If you travel regularly for business and/or pleasure, you’re probably aware of many of the standard travel tips, such as booking in advance and keeping your luggage weight under 50 lbs to avoid an additional weight fee. But for the savvy traveler, we offer some lesser known, off the beaten path advice to help you save money and cut down on travel stress.
Sign up for the TSA’s PreCheck Program. If you travel a lot, you may want to look into the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck trusted traveler security screening option. PreCheck members are eligible for expedited security screenings at participating airports. More than 336,000 passengers have gone through the PreCheck lane already. PreCheck is currently available at New York’s Kennedy, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Los Angeles airports for members of American Airline’s AAdvantage program, and at Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City airports for Delta SkyMiles members. The TSA announced that US Airways, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines will begin PreCheck operations later this year. PreCheck is also available to members of the Customs and Border Protection agency’s Global Entry program.
Be aware of new airline ticket pricing rules. Early this year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) passed new rules requiring commercial airlines to be more transparent in how they advertise their ticket prices. In the past, airlines would advertise just the base price of the ticket. Now, airlines must disclose to ticket buyers the total price of the ticket, including round-trip fare, plus mandatory federal taxes, airport and any other fees a passenger must pay. Be aware that, when you shop online for a ticket, the advertised price now includes government and airport taxes and additional fees. Realize that now, because previously-hidden fees are included in a ticket’s advertised price, what we consider a good price for a ticket will be more than in the past.
Save money with smart travel apps. Going on a road trip? With gas prices what they are, take advantage of technology. There are plenty of smartphone applications out there. Check out GasBuddy, FuelFinder, iGasUp and TripTik Mobile to find the gas stations with the best prices. Use Route4me, Waze or Google Maps Navigation to find the most fuel efficient route. RoadAhead for iPhones lets you know your location on the highway, and the services and gas prices at upcoming exits.
When traveling abroad with your smartphone, let your service provider know so you are activated for international use. To avoid high pay-per-use rates, use the data portion/Internet access only when you need to check e-mail. Use free Wi-Fi whenever possible, but never to access bank accounts or personal financial information. Don’t connect to networks titled “free public Wi-Fi.”They are often unsecured networks created by hackers. Also, be aware of the roaming rates, especially in European countries.