So you think you’re a smart traveler?
Yeah, so did I – until I took this job. Now that I’m immersed in the wacky world of forgotten passports, flat tires, missed connections and trip-ending calamities that I thought only happened in the movies, there’s one thing I know: I am not the world’s smartest traveler.
But you can be.
In my new book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle), I serve the inside scoop on how to navigate the winding and confusing road ahead.
If you’re not a book person, don’t worry: I distill my favorite takeaways from the book here. Peruse them before your next vacation and I promise you’ll come home a little smarter, if not happier.
Travel for all the right reasons.
Most people book a ticket or pile the family into the minivan with the right motives. They want to get away for a few days of hard-earned rest. Or, if it’s a business trip, they need to go from point “A” to point “B” — a perfectly valid reason to rent a car, get on a train or board a bus.
But from time to time I hear from passengers like Predrag Djordjevic, who booked a Priceline ticket from Chicago to Belgrade. One of the carriers on his complex, multi-airline itinerary wasn’t coughing up his mileage credit, and he turned to me for help. (I tried to help, but failed.) Traveling for the miles, or because someone offered you something “free,” is a terrible reason to go, and as my late journalism instructor was fond of saying, “Down that road lies madness.”
Don’t let money ruin your trip.
Money can destroy your trip, but not necessarily for the reason you think. Sure, travelers are broadsided with all kinds of unexpected bills, but often the wound is self-inflicted when it comes to the cold, hard cash they part with. They simply can’t click the “buy” button and let it go.
I recently heard from Tonia Pickard, who had booked a package vacation to Disneyworld through Expedia. Including airfare, she paid $7,445. A day later, Disney slashed its prices by 35 percent. Pickard submitted a request to Expedia under the online travel agency’s low-price guarantee, but it was denied. I asked Expedia to review its decision, but it wouldn’t budge. Pickard was upset, which I can well understand. But her experience underscores one of my principles of smart travel that I’ve learned along the way: After you push the “buy” button, you’ll be much happier if you walk away and enjoy the trip.
For goodness sake, read the fine print.
The disclaimers in eight-point type below a published offer can hide a multitude of sins, as my dad, a retired minister, might have put it. But he’d also tell you that devil is in the details, and Daddy, you’re right. You’d be shocked at how many travelers simply ignore the terms and conditions, believing they’ll be fine. Often, they aren’t.