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A to Z Guide to Travel Secrets You Need to Know

LEAVE TICKETS ON HOLD. Most companies that sell "non-refundable" airline tickets allow customers 24 hours, or until midnight the next day, to cancel the purchase and get a full refund—but they don’t necessarily shout this policy from the rooftops. Here, an overview of major airlines’ and other travel companies’ rules regarding cancellations. (Of course, make sure you read the specific "terms and conditions" for your ticket.)

American
Allows 24-Hour Hold: Yes
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: No

Continental
Allows 24-Hour Hold: Yes
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

Delta
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

JetBlue
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

Northwest
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

Southwest
Allows 24-Hour Hold: Yes
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

United
Allows 24-Hour Hold: Yes
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

US Airways
Allows 24-Hour Hold: Yes
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: No

Expedia
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

Orbitz
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

Travelocity
Allows 24-Hour Hold: No
Gives Refunds Within 24 Hours: Yes

MAXIMIZE YOUR MILES. Miles and points are interchangeable from one company to the next, and sometimes converting miles works in your favor. However, you’ll always lose something when converting one airline’s miles to another’s. Alternatively, when you transfer your American Airlines miles to Hilton HHonors points, you get a one-to-two ratio. Explore all your options at Insideflyer.com.

NAVIGATE NATIONAL PARKS LIKE A PRO. Anyone who has visited a national park in the summer knows that the lines can get out of control. Kurt Repanshek of nationalparkstraveler.com advises taking advantage of secondary entrances. At the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, for example, an underused entrance called the Cataloochee, in the southeast corner, leads you to a collection of 19th-century cabins that are similar to the ones at the Cade’s Cove central area—except that they’re not at the end of an 11-mile road that can take three or four hours to navigate on a busy weekend. At Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, you can bypass the main Nisqually entrance for the one at Carbon River, in the northwest corner, that goes right to a rarely visited glacier. Locate underused entrances online at nps.gov or by calling a park directly.

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