Category: Travel Tips

The numbers are out for 2015 from the Airport Council International. 2015 saw the strongest growth in passenger traffic since 2010 with an increase of 6.4% (7.2 billion passengers). It is anticipated 2016 will also have strong growth, however, it appears to have slowed a bit as uncertainty and safety concerns weigh heavily in the last quarter.

In 2015 there were 37 airports with over 40 million passengers passing through them. This is an increase of over 100% over a ten-year period. Some of this increase has to do with the entry of many low-cost carriers who have brought the airport’s new passengers and additional competition offering affordable options.

A significant amount of this growth is coming from the Asia-Pacific regions even despite the slowing economic growth in China. The number of new and expanded markets are continuing to grow with an ever growing mobile population. Additionally, India is poised to be one of the largest aviation markets in the world.

As we look forward, the airlines are most likely going to continue to take a precautionary position, keeping the number of new flights as minimal as possible and keeping the planes as full as they can. Without the geopolitical unrest and with an ever increasing market, it would be more certain that more flights would be added, but given the current climate, be prepared for full and over-full flights for the unforeseeable future.

7682230_orig The later part of 2016 has seen the increased traffic of 2015, and the beginning of 2016 erode. Paris has seen an 11 percent drop with a loss of 460 million Euros. Turkey has seen its tourist industry fall apart with an expected drop of at least 40% this year. This has opened up opportunities for those with a more adventurous soul with pricing hitting an all-time low. IT has also shifted travel to other regions such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand where the current exchange rate helps ease the costs and where people feel a bit safer to venture out.

This has opened up opportunities for those with a more adventurous soul with pricing hitting an all-time low. It has also shifted travel to other regions such as Asia, Australia and New Zealand where the current exchange rate helps ease the costs and where people feel a bit safer to venture out.

The key is to do your homework no matter where you travel. Make sure you have plans and alternate plans. Where we have not been a huge advocate of travel insurance, it needs to have a higher consideration now in places you may not have thought of before.

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The desire to travel is still high as we talk with people all over the world, but smarter travel is the key to curing the travel itch these days. Our blog at www.travelingu.com/blog and travel tips at www.travelingu.com/travel-tips are great resources to help your adventures to be affordable and safe.

The world’s busiest domestic airports (measured by domestic passenger traffic):

  1. Atlanta GA, USA – ATL (90.3 million, up 5.7% over 2014)
  2. Beijing, China (People’s Republic of China) – PEK (71.3 million, up 3.0% over 2014)
  3. Chicago IL, USA – ORD (65.9 million, up 11.2% over 2014)
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The kids are either back to school or soon to be. Many parents are breathing a sigh of relief. The airlines too breathe a sigh this time of year. After a busy summer of heavy travel, this week marks the traditional time when they begin their fall bargain travel season. This has sent prices tumbling. With demand low both with flights and hotels, travelers can expect up to a third or more in savings from summer peak fares.

The cool breeze of summer has brought in some amazing deals. Add to this some uncertainty from the European travel markets and if you’ve been looking for cheap travel, now is your time to strike while the fares are low.london-bridge-945499_1920

We  still recommend that you keep your booking window between 30 days and three months before your departure. But always keep an eye out for last-minute deals, especially with cruises. Look at all your search engine options and if you are on sites like Kayak, pay attention to the advice recommendation in the upper left corner.

Remember when booking online, to book on a Tuesday roughly 3 p.m. Eastern time for the best ticket pricing, or after midnight of the location of the airlines home office. Flying on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are your best days for the lowest fare to take off from both your origin and destination locations. When coupling the traditional fall savings with low fuel costs for the airlines, they have more room this year to lower prices than in years past.Autumn colours surround the Tu Hwnt i'r Bont tearooms on the banks of the River Conwy

Right now if I was to make a move on these lower fares I would head to London where the Pound has been pounded after the Brexit shakeup and airfare has gone below $700.00. Our Central American favorite, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries have already seen prices drop as much as 30%.

2ca1886407204713add788f4217064afThe key here is to not “Fall” into a sense of relief that summer is over but to act quickly and relax somewhere amazing before everyone else takes your flight.

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passportRemember back in 2007 when the US changed the rules for traveling to Canada, Mexico and on cruises? Everyone rushed to get passports and the backlog nearly broke the system. It took two and three times as long to get your passport back then. Well, guess what, in 2017 all those passports expire. They are expecting over 20 million passport requests in 2017 and 2018 and by the end of 2016, they anticipate 17 million requests. Thank goodness they have put into place much better systems to handle the increase but if you are needing to renew, sooner is better than later.

In addition, there will be changes to the passport itself with increased security and advanced technical features. These changes are anticipated to be put into place in 2017 and will come with an increased cost to all US passport. All of this is to be announced late summer of 2016. Renewing now locks you into the lower price for the next 10 years. You will have to decide, however, what you would give up in future options and security.

One last thing to keep in mind. Getting or renewing passports for children under 16 has much more stringent rules. You will need additional paperwork and documentation including the child’s social security card. Minor passports are only good for 5 years and they can catch you off guard when you are planning a trip. Always look at all your passports when you are just thinking about a trip. Make sure they don’t expire 6 months before your planned return (General rule of thumb) and that they have enough empty pages, (Some countries require at least 6 empty pages).

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deltaplaneI’m looking into a possible trip to Australia, then to China and flying home from Dubai.

Don’t use the Multi-City option when booking through the airlines website. Multi-City price to Melbourne and home from Dubai is $7671.00 on Delta.com.The new “scheme” from the airlines is to only show you non-refundable fares when using the Multi-City search option. When I searched one way for each leg the price dropped to a reasonable $2133.29. This is a new “trick” the airlines are pulling. The non-airline sites like Kayak aren’t doing this and the Delta price on Kayak is only $2016.00. Do your homework on all possible options to your destination.

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These kind of tips are really helpful to make long flights not feel so exhausting! Dale has a very long flight to Beijing next week….. these will help take the ‘bite’ out of traveling long distances.

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Another type of unconventional accommodation option that we fell in love with is Hospitality Exchange. Where there are plenty of sites to go to for home exchange, hospitality exchange is rather new. Often these types of options have come to us from other travels we’ve done and people we meet. When you open yourself up and talk to locals and find people of like mind, they will invite you to be their guests. 
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We had friends invite us to stay with them in their Villa in Sorrento, Italy. This is the view from the roof…. simply heaven. As this is being written I can almost feel the relaxed atmosphere mixed with the aroma of Italian cooking coming from all corners of this beautiful little courtyard. This simply took my breath away!

We have also invited and hosted kids from all over the world to stay with us for the summer to have a cultural exchange and often those have naturally evolved in replicating offers from their family to come stay with them. One summer traveling through France and Germany we were able to stay with 5 families all for free and our experience was out of this world.

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Here we eating with our friends, the Kluths on an excursion to the Black Forest in Germany. They hosted us at their home with a few excursions along the way. Not only to the Black Forest but to the fresh crisp air of the Swiss Alps. 

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Here is Brianne helping to fix dinner during our hospitality exchange.

You will never experience different cultures and traditions of countries in the world better than by living with people of that country. We have made lifelong friends around the world through hospitality exchange. The idea here is that you open your home up to singles, couples and families if you have the room for a few days or for however long you want. You become their host. You don’t have to feed them, be their constant guide or stray from your daily routine – if you don’t want to. All they are usually looking for is a comfortable place to sleep and call a base camp. Now, it has been our experience that if you do this right, they will become like family. You will share meals, stories, laugh and show them what your region of the world is all about. 

Remember this is all called “exchange” and if you just do your own thing you really aren’t exchanging much. Once in Germany we stayed with this incredible family, the Kluths, who opened their home up to us. When we arrived, they showed us to our room, the house was small and so to accommodate our family of 6 was quite the juggling act. We soon learned that the room they put us in was their master bedroom. They made the camper their room while we were there. We insisted that we take the camper but they argued that we were the guests and insisted we allow them to do this for us. Such was the graciousness of our host.

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The Kluth family not only had little German Chocolates… Yummyness, on our pillows when we arrived but they cooked some of the most amazing meals, including this beautiful cake above.

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Marissa is just hanging out with Milena’s Brother at their home in Germany.

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We visited Switzerland with the Kluths and here we are contemplating our jump off the bridge for a little swim!

This type of exchange can often be easy to arrange and fit within your normal travel schedule. You don’t need to be as flexible, just make sure you are understanding to the needs of your host and always bring a gift of thanks, usually something unique from your country or region. I’m sure if you give this a try you will fall in love with it as much as we have. Keep your options open and you will be surprised at what comes your way. On the trip through France and Germany, one of our French families who invited us to stay with them gave us the most incredible surprise when we pulled up to their address. As we drove into their drive, right in front of us was their summer home.

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To the right of us was a 14th century full blown French castle with a proper mote, we might add. When we had finished the most incredible dinner they prepared for us, they asked, “Do you want to sleep in the farmhouse with us or would you prefer to sleep in the castle?” They didn’t have to ask twice, how many times do you get the chance to sleep in a castle?

If you are going to look for sites for hospitality exchange here are a few to start with, www.couchsurfing.com is the one that most people think of but keep in mind they are more geared to the single or couple travelers. Others are www.staydu.com. www.warmshowers.com, www.hospitalityclub.org, www.globalfreeloaders.com and for those who are Latter-day Saints there is a sight that caters to you, www.mormonexplorer.com
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12311052_916437405071121_8571743510268505290_nWe talk a lot about and promote the use of low cost airlines. When is a “low cost” airfare not a good deal and what should you expect when traveling on a low cost airline?

On my trip last week to Australia I choose to fly on a low cost airline, mostly because of the time I wanted to fly more than the price of the flight. However, when you are looking strictly for price, are low cost airlines really the best deal? Lets look at some pricing. A one way fare from Sydney Australia to Melbourne on Virgin Australia on average will cost $85. The same flight on a low cost airline like Tiger Air will cost $43, a savings of $42 or about 1/2 the cost.

For the $42 savings you will need to travel light because you have a carryon limit of 7Kg or 15.5Lbs. If you want to carry on more you will need to pay an additional $18 if you prepay or $17 if you want to check a bag up to 20Kg or 44Lbs, so now your $42 saving almost got cut in half now saving only $24. If you are going to both check a bag and have more than 7Kg of carryon then your net savings will only be $7. For this you will have to pay for any snacks, drinks, your legroom is cut and your seat does recline but only a smidgen.

Because I was packing light and could carryon I still had a decent savings, but it is always the unexpected that gets you. Mind you, this could happen on any flight but it seems to happen to me more on low cost airlines vs a more traditional flight. As we began to taxi away from the terminal to take off a few drops of what looked like water dripped on my jeans from the luggage bin above. As we turned towards the runway the drip turned into a constant stream and it wasn’t water, it was clear oil. As we took off down the runway, the force of the take off directed the now pouring oil to the seats behind me. It was quite the interesting dilemma and when we could we opened up the luggage bin to find out it was someones massage oil. When you through policy, encourage people to carry on items they would normally check, these are sometimes the results.

In the end, all was well. I reached my destination and had something to write about. In the long run was it worth the savings? Probably not in this case, but it was a short flight and the time of the flight was the most important to me. It is good to check all the cost of flying and all the extras can really add up. However, if you are a light packer, can live with a smaller space and a few other inconveniences, low cost airlines are a way to save you money.

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Recently we worked with a family trying to get to Dallas for a family reunion. Because of the short time period, they weren’t able to implement some our ideas for eliminating their airfare but we did find ways to reduce their costs considerably. 

The biggest problem they faced was that they had 12 people traveling and would need airfare plus at a minimum, 3 hotel rooms. The costs for this trip were getting out of hand and many of the options were also limited because 10 of them were flying out of Salt Lake City, Utah and 2 were out of Boise, Idaho. They thought they would all just fly out of Salt Lake, but Salt Lake City is a very busy airport with limited options which creates the perfect scenario for higher airfare. 

We started to look around at options other than Salt Lake. A 6 hour drive to the south provided cheaper airfare out of Las Vegas, but not enough to justify a 6 hour car ride, only then to hop on a plane for several more hours, so we continued to search. Mean while additional pressures, fuel prices and summer travel getting more busy, were rapidly sending what was a somewhat acceptable airfare to a completely out of control and out of reach airfare. 

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Finally we saw airfare out of Boise which was not only reasonable but also had a unique twist to it as well. The flight from Boise to Dallas was not only $290.00 RT compared to $434.00 from Salt Lake, but it stopped off in Salt Lake City on the way to and returning from Dallas. 

So taking advantage of the lower fare, the family called the airline and asked…. What if we miss the flight from Boise to Salt Lake City, could we continue on if we got to Salt Lake City in time? (which is where they live) Initially the airline seemed to be ok with this, but finally said no because of it being the first leg of the trip. So being creative again, they found cheap one way tickets on Southwest Airlines to Boise, about $50 one way. Even with this they saved nearly $1,000.00 on the airfare. 

They only needed a oneway ticket to Boise as their return flight also changes planes in Salt Lake. If they carry on their bags from Dallas to Salt Lake they just need to depart and not take the last part of their flight. You may be able to ask if you check your bags that they only go to your “new” destination, but don’t assume, always ask well in advance. 

If your ok with the risks and you have done your homework ahead of time, this is another way to save hundreds of dollars on flights. In addition the family used our tip of arranging a home exchange and eliminated their hotel costs completely. Over all savings on this trip are right around $4,000.00. Not bad for some creative thinking. 

*Originally posted 5/2011
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