to 55 percent who have this same concern for traditional hotels.

Similarly, three in five (61 percent) travel professionals are very concerned about the unpredictability of home-share property conditions, while about half as many say the same about hotels (33 percent). Still, many companies are making an effort to review home-sharing options before making a decision to include or exclude them from travel policies.

Oracle, a database management company, takes an as-needed approach and has a process in place for situations in which a traveler may need to stay in home-share properties. In the case of unapproved usage, the company reaches out to the traveler to understand the driving factors behind their decision and determine how to modify the current program to meet traveler needs in the future.

Home-Sharing Companies Responding

On the other side of the equation are home-sharing companies, such as Airbnb. Over the last two years, Airbnb has made it a priority to grow their business travel, and has developed new tools for both corporate travelers and travel planners designed to help do just that.

“Where we really saw the opportunity was to create a really unique and different experience that would help companies manage employee travel and help travelers make the most of their time on the road,” said an Airbnb representative.

In 2014, Airbnb began working with Concur on programs designed to make it easier for corporate travelers to expense Airbnb stays. Concur said that Airbnb listings will have detailed property information, such as ratings and the number of reviewers, number of bedrooms, included amenities and a property description provided by the host. Reviews and full-sized property photos will be viewable via a pop-up screen. It is the first time one of Airbnb’s corporate travel partners will add Airbnb inventory to its accommodations search.

Source: Travel Weekly

How to Avoid Summer Travel Fees

The summer months are peak travel times, so beware of extra fees and incidentals.

From baggage fees and extra leg room, to late check-out fees and expensive water, ancillary fees from airlines and hotels are an ever-present threat to the frugal traveler.

Here are some useful travel tips on how to avoid hidden charges and get the most for your travel dollars, courtesy of Christopher Elliott and USA Today.

Asterisks and airline fees – Remember when you could buy an airline ticket and you actually got a ticket? Today, that purchase is just a starting point—optional seat “assignments” are a big source of airline revenue. A recent study by liligo.com suggested that more than 38 percent of airlines’ total revenue can be attributed to “extra fees.” If you see a very low airfare advertised, chances are, there’s something the airline isn’t clearly communicating, such as high fees you’ll have to pay to get a seat assignment.

Travel companies like to advertise prices “from $99” or slide in an asterisk next to the rate, indicating that there’s important information they’re omitting. If you see fine print, read it, and don’t buy anything until you understand the true cost.

Overseas mobile data and roaming fees – In many cases, paying high fees for data or cellular connections when you’re overseas is a rip-off, say many industry insiders. Unless you absolutely have to be online at all times—and few of us do—try and wait for free Wi-Fi. Several major carriers include international mobile data in their plans—ask if yours has one or if they offer special rates.

Traveler-specific credit card fees – If you have a favorite credit card to use when traveling, make sure the company isn’t charging you extra when you’re on the road, such as a foreign-currency fee and ATM fees. To avoid paying them, contact your credit card company before your trip. A credit card company will often waive certain fees or can advise you which ATMs to use to avoid paying a surcharge.

Unnecessary hotel resort fees – If you plan on staying at a high-end hotel, be aware that many charge mandatory “resort” fees for amenities you may or may not use, such as spa and fitness center. These can add $20 or more per day to the room rate you thought you were going to pay, even if you have no intention of using them.

Never make assumptions that something is complimentary: read the fine print of each hotel or airline before you travel, and be careful to double check what boxes you check when booking online. Good news: the federal government might soon act to make these egregious “resort” fees illegal.

Wireless Internet fees – Another expense to be aware of at high-end hotels is charging extra for Wi-Fi. An Internet connection should be considered a basic utility, and most consumers resent having to pay extra for it.

When booking a hotel, make free wireless Internet a criterion for staying there. If not, another option is to use your cellphone as a mobile hotspot to supply Wi-Fi to your laptop rather than agreeing to pay another fee. But as mentioned above, be sure your carrier isn’t charging you extra for data and roaming fees.

More money-saving travel advice:

Check the reviews. Performing a simple web search for the hotel or cruise line you’re considering, along with the word “scam” or “fee” should reveal all you need to know. Be sure to cast a wide net and don’t just rely on a single source.

Pack carry-on only. An increasingly popular travel option is to pack carry-on only, if possible. Not only will you save on baggage fees, you’ll exit your destination airport a lot faster.

Don’t be afraid to haggle. According to many travel experts, consumers can haggle almost anything, especially in person at a hotel. Depending on how much effort you’re willing to expend, you could get a fee dropped or even an upgrade.

Use helpful travel apps.  We live in a digital, mobile world, and it often pays to download helpful travel apps to book online, find free Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, and sometimes be eligible for special online- or app-only discounts.

When it comes to ancillary fees, most travelers know they exist, but not to the extent in which the travel industry has built a business model around them. To avoid falling prey to extra fees, travelers have to be ever vigilant, especially when booking their flight or hotel.

Source: USA Today

TSA Advice on Getting Through Airports Faster

Securing the travel of millions of passengers daily remains our top priority,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia in a recent news release. Summer travelers can expect an increased security presence at airports nationwide, with 50 additional passenger canine teams in use compared to last summer, and 2,000 more TSA officers working this summer compared to a year ago.

With more people and security at the airports, here’s some advice from the TSA on how to move through airports as quickly and conveniently as possible, courtesy of Odenton Patch.

Arrive early to the airport. To help speed the security screening process, travelers should get to the airport early, authorities say, preferably two hours ahead of a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. You want to build in extra time for traffic, to park or return rental cars, check bags, get a boarding pass and visit the restroom—all before heading to the security checkpoint.

Prepare for security when packing. Put large liquids, gels, creams, and aerosols into checked bags—think shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream, and antiperspirant. If you only have a carry-on bag, make sure all of your liquids follow the 3-1- 1 rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart-size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Let the TSA officer know right away if you’re traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications or breast milk or formula.

Know security line etiquette. The key to moving through the security checkpoint line quickly and easily is being prepared and knowing what’s expected of you. Consider minimizing items that you wear to the airport such as bulky jewelry, scarves, hair accessories, large belts and other bulky items that are likely to require additional screening. Remove all items from your pockets and put them into one of your carry-on bags so you won’t lose them.

Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off as you go through security screening. Empty your pockets before heading through the checkpoint screening equipment. Another time saver is to make sure you don’t have any prohibited items, such as various knives in your carry-on bags.

According to the TSA, prohibited items detected at a checkpoint will slow a checkpoint line, as they’ll require bag-checks, tests for traces of explosives and finally, rescreening through the X-ray equipment.

When you enter the checkpoint line have an acceptable ID and boarding pass ready to hand to the TSA officer. Once you get to the screening tables, remove large electronics including laptops and your 3-1- 1 liquids bag from your carry-on baggage.

Apply for TSA Pre PreCheck allows for an expedited airport security experience. With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets at more than 180 U.S. airports. For more information about TSA Pre, visit the frequently asked questions page on TSA.gov.

Source: Odenton Patch