BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG

Top Travel Planning Guide: Save Time and Money Without Skimping

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Did you return from your last trip to a scary credit card bill? Are you holding off on booking your dream trip due to the cost? Do you have safety concerns about traveling abroad?

If any of this resonates, you are in the perfect place because you are getting the ultimate travel planning resource - front row access to my New York Times and Travel & Adventure Show talks:

   - Expecting the Unexpected - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes
   - 99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping.
Watch the first 5 minutes of this talk below:

          

To see my full talk, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with the presentation:

                    

If you missed the highlights of my U.S. tour on my Facebook or Twitter pages, here they are with video of my New York times Travel Show panel talk:

Chicago
My first trip of the year was to the windy city which was also the first stop of my U.S. tour. When staying in hotels, I prioritize chains that include Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast in the base fare. These tend to be 3-star hotels like the Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn Express, Home2Suites by Hilton, and Embassy Suites (which is where I stayed in Chicago) gets bonus points for having an open bar and free snacks every evening from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

This was my first talk of the tour, so I stopped by the travel show a day early to do a test run:


                                 

I took advantage of the unseasonably warn mid-January weather to explore the city, using Uber to get from my airport area hotel to the Bean:
                             


Our Uber driver took extra time to show us his favorite sights. We had lunch at 
Gino's East which is legendary for deep dish pizza, then we rode the ferris wheel on the Navy Pier, and took in this amazing view from atop the John Hancock Center:



Manhattan
I landed in New York City a few days early to enjoy the city, and arrived to find this article in the New York Times about my speaking engagement and book signing.

It's no coincidence that travel shows take place in mid-winter. Lucky for me, New York was also having unseasonably warm, and I took full advantage to jog in Central Park:



I also walked to the Lincoln Center to see Romeo and Juliette - en francais:




To cut  my accommodation costs, my friend and Marriott Vacation Club owner Travel Coach Chris referred me to a Marriott ownership presentation that I attended in return for discounted accommodations. The property was under renovation, so after my three nights there, I was ready to move to the Marriott Marquis which is usually beyond my budget, but is the New York Times Travel Show's partner hotel. Here is the priceless view from my room:



The big day! As I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center, the size and scale of everything was imposing:
  
 

Here we are for our panel discussion 'Disaster Prevention - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes.' From left to right in the picture below are:

- Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world (Cassandra De Pecol has since claimed to have beat that record doing it by the age of 27).
- Kelly Walton with the Center for Disease Control.
- Karen Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizen Services.
- To the far right, fortunate to be in the company of these amazing people is me! :D




Click any question to watch me answer it:

1. "What do you recommend to those traveling on a budget? And what would you say to those who feel they cannot afford travel insurance?" 

2. "Tell us a story of an unexpected disaster you had while abroad."

3. "What do travelers commonly overlook when planning a trip?"

4. "What's your top travel safety tip?" 

After our panel talk, I was whisked away to my book signing where I was humbled to find a line of people waiting for me with a copy of my book already in hand.

Although I have been to New York City half a dozen times, I had never been up the Empire State Building. So after my book signing, we went up to watch the sunset. When we got to the top, we ran into non-other than King Kong himself!:


                                                    

San Francisco Bay Area
As mild as the east coast winter was, it cannot compare to California's sunny skies and palm trees. Little did I know, the day I landed in San Jose was the first sunny day in more than two weeks. The night before my appearance, I strolled over to the Santa Clara Convention Center and snapped this picture with Levis Stadium in the background:



I set a day aside for a day trip to a Redwood forests, and when I arrived at the entrance to Castle Rock State Park, I couldn't believe the park entrance was barricaded, and that I was handed this leaflet:



So I continued driving West on highway 17 to Santa Cruz, and was again stunned to see the east bound lanes closed due to a landslide. When I finally got to the coast, I literally melted as I sat on the beach watching surfers in the distance before snapping a picture of this sunset:


Las Vegas
I had 6 days to kill between my Bay area and Los Angeles travel appearances, so I flew to Las Vegas for some rest and relaxation (yes really!). I got 3 FREE nights at the Hilton Vacation Club for attending a timeshare sales presentation. The way it worked is that I paid $200 up front, which was credited back to my account after attending the presentation. This was the second ownership presentation in three weeks, but I have become accustomed to how they work. To learn how to survive a timeshare sales pitch, watch this video.

I spent my last evening in Vegas strolling the strip when I spontaneously went up the Eifel Tower and captured this stunning 360 degree panoramic video of the strip:


Los Angeles
The clear desert sky had me all forget about California's endless rain, that is until I landed in it at LAX. I had a commitment in Santa Barabara during my visit, and my drive there was thrown into a hiatus when a landslide came down on the 101 Freeway northbound as I was driving there. Here is a picture I took during the hour I spent stuck in traffic:



Despite the setback, I was determined to make it, and the kind folks at the Ventura Visitors Information Center showed me a back road to get from Ventura to Santa Barbara via Lake Casitas in the mountains. It was not without it's challenges, but 5 hours after leaving Encino, I made it to Santa Barbara (usually a 1.5 hour drive) and took this picture adjacent to the waterfront:




Show Time!
 The next day, I was back in Los Angeles, and it was a thrill to speak at the Travel and Adventure Show where I was the last speaker of the day. Here are the first 5 minutes of '99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping':

          

To see the full presentation, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:

                     

The Los Angeles Convention Center is attached to the Staples Center, and as my book signing wrapped up, an L.A. Kings game was starting. By the time I made it to the box office, the first period was nearly over, and I got a $133 ticket 15 rows from the ice for just $66. Here is a picture I took from my seat:




Philadelphia
The city of brotherly love was the last stop of my speaking tour where I was took the stage twice, moderating a Travel Planning and Safety panel discussion in addition to my '99 tips' talk.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Orlando Rivera, who handles expedited passport requests at the Philadelphia passport office, and Henry Hand who has worked at a number of embassies around the world. Both men are a wealth of knowledge on everything travel safety, how to manage your passport, and about what resources are available to you when encountering a crisis abroad. They have incredibly interesting stories, and were a ton of fun to speak with.
Click Here to read a Philadelphia Sun article about our panel discussion.

After the travel show, we did what every visitor to Philadelphia needs to do, and that was head over to Spataros in Reading Terminal Station for Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches:




Then it was time to head home. I love how the train connects directly from the beautiful 30th Street Station picture below) to PHD ($8 one-way):



These 5 travel shows attracted more than 100K travelers combined. In every city, people came to me to share how I was their favorite speaker, and that the savvy tips, tricks, steals and deals I divulge are invaluable. 

Once you see
'99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping', it will be the single biggest influence on your ability to save money traveling, and I'm sure it will save you a bundle on your upcoming trips.

To watch it, sign up to my Travel Tips newsletter at
Breakthetravelbarrier.com. Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:



*PS: Your family and friends will love you even more than they already do once you share this with them.


WANT MORE?
 Get my FREE GUIDE 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com 


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight with Kate Delaney, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He is the author of 'Stop Dreaming... Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less' available at
StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.




How to Avoid Common Travel Surcharges

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A recent Trip Advisor survey found 1 in 3 travelers expects to spend more on travel this year. With airlines raking in record profits and hotels increasing their rates, it’s getting harder to know the true cost of your trip until you look at your post-vacation credit card statement. The reason being is that travel operators know that you decide whether you can afford a trip based the posted online fare.

If you could see inside the mind of a travel operator, you would see they are trying to increase their profit without increasing their posted fare. That's why you’re seeing an increase in hidden ‘discretionary’ surcharges and fees.

CLICK HERE to see me on CTV discussing how to avoid common travel surcharges. This was a special interview for me as I am a big fan of CFL star Quarterback Henry Burris who interviewed me. Read on after you watch it as I do not have time to cover all the details on live TV.

COMMON TRAVEL SURCHARGES

Checked Bag Fees: Airlines are raking in record profits, largely on the back of surcharges. Last year, checked-bag fees alone generated upwards of 3.5 billion dollars which generally apply to economy class flights. If you have elite status with the airline you are flying with, you may get a free pass to check your luggage at no charge even when flying economy.

Short of the above options, luggage allowances are generally restricted to one complimentary carry-on bag. But there is a clever way you can double up on your carry on luggage at no-charge. If you bring a second carry on bag is one like a 
Jaktogo luggage jacket, you carry can it through the airport just as any other carry-on bag. When the time comes to board the plane, the bag unfolds into a jacket can you wear as you board the plane. Once embarked, remove the jacket and fold it back into a bag. Presto!

Jaktogo has distinct luggage jackets for men and women with a trench coat version and a poncho style dress. Fashionistas should know these jackets won’t make the cover of Vogue, but there is no doubting their practically with their dual sided pockets big enough for even your laptop and shoes.

If wearing a luggage jacket isn’t for you, all major airlines are affiliated with credits cards that offer travel benefits when you pay for your flight using the partner credit card. For a list of credit cards that offer a free checked-bag benefit. To find the best one for you,
click here and scroll down to 'Credit Card Travel Benefits'.

If all else fails, prioritize one of the few remaining airlines that does not charge checked-bag fees.
This list breaks down luggage allowances and checked-bag policies by airline.

Hotel Internet Charges: Isn't it ironic the most expensive hotels are also the ones that charge the highest internet fees? My rule of thumb is to prioritize hotels that include free Wi-Fi and continental breakfasts in the base rate. These are generally hotels 3-star hotels like the Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Plus.

Increasingly hotels are dangling free Wi-Fi as an incentive for you to sign up to their loyalty program. For example, you will get free Wi-Fi as a perk for being a loyalty program member with either Marriott, Hyatt, the Ritz Carleton, Hilton Double Tree and Homewood Suites. It’s always free to sign-up to loyalty programs, and since it only takes a few minutes to do, there is no reason to ever pay internet fees in these hotels. Consumer Reports compiled a list of Wi-Fi policies by hotel chain which you can view 
by clicking here. 

Avoid Expensive Taxis: Anytime you think you’ll need to hail a cab at your destination, before leaving on your trip, visit the website of your destination airport and it will have a page will all your transportation options from the airport including:
  • Many airports are directly linked to subways, trains and public transit.
  • Shuttle buses which may include free hotel shuttles and city wide shuttles that stop at all the major hotels.
  • Uber is often an inexpensive alternative to taxis. Only Uber does not operate in all cities, and even where it does, Uber is not allowed to pick up passengers at a number of airports. You should also be aware that Uber surges it's pricing when demand is high.
  • Average taxi fares from the airport to various parts of the city.

No More Roaming Charges: The best roaming plans often are not the ones you see on TV. For example, lefrenchmobile.com offers visitors to Europe roaming plans comparable to what locals pay. They send you a SIM card with a permanent number you can use every time you visit Europe. You can data only roaming plans starting at $3/day in the U.S. and $5/day in Mexico with roammobility.com. To get setup, Roam Mobility mails you a SIM card ($10 fee) with a number that’s yours to keep. To activate your plan, visit their website prior to your trip and enter your arrival and departure date and time.

 

For Americans traveling abroad, T-Mobile’s ‘Simple Choice Plan’ is hands-down the best roaming plan for travelers. For more information, Click Here for my article ‘Stay Connected Abroad – Without the Roaming Fees.

Credit Card Travel Benefits: Since all travel is booked online, you have to have a credit card. I recommend traveling with two credit cards where you keep one on your person and one in your luggage. This way, if you lose one of them, you won’t find yourself in a panic.

Nearly every major travel operator is affiliated with a credit card that offers great travel perks. For a list of credit cards that waive common travel surcharges such as the ones below, 
Click Here and scroll to ‘CREDIT CARD SIGN-UP BONUSES’:

  • Complimentary checked-bag
  • Waived foreign transaction fees which average 1-3% of purchases made abroad
  • Pay for taxies with points
  • Free access to airport lounge

Finally... remember to pack snacks and headphones so that you don’t have to overpay for them on your flight.


CLICK HERE to see me discuss ways to avoid common travel surcharges with star CFL quarterback Henry Burris on CTV.

 
Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post and Around the World Travel TV. He is also the author of amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com