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A to Z Guide to Travel Secrets You Need to Know

WARM UP TO "WAVE SEASON," WHAT CRUISE LINES CALL THEIR PEAK BOOKING PERIOD. According to Carolyn Spencer Brown, of Cruisecritic.com, "If you’re interested in getting a suite for less, start looking after New Year’s. January through March is the best time to get value-added extras like free airfare, or an upgrade to a suite or balcony cabin for around $100."

X MARKS THE SPOT. Locate speed traps (not that anyone is speeding!) in Europe on ViaMichelin.com. The site includes detailed maps with approximate driving times, up-to-date notations on roadwork, prices for tolls and gas—and the exact location of speed cameras along your route.

YES TO Y-UP FARES. A Y-Up fare is a special kind of seat category—sometimes also called a Q-Up or a Z—which can put you in the front of the plane for about half the price of a first-class ticket. Airlines describe the elusive code as either deeply discounted first-class or full-fare economy class with an automatic upgrade. Until recently, these fares were difficult to find; travel agents have always known about them but tend to be reluctant to suggest Y-Up tickets to customers because they usually cost about $100 more than a ticket for a full-fare coach seat. (Meanwhile, airlines don’t publicize them, because first-class ticket sales yield far more profit.) Last year, FareCompare.com, which tracks national and international fares from the U.S. and Canada, began publishing Y-Up prices on its Web site in an easy-to-navigate format.

ZIP PRECIOUS DOCUMENTS. You already know you should carry a copy of your passport and driver’s license. (How many of us actually do so is another story.) A surefire 21st-century solution: Make digital scans of your documents, then e-mail them to a Web-based account. Scan and save your ID’s with a zip program such as WinZip (www.winzip.com; $30), then e-mail yourself compact versions in a secure form, which you will be then able to retrieve from anywhere in the world.

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