Travel Tweets Cue Thought, Savings

A great amount of travel information is available on twitter, much more than the standard 140 characters might elude to. Some is straightforward, a simple statement of facts, making who we follow the key to travel info riches. But sometimes, thought provoking travel tweets can prompt a search for knowledge that brings a learning element and along with it, more meaningful information.

@united, the Twitter handle for United Airlines, posed an interesting question recently

“Our longest nonstop flight is 8,065 miles. Do you know which two destinations it connects?#avgeek

Following up later, @united answered

“EWR to HKG is our longest nonstop route.

That made me wonder, “so is that the longest non-stop flight in the world?”

Not even close.

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 claims the title of having the longest regularly scheduled non-stop flight in the world. Also flying from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) Singapore Airlines uses an Airbus A340-500 for the 9,534 mile trip in about 18.5 hours flight time.

That knowledge led me to check that tag, #avgeek, for more. That search revealed a plethora of information about aviation-related topics including this video, posted by who explains some otherwise very technical information about jet design in an understandable way.

Of the video, @clemensv says

“I’m a software dude, not an aerospace engineer. But I’m an aviation geek with a bit of 1950s aerospace engineering envy. Because: unlimited money.

Therefore please excuse my amateur attempt at explaining the Area Rule of supersonic jet design completely without resorting to math but rather in the sand and showing it off on a F-86, F-102, F-106, and F-5.”

Perhaps better yet, tweets by travel-related service providers such as @Airfarewatchdog, @livingsocial, @ViatorTravel (or @ViatorGear), @SmarterTravel and others can make for big savings on travel and travel-related products.

[Photo credit – Flickr user eldh]

Money-Saving Strategies From Other Places That Work For Airports Too

As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us enjoy the whole process of flying. Maybe it’s the thrill of the hunt when exploring a complex matrix of flights, airlines and prices. Perhaps exercising the survival skills that find power for electronic devices we bring along satisfies a primitive need. Whatever the reason, we like to fly. Some travelers like to fly so much that we spend more than we need to. A good battle plan combined with budgetary prowess learned from other activities can go a long way.

Eat before arriving
Frugal grocery store shoppers know that arriving hungry can lead to impulse buying, and most don’t even eat what they select until later. Arriving at the airport famished, maybe a bit earlier than normal to make up for sequester-induced lines, has trouble written all over it. Airport food courts are grounds for impulse buys. Forty pounds ago, I used that as an excuse to overdose on food I would have had serious guilt issues with if consumed elsewhere. A decent airport app like FlySmart can offer healthy suggestions.Bring an empty water bottle
Heading out on a hike, camping or just the drive to work, eco- and budget-friendly travelers bring a reusable water bottle. Head to the airport and many forget or don’t know that the same reusable bottle will indeed make it through the security screening process. In most cases, the $4 bottle of water at the conveniently located kiosk by the boarding gate costs more than a whole bunch of reusable water bottles. Concerned about the taste of that tap water found after screening? Go crazy and buy a self-filtering water bottle.

Let an expert help
This could be the “insert name of travel agent here” part of the story and, for many, that might be a good idea. Those comfortable with using an attorney for legal matters, an accountant for taxes or even a good mechanic for auto repairs could easily buy into that notion. For air travel, many of the sources we feature here like AirFareWatchdog, Kayak and others can go a long way to maximizing savings on airline fares – obviously a big ticket item in the whole scheme of things. Better yet, ask a local travel blogger based out of your hometown airport. Odds are they have it down to a science.

Leave time for the satellite lot
When going to a concert, major sporting event or local convention center, penny-wise drivers park remotely, realizing that convenience equals higher prices. Parking close to the terminal at almost any airport will cost dearly compared to the price of a secure, remote lot. AirportParking boasts savings of up to 70% off the price of terminal parking, and allows reservations and payment in advance. In Orlando, for example, terminal parking is $10 per day; remote parking from a number of lots is less than half the price.

The whole idea of applying money-saving strategies learned from other activities to air travel comes with a bonus too. We’re already comfortable with the process so applying does not require learning a new skill or forging a new path where no one has gone before.

Looking for some other money-saving ideas to use when at the airport? Check this video:

[Photo credit – Flickr user Grant Wickes]

Travel Bargains: Some Of The Best Go To Loyal Subscribers

Presenting their service or merchandise as a “travel bargain,” airlines, hotels, cruise lines, makers of travel gear and more are looking to catch our attention with a fabulous offer. Sometimes these offers have little extra value, come with restrictions or are good only at a time when it is not convenient to buy. Still, there are some coming out this year that do offer good value and have few rules, prompting savvy consumers, who wait for the best deal, to buy.

TravelSmith online travel accessories had a “buy one, get one for 50% off” sale, one-day only, the day before Thanksgiving. Proving how important it is to subscribe to email updates from preferred providers, only subscribers to TravelSmith’s updates got the offer. Restrictions still applied, the offer was only valid on regular-priced items and to redeem, customers had to click through to the deal via that email.Now that holiday shopping season is officially here, look for more offers like these from other suppliers we can get preferred status with, just by adding an email address to their list.

Don’t want a lot of junk email? Set up a separate email account just for this sort of offer. That way, they can give your email address away all they want to and it all goes to the same place.

[Photo credit- Flickr user Mat Honan]

Cost of travel soaring but savings possible

Determining the true cost of travel takes some effort. What we pay for airfare, hotels, and meals away from home are elements of a budget we want to pin down as much as possible, but that is not always easy. Experts know the cost of travel is rising, but also offer explanations and suggestions on what we can do about it.

Paying attention to prices at the pump, we need not hear from an expert to know that jet fuel prices are probably increasing as well.

“You’ll see gradual increases and then a much bigger jump in April and May when people start shopping for the summer travel season,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of travel website

Still, there are ways to save on airline tickets, cruise fares, hotels and more. One trick, normally seen as risky business, is to book later rather than earlier.

“For those of you who are flexible with your travel, it can pay to wait until the last minute,” Steven Fischer, vice president of cruise development at Travel Holdings, Inc. told MarketWatch. “That’s when airlines and cruises need to unload inventory, so stay on top of deals through last minute booking sites like and Get a great deal and you don’t have to book 6 months in advance.”Playing it smart when checking into a hotel can help, too. TravelSavingsNut, a website dedicated to providing money saving advice, offers tips and ideas on how to save money when traveling.

“Even if you have a reservation, you may want to consider, before disclosing your reservation to the desk clerk, asking what rooms they have available and the price,” says TravelSavingsNut on its website. “If plenty of rooms are available, you may be quoted a rate lower than your reservation rate for the same type of room. If so, mention to the clerk that the rate is lower and ask that they honor the lower rate. They should be more than willing to do this.

On the road, eating is a different matter, but USA Today Travel has some ideas to help here, too. Travel expert Pele Omori is a freelance writer specializing in travel and culinary subjects. She has traveled and lived internationally since she was age three and though she likes the idea of cooking when we can, Omori has some other suggestions:

“Stay at a place with a complimentary breakfast; otherwise, eat breakfast at a local bakery. Eating baked goods from local bakeries often costs less than eating at a restaurant or a hotel. Ask locals, such as the hotel staff, about bakeries in the area.

If you are looking to sample the local cuisine, eat lunch at a restaurant instead of dinner. Lunch at most restaurants costs considerably less than dinner at the same eatery. Cut costs further by sharing an entree or having a light meal that consists of soup, salad, or an appetizer.”

We may not be able to do much about the prices charged by airlines, hotels, and restaurants, but taking a step back to consider alternative ways of looking at travel expenses can often make an out of control budget more manageable.

10 best times to break your travel budget

While it’s smart to plan a budget and make wise spending decisions, there are times while traveling when a splurge is in order. Don’t think of these instances as wasting money, but as investments into your personal happiness and enhancements to your travel experience.

If there’s a site you really want to visit

Whether it’s a museum that covers a topic you’re passionate about, a trek that will take you through unexplored territory or ancient ruins, or a historical site with a unique story to tell, you should let yourself experience it. No matter how much information a guidebook or website gives you, it can never compare to actually seeing the site for yourself. And if you think about it, isn’t the point of traveling to a city to experience things for yourself? When I was in Sydney, Australia, I had heard about a place called the Blue Mountains, and although I was a broke student at the time, the vivid photos and natural landmarks I kept reading about online made me realize that if I didn’t go visit this area I would regret it later on. I splurged on a coach bus and a cabin in the mountains, which allowed me to have an unforgettable long weekend hiking diverse terrain, getting aerial views of valleys and mountains, photographing unusual rock formations like The Three Sisters and Orphan Rock, and seeing firsthand why they call it the Blue Mountains (the oil mist from the eucalyptus trees creates a blue haze over the area).On a taxi after a long flight or when you’re pressed for time

I love to explore a city on a foot, as I feel it makes it easy to discover places and meet people you normally wouldn’t. Moreover, I firmly believe that regularly using taxis over subways and buses is a big waste of money. That being said, there are certain instances when the convenience of a cab is worth the extra cash. After a long flight, the hassle of attempting to navigate the city’s unfamiliar public transport system while lugging around a heavy bag just isn’t worth it. Furthermore, when I’m in New York city I often find myself rushing to catch the train back to Long Island, having a small heart attack as the subway’s digital clock seems to change minutes to seconds. I’ve realized that splurging on a cab when I’m really pressed for time is worth it, especially if it means I won’t have to sit around for an extra hour waiting for the next train.

To gain a new perspective

One of the best things about traveling is it allows you to visit a unique culture or city and experience life from a different point of view. However, if you spend your entire trip pinching pennies and worrying about transportation and entrance fees you’re going to miss out. Splurging on things like a boat ride to a cultural village in Fiji, a tro-tro to the slave castles in Cape Coast, Ghana, entrance to a monastary in Thailand, or a ticket to a Dong Minority Cultural Show in China (pictured) allows you to have a unique cultural experience.

On a hotel if you’re feeling travel fatigue

While budget travelers often opt for hostels, couchsurfing, and homestays, it’s important to clear your mind and get some alone time when travel fatigue sets in. The thing about travel fatigue is when it sets in, if you don’t cure it it’s very likely that it will ruin your entire trip, which would be more of a waste of money than splurging on a night or two in a comfortable hotel room.

For a ticket to an unusual or unique festival

Festivals allow for unique opportunities to experience events that do not happen on a regular basis. While the Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida, allows you experience the world’s top techno DJ’s and non-stop parties, Burning Man is a radical celebration of extreme art and expression. The Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals around the world give people the chance to celebrate by dancing in the streets and dressing up in outrageous costumes, while the annual Stampede in Calgary, Canada, gives a rowdy glimpse into western heritage and rodeo culture. If you’re in a city during a time when a festival is happening I would recommend forgoing a tight budget and allowing yourself the rare opportunity you’ve been given. Another option is to base your travels around festivals and visit cities during times when you know you can attend one.

For the chance to get a great view

A visit to a new city is never complete without getting the chance to experience it from a great view point. While sometimes you can simply hike somewhere to get a bird’s eye view, there are often towers, incline hills, restaurants, and museums that offer these views for a small price tag. Sometimes, however, an amazing view can leave a bit of a dent in your wallet. When I was in Interlaken, Switzerland, I had heard the view of the Alps from the Jungfrau was unbelievable. Unfortunately, my Eurail Pass didn’t work in the country and local trains were expensive. I weighed my options, pay $215 and immerse myself in a place considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, or save my money and buy a postcard. In the end, I paid the money and it was absolutely worth every penny to get a first-hand experience of this rare and serene landscape, not only because it was beautiful, but because it invoked a peaceful feeling of being in nature that I couldn’t possibly get from seeing a photograph.

When you’re really craving comfort food

While trying new foods is a fun and important part of learning about a culture, it’s not unusual for your body to begin feigning for the comforts of home. Many times, dining in a Western-style restaurant can be pricey, and depending where you are, you may have to travel quite a ways to find one. Depending on how bad your cravings are, it can be worth it to give your body what it wants so you can feel better and enjoy your trip. When I was volunteering in Ghana, Africa, in the rural village of Achiase, protein wasn’t very accessible. I was literally going to bed fantasizing about steak and ribs, and would have gladly paid $100 for a hot dog. Because this wasn’t even an option, I instead took a bus ride that was about 5-hours round trip to the capital of Accra where the mall was and bought myself an overpriced cheeseburger and a slice of pizza. It was the best money I’ve ever spent.

When safety is an issue

While this should be a given, it still bares repeating. If you ever feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, whether it be on a tour, in a hotel, in a city or district, or with the people you’re with, forget social graces and your budget and get out of there. Whether you have to lose your money and rebook accommodation somewhere else or hop in an overpriced taxi to get yourself away immediately you should never let money keep you in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

To try something adventurous

Everyone should experience what it’s like to have a heart-pounding, shriek inducing adventure, or something that allows you to prove to yourself that you’re capable of more than you thought. Whether it’s mountain climbing, trekking, scuba diving, or sky diving, think of something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared try and do it. I’ve been terrified of heights my entire life and still am, however, that has not stopped me from Bungee Jumping in the Swiss Alps, skydiving in New Zealand, cliff diving in Italy, or doing a Go Ape! high-wire obstacle course in Scotland. By trying these things, I’ve actually learned that fear will never stop me from trying new things, and I find being terrified oddly invigorating.

When you fall in love

I know some people may debate this one, but I’m a firm believer in taking chances and exploring possibilities so that you never have to wonder “what if?”. Throughout my travels, I’ve met many backpacking couples who had met on the road and have witnessed travelers making connections that seemed to be promising. When I was in Amsterdam, I met another backpacker in my hostel who I immediately hit it off with. After spending a long weekend together, we decided that it was worth exploring where the relationship could go and I booked a flight to visit him in Vancouver, Canada. It was an amazing trip, and we spent the next 6 months traveling together and trying to make it work. While we’re not together anymore, I have fond memories of the time we spent together and am comforted by the fact that we gave it a genuine shot. Sometimes it’s worth the price tag to allow yourself these spontaneous and passionate experiences, as you never know what can happen.