How will hotel rates change in 2020?

Modest Hotel Rate Increases in 2020: American Express Global Business Travel

Business travelers won’t see a big jump in hotel rate increases globally in 2020, according to a Hotel Monitor 2020 report, published by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). Here are the key findings, courtesy of writer Janeen Christoff and travelpulse.com.

The recent study found that a global boom in hotel construction has led to an increase in supply of hotels, at the same time that international trade tensions are dampening demand from travelers, restricting the ability for hotels to raise their rates.

“Despite signs that the global economy is facing challenges, the number of people traveling for business and leisure continues to grow,” says Joakim Johansson, Vice President, Global Business Consulting at GBT. “But, in most cities, a full hotel development pipeline means this sustained level of demand will not feed into big rate rises.”

Other emerging hotel trends—more tech, less formal

The Hotel Monitor 2020 also identified several key trends with hotels. Most importantly, technology’s ability to drive change within the hotel experience.

Johansson said: “For several years, GBT has been charting the rise of the modern business traveler, who wants a more informal, flexible and digitally smart environment to work and rest. Hotel providers, both big global groups and more local chains, are responding to this need with new hotel formats or serviced apartments. Hotels need to be ready to accommodate this emerging traveler preference.

In addition to tech advancements, shared working spaces and a less formal environment are driving the transformation of traditional business hotels with a focus on lifestyle enhancements.

U.S. hotel rates will remain flat while Canada predicted to rise

Flat occupancy rates and a full pipeline of room construction is driving competition and limiting the ability to raise rates.

Canada’s relatively strong economic performance and slowing capacity growth could lead to rate increases. Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto will see the biggest increase in room rates (5 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent respectively), according to the Hotel Monitor 2020 while guest room rates in New York are expected to decrease by 3 percent.

Hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa

The Hotel Monitor found that, in Europe, there will be a small increase in price. Uncertainties about Brexit and low growth in Europe’s main business centers as well as the global economic outlook will likely take a toll on demand.

Hotel development in the region is also at a record high with Germany leading the way and the U.K. following closely behind. London will see a further 10,000 new rooms open in 2019 and 2020.

Concerns about political and economic uncertainty have negatively impacted business travel in Central and Latin America, says the Hotel Monitor 2020. However, prices are expected to rise as demand continues to outpace growth. Hotel construction has decreased 25 percent year over year.

In the Middle East and Africa, a hotel construction boom across the Middle East, but largely focused on the United Arab Emirates, means supply will outstrip demand and lead to forecasted falls of as much as 10 percent in Doha and 8 percent in Riyadh.

The hospitality industry is growing rapidly across the Asia Pacific, with thousands of additional beds in key cities every year. Despite a capacity increase, rates are still expected to rise between 4 and 5 percent.

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Source: TravelPulse.com

Travel Hacks: How to Pack Your Jewelry

Traveling with some key jewelry pieces is a great way to spruce up a limited wardrobe, but there are concerns about loss or theft.

Here are some travel hacks using everyday household items to help keep your jewelry organized, courtesy of herpackinglist.com.

Consider when packing

Leave your valuable jewelry at home, and definitely don’t bring pieces of sentimental value or emotional value that you’d be upset about losing or getting stolen. Instead, pack a few statement necklaces from your costume collection. They can dress up the most basic outfit, add a splash of color to neutral pieces and transform an ensemble from day to evening with ease.

How to pack

Here are some inexpensive items around the house to pack and secure your pieces:

  • Carabiners: You know those hooks climbers use? They can also be used to hook together bracelets or even necklaces by simply clipping them on.
  • Cling Wrap: Keep your delicate necklaces from getting tangled by laying them out on a piece of the “Press‘n Seal-style Cling Wrap (pull out a piece that’s long enough to fold over your jewelry). Fold the cling wrap over your necklaces and Press’n Seal your jewelry into place.
  • Contact lens case: These are great for keeping smaller items like stud earrings secure.
  • Craft store bead organizer or fishing tackle box: These are very useful if you’re planning on bringing multiple items; take advantage of the different size storage areas.
  • Drinking straws: A unique way to prevent your necklaces from getting tangled is to simply thread one side of the chain through a plastic straw and attach it at the other end. It keeps one side rigid and tangle-free.
  • Erasers: Keep the backs to your stud earrings from getting lost in transit by sticking them in a simple eraser like the ones from your school days.
  • Glasses cases: Use your glasses or sunglasses case for bracelets, earrings, and smaller items—but only if it closes securely.
  • Index cards: Push the posts of earrings through the cards or wind bracelets and necklaces around them.
  • Mint tins: Those empty metal mint containers make great jewelry containers. Add a few cotton balls to keep your pieces secure so they don’t bounce around inside the box.
  • O-rings: Metal ring clips that are used for crafts and school projects can also be used for rings, bracelets and necklaces. Simply open them, slip your jewelry pieces on, and pack them away.
  • Pill containers: Do you have an extra 7-day pill organizer? Use it to store rings and earrings on-the-go.
  • Safety pins: Loop your hoops or dainty necklaces through a safety pin like you would with the carabiner.
  • Styrofoam plate: Simply stick your earrings through the plate, which is best for studs and dangling earrings, then secure it under clothes in your suitcase.
  • Toilet paper roll: Use an empty toilet paper roll to loop your bracelets around it and then string your necklaces through the tube itself.
  • Travel soap dish: Store bracelets, earrings, and rings in an extra travel soap dish. It can protect everything and keep it in one place.
  • Washcloth and rubber bands: Simply line up your necklaces on a washcloth, roll them lengthwise and fold in half, adding rubber bands to each end to keep them secure.
  • Ziploc bags: If you have plenty of bags, place one item in each bag with end of the necklace zipped in the top. Rings and earrings can be placed into bags together.
  • Wine corks: Similar to erasers, use wine corks for earring backs.

Source: https://herpackinglist.com/how-to-travel-with-jewelry/

How to Get Through the Airport Faster

During the summer travel months, the country’s airports are more crowded than ever. But there are some things you can do to reduce your stress and make sure you catch your flight on time, courtesy of the TSA.

Apply for a trusted traveler program, such as TSA Pre®, Global Entry or NEXUS. These help expedite the boarding and security check process. To find out which trusted traveler program best suits your needs, see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Program comparison chart.

Make sure you have proper ID, such as a driver’s license or other state photo identity card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a U.S. passport. Important: Make sure that your name matches your boarding pass. For a list of accepted IDs, see the TSA’s Identification page.

Don’t pack prohibited items. Knowing what is prohibited at the airport and on planes will help the screening process go much quicker. Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. If you’re not sure what’s prohibited, check the TSA’s list of prohibited items.

Leave plenty of time. Arrive at least two (2) hours before your flight when flying domestic, and three (3) hours early when flying international. Allow for more time at larger, busier airports.

Be prepared for airport security checkpoints by having your ID and boarding pass out. Remove large electronics from bags, such as a laptop; remove 3-1-1 compliant liquid bags and consider checking your bags instead of carrying them on to save time.

Review the TSA’s liquid rule

According to the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, you are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

Additional advice from a travel expert

Wall Street Journal travel writer, Scott McCartney, shares some useful travel tips he’s compiled over the years talking to travelers like you.

McCartney thinks the most important thing when going through airport security and dealing with the TSA is to be consistent and have a routine. For example, it’s very easy to end up losing your driver’s license when walking through the airport because you’re taking it out of your pocket a lot, and you may forget where you put it. His routine is to instantly put his license back in his wallet before he moves on.

When it comes to carryon baggage, make sure you put items, such as books, electronics and liquids back in the same compartment every time, so you know exactly where they are and where to unzip to get to them. He also thinks it’s good practice to put larger bags through the x-ray belt first, with the laptop being the last thing that goes through.

If you get delayed at the metal detector or body scanner, your laptop will be the last to come out, and you’ll have the laptop bag already. You don’t want to be standing there holding your shoes, laptop, etc. without a bag.

McCartney also suggests printing your boarding pass early. Here’s why: Not only does it eliminate a stop at the airline’s check-in counter — if you don’t have to check a bag — but it’s an important way to claim your seat on the flight. If you’re an infrequent flyer flying on a less expensive ticket, and the flight is overbooked, those who have not checked in are in greater danger of being bumped from the flight, if the airline has to bump somebody and can’t get enough volunteers.

Since compensation is based on the price of your ticket, airlines typically look for the cheapest tickets, and so, if you check in and claim your seat early, it makes it harder for the gate agent to bump you from the flight.

For more flying tips, visit TSA.gov. To learn about how you can receive expedited screening through TSA Pre®.

To make your trip to the airport quicker and less stressful, let Hoyt Livery do the driving. We’ll get you there and home again safely and on time!

https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck

Hotels Ranked: The Best and Worst in the U.S.

If you travel often, you’ll want to know how America’s hotels ranked in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) on the best and worst hotel brands for 2019.

Here are the results, courtesy of Clark.com.

Customers less satisfied than a year ago

The ACSI Travel Report is based on interviews with more than 12,000 customers who were chosen at random and contacted via email from April 2018 to March 2019. Hotels were rated on a scale of 0 to 100.

Hilton and Marriott hotel brands still lead the way, but the study found that hotel guests are overall less satisfied than they were a year ago.

The ACSI report found that hotels are slipping in multiple aspects of customer service: making reservations, check in, staff courtesy, room quality, website/call center satisfaction, and more.

Loyalty programs, hotel amenities (pool, business center), and food service are the lowest rated parts of the guest experience.

And resolving guests’ complaints is more important than ever before, according to the ACSI. Many hotels are now using social media to quickly resolve issues that customers share online.

Results and rankings

Brand: Parent Type ACSI
Ranking
JW Marriott Marriott Luxury 84
Embassy Suites Hilton Upper Upscale 83
Fairfield Inn
& Suites
Marriott Upper Midscale 83
Hilton Garden Inn Hilton Upscale 82
Marriott Hilton Marriott Upper Scale 81
Crowne Plaza
Hotels & Resorts
InterContinental Upscale 81
Courtyard Marriott Upscale 81
Best Western
Premier
Best Western Upscale 81
Holiday Inn
Express
InterContinental Upper Midscale 80
Hampton Hilton Upper Midscale 79
Hilton Hotels
& Resorts
Hilton Upper Upscale 79
AC Hotels Marriott Upscale 79
Residence Inn Marriott Upscale 79
Hyatt Regency Hyatt Upper Upscale 79
Double Tree Hilton Upscale 78
Best Western Best Western Midscale 77
Best Western
Plus
Best Western Upper Midscale 77
Sheraton Marriott Upper Upscale 77
Hyatt Place Hyatt Upscale 77
Wyndham Hotels
& Resorts
Wyndham Upscale 76
Comfort Inn,
Comfort Suites
Choice Upper Midscale 76
Westin Marriott Upper Upscale 76
Holiday Inn InterContinental Upper Midscale 75
La Quinta Inns
& Suites
La Quinta
(Wyndham)
Midscale 74
Quality Choice Upper Midscale 73
Baymont Wyndham Midscale 72
Ramada Wyndham Midscale 71
Days Inn Wyndham Economy 68
Econo Lodge Choice Economy 67
Super 8 Wyndham Economy 65
Motel 6 G6 Hospitality Economy 63
Source: Clark.com

Pack Smarter: Flight Attendants Share Baggage Packing Tips

If you fly regularly, you know the annoyance of having to check bags, especially if you have to pay extra for them.

Even worse is getting to your destination, tired and jet lagged, and realizing your luggage didn’t make it to the baggage claim. The carry-on bag helps you avoid these frustrations, but it can also be frustrating to try and fit everything you’ll need on your trip.

What flight attendants and frequent fliers have known for years is that with the right bag and some smart packing techniques, you can cruise through security, onto the plane and out of the airport with ease.

First, get a good carry-on bag.

It’s called a 22″ spinner carry-on bag. It’s the bag you see speedily rolling behind many pilots and flight attendants as they make their way to their next gate. Look for a sturdy, well-designed but lightweight bag with roomy pockets and a wide wheelbase. Spinner carry-ons get their name because of their four wheels. Bags with four wheels are easier to move around than those with just two. Airlines require carry-on bags that are small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Maximum size limits are typically 22″ long x 14″ wide x 9″ tall and 40 pounds. That’s why the 22″ spinner is a popular carry-on size. Most airlines allow you to carry on one small bag plus one personal item, including a laptop, purse or briefcase as long as it doesn’t exceed 36″ total and fits under the seat in front of you.

Understand what you can pack.

While you’re allowed to carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on bag, there are restrictions you must be aware of before you pack. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce (100ml) or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or rolled up are not allowed. All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. For more details about what you can carry on an airplane, visit TSA.gov/311.

Utilize all the space.

The key to maximizing space in a 22″ spinner carry-on is to roll your clothes into “tubes” instead of folding and stacking them like in a store. Rolling saves space and also helps prevent wrinkles. It’s also easier to select what you want to wear from your bag without unpacking the whole thing. Roll several items together to prevent more wrinkles. Don’t pack them in the carry-on bag as soon as you roll them. Once all the clothes are rolled, stand the carry-on up and pack heavier things such as shoes and books first at the wheel-end of the case so they don’t move around and crush the other items. One flight attendant claims she can pack clothes for 10 days by rolling instead of folding them. Another advocates the use of vacuum space saver bags.

Wear your nice, and harder to pack clothes and shoes on the plane. They won’t wrinkle or take up space in your carry-on. Even if you’re able to pack everything you want in the bag, keep in mind the typical 40-pound weight limit.

LaGuardia Terminal B Update

Back in December, the first phase of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $8 billion overhaul of LaGuardia Airport (LGA) opened to the public.

The remodeled Eastern Concourse of LaGuardia’s Terminal B is a $4 billion construction project intended to help upgrade an airport that Joe Biden likened to being in “some third world country” in 2014.

The first phase of improvements included a new concourse and 11 gates at Terminal B. Here’s an overview of what the finished LGA will look like, courtesy of 6sqft.com.

Visible improvements already include “wayfinders” embedded in the floor—dark-shaded tile down the middle to guide passengers to a gate, with white accents emanating from the shops. Once a passenger reaches a gate, the subtly patterned tile gives way to a carpet with no pattern.

Along the way are mostly upscale restaurants and stores, including outposts of Shake Shack; McNally Jackson (the Manhattan Bookstore); La Chula Taquería (the Mexican-food eatery with roots in Harlem); Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (which was founded as a cafe near Gramercy Park); FAO Schwarz; MAC cosmetics; and private pods for massage, manicures/pedicures and treatments for acne and wrinkles.

Upon completion …

Terminal B will measure over 1.3 million square feet, including the newly opened Eastern Concourse, which measures 250,000 square feet and has 18 gates. The terminal’s parking garage opened in February and includes 3,100 parking spots, all equipped with a system to provide a real-time view of available spaces.

Two pedestrian bridges will be constructed across active plane taxi lanes, connecting the main departures and arrivals hall that will open in 2020 with the two island concourses. According to the company, Skanska USA, who is leading the design and construction, the bridges will offer travelers views of the Manhattan skyline as they head to and from their gates.

Terminal B, serving Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest and United, and Terminal C, serving Delta, will be able to hold 30 million passengers per year after the redevelopment wraps up.

By the numbers

The LGA project is part of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s $8 billion rehab of the airport, which will extend to other terminals as well. Eventually, the new buildings will span 2.7 million square feet, 72 new gates and six new concourses. In December 2018, 243,000 square feet opened.

The massive project includes 40,000 tons of steel—10,000 individual steel pieces, measuring 12,000 tons and will weigh more than the Eiffel Tower, according to Skanska USA. The upgraded terminal has 55-foot ceilings, new floor-to-ceiling windows, fig trees, porcelain-tiled floors, park-like seating areas, wonderful eateries, state-of-the-art bathrooms and a children’s playground.

In an effort to stay green, Skanska recycled 21,604 tons of concrete from the demolition of the original structure with about five million pounds reused at the job site.

United will join in the middle of 2019, and the remodeled area for ticketing, check-in, security and baggage claim — known as the “headhouse” — is set to open in 2020, according to Gateway. Currently under construction is Delta’s Terminal C, and has an expected opening in 2021. And an environmental review is underway for the proposed AirTrain, which will provide a reliable trip to LaGuardia from Midtown Manhattan in 30 minutes.

Click here to visit the website and see more photos.

Source: 6sqft.com

What to Know About the Shutdown and Air Travel

After the longest government shutdown in American history has seemingly ended, travelers should keep in mind that the shutdown was actually placed on a three-week hiatus.

Here’s an overview of how the shutdown affected airports and air travel, and what to do if it returns, courtesy of the vox.com.

How does the shutdown affect agents?

TSA agents make up 51,000 of the 420,000 federal employees who are considered “essential” staff. During a government shutdown, they do not receive their paychecks. According to WNYC, the TSA is one of the lowest-paying federal agencies; the typical starting salary of an agent is $17,000 (other estimates say it’s closer to $25,000).  While they were to be paid for their work eventually, they did not know when, and this likely negatively impacted morale, on-the-job performance, and attendance.

Was airport security compromised?

On January 14, one out of every 13 airport screeners (employees who screen passengers and luggage at security checkpoints) nationwide didn’t come into work. According to CNN’s sources, the screeners likely did fewer random pat-downs, bag inspections, and other screenings. That created a potential security vulnerability — an ironic, if potentially dangerous, situation given that the root cause of the shutdown is a fight over border security.

A scary thought: According to TSA, in 2017, 3,957 firearms were recovered in carry-on bags at American airports and 84 percent of them were loaded.

Although TSA spokesperson Michael Bilello tweeted during the shutdown, “security standards remain uncompromised at our nation’s airports,” the president of the national TSA employee union Hydrick Thomas told CNN that the number of TSA callouts “will definitely affect the flying public who we [are] sworn to protect.”

Were airport lines longer?

Although it depends on the airport, many major hubs reported longer lines. The TSA stated, “While national average wait times are within normal TSA times of 30 minutes for standard lanes, some airports experienced longer than usual wait times.”

Some airports had to closed terminals due to lack of staffing and filtered more travelers through fewer checkpoints. The George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston closed a checkpoint in Terminal B due to low staffing, funneling those passengers to terminals C and E. Miami International Airport closed checkpoints in Terminal G and diverted passengers to other terminals, also citing low staffing.

At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, employees and flyers were confronted with “endless lines,” ABC News reported. At Terminal C, which houses Delta, passengers waited 90 minutes in security lines. A similar situation arose at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which was already dealing with a TSA agent shortage.

Were flights getting delayed or canceled?

Flight delays may have been caused by winter storms, but in the end, the government shutdown led to widespread delays or cancellations. Southwest Airlines was supposed to start flying to Hawaii early this year, but the shutdown kept the company from pursuing that route. Hours-long delays and finally cancellations at LaGuardia were cited as major reasons why the government put the shut down on hiatus.

Air traffic controllers are also essential employees, and therefore have also been working without paychecks. Air traffic control, understaffed before the shutdown began, reached the point at which the government needed to reduce flight volumes, which caused carriers to cancel some flights. In the future, if the government shutdown occurs again, an extended shutdown could lead to entire airports cancelling flights, with only a “subset of the airports” running, said Bruce McIndoe, founder and president of global travel risk management firm WorldAware, formerly iJet.

The shutdown also stalled modernization efforts of the air traffic control system, he said. “The modernization efforts the FAA has put forward require constant and ongoing work, and this really takes those efforts off course,” said Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “When you put critical modernization efforts on the shelf for three weeks, it’s going to take months to ramp those efforts back up.”

What travelers can do

While there’s not much travel buyers can do beyond pressuring their elected officials to not allow another shutdown, they should allow more time to get through airports in case of disruptions, McIndoe said. Should it reach the point of flight cancellations, corporate travelers might look to defer trips when possible. However, he said putting travelers in cars instead of planes is not ideal, given the substantially higher risk of accidents in car travel versus air travel.

Source: vox.com

Female Safety When Traveling for Business

When women travel for business, whether to a local conference or international destination, there are unique issues and concerns they have to face, and often alone, on the road.

Here are some business travel tips for women to help you stay safe on the road, courtesy of Entrepreneur.com.

Female travelers increasing—and so are safety concerns

This year, the Upside Travel Company reported that nearly 50 percent of all business travel bookings are for women, and that number is steadily rising. With this comes the growing awareness that women face more travel safety risks compared to their male counterparts. According to 2018 survey research by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and AIG Travel Inc., a disturbing 83 percent of women polled said they’ve experienced a safety issue or concern in the last year while traveling for work, yet only 53 percent of women always or sometimes report these experiences to their travel managers. The research also found that only 18 percent of corporate travel safety policies specifically address female safety needs.

Here are some travel safety basics women should keep in mind on the road.

Know your business trip insurance.

If you’re an employee, ask your employer for its travel insurance program documentation so you know what’s covered for you. If you’re self-employed, research your options for purchasing travel insurance. Sites with updated 2018 recommendations include Consumers Advocate or Travel Insurance Review. Also, be sure to save an electronic version and print a hard copy of the travel insurance benefits, then share your insurance details with a trusted family member.

Stay in a good hotel in a safe area.

When selecting a hotel, choose a well-known and reputable one. Interestingly, some hotels offer women-only floors, so don’t hesitate to ask before you book if that’s a personal preference. MaidenVoyage.com also offers a list of certified female-friendly hotels worldwide. Also, consider booking your flight arrivals for daylight hours so you avoid arriving after dark, especially for international arrivals.

When traveling internationally.

It’s recommended you visit the U.S. Department of State where you’ll find information for every country in the world including visa requirements, safety and security conditions, health and medical considerations, local laws and areas to avoid. It’s also wise to know the location of the closest U.S. embassy or consulate at your destination. Check the option to enroll your trip so you can receive safety alerts and your embassy can contact you in the event of an emergency.

Make copies of your passport and ID.

Whether traveling domestic or international, always make copies of your passport ID page to make it easier to file a report and get a replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy with a trusted contact at home and carry one with you. Do the same with your trip itinerary in case your smartphone is lost or stolen.

Leverage technology and apps.

Lastly, take advantage of the latest technology to stay in the know. Apps like TripIt show neighborhood-specific safety scores, including relevant categories like: women’s safety, physical harm, health and medical, theft and more.

Pack smart and don’t stand out.

It’s always wise to pack modest clothing and avoid packing or wearing expensive jewelry, bags, shoes or other accessories. You don’t want to stand out as having valuables that someone would want to steal. It’s also smart to pack shoes designed for comfort and mobility, so you can move quickly if needed.

Also, consider packing a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired credit cards. If someone rifles through your bag, that’s the one they’ll take. Then wear a hidden money belt with your “real” wallet contents.

Other important items to pack include: chargers for your digital devices, a travel plug adapter if you’re traveling internationally, at least a two-week supply of any medication you’re taking and any special medical ID bracelet or tags.

Be strategic when checking in.

When checking in to your hotel, ask the clerk to write your room number on a piece of paper or on the key sleeve, rather than saying it out loud. Also request a room near the stairs or elevator so you don’t have to walk through empty corridors at night, and don’t stay in a room on the first floor or near exit stairways since they are more accessible and prone to theft.

When you arrive to your room, check to make sure it has a peephole, deadbolt and working locks on the windows, adjoining door and balcony door. If there are any issues, request a new room that’s secure.

If there’s ever a knock on your room door, call reception to confirm the identity of anyone there, and if the door to your room is ever open or unlocked when you return, don’t enter. Go back to the front desk and inform them of the security issue.

Play it safe on the street.

If you need to use your mobile phone in public, try to stand still with your back to a wall or window, since walking and talking will limit your awareness and make you an easier target. Also, keep your head up while walking, stand/walk confidently, never look lost, and don’t walk alone or visit an ATM at night.

As always, follow your intuition: if you feel a bad vibe from somewhere or someone, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation.

Be smart with your smartphone.

Travel with clean digital devices that have limited banking information, sensitive data, personal photographs or compromising information, and always be aware of potential avenues for cyberattacks, such as using the free Wi-Fi in public locations.

Also avoid posting information about upcoming travel dates, and don’t publish your whereabouts in real-time online. You can share details after you are safely back home.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Holiday Flying Survival Tips

If you’re flying this holiday season, here’s some advice from expert travelers on how to fly smart and stay sane.

  • Book your flight and hotel now. Use websites such as Orbitz.com, Kayak.com, WhichBudget.com and LastMinute.com, FareCompare.com, Priceline.com and Yapta.com to search and compare the best airfares and times.
  • Book your flight early in the morning, so if a flight is delayed or cancelled, you’ll have a better chance of getting on another flight later that day.
  • Have your passport ready. If you’re traveling out of the country, make sure you understand the country’s passport requirements and have paperwork in order.
  • Avoid the busiest commuter times: Monday mornings, Friday evenings and Sundays. Instead, fly on the least crowded days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Don’t fly peak holiday travel days. During peak holiday travel season, the day before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are usually the busiest days to travel. Instead, fly on the day of a holiday. If you have to travel on a high-traffic day, fly early in the morning for fewer delays—afternoon flights tend to incur more delays and cancellations. Or, consider the red eye and fly overnight, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Avoid connecting flights if possible. The lower fare you may receive isn’t worth the extra work and stress if you miss the connecting flight. If you can afford it, book a flight with zero connections. If not, book them with plenty of time between flights as  weather, air traffic, crew connections and other factors affect airline schedules.
  • Pack carry-on only – it will save you the baggage fee and get you on the plane and out of the airport faster. If you’re going to have to check luggage, pay your baggage fee ahead of time online, it’s usually a bit cheaper. Also weigh your baggage ahead of time and make sure it is less than 50 pounds to avoid an additional fee.
  • Ship gifts ahead of time. Once your flight is booked, head to the post office and mail gifts to your destination ahead of time. You’ll have to pay shipping, of course, but you’ll save on extra baggage fees and negotiating that giant dinosaur through security check. An easier option, shop online for gifts and have them delivered to your destination. Gift-wrapping is available through many websites.
  • Bring your own snacks. You don’t want to get hungry on the road, so pack your favorite snacks in your carry on, so if you get hungry, you’re not at the mercy of the airline’s snack schedule. Also bring wet naps and hand sanitizer to clean your seat and tray table, as airplanes and airports are full of germs.
  • Pack some books and magazines and listen to your favorite music on your iPod or smartphone—they help make the time pass quicker. Remember, you can’t bring water through the security check, so buy a bottle once you get to your flight’s gate.
  • Print your boarding pass ahead of time. The night before or day of the flight, print out your boarding pass. Make sure your seat assignment is indicated on the airline’s check-in page.
  • Get to the airport as early as possible—at least two hours ahead of your boarding time (not flight time), if not more. If you don’t plan on printing out your boarding pass ahead of time, take advantage of the boarding pass kiosks at most check-in gates. They will save you time spent in line, and most gate employees are happy to help you get your pass. Have the credit card on hand with a name that matches the name on the reservation.
  • Know what to expect at the gate. To get through the gate as efficiently as possible, have your driver’s license and boarding pass in hand, remove metal jewelry, loose change, shoes, belt, jacket, cell phone and place them in the plastic bins, and open and remove your laptop. Remember to remain patient and polite—you don’t want to upset a TSA agent. Also, bottled water is not allowed through security, so wait to get to the gate to buy water, coffee and other snacks.
  • Eat well and stay rested. One of the keys to reducing stress and staying healthy on the road is to take good care of yourself. The holidays are a minefield of sugary junk foods and alcohol, so try and balance it out with lots of fruits, vegetables and water. Be prepared and pack healthy snacks to bring on your drive or flight. Bananas, apples and healthy snack bars are good travel options. Also drink plenty of water and get enough sleep—two key factors in keeping your immune system strong and staying healthy. Turn off your phone and computer close to bed time, and start “powering down” from your long days.
  • Don’t forget that Hoyt Livery now makes booking all your ground transportation easy. From home to the airport, to your destination city, we can arrange it all in over 450 cities in the US and Canada. Safe travels and enjoy your holidays!

Expert Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you plan on flying out of the country, these industry expert tips will teach you what to do in advance, help you reduce stress and stay safe when traveling abroad, courtesy of travelzoo.com.

Your Health and Safety

Check in with your doctor. If you’re on prescription or other regular medication, make sure you have enough to last your trip and even consider packing extra. Check in with your primary care doctor to make sure you’ve renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask your medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, consider supplemental insurance.

Register with your embassy. It’s a good idea to let your embassy know where you’re traveling, so if there’s a problem in the country, it will make it easier for your government to contact you, your family, and get you to safety.

Plan on Sightseeing

International travel is a rare treat, so take some time in advance to research the city you’re going to on the Internet, or better yet, order a guidebook on the area. Guidebooks usually include interesting facts, annual events, and maps. Also download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.

Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.

Research events that will be taking place while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies, and natural events. Also be sure to research a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing some of the culinary delights it’s known for.

Luggage and Packing

To check or not to check? If you can swing it, opt for carry-on only — you’ll get on and off the plane faster, and reduce the chance of lost or stolen luggage.

Bring extra copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship, so bring multiple copies of your passport and leave them in several places when traveling. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.

Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a challenge. Bring small snacks for long flights to hold you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.

Cash and Cards

Learn monetary conversion in advance. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.

Convert money at a bank or ATM. Once there, the conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs, so go to a bank or ATM in the city you’re visiting. You won’t get charged as many fees and the conversion will be exact.

While at the bank, withdraw some cash; not every place takes credit cards, such as trains or bus stations.

Make sure your credit card will work. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.

Also let your bank and credit card provider know you’re traveling. Fraud alerts are triggered by unusual transactions, such as spending $1,000 in Germany, for example, so let your bank and card company know you’ll be traveling in advance, so they don’t shut down your card when you’re on the road.

Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Also note that some countries require travelers to pay a fee to enter or exit the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.

Get Technical

Bring a phone charger adapter. Different countries have different size electrical outlets and voltages, so if you want to use your favorite hairdryer or charge your phone, make sure you have an adaptor.

To avoid expensive roaming charges, activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge for doing so, but it’s much less than the roaming charges you could incur.

Source: Travelzoo.com