My friends are always asking me for travel advice, tips, etc. so I thought writing a blog post with all my coveted travel secrets was long overdue. Nevertheless, rewind 3 years back and I would have never been able to write this post. Three years ago, I knew nothing about traveling, I mean, I didn’t even have a PASSPORT! That was until I met my wonderful boyfriend who also happens to be a seasoned traveler! Never did I imagen how much of a profound and life changing experience traveling really is. Three years later, and countless of countries checked, I can now share with you everything I have learned from a seasoned traveler himself.
- Sign up for Airline’s reward miles’ program:
- This one is an important one because most people try to look online for the best deals instead of just sticking to one airline and racking up miles to get benefits. I know sometimes its temping to just look for the cheapest flights online, but if you pick an airline that benefits you the most, and stick to them, it will be worth it in the long run. We chose American Airlines, in part, because they have so many partnerships with international airlines (One World) that most other airlines don’t have. What this means is, that if you fly with one of their partner airlines you will still get miles for the flight even if the flight is not with American. Additionally, when sticking to one airline, you will get to enjoy the perks of being part of their loyalty rewards program.
- Airlines reward loyalty, therefore, again the #1 rule is to pick just one airline and stick with it (this also applies to hotels, more on this later). If you sign up with an airline’s reward program and you stick to that airline eventually you will rack up enough points “miles” to receive a status and with status come perks. Some of the perks include, free upgrades, free flights, hotel and car rental, and free checked bags. Be among the first people to board a flight and faster security lines.
- Flight upgrades:
- Once you’ve racked up enough points with an airline to receive an elite status, you qualify for upgrades. Nevertheless, domestic upgrades are always easier to obtain than international. Some of my tips for getting upgrades include, check in early, ask to be put on the upgrade list, fly earlier in the morning. I’ve noticed you’re more likely to get an upgrade when taking that 5am flight than if you took the 11am one, as less people will be inclined to fly at 5am. Additionally, getting upgraded depends on many variables; such as, status, how much you paid for your ticket, and how far in advance you’ve had it. Which means, it’s not always a guarantee. As a Platinum American Airlines member, on average, I get upgraded about 70% of the time. However, this does not mean you must get stuck in a crappy seat. DO NOT EVER get stuck in the middle seat, if you are not an elite member and you happened to get stuck in the middle seat just politely ask to be changed when you check in 99% of the time they will. Additionally, right before boarding once the elite members who got dibs on the good seats have been upgraded, their original seat becomes fair game! Go up to the gate agent a few minutes before boarding and ask if you can be switch to a better seat.
- Sign up for Global entry + TSA Pre-check:
- This one is a must have if you’re planning to become a frequent flyer. For instance, with TSA Pre-check, you can breeze through domestic security at the airport. Additionally, with TSA Pre-check you will not have to remove your shoes or take out your laptops, which can save a lot of time! Whereas, with Global Entry is more convenient for international traveling. With Global Entry, you will be able to breeze through customs line.
- One trick to getting both Global Entry and TSA Pre-check is by purchasing Global Entry, once you’ve purchase and have been approved for global entry you will, in addition, automatically be enrolled in TSA Pre-check. Purchasing Global Entry will set you back about $100 but it is worth it. Also, many big-name travel credit cards (mentioned below) will automatically pay for Global Entry/TSA Pre-check.
- Stick to the same brand and booking company for hotels:
- Much like airlines, hotels, also reward loyalty! As for us we try to stick to Starwood hotels, mainly because of its larger selections of hotels globally. Additionally, we try to book our hotels through Expedia. Some of the perks of being a Starwood’s Prefer member include, free breakfast, room upgrades, late checkout, and frequent promotions for better opportunities to multiply and rack up more points. Also, for booking we stick to Expedia being a rewarded member of a booking site also comes with its perks, such as, upgrades! There has never been a time we have not gotten a room upgrade from out booking. When checking into a hotel, even if you’re not a reward member, always ask for an upgrade. This is one of our best kept secrets. With a little bit of charm, kindness, and a smile chances are you will get it, you don’t lose anything by trying.
- When it comes to doing hotel research we always check Trip Advisor, I really like how they have “hotel photos,” and actual photos from people who have stayed there which helps you see a better picture of what the hotel looks like.
- Sing up for travel credit cards that give you miles.
- Another way to rack up points for air travel and hotels is through credit cards. Some of our favorite include; Starwood Prefer Guest (American Express), is believed to be one of the best travel reward cards that exist! We also use, Citi Credit Card for American Airlines, and American Express platinum. However, I recommend finding one that aligns best with your preferred airline for extra benefits. For instance, automatic bump to elite status with your airline, automatic access to VIP lounges around the world, and included TSA Pre-check + Global Entry.
Mindful Mantra: Gratitude
I choose an attitude of gratitude. When we focus on the blessings in our life, our minds tune into a positive frequency attracting more blessings. Grateful people live happier and healthier lives. – Dr. Romie