Safety First!

The safety spiel at the beginning of each flight you take isn't something that I'd subject you to again needlessly.  However, I thought this new safety video from British Airways was...  well... brilliant!

I wish all airlines could adopt this video as the new standard in airline safety presentations, but alas, you'll only be able to enjoy it if flying on BA.  

If you liked the above video here's a link to a few more unique in-flight safety videos you can recall the next time you have to sit through the traditional rigmarole.

Happy Travels,

Lambo

Happy Travels Series - Combating Jet Lag

Jet lag is a serious problem that those flying across multiple time zones battle each trip.

There's no shortage of advice, or products, to help us try to swing the tide in our direction, or at least, lessen it's affects.

I read an interesting article recently titled: "How to beat jet lag easily with 1 simple diet hack."  This certainly caught my attention.  I have never tried any of the products available, so can't comment on those, but have just tried to get on my destination's time ASAP.  So, when I land at my destination after a less than ideal sleep on the flight over, I don't check in and take a nap (even though my body is begging me to), I check in and get out having a full calendar of things to do and see hitting the ground running.  My only other simple strategy has been to stay well hydrated on the plane.  I'm excited to try the advice in the article on my next trip...  I will report back in the fall to let you know of my experience.  

This comes to us from the folks over at "How I travel" and I think it's worth a read, especially if it can help you better enjoy your trip, or make coming home a little less awful.

Comment below if you have any tips or tricks for battling jet lag that work well for you!

Happy Travels!

 

Too much of a good thing?

crowd.jpg

People are great, aren't they?  Especially when they decide to not show up at the same place you are, at the exact same time (it's also cool if they're not wearing the exact same thing we happened to pick out that morning)!

Most places in the world would love to increase their tourism numbers.  Countries, regions, and cities spend millions and millions of dollars on marketing trying to lure you into visiting their beloved corner of the earth.  Spots on popular tourism website's 'best places' to visit lists are coveted year in and year out.  However, there are a few places on earth that would prefer that you just stayed home, or visited somewhere else (or at least stopped by during the off season!).

Venice and Barcelona, it seems, are just too popular!  I would call the 'off season' for both of these European cool kids mid October to late April, or early May.

There can be a lot of benefits to visiting in the off season too... cheaper prices (getting there and once you arrive as well), less crowds and shorter lines, happier locals, and you usually will have more opportunities to experience local cultural performances and festivities.

Happy Travels Series - Can you hear me now? Phones abroad.

It seems like everyone has a cell phone these days (Pew says it's about 95% of North Americans that own some kind of cell phone now).  They're great, not only are they phones, most cell phones now-a-days are 'smart' phones.  That means that we can make calls, take pictures, surf the web, watch movies, edit documents on the cloud, listen to music, take video, post on social media, etc, etc...  Which is all great and good, but what about traveling with our phones?

Well, not too long ago our phone plans didn't travel with us, heck, our phone might not even work in the country we're traveling to (do those darn Swiss use a GSM or CDMA network?)  I can remember having to call in to my carrier and ask for a phone that would work in the country I was traveling to and they'd promptly ship me a 'vacation' phone with a nice expensive plan added so I could make a call, send a text, or get online, if I needed to.  Sometimes their 'special' phone didn't work so well either, but they never seemed to have a problem charging me for it.  Hmmm...

Thankfully, there are a number of options now and I have happily been a customer of T Mobile now for a few years and their One Plan, which gives me unlimited data and texting in 140+ countries at no extra cost.  And best of all, I don't have to call in an get a 'special' phone and let them know where I'll be.  Wherever I step off a plane, or cross a boarder, I get a nice text saying welcome to (where ever I happen to be) have a good one you phone still works and you still have data (not exactly what the message says, but in a nutshell).  I love it!

Some folks I know buy a SIM card in the country they're visiting and swap it out during their trip, which ends up saving them a lot of money and they have a local number if anyone in country needs to reach them too (although I'm not sure how important that is as no hotel, or car rental company in a country I'm visiting said they couldn't call me because I had an international number.  However, if your visiting friends or family in a foreign country it'd be a lot cheaper for them to call a local number).  This has always seemed to me like a little more work and a little more complicated that what I wanted, so I've loved my T Mobile One plan, but those that do it swear it's quite straight forward and easy.  If you're interested in this options here's some more info. 

Another group of folks seem to swear by Google Fi.  I'm not qualified to make any comments on it, so please use the link to learn more about it.

In my opinion T Mobile has had the best international plan out of the major carriers, however, Sprint is making a run at the international traveler by releasing a new international plan of their own.

See Sprint's announcement here and compare it with T Mobile's One plan to see who might give you the best convenience, service, and bang for your buck, so that you can get the most out of your phone while travelling!

Airports of the future?

Hello again,

I hope you've signed up and are enjoying the savings from the deal alerts we send out.  As much as I love to travel, I think the only thing I might love more is sharing that love, and seeing others excited to travel while getting a great deal to boot!

I also love to share news, stories, tips, and tricks from the travel world.  I ran across an interesting video from the BBC describing one man's idea to revolutionize the airports of the future.

Check it out here.  Seems like a pretty cool idea!

Happy Travels Series - WiFi On A Plane

Let's face it.  We all spend a lot of time online in some way, shape, or form; some for pleasure, and some for work, and for most of us a combination of the two.  When we travel we are usually able to take a break, or forced to take a break, from Wifi because we're on a plane.  Airlines have been offering WiFi for quite a while now, but many have been unhappy with it.  Unhappy because it costs a pretty penny, and unhappy with the experience (too slow mainly and that is when it's working.  Not even Samuel L. Jackson can help you now!). 

Most of us when we fly are looking for things to do to entertain ourselves and/or the kids.  In-flight entertainment is great, but it's not always there and it doesn't give you the freedom and efficiency of WiFi ("Hey, you guys want to watch Smurfs on the way home too!").

Airlines have been working to make in-flight Wifi a better experience for some time now and have been rolling out improvements slowly.  However, there's something you can do now to improve your online experience in the air.

If you use Google's Chrome web browser to surf the net you may have heard of Chrome extensions.  Extensions are little programs that modify the Chrome web browser.  For example, there's a popup blocker extension that, funny enough, helps block popups while online.

Well, Northwestern University Computer Science/Engineering folks have developed a Chrome Extension to speed up your browsing experience while on a plane.  The have called it ScaleUp and as they describe it in the Chrome Web Store: "Boost your Browsing! This extension actively and passively monitors your network connection and scales up your webpage for maximum performance.  Larger scale factor = fewer objects on page = faster loading time!"  Oh, and did I mention it's free?

I haven't had the opportunity to test this while flying yet, however, I have installed the extension and anecdotally it appears to me to have decreased the page load time while browsing on my home WiFi (another bonus, it should work everywhere, right?!)

So, you've paid good money to get online in the air, make the most of it by adding ScaleUp to your Chrome browser and Travel Happy!

Happy Travels Series - Getting There and Back Again...

Travelling can be a joy, a way of unburdening yourself from your daily cares and learning to relax again.  However, travelling can also mean standing in lines and frustration with just getting 'there', or getting home!

With this post I'd like to talk a little bit about one big thing you can do to make your travel experience a little less taxing and stressful, and to share a few insights of the experienced traveler...

The big thing I'd like to introduce you to is TSA Precheck.  This is the best money you can spend if you fly with any amount of regularity.  TSA Precheck allows you your own security lane where you don't have to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, your 3-1-1 liquids, or your laptop from your bag!  This alone is worth the price of admission!  

Alright, I feel like I have got your attention on this one, I can hear you just begging me to tell you how much it costs.  The simple answer is $85, however, I hate to say it, but wait there's more!  If you are seriously considering TSA Precheck, and I think you should, you may as well spend $15 more and get Global Re-entry.  So, for $100 this program gives you TSA Precheck, and all of it's benefits, as well as expedited re-entry back into the U.S. when you leave the country.  Again, just like security is a bottle neck trying to just get to your flight, which Precheck can greatly reduce, Customs and Immigration lines, when returning to the U.S. from abroad, can be a major time vacuum and stress.  Global Re-entry is the answer to save time and aggravation coming home!

Another option for you if it just kills you to spend the extra $15 for the whole package mentioned above is the Mobile Passport App.  This app on Apple and Android is basically the benefits of Global Re-entry for free.  The downside you ask?  Well, you don't get TSA Precheck with it, you have to sign up for that separately, and it isn't at every airport yet (however, to be honest, it's at most airports you might be re-entering the US from, so check out the Mobile Passport website and see if it works for you.)  If so, great!  You've just saved the extra $15 to sign up for Global Re-entry and can use your savings to sign up for Lambo's Travel Deals to save even more travel $!

One more thought/tip on this topic of getting through security and back home more quickly and comfortably.  There is something called NEXUS.  To put it simply NEXUS is Global Re-entry for the U.S. and Canada.  The benefits of this?  Well, again you get expedited passage through security and customs for one more country, in this case Canada.  What's nice about this is many deals I see from the U.S are on Star Alliance member Air Canada, so when you layover in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or another Canadian city, you are quickly expedited through their security and customs lines as well.  The other nice thing about this?  I thought you'd never ask!  For the bonus of adding one more country - Canada - to the VIP treatment security and customs lines, you pay exactly half the price.  Yeah, you read that right, $50 bucks!  And just like the Global Re-entry mentioned earlier, it's good for five years too!  Unfortunately, there is a downside, or should I say an inconvenience.  To sign up for anything we've talked about to this point you have to go in for an interview at an enrollment center, with the exception of the Mobile Passport App.  For the NEXUS interview this must take place at a NEXUS enrollment center, which you'll only find along the US/Canada border at major crossing points, or in major Canadian cities/airports.

Finally, if you're flush with cash, travel for a business that's flush with cash, and can't stand waiting more than 5 minutes in a security line to get to your flight (or if you're always late getting to the airport) CLEARME is your answer!  With CLEARME you skip the wait for the TSA agent to look at your passport/license and then staring at you and your boarding pass to be sure everything is copacetic.  CLEARME uses a kiosk to verify your identity by scanning your finger print and/or retina, which then sends you directly to security.  If you combine this with TSA Precheck you'll set speed records getting to your gate in the post 9/11 world.  CLEARME isn't free.  It'll cost you $149 to $179 / yr and an additional $50 / family member; this doesn't include TSA Precheck, which would cost $85 more, or $100 more if you wanted Global Re-entry.

Check out this NY Times article for a good review of our discussion here and some more information.

There is a lot of information for you to sift through here, but information that I promise will bring you much less stress and much happier travels in the future!

It'$ alway$ a good time...

I like to save money, I'm assuming you do as well.  I don't think there are too many people out there that would rather spend more than less.  As a matter of fact, that's why I started this whole Lambo's Travel Deals thing in the first place... to be able to travel period, and hopefully a bit more, by finding, and sharing, better deals.

It's in that spirit that I share this post with you today.  The New York Times shares some ideas on how to save some money for, and on, travel for 2017.

Just a few of my thoughts on their piece...

  • I have to agree that it is a particularly good time to visit Britain, both from an airfare and currency conversion point of view.  Take advantage of this 'sweet spot' in time for a visit to the UK!
  • Some folks in the travel world have a lot of bad things to say about 'low cost carriers' (LCCs), or budget airlines (think Spirit, Frontier, Ryan Air, EasyJet, Southwest, Norwegian, WOW Air, etc).  I happen to think they're neither good nor bad, but a tool to be used when it suits you, and not to be used when it doesn't (just like any other product or service).  On the plus side, they're one of the reasons we're seeing lower fares in general these days.  On the negative side, they've given the legacy carriers the bright idea to cheapen their service and experience, but not always their prices.  The main point here is that all the LCCs vary in their up charges and policies, so read the small print carefully and understand what you're buying and not buying.  What looks like a cheap fare initially may not be once you consider picking a seat, checking a bag, etc.  However, you might just get a steal of a deal if you don't care where you sit, can pack light, and follow their rules and regs.  I like options and I'm glad that budget carriers are one...
  • Flexibility is key to finding a truly great deal!
  • contact me at: lambo@lambostraveldeals.com if you are interested in learning about the points/miles world.  I'd be happy to coach you up and help get you some free, or next to free, travel!
  • If you're using Google Fi, let me know.  I'm curious to hear about your experience.  I'm currently using T-Mobile because of their easy/convenient international plan, but am always interested in learning about something better/cheaper!

I hope you enjoyed the article.  I'd be interested in your thoughts too, so leave a comment.

Now, where did I put my wallet...? Travel scams and how to avoid them.

I love to travel, but I hate feeling like I've been ripped off, or wondering if someone is trying to scam me!  The prices of airline tickets is a topic for another day (and hey, that's why I'm here.  Sign-up for my deal alerts, or let me coach you on the 'points world,' and never feel like you over-paid for your flight again!).

Besides the price of the flights, hotels, and those tickets to get into that museum, there are so many other ways the unscrupulous try and take your hard earned cash!

The people over at 'Just the flight' give us some tips on how to come home with our sanity and hopefully, more of our money....

Funny story...  I was played like a fiddle in Istanbul a few years ago...  Yes, I fell hook, line, and sinker for the 'shoe shiner' rouse.  Dude 'dropped' his brush, I saved the day by returning it to him, and he 'thanked' me by 'shining' my dusty Nikes by wiping dirty water on them with the 'saved' brush.  Cool experience until dude demands his money for the 'shine.'  Istanbul didn't seem quite as cool after I realized I had been taken for a ride...  and it's even funnier now reading about the scams to avoid and remembering how it played out for me in that exact same way!

Nice shoes... Idiot!

Nice shoes... Idiot!

From Russia... with love...

Russia has raised the fees on visas necessary to enter their country.

In the past you could buy a multiple entry visa good for three years for $193. 

Now, the same visa will set you back $303.  You can find cheaper visas for single entry for $123, or for double entry at $177.

You can find the official visa fees listed on the Russian Embassy’s website.  They don’t include the $33 visa center service fee, which there's no way to avoid, so don't forget to add that to your total.

Although the price increase is disappointing, I hear St. Petersburg is worth it!