Flying is stressful enough. Unpredictable weather and delays can turn a dream trip into a nightmare quickly, especially if baggage gets misplaced or lost. There’s no worse feeling than sitting in a hotel without much besides what came with you on the plane, waiting for a bag to show up so that you can get a change of clothes or take care of something else essential. Here in the office, we’ve thought quite a bit about this lately – and we’ve come up with a list of some of the essential items that every carry-on bag should have that can be lifesavers when the checked bag doesn’t make it to your destination when you do.
The cruise is booked and you are set to sail for the very first time! Cruises are a really excellent way to see the world in a relaxing, stress-free environment, but its a very different type of travel than a guided tour or something on your own. There are secrets and strategies that make an experience extra special, and we want to share them with you. So without further ado, here are five tips to help you cruise like a pro!
This week, Carnival Cruise Line announced a restructuring of their fare system to take effect at the end of October. After a challenging year, for one of the world’s largest cruise lines, Carnival decided to simplify and streamline the pricing process. It isn’t without precedent.
About a year ago, Carnival Cruise Lines radically changed the way they sell vacations. The fare structure became a bit more structured over the last year, with six different specific fares to offer, each with their own specific rules about changes and refundability. Some allowed price protection, some didn’t. Some allowed cancellations, some didn’t. Frankly, it was all a bit confusing. There are no radical changes in this streamlining, just simplification. What will this mean for passengers? Let’s take a look.
The economy might feel a bit shaky, and the finances may not be strong enough to jet away right this second, but its still a great day to start planning a vacation. We get the question in the office a lot, “when is the best time to plan our next trip?” The answer: “Today!” In most cases, locking down a trip early helps guarantee good rates, good availability and has very little downside. And in the last few months of the year, the time is especially right to plan ahead. With fewer people looking to travel, tour companies and cruise lines are giving some of their best prices of the year, coupled with amazing amenity offers.
You may have heard the news in the last day that the FAA is seriously considering relaxing rules about whether that iPad or Kindle can be used during take-offs and landings. The New York Times, in fact, reports that an FAA review panel has basically said that passengers should be able to use the devices they want, whenever they want – which is good news for people with serious computer addictions.
Even when its a good deal, cruises can still burn a hole in the pocketbook. There are lots of great ways to save on a vacation, and we are big fans of getting great deals ourselves… but finding the best deals involves a bit of strategy and a bit of luck. Not every strategy works every time though. In fact, some of them directly contradict each other – but by mixing and matching, the savings can be there!
Wait Until The Last Minute
Last minute deals can definitely give guests a screamingly good price on a cruise vacation. After all, the ship is still leaving port, and the cruise lines are better off with the cabin filled than it sailing out empty. Looking to employ this strategy to save? Be flexible and be willing to roll with the punches. After all, availability may be limited, and the best cabins on the ship tend to sell out first. Also, last minute deals tend to be fully nonrefundable, so don’t plunk down the cash until the trip is a sure bet.
Bonus tip! If flying is involved, make sure the cost of a last minute flight doesn’t more than outweigh the savings on the cruise. Check the price for all the travel needed before booking.
Don’t Wait, Book Now!
Looking to take a trip in high season? Don’t bet on a last minute deal. Cruise lines call high season that for a reason – the demand is high! So if a holiday cruise is on the agenda, or a summer trip to the Caribbean is on the horizon – reserve early and the savings will be there. Booking early affords some protection too, in most situations. If the cruise booked is outside of penalty, and a new promotion appears – it’s usually pretty easy to take advantage of the new, better deal. Any good travel agent will be happy to help get that lower rate for you. Keep in mind though, that a lower price could change other aspects of a deal. If amenities were included, those could disappear. If a travel agent offered a booking bonus, those could shrink or change with a new deal.
Let the Cruise Line Choose Your Room
Flexibility is a great tool to save money, but and by letting the cruise line choose the room, the savings can be huge. It isn’t always as much of a crap shoot as it may seem. Guests choose the type of room they want (inside, oceanview, balcony, etc.) and leave the rest up to the cruise line. This kind of flexibility will keep the price low, but its not a good strategy if cabin location is important. If it’s important to be mid-ship, or on a lower floor, or to be close to other friends joining up on a cruise – this is not a strategy that will work. The price might be right, but there’s a good chance that nothing else will be.
These three strategies can work wonders, but of course the best deals are when these are combined with a good travel agent who will help make a good vacation, a great one.
Start the savings today! There are lots of last minute deals on our website for you to see, like these from the Caribbean!
Despite what many “consumer advocates” tend to say, travel insurance is not a bad deal at all. In fact, at least a few of its former critics are coming around, as evidenced by Caroline Mayer’s recent article in Forbes. And the truth is that taking travel insurance does make sense most of the time, especially for international travel, because its not just about protecting against cancellation penalties, but about making sure that there’s protection from the unforeseen when traveling abroad.
You’ve got that summer cruise all planned and you’re ready to get sailing! But half the fun of travel is the anticipation and getting ready for the vacation! Besides dreaming of margaritas on the beach, there should be a few things that get taken care of too. So here are four tips that we can share that will help make for a better holiday by sea or land!
We won’t lie. Although cruises are a great value and include most things, there’s always the opportunity to spend money… and without a little forethought, it can easily become a much higher cost than expected. Take a few minutes to plan out expenses over the length of the cruise.
Keep in mind, that gratuities are added to a bill throughout the cruise, and average about $12 per person per day. It is also possible to take a seven night cruise and never pay for a drink, but if alcohol or soda is desired money will change hands. Consider buying a drinking package with the cruise line. Heavy partiers will likely benefit from the savings too! Soda fans can also pay for an unlimited soda package on board ship in most cases too.
On top of this, there’s always shopping on board, specialty dining and the casino. Budget well and a little fun today won’t turn into a lot of pain tomorrow.
2. Pack and then Edit
Cruise ships do not have the same luggage restrictions that airlines do. That being said, if getting to the ship requires a flight, airline rules are going to apply anyway. But regardless of whether or not eight suitcases can fit in the cabin, its probably not something you want to deal with. Cabins tend to be on the small side, the average stateroom is under 200 square feet, and that includes the bathroom! Although cruise lines have gotten pretty ingenious at providing storage options, the more packed means the more to trip over on the way to bed at night.
We always recommend packing light. It’s just easier and when on vacation, does it really matter if that nice dress got worn more than once on a 10 day trip?
3. Check your Documentation
In terms of importance, this item really should be at the top of any list. Check and then recheck documentation. Make sure visas are obtained if needed. Make sure the passport is current. Make sure the flight schedule matches the cruise schedule and vice-verse. Finding an error before departure may cause some agita, but its far better than being denied boarding for improper documentation or getting stranded at an airport.
It can also help make the trip better. By making sure the pre-registration is handled with a cruise line, the opportunity can also present itself to reserve specialty dining, spa treatments and shore excursions during the cruise which can make a vacation that much more relaxing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to check off before traveling, but taking a few minutes to cover these three bases will go a long way to making sure any vacation can be a home run.
It used to be that we could ignore politics in the travel industry. By and large, the goings on in Washington, D.C. had very little affect on a vacation – but that’s changing this month, as the Sequester budget cuts begin to take affect. Some of the effects may be minor, but these effects could rapidly snowball to turn a great holiday into the vacation from hell. Here are three tips that you can use to limit any effect these budget cuts could have on your travel.
Winter weather is really starting to make a comeback this week and is stranding people across Europe, Asia and the midwest United States. It made us wonder in the office – where are the best places to get stuck? Fortunately, for me – someone’s already made this list so there was no in-person research necessary. MissTravel.com surveyed over 5000 travelers to get their answers, and some of the answers may surprise you.