Archive for November, 2011

The Money Crashers Travel Series – Part 3 of 3: Smartphone Travel Apps

Expert Flyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, in part two of our three-part series with Money Crashers personal finance blog editor, Andrew Schrage, we uncovered more practical money-saving strategies for business and occasional travelers. In this week’s series finale, we hope you stock up your smartphones with Andrew’s resourceful travel app picks – Enjoy!

 

top travel apps

Top Travel Apps

What are the smartphone travel apps that our readers should NOT leave home without?

Although  I know I got by just fine before the recent leaps in technology, I  would be lost without my smartphone while traveling, especially when I visit unfamiliar towns. The amount of time my smartphone, and my favorite apps save me, is truly priceless. For food, I like the Foodspotting app. It gives you the best local restaurants and even recommends the  best dishes at each establishment. Also, I need access to the Internet virtually  24 hours a day, so another app I use a lot is called Free Wi-Fi Finder.  With this app, I never have to pay for Internet access while traveling.

To plan my trip, two of the best free travel apps are TripAdvisor and Kayak. Both are virtual one-stop shops for all my travel planning needs, like finding the best airline ticket deals.  For real road warriors, business travelers and frequent fliers, check out the ExpertFlyer mobile app.  If you sign up as a premium member for only $9.99 a month, you can find Flight Status, Flight Availability, Seat Maps or other mobile flight search information using high-end PDA, smartphones and Blackberry devices, as well as simple web-enabled cell phones.

Believe it or not, I also utilize the Google Earth app for my travel.  With this, I can zero in on a hotel or other point of interest to check  out exactly where theyre located, how far they might be from the  beach, and lots of other nifty details.

Finally, sometimes it can  be extremely difficult to keep track of the best tips and strategies for  getting discounted airfares. There are some apps  offered by popular airlines, like Delta and United, that can offer you  guidance in this area, including how to get free flights for travel if you are in a difficult bind, such as getting bumped off a flight or if you were poorly treated by an airline representative.

Good luck & happy travels!

“Did you know…Google excludes online travel agents from ‘flight search’?”

(Consumer Traveler)

Google Flight Search

Google Flight Search

At the PhoCusWright Travel Conference in Hollywood, Florida, the VP for travel at Google announced that the search engine giant has decided to exclude online travel agencies such as Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and metasearch sites like Kayak from their flight search results. A search on Google will only return airline results.

Why?…Read more about Google excluding online travel agents from Flight Search.

The Money Crashers Travel Series – Part 2 of 3: Savvy $avings on the Road — or in the Air

Expert Flyer Hot Topics – Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

Last week, in part one of our three-part series with Money Crashers personal finance blog editor, Andrew Schrage, we explored unique and clever tips for holiday shopping abroad.  This week, Andrew offers block and tackle money-saving strategies for business and occasional travelers on the road. We hope you enjoy part two of the series. 

Flying Dollar

Savvy $avings on the Road - or in the Air

What are the Money Crashers best money-saving strategies for the budget-squeezed business traveler and the frugal consumer?

Since I travel extensively, I need to identify every opportunity to save money. For example, try to avoid staying downtown when traveling to a larger city, since the hotel rates will be significantly more expensive. Search out a place in a nearby suburb and make sure to use public transportation to commute. Also, look for apartments that might be available or consider the benefits of a hostel versus a hotel. Also, whenever I can, I skip the plane altogether. Although you have to be careful with rising gas prices these days, driving is often a cheaper option that will also save you a bunch of time since you can avoid all of those painful security lines. And if you have the opportunity to travel by train, perhaps in Europe, for example, not only can you save a bunch of money, but you can take advantage of the extra down time by getting better prepared for any upcoming meetings.

If you’re traveling for leisure, try to plan your vacation around a business trip. In the past, I have piggy-backed a short business trip into a vacation for the family. Basically, my company paid for both my ticket to and from the destination and the length of my business hotel stay, and I simply had to cover the expenses for the extra days I spent there with my family. Also, consider combining luggage with any fellow travelers as a way to avoid airlines checked baggage fees.

Moreover, to increase the value of your vacation, visit two nearby destinations on the same trip. For example, I have relatives in NJ, so one thing I’m planning to do is take a ten day trip, spend five days visiting my family, and the remaining five days seeing the sights of nearby New York City. And if you plan to do a lot of shopping at your destination, don’t forget that haggling is widely accepted, especially outside of the US. Take advantage of some of the best negotiation techniques to score a great deal on those must-have items!

Perhaps the most important tip I have is taking advantage of your miles, especially if you’re a frequent flyer. Assuming you can pay your credit card off in full every month, you need to be taking advantage of the best travel rewards credit cards. You can’t be giving up free miles, points, and cash on your airfare purchases! Also, take advantage of sign-up bonuses on these cards as well. For example, the Chase Freedom credit card currently offers $200 cash back for new users, and will offer up to 5% cash back on airfare purchases.

Stay tuned next week for the final installment of this series, when the Money Crashers highlights the best smartphone apps for travelers…

One-on-One with Chris Lopinto, President & Co-founder, Expert Flyer

In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Chris Lopinto, President & Co-founder, ExpertFlyer, the premier air travel information tool that offers complete and efficient ways to access worldwide air travel information that can’t be found anywhere else.  Access to real-time awards and upgrades, seat maps, and unpublished fair buckets, are only a few of the benefits ExpertFlyer brings to its subscribers.

During this special edition of One-on-One with ExpertFlyer, Chris will share details about ExpertFlyer’s Award-Winning Seat Alerts® feature, which the company announced is now available free to anyone who flies. As an expert in air travel, Chris will also discuss other topics of interest to many airline travelers, including trends in frequent flier programs and how to maximize your travels.

Chris-Lopinto, President & Co-founder, ExpertFlyer

Chris-Lopinto, President & Co-founder, ExpertFlyer


“ExpertFlyer’s Seat Alerts feature is the fastest and easiest way for travelers to get out of the dreaded middle seat or even find a seat on a flight that is completely booked.”

— Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of ExpertFlyer.com

Seat Alerts has been a popular feature among ExpertFlyer (paid) subscribers who want to avoid the “middle seat” at all costs and find a “preferred seat” when they fly.  Tell us about the Seat Alerts service and why you’re offering this feature to everyone for free?

We realized that it really doesn’t matter how often or infrequent people travel; everyone hates the middle seat.  While it’s true that our subscriber sweet spot has been the road warrior, business traveler, and frequent flier, we see an opportunity to cater to a larger piece of the air travel market.  Offering free Seat Alerts allows us to “introduce” ourselves to the general consumer that may travel just a couple of times a year – students coming home from college; moms planning the family vacation; or grandparents visiting the grandkids.

If you have a ticket for a flight, but there are no seats available, Expert Flyer can let you know when there is one, so you have a seating assignment before you get to the airport.  Our Seat Alerts feature currently monitors more than 120 airline carriers worldwide.

How many travelers annually are stuck in the middle seat?

We calculated that on average, 19% of all passengers are stuck in a middle seat, which represents hundreds of millions of passengers per year. Traveler comfort is an issue that isn’t always a priority to be addressed. With Seat Alerts, we hope to solve the simple, yet important issue, of not sitting where you want for a multi-hour flight.

How does the Seat Alerts feature work? Are their restrictions for the Free Version?

Today, securing seating assignments for flights requires passengers to have a ticket and restricts seat selection to only unoccupied seats. Passengers hoping to find a different seat would typically wait until check-in at the airport and hope a more desirable seat is available.  ExpertFlyer’s Seat Alerts changes all that. Continue reading →

“Did you know…The top searched holiday travel destination for 2011?”

Fly.com recently released the top searched holiday travel destinations for 2011 — And Orlando takes the number one spot. Here is the top 10 list:

Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

 

1. Orlando

2. New York City

3. Los Angeles

4. Las Vegas

5. Fort Lauderdale

6. Miami

7. San Francisco

8. Chicago

9. Denver

10. Honolulu

According to Warren Chang, vice president and GM, Fly.com, this covers all user searches in October for holiday travel dates at the end of December. “The top 25 destinations account for nearly 50% of the total holiday searches, and the top 50 account for about 65% of the total searches. Another interesting fact is that more than 1,000 different destination airports were searched over the holiday period.”