Expert Tips for Stress-Free Travel
Travel Experts George Hobica and Peter Greenberg Offer Advice
Travel doesn't always have to come with drama and anxiety. Experts George Hobica, founder and president of Airfarewatchdog, and Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News, advise to troubleshoot travel problems before they arise. Here are a few solutions for preventing sticky situations.
Potential Peril: Stolen Documents
A stolen passport can ruin an entire trip. The key to surviving this type of threat is in prevention. "If you must travel with it, keep it as close to your body, in inner clothing, as possible, such as tucked in under your undershirt into your waistband, never in pockets of any kind," says Hobica. Also, always travel with document photocopies. "Leave [the original] in your hotel room safe," advises Hobica. "You can always carry a photocopy of the information page if you're concerned about showing an I.D."
Potential Peril: No Airport Parking Lot Vacancies
Circling for airport parking not only creates stress, but can also cause a ripple-effect of delays for you. To combat peak-time capacity issues, reserve a spot in a lot that's close to the airport. Websites and mobile apps such as AirportParkingReservations.com and Parking Panda make it incredibly easy. Some airports, including those serving New York City, take parking reservations for a fee. Greenberg also suggests checking out airport hotels: "At my home airport, I always make a deal with an airport hotel for a long-term parking deal."
Potential Peril: Missed Flight
Whether due to a traffic hiccup or a meeting that runs late, sometimes you miss your flight. "The best prevention is to arrive at the airport really early," Hobica says. If you've missed your flight, don't panic. "It's always best to call the airline if a problem arises," says Greenberg. Both travel experts also said that many airlines have policies, known as “flat tire” rules, for people who get to the airport too late for a flight. "They will do their best to get you on another flight—standby, of course," says Greenberg.
Potential Peril: A Delayed or Cancelled Flight
Storms can cause havoc throughout a transportation network, even if your departure or arrival city isn't facing bad weather. Sites like Flightstats.com showcase a global map of travel conditions. Of course you can't avoid being a victim of a cancelled or delayed flight, but you can do your best to avoid resulting problems. “Always book the first flight of the day, so you have options," says Greenberg. "It’s as simple as that." If trapped in the airport due to delays, try to make the best of it; pamper yourself in the terminal spa or just relax in a lounge area.
Potential Peril: Lost Luggage
Lost luggage happens. But there's good news: only about 2 percent of lost luggage worldwide vanishes forever, and most lost bags are recovered and shipped free of charge within an average of 1.3 days, according to a 2014 study by the aviation industry firm SITA. Still, preparing for that unfortunate event is key.
Keep electronics and vital medicines on you or in your carry-on. "Make sure you have receipts for whatever is in your checked bag. You'll need them to prove value," says Hobica. "It's not a bad idea to keep a file folder of everything you normally travel with." If your bag disappears, you'll have all the information needed to file a claim before leaving the airport.
Potential Peril: Long Rental Car Lines
Nothing puts a damper on arriving at your destination like the sight of a long line at the rental car counter. "Every major [car rental] company has an elite 'club' you can sign up for, where you don't have to wait in line," says Hobica.
Photo: © GettyImages/ Phil Boorman | Andrea Lynn is a freelance journalist based in New York City who specializes in food and lifestyle writing. She is also the author of two books and an experienced recipe writer and editor.