With The 5th Annual Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show returning to the San Francisco area February 5th through the 7th, I thought I’d throw out some travel tips for my peeps based on my own traveling experiences.
You may be wondering how I qualify as an expert in this field and I’ll just say this:
In the last 25 years, I have taken over 1100 flights, stayed in over 500 hotels, rented over 75 cars, 3 long distance bus trips, 2 train rides and stayed in 2 Bed and Breakfast joints throughout 11 countries. Will that due?
TIP #1 – LEAVING HOME
CHECKING IN TO YOUR FLIGHT
I found something the hard way and I want to save you some grief. When you check in for your flight, you are telling the airline that you are 100% certain that you will be on that flight. The phrase “Check In” was created at the actual location in the past because you were letting the airline know you were “in”; you were “there”; you were ready to get on the plane.
Now-a-days, for convenience, passengers have the ability to “Check in” even when they’re NOT “in”. Unfortunately, the airline and their reservation system doesn’t have any flexibility here, so wherever you check in from, if you do not make it to your flight, there are no late fees, discounts or penalties–your ticket is just cancelled. No refund either. And to travel that day to your original destination, you have to purchase a brand new ticket–with same day expensive pricing.
A few years back, I checked in from home on one occasion and got stuck in a four hour parking lot on the freeway because there was a fatal accident 10 miles in front of me. I missed my flight and got on another one two hours later. For $1240.00.
My Advice: If you want to avoid the check in lines at the airport, check in from your Smartphone when you’re on the Parking Shuttle, already at the airport.
TIP #2 – ARRIVING AT THE DESTINATION AIRPORT
CHECKING IN FOR YOUR RENT-A-CAR
I don’t know why people don’t do this but I find this small tip to be successful almost 50% of the time when I’m renting a car.
Ask for the upgrade!
You’re at the counter, they’re checking your license and running your credit card, in a friendly, playful manner say, “Hey by the way, I want to thank you so much for the free upgrade. That was really cool of you.”
They will laugh. Don’t take it wrong. If you do it right, they’re not laughing at you, they’re laughing because they thought your comment was fun.
If you have been pleasant with the clerk and they feel moved by your personality, you are going to hear many of them say, “Ya know what? I may have something available.”
Know This: Most of these employees are given the power to make upgrade decisions. They don’t just give upgrades to frequent renters or unhappy folks, they also give them away as a blessing at times.
Show off your pearly whites and give them a reason to bless you.
TIP #3 – ARRIVING AT YOUR HOTEL
CHECKING IN TO YOUR ROOM
Just like rent-a-car employees, hotel staff has the freedom to provide upgrades as well. Every shift, front desk clerks are given a certain amount of “strokes” that they can pass on to people like you and me.
The same approach I used at the rent-a-car place works for hotels as well. “By the way, I really appreciate you upgrading our room to a suite. It’s reasons like that I love this hotel so much.”
On a different note, if you don’t like the room the hotel randomly selected for you…you’re not stuck with it. Even if you call down to the desk and they tell you they are overbooked, you can still get the satisfaction you’re looking for. You just need to know the back story.
Back Story: Most hotels are never sold out. Not literally anyway. They have a “sold out” status when a certain amount of rooms are occupied but they always leave extras for high rollers or ‘never know’ type of situations.
Knowing this, if you don’t like you’re room, you don’t have to settle for their excuses that make you feel like you’re stuck. Tell them this is unacceptable and you want a different room. If they try to downgrade you to a worse room, tell them that you want to walk the available room options with a manager until you find one you like.
I know, I know, you sound like a spoiled Beverly Hills brat! But it rarely gets to that point. Most decent hotels will make you happy without you having to show your spoiled side.
Just don’t settle for their first comments. I don’t want to call them “liars” but most of them are trained to pass along a little loving deception. You’re dropping $200+ per night to sleep in the same room that hundreds of strangers occupied in the last 12 months. Make sure you get what you want.
I hope that you found these tips helpful.
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