Podcast #68 – Advanced Travel Tips; Colors of Autumn

Recorded in the Philadelphia Marriott after a hectic travel month with two trips to Europe and a bunch of travel up and down the US East Coast.  In this episode, I talk about a bit of multi-modal travel — some planes, trains, and automobile trips.  We have a trio of stories about playing “travel roulette” to avoid flight delays, and some listeners offer their favorite iPhone apps.  I then share some non-obvious, intermediate-skill travel tips — a sort of Road Warrior 201-level class and close with some thoughts about enjoying the fall colors from up above. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.

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Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #68:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the Philadelphia, PA Marriott
  • Lots of multi-modal travel this month — a National Express bus from Heathrow to Woking, lots of Amtrak Acelas up and down the East Coast
  • One of those “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” days had delays on every leg and every mode of transportation except walking
  • Bridge Music — Superstring by Indidginus
  • Following Up

  • In Heathrow, many signs plastered on the screening machines said that I didn’t need to take my laptop out of my briefcase for screening.  What do they know that the TSA doesn’t?
  • Two travelers tell their “travel roulette” stories trying to avoid flight delays
  • Chris Truelove of Global Bag Tags is happy with an external iPhone battery he bought on eBay. Listen to the Indie Travel Podcast interview where Chris tells the story of lost luggage that led to the founding of his company
  • Bridge Music — Suerte Mijo by Arthur Yoria
  • Road Warrior 201

  • TravelCommons has always been about travel stories, hence I haven’t done many “travel tips” segments
  • I’m going to skip the usual travel tips and give you some advance tips — tips I haven’t seen/heard anywhere else
  • Tip #1 — Know your flight, hotel and/or rental car reservation numbers and keep them immediately accessable on your BlackBerry or iPhone
  • Tip #2 — When you can’t get through to a customer service agent on the phone, choose the unpopular path on the phone tree — Spanish language or International Travel
  • Tip #3 — When shopping for flights, factor in the potential cost of missing a connection when choosing between direct and connecting flights
  • Tip #4 — If you’re flying one of those chisling airlines that charge $10 extra for an exit row seat, it’s worth gritting your teeth and paying it for a flight over 90 minutes
  • Tip #5 — When walking out of your hotel room for your morning workout, make your doorknow look unique in case you forget your room number
  • Bridge Music — Inception by Artemis
  • Leaf Peeping from Above

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6 Comments.

  1. Hi Mark,

    Great podcast! I am a UK-based frequent traveller, but have mainly long-haul trips. Recently, however, I’ve been doing a bit more domestic and EU trips and can sympathise with your problems with remembering room numbers after having a long time away. I always type my room number into my phone and hit ‘dial’ then hang up -it’s then in your call log if you need it!

    Along with reservation numbers, I’d advise people to always make sure they have a copy of the rate/room details of their hotel reservation; in the past, I’ve had billing errors that the hotel point-blank refused to credit until I provided the e-mail confirmation showing them the agreed rate! I don’t carry the original documents with me, but put it into a spreadsheet with booking ref, flight times/numbers, hotel name/address/tel, room type, rate, etc etc for quick reference.

    My worst experience with trying to second-guess ariline delays was on my most recent trip to Hong Kong, this time, on holiday not on business. The day before we were due to leave on a Qantas flight to Sydney, there was a huge typhoon warning, with wind speeds expected to be about 140mph -of course, the airport shut down almost immediately and my original flight was cancelled. I was offered two choices, one was to depart the following afternoon on my original flight that had been rescheduled, in business class or the other, to transfer to the 0600 flight, in first, which was our ticketed class. Qantas told me the plane was already on the ground in HKG with the crew and it was just a case of the airport re-opening overnight and we’d be on our way. So, we arrive at the QF check in at 4AM to find that the flight is delayed to 9 -Qantas had redeployed that plane onto the London service. We had also been downgraded from first class to economy and the other pm flight was now full in all classes. To cut a long story short, the inbound A330 didn’t even arrive until 1pm, and by the time we took off, it was 3. Then, we get an announcement that because of a high headwind, we weren’t going to make Sydney before the airport closes at 11pm (we were showing 11:01pm ETA), and the airport authority had refused to extend the curfew by 1 minute -so we were going to Brisbane! So, landed at Brisbane at 2310 to find that there was no way we could get a hotel, so ended up sleeping in the airport overnight before catching a QF flight the next morning to Sydney -ok so we’re finally on our way…until someone had (what they thought) a heart attack, returned to Brisbane, crew out of hours. To cut this story short, we didn’t get to Sydney until about 6pm that afternoon -i.e. more than 24 hours after leaving HKG. And the worst part was knowing that my rescheduled flight from HKG had departed HKG before we had, and got to SYD safely the night before! Marathon of a story, but I can honestly say I will never try to beat the system and sneak onto an earlier flight again in those circumstances!!

  2. pleasure traveler

    First off I just started listening to your podcasts and I can’t get enough off them. I just am a 2-3 times a year traveler but your stories and tips are interesting and helpful. I will surely be a subscriber for a long time. I was wondering have you ever considered flying out of Macarthur Islip when you travel to the Big Apple. Sure it is a extra 30-50minutes away from JFK or LGA but it is quiet,clean quick, and efficent. A shuttle ride that last 10-15 minutes puts you at Ronkkonkoma Trainstation that provides you with a direct link to Penn Station. Plus their is a direct service to Chicago Midway with Southwest. They may not have all the entertainment systems that Jetblue has but they all almost always on time and very courteous. Thanks for your time

  3. Pleasure Traveler –

    Thanks for the comments on Islip. I’ve considered it many times, especially after a particularly bad ORD-LGA flight, but could never figure out how long it would take me to get into Midtown Manhattan. I’ll have to investigate the shuttle and train link to Penn Station.

  4. pleasure traveler

    The airports website is macarthurairport.com and then you can go to long island rail road’s website for fares,schedules and route maps. A train that leaves Ronkonkoma station usually takes about an hour. It is very clean and usually quiet and also is very punctual. For Islip it is expanding slowly but is very modern and it’s security is very quick usually taking 5-6 minutes from getting in line to exiting. It’s food and shoping options are also quite good. The new boarding area improvments that Southwest announced is done making it the perfect area for business travelers. Hope this helps you decide what airport to fly into when you make trips to Manhattan.

  5. Hi Mark,

    I don’t know if it qualifies as a “top tip” but I definitely like the tripit.com service. I can forward a booking confirmation e-mail from American Express or loads of other travel agents to them and it automatically generates an itinerary for me, with hotels too, which I can export to a calendar. It’s such a simple process it’s fantastic.

    I also love the printed itineraries they produce. They are so much easier to read than the ugly things the airlines send out. And having the option of printing weather predictions and driving instructions is great.

  6. Hi Mark,

    I really enjoyed the podcast, especially the part about Travel Roulette. Actually, I think this idea demonstrates a good psychological principle – if you have choice, you’ll be healthier. I studied Psych at Uni and I remember one study conducted on rats – they rigged up a double cage with one rat in each part, then give each rat a slight electric shock. One rat had the power to stop the current by pressing a switch, but the other rat had no choice but to wait until its partner rat decided to press its switch. The psychologists recorded the incidence of cancer in all the rats in the study, and found that the rats who didn’t have a choice were far more likely to get sick than those who didn’t, even though the rat on the other side of the cage was shocked for exactly the same length of time.

    It sounds like hunting for better flights puts you in a similar situation to these rats – you have the choice to change flights, and I think that will make you less stressed than someone who can’t change and has to stay on their plane no matter what. So maybe you’re keeping yourself healthy by playing roulette – and you win whether the flight you choose gets in first or not.