10. get the lowest business-class fares
Though they don't advertise it, airlines regularly discount business- and first-class seats. These Web sites consistently produce the best deals:
· Access Fares says it will save you up to 60 percent on published fares to international destinations. Sample round-trip business-class prices: $2,550 for a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo; $2,850 for a one-stop flight from Chicago to London. You can also sign up for an e-mail newsletter with other special offers. www.accessfares.com; no fee.
· BestFares gives its members incredible prices for first-class seats on domestic flights—$398 round-trip from Dallas to Los Angeles, $308 from Boston to Las Vegas—plus a complimentary copy of Insider Travel Secrets by founder Tom Parsons. www.bestfares.com; $60 a year.
· Cheapflights now has a search function for business-class fares. The site tells you who's got which fares in the market (discounted rates are listed first, regular fares follow), then sends you directly to the supplier's site for booking. A seven-day advance-purchase business fare from Chicago to Frankfurt was $2,278 round-trip at press time. www.cheapflights.com; no fee.
· First-Air has three membership levels, from general (free access to basic discounts) to Chairman's Inner Circle ($10,000 a year for 35 percent off $120,000 worth of travel). We found a New YorkLondon business-class ticket for $4,821 round-trip, compared with a published fare of $7,914. www.1st-air.net; fees vary.
11. pack the best new gadgets
End the hunt for hot spots: Sony's VAIO T-Series (877/865-7669; www.sonystyle.com; $2,199) puts you on-line anywhere you get Cingular cellular service. The first fully wireless laptop, the inch-thin VAIO has Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, a 10.6-inch screen, a nine-hour battery, and a quad-band radio for speedy surfing.
2 The billfold-slim Nokia 9300 (888/256-2098; www.nokiausa.com; $500) is a tri-band smart phone with a full horizontal QWERTY keyboard and the ability to open e-mail attachments, MS Office spreadsheets, and graphics-heavy Web pages.
3 Palm's LifeDrive (800/881-7256; www.palm.com; $500), a new PDA, is much more than an organizer. With a 4GB hard drive and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity, the powerful data bank lets you check your e-mail while entertaining yourself with the MP3 player, voice recorder, and crisp, photo-friendly screen.
12. make the most of your layover
Relieve jet lag (and terminal boredom) at these airport pods, gyms and spas.
· power nap Escape the hubbub of the busy airport in a futuristic MetroNaps pod (778/858-7133; www.metronaps.com; $8 for 30 minutes, $12 for two hours), currently available in Vancouver International Airport's U.S. Departure Terminal, near gate 82. The pods, designed to block out light and—using Bose noise-canceling headphones—sound, may soon be at an airport near you. (The company is scoping out new locations around the globe.)
· Rev up At the Hilton O'Hare Athletic Club (773/601-1723; www.hilton.com; drop-in fee $11) in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, between Terminals 2 and 3, you'll get all the facilities of a big-city gym—cardio equipment, weights, lap pool, and a steam room. There are even two massage treatment rooms and a tanning bed. Recover from the excesses of the Strip at 24-Hour Fitness (702/261-3971; www.24hourfitness.com; drop-in fee $10) in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport's Terminal 1, which has all the workout essentials, including cardio and resistance machines. For more airport gyms, see www.airportgyms.com.
· Luxuriate Spas are turning up at airports across the world—and they're not just in first-class lounges. The 1,000-square-foot Oasis Day Spa (718/995-9101; www.oasisdayspanyc.com) in JFK's JetBlue Terminal 6 offers a 15-minute "jet set" facial, an "aero" pedi, and a "floating on air" eye treatment. At Orlando International Airport's Main Terminal, the sleek, airy d_parture spa (407/825-7354) will put you at ease with treatments such as seaweed-extract facials and deep-tissue massages. (There's also a d_parture spa in Newark International Airport's Terminal C.) For more, visit www.spaindex.com and click on Lifestyles.
13. join the club
Here, five concierge floors that are worth the extra cost.
Percentage of Properties with Club Floors 48.
Extras Free in-room Internet access; private check-in/checkout; private lounge with free continental breakfast and afternoon and evening hors d'oeuvres; use of meeting rooms; coffee and tea service; newspaper delivered to your room; light secretarial and mail services. Added Cost over Standard Rates 3035 percent.
Percentage of Properties with Club Floors 70.
Extras Private club lounge; dedicated check-in/checkout; daily continental breakfast; evening cocktails and snacks; all-day coffee/tea service. Added Cost over Standard Rates 1030 percent.
Percentage of Properties with Club Floors 30.
Extras Private registration; early check-in/late checkout; lounge with free daily buffet breakfast and evening cocktails and snacks; free Internet access at business center; space for private meetings. Added Cost over Standard Rates 30 percent.
Percentage of Properties with Club Floors 95.
Extras Dedicated concierge; five food-and-beverage spreads each day; business-center services; exclusive-key access to floor. Added Cost over Standard Rates 3040 percent.
Percentage of Properties with Club Floors 95.
Extras Private lounge with free breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres. Added Cost over Standard Rates 1235 percent.
14. take the fast lane
Be the first to volunteer your biometric information in exchange for sailing through security. Though enrollment for the Transportation Security Administration's Registered Traveler pilot project has closed, Orlando International Airport's program, Clear Registered Traveler (www.flyclear.com), is taking applicants. To qualify for Clear, which is run by Steven Brill's Verified Identity Pass, Inc., Lockheed Martin, and the TSA, travelers pay $80, apply on-line, then submit their fingerprints and iris images at the airport. Approved members will receive a smart card within two weeks. Clear will likely be expanding to airports nationwide.
15. join guest-loyalty programs
Many travelers don't know it, but as soon as you sign up for a hotel's frequent-stay club, you'll get instant perks. The following five companies have programs that give you great benefits the moment you become a member.
HOTEL Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
PROGRAM Fairmont President's Club; 800/ 663-7575; www.fairmont.com
INSTANT BENEFITS Express check-in/out; airline miles; daily newspaper; free local phone calls; free gym access; shoe shine (at some hotels); discount on in-room Internet access; special offers.
UPPER-LEVEL MEMBERSHIP Premier members (5 stays/10 nights a year) get concierge service, spa access, room upgrades, bonus air miles, and $100 dining certificates. Platinum members (10 stays/30 nights) get three free nights, early arrival/late checkout, one ski lift ticket or massage or round of golf, and extra free nights based on total stays.
HOTEL Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
PROGRAM Hyatt Gold Passport; 800/228-3360; www.goldpassport.com
PROPERTIES 453 (Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, AmeriSuites, Hawthorn Suites)
INSTANT BENEFITS Points toward free stays (with no blackout dates) or airline miles; daily newspaper and coffee or tea; free gym access; check-cashing privileges; late checkout; special offers.
UPPER-LEVEL MEMBERSHIP Platinum members (5 stays/15 nights a year) get a 15 percent point bonus and a certificate for extra benefits after every third stay. Diamond members (25 stays/50 nights) get a 30 percent point bonus, welcome gift, upgrade to club room, and guaranteed room availability with 72-hour notice.
HOTEL Inter Continental Hotels Group
PROGRAM Priority Club Rewards; 888/211-9874; www.priorityclub.com
PROPERTIES 3,500 (Inter Continental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and more)
INSTANT BENEFITS Points toward free stays(with no blackout dates) or airline miles; late checkout; weekday newspaper; special offers.
UPPER-LEVEL MEMBERSHIP Gold level (15 nights a year, or an upgradefor $50) gets a 10 percent point bonus and priority check-in. Platinum level (50 nights) gets a 50 percent point bonus, room upgrade at check-in, and guaranteed room availability with 72-hour notice.
HOTEL Marriott International
PROGRAM Marriott Rewards; 800/450-4442; www.marriottrewards.com
PROPERTIES 2,500 (Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, and more)
INSTANT BENEFITS Points toward free stays or airline miles; priority check-in; special offers.
UPPER-LEVEL MEMBERSHIP Silver members (10 nights a year) get weekend discounts, late checkout, and 20 percent point bonuses. Gold members (50 nights) get lounge access, daily breakfast, and room upgrades. Platinum members (75 nights) get arrival gifts and guaranteed room availability with 48-hour notice.
HOTEL Starwood Hotels & Resorts
PROGRAM Starwood Preferred Guest; 888/625-4990; www.spg.com
PROPERTIES 733 (St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, W, Four Points by Sheraton, and more)
INSTANT BENEFITS Points toward free stays (with no blackout dates) or airline miles; room upgrades for 1,000 points; special offers.
UPPER-LEVEL MEMBERSHIP Gold members (10 stays or 25 nights a year) get a 50 percent point bonus, automatic room upgrades, daily newspaper, late checkout, and check-cashing privileges. Platinum members (25 stays/50 nights) get best available room at check-in, concierge service, and use of hotel gyms and club floor amenities.
16. work it out
Since staying in shape is one of the biggest challenges for road warriors, we asked Michael Olajide Jr., the fitness expert behind New York's new Aerospace High Performance Center (www.aerospacenyc.com)—the first machine-free gym in Manhattan—for his ideal 20-minute hotel-room workout. The best thing about it?The only equipment you'll need is a jump rope. Note: If your room is too small for jumping rope, sub in jumping jacks or running in place.
7 a.m. Warm up by stepping from left to right, then shuffling from side to side on your toes, boxer-style. With your hands by your side, do a series of jumping jacks using just your arms. Then add your legs.
7:02 Pick up your jump rope. Tune the radio to a station you like and jump for the length of one song (three to four minutes).
7:06 Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward, arms out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, your butt out, and your abs tight and tucked, do 50 squats.
7:07 Begin jumping rope to a new song. After eight basic jumps, try eight hops on one foot, return to the basic jump for a count of eight, then do eight on the opposite foot. Repeat for the length of the song.
7:11 Starting with both feet together, lunge forward with the left leg. Your knee should be just above or slightly behind your heel. Hold the position and pulse down for 30 counts. Repeat with the right leg.
7:12 Pick up your rope and begin with a basic jump, then switch to a running step, raising the knees high, for the length of a song (one turn of the rope per step).
7:16 Step side to side to catch your breath and lower your heart rate. Drop to the floor and do as many basic push-ups as you can. When you feel as if you're done, do five more.
7:18 Lie on your back, legs straight, toes pointed forward. Keeping your elbows wide, place your fingers behind your ears. Start with a basic crunch: Raise your shoulders slightly off the floor while breathing out and squeezing your abs. Do as many as you can, and for the last eight, lift your upper body as high as possible.
17. keep your data safe
You need never worry about losing vital information on your computer with RedCannon's new Fireball Keypoint Crypto Mobile Storage USB drive (510/498-4100; www.redcannon.com; $99). The 256 MB memory stick employs government- endorsed advanced encryption standard protection; it also has a self-destruct feature that erases the contents if a thief repeatedly tries to break in. Toshiba's new Portégé R200 (800/316-0920; www.toshibadirect.com; $2,099), a zippy, 12-inch laptop, has a biometric fingerprint reader that safeguards your passwords, and a shockproof hard drive that stops spinning if you drop the computer.
18. plug your ears
Shure's E4c in-ear buds (www.shurestore.com; $300) form a seal in your ear canal, isolating sound and blocking noise twice as well as over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones. Plus, they are ultra-portable.