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T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

Courtesy of Virgin Airways

Upgrade with a Y-up economy-class fare.

You’ll spend about the same as you would for a full-fare coach ticket but be automatically upgraded to first class upon check-in. Caveat: Y-up fares are not available on all flights (never for international travel) and can be highly restricted, making changes expensive or impossible. Book through a travel agent or use the Y-up tool on farecompare.com.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Time your flights to avoid crowded airports.

Travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays for less congestion at the counter and at security, which means smoother sailing to your gate. On other days, early morning flights are your best bet.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

iStock

Avoid long lines at economy-class check-in.

Always request an upgrade when booking a coach ticket. At the airport, check in at the business-class counter to “see if the upgrade went through.” Even if it didn’t, you can still check in there and avoid the long economy-class lines.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

Courtesy of HotelsCombined.com

Combine online hotel research with direct bookings.

A colleague of mine from T+L’s Southeast Asia edition finds the best hotel rates on sites such as hotelscombined.com or wego.com, then calls the property to ask if they’ll meet or beat that price. He almost always gets the reduced Internet rate, as well as the personalized service that comes with booking directly.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

iStock

Don’t pay extra for hotel Web access.

Before you shell out $20 or more a day, check if your hotel offers free Wi-Fi in its lobby and public spaces. Find a full list of the Wi-Fi hot spots in your destination at wi-fihotspotlist.com.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

iStock

Avoid ATM fees overseas.

Many banks charge a flat fee for international ATM use, plus a currency exchange fee. Ask if your bank has free overseas cash-machine locations or no-fee partners.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

iStock

Know the taxi fare to your hotel.

Call your hotel or the concierge prior to your arrival to determine the average one-way rate from the airport. On my last trip to Shanghai, the taxi driver tried to charge me double the estimated amount. I challenged him—and ended up paying half the inflated price.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

HBSS/Corbis

Hire a car and driver.

Sometimes a chauffeur is cheaper than a car rental, especially in developing countries. Some sample rates (including gas) for 8–10 hours: Bali, $35; Cairo, $38; Hanoi, $42; New Delhi, $18.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis

Sleep on the train.

If you’re traveling long distances between major cities—especially in Europe—consider an overnight sleeper car. You’ll save on airfare and hotel costs, and when you wake up, you’ll be arriving at your destination.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009
T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

Trebor/Alamy

Check out sooner, not later.

Don’t wait until the allowed check-out time of 11 a.m. or noon to leave your hotel. Invariably there will be a long line of other patrons waiting to settle their bills, especially at large hotels. And if you’re heading to the airport for your return flight home, a long line at the front desk is the last thing you need.



T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

See the slideshow: T+L's Top Travel Tricks 2009

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