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All the Right Moves: Timesaving Travel Tips

(July 2001)

Time is what everybody wants, but nobody seems to have enough of it. Today's consumers have less time than ever, and are looking for ways to reduce stress and simplify their lives—especially when it comes to travel. The following are a few timesaving travel tips—from flying to visiting a theme park—that will help you have a better trip.

Air Travel

Understand the Difference Between Direct and Nonstop

Understand airline lingo: "direct" is not "nonstop." Direct flights do stop—you just don't change planes. To save time, book the nonstop flight. (Time saved: several hours)

Fly Early

DOT statistics reveal that flights scheduled to depart and arrive early in the day have better on time performance. Flying early has another advantage: If your selected flight is canceled, you will have a better chance of being rebooked on a flight later in the day.
(Time saved: several hours)

Fly on Saturday Night or Holidays

Airports are less crowded, and flights are usually on time.
(Time saved: a day)

Use Regional Airports

Compared to their big city counterparts, regional airports offer easy parking and smaller check-in lines. Plus, as a bonus, they usually offer cheaper fares! (Time saved: one hour)

Use a Skycap

Check your bags and walk right to the gate. Just make sure your bags get on the conveyer belt immediately. Skycaps can get very busy—sometimes too busy to watch your bag, which presents a prime opportunity for criminals to steal your luggage.
(Time saved: one hour)

Flight Cancellations: Don't Stand in Line

If your flight gets cancelled, don't stand in line with the rest of the crowd. Get on your cell phone, or the nearest pay phone, and call the airline's 800-customer service number to be rebooked. (Time saved: 15 minutes to several hours)

Ship Your Luggage Ahead

Ship parcels and bags ahead; don't check them. Reduce your stress level by mailing items by a reliable overnight package service such as UPS or Federal Express. Also consider two companies that specialize in shipping luggage, Virtual Bellhop and CAPS. Virtual Bellhop has been in business since 1999 and ships luggage throughout the U.S. and Canada. CAPS currently operates only in Las Vegas; however, it plans to expand to other destinations throughout the U.S. It may cost a few dollars, but the stuff will get there and you don't have to carry it. I've found this a great option for shipping skis. (Time saved: 30 minutes to one hour)

Pick Up and Drop-Off Points

Picking up or dropping off someone at the airport? Do the opposite of what most people do; pick up at departure level, and drop off at baggage claim. This works especially well for early morning and late evening flights, when the departure level is jammed. Moreover, you are less likely to become stuck in traffic. Most large airports have peak times for arrivals and departures, known as banks of flights. Banks of flights are necessary at the major hub airports to make schedules flow for connecting passengers. Airports tend to be busiest at the following times: 8 to 10 am, noon to 2 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m., and 8 to 10 p.m. (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Flying to Asia? Fly a Polar Route

The end of the Cold War has opened airspace over Russia and China, which can now be flown by newer, longer-range aircraft. By flying polar routes, airlines can cut off hours from the circuitous routes planes now fly between North America and Asia. Currently, Air Canada, Continental, Northwest, and United fly polar routes from certain cities to Asia. (Time saved: up to three hours)

Hotels

Checking In: Skip Those Lines

Sidestep long check-in lines when you arrive. Check your bags with the bellman, then call the hotel via pay phone or cell phone to have your reservation confirmed—just give them your credit card number, pick up your keys from the front desk, and go on your way. (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Checking Out: Skip Those Lines, Part II

When checking out, go down to the desk very early in the morning, before official checkout time. You won't have to turn in your room key, and you may still use your room until official checkout time (usually around 11 pm). (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Don't Charge to Your Hotel Room

Don't charge anything to your hotel room. It is too confusing to verify the list of room charges when you are checking out. Pay cash for room service, etc. That way you'll know that extra item on your bill can't be yours. (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Rental Cars

Join car rental programs (at no cost) and enjoy timesaving extras. Because paperwork will be done in advance, there's no waiting—you can go straight to your car. The following companies offer these perks:

However, one does stand out from the rest: National's Emerald Club offers quick check-in, and members can have their returned rental car refueled by National service agents at local self-serve gas prices. The "save time fuel service," is available to all Emerald Club members. (Time saved: 15 minutes to one hour)

Cruise Ship

Get Your Tips in Order

Have tips put aside in envelopes before you go on the cruise to avoid last minute long line waits at the purser's desk. (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Theme Parks

Buy Tickets Early

Many big theme parks sell tickets for you to purchase in advance at various outlets or online. By purchasing tickets ahead of time, you can avoid standing in line at the park, and can go directly to the turnstiles. (Time saved: 30 minutes to one hour)

Arrive Early

Arrive early, at least 30 minutes prior to opening. Some parks will allow you to enter even earlier. You will not be able to get on the rides early, but you might be first in line. (Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Don't Follow the Crowd

Many people will go to the right and move clockwise throughout the park. Instead, go left and move counterclockwise. Also, in the morning, most guests go to attractions near the gate or to the newest one. Head to the back of the park first and ride the rides while the lines are short. (Time saved: 30 minutes to one hour)

Jump to the Head of the Line

Visitors to the Walt Disney World theme parks can utilize a FASTPASS. This free service allows riders to get a designated ride time for the most popular attractions. Just slide your regular park ticket through the turnstiles at participating attractions. Your free Disney's FASTPASS ticket will be imprinted with a designated ride time.

At Universal Studios, for a fee, you can get the Universal Express Pass and jump to the front of any long line. The price per day for the Express Pass is $99 for adults and $79.95 for children age three to nine.
(Time saved: several hours)

Ride Basics

In general, the wait for coasters is longer in the morning, and water rides are more crowded in the afternoon when it gets hotter. Avoid the long lines by doing the water rides in the morning and the coasters in the afternoon.
(Time saved: 15 to 30 minutes)

Road Trips

Start Early and Stagger Hours

If you can stagger your driving hours to avoid peak rush hours, you'll spend less time sitting in traffic. (Time saved: 30 minutes to several hours)

Plan Your Trip Ahead

There are many free online mapping sources for planning your trip. You can also join and use AAA's auto travel services. Professional travel counselors provide personal assistance in planning a trip by car, routing you via your choice of scenic or most direct routes. Regional and city maps, plus TripTiks and TourBooks, are available for free to members.
(Time saved: several hours)

Check for Construction Delays

Avoid possible delays. Find out about road construction projects in the U.S. and Canada that may affect your trip. Rand McNally has an updated list of road construction areas.
(Time saved: 30 minutes to several hours)

Use Your Credit Card When Refueling

Avoid lines at gas stations by utilizing pumps that take credit cards. (Time saved: 15 minutes)

Use a Travel Agent

A number of surveys over the past few years have shown consumers' willingness to pay for timesaving services. Travel planning ranks near the top as a service for which people are willing to pay. If you have a complicated travel itinerary, or just don't have the time to plan every important detail, travel agents will do it for you. (Time saved: several hours)

Subscribe to Timesaving Internet Deals and News

Finally, make sure you've signed up for Smarter Living's free e-mail travel newsletters to stay current on the latest deals. (Time saved: priceless).

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