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How to Find the Best Fares on European Flights

Canary Islands

Booking a great fare to Europe has become increasingly difficult. Here’s how to bring down the cost of your next transatlantic flight.

First there is the question of timing. According to Kayak, the most-affordable airfares to Europe last year were booked eight to 10 weeks before departure—so you should start researching tickets at least three months out. You’ll find even better prices if your travel dates are flexible. As a general rule, European fares rise for travel beginning in the second week of May and don’t fall again until September. Expedia reports that the least expensive months to fly to Europe are February, March, and November. If you can, look for tickets that depart for Europe on either a Tuesday or Wednesday and return on a Tuesday; they tend to be lower, according to Kayak’s research. (See “Fare Finders,” below, for our favorite sites for finding European airfares.)

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Food as a Jet Lag Cure

food as a jet lag cure

Q: Are there any foods that will help me fight jet lag? —George Frank, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: Even more than foreign-transaction fees and data-roaming charges, jet lag is the bane of international travelers. Resetting your internal clock to a new time zone can be a days-long process. Fortunately, there are ways to ease yourself onto a new schedule—and what you eat and drink can play a key role.

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Exposing Hidden Airfare Fees

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Another victory for passenger rights is in the works. The DOT is planning to strengthen its regulations regarding how airlines—and, for the first time, online search engines, such as Google—display the ancillary fees that count for an increasing portion of your overall ticket cost. 

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Trip Doctor: Hotel Tipping Guide

201307-hd-hotel-tippingjpg

When it comes to hotel gratuities, even the most seasoned travelers admit to being stumped. That’s why we’ve put together this handy cheat sheet below, which you can take with you the next time you’re on the road.

  • Bellman: $1 to $2 per bag.

  • Concierge: $10 to $20 for performing a special service, such as scoring tickets to a sold-out event or wrangling lost luggage from your airline.

  • Doorman: $2 for hailing a cab in rush hour or in the rain; $1 for each bag.

  • Housekeeping: $5 to $10 per day. Leave it at the front desk if you want it divided equally among all your housekeepers.

  • Room Service: A service charge is almost always included in the bill. To personally thank your server, 5 percent will suffice.

  • Valet: $5 when your car is delivered.

  • Free Town-Car Service: Because they’re providing a complimentary amenity, drivers are instructed not to expect tips. However, it’s not uncommon for travelers to offer a gratuity. The minimum starts around $5 and goes up as the distance increases. While chauffeurs are generally making above-market wages, they still appreciate being recognized for going the extra mile—literally.

Note: Gratuities are often lower or not expected outside North America. Follow 
local tipping customs when traveling overseas.

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo credit: Bernd Vogel / Corbis

Why Do European Hotels Require Passports at Check-in?

passport

There’s a long tradition throughout Europe of statutes requiring hotels to collect information on guests—including name, nationality, and ID number—enabling law enforcement to cross-check for wanted individuals, criminals, or missing persons. The European Union has since made such data collection a requirement for hotels in member states. Most of this information is simply stored to be made available to authorities upon request, though in certain areas (notably Italy), it is regularly collected. In the past, some hotels would hold guests’ passports for hours or even overnight to manually complete the registration process. Today, you usually just have to show it at check-in.

Related Links:
How to Quickly Renew a Passport
Travel Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts
Hotel Travel Tips

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo by Chris Rout / Alamy

Is There Such a Thing as a Pet-Friendly Cruise?

pet-friendly travel

A: Animal lovers take note: there is a cruise that accepts your pets. Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 takes up to 12 dogs and cats on certain transatlantic crossings (from $300). Pets are housed in a special kennel area, which includes outdoor space, a full-time kennel master, and ample visiting hours. The main reasons other cruise lines don’t allow animals on board: hygiene—ships have strict sanitation codes—and port regulations. Each country has its own entry requirements for animals, so navigating multiple-country cruises would be a headache for ships and pet owners alike.

Related Articles:
Dog-Friendly Travel in Miami
Craziest Places for Cat Lovers
T+L’s Guide to Cruising 2014

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo by istockphoto

Why Can’t Flight Attendants Accept Tips?

tips

A: Sure, flight attendants will pour you a drink, but they are safety professionals first and foremost—not service staff. To avoid any misunderstanding, airlines make it a company policy to refuse tips (unless a passenger may otherwise be offended). If your attendant went beyond the call of duty, let the airline know. Your good review will be used to evaluate performance and could ultimately lead to a pay raise.

Related Articles:
Is it Impolite Not to Tip a Bellman if I Don’t Have Change?
Worldwide Guide to Restaurant Tipping
Travel Etiquette Dos and Don'ts

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Illustration by istockphoto

Can I Use TSA Precheck for International Flights?

TSA Precheck

Q: Can I use precheck for international flights? 

A: Good news: the TSA’s expedited security program has expanded to include international flights departing from the U.S. on eight of the agency’s partner airlines. You can also use TSA PreCheck lanes if you’re connecting to a domestic flight after arriving in the States. Bear in mind, if you booked a ticket through a TSA partner airline but your flight is actually operated by a foreign alliance carrier, you are not eligible for PreCheck. The operating carrier must submit the names of its PreCheck-eligible passengers to the TSA prior to the flight, and at this point the agency does not have any international partners.

By The Numbers

30: The average number of firearms confiscated each week in 2012 via TSA carry-on searches; most were claimed to have been packed unwittingly.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@timeinc.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.


Photo by ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy

How Far in Advance Should I Buy My Airline Tickets?

when to buy airline tickets

Question by Mark Hastings, San Jose, Calif.

A: When to book flights is a question that torments even the most experienced of travelers. Who hasn’t sat in front of the computer wondering: Do I wait for a better deal, or is this the best I’m going to see?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for hitting the right booking window. A recent report from online travel agency CheapAir found that, historically, the lowest average fares have been available seven weeks before departure. Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which manages airline ticket sales for U.S. travel agencies, conducted a similar study and located the best airfares six weeks prior to flying. But that window changes dramatically depending on where you are traveling—and when.

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Call for Applications: T+L’s 10th Annual Global Vision Awards

Global Vision Awards

We're looking for a few good travel companies that are changing the world.

Now in its tenth year, Travel + Leisure's Global Vision Awards recognize the standard-bearers for responsible travel—companies that are investing in the communities around them, protecting natural and manmade treasures, lightening their footprints, and inspiring others to follow their lead. From airlines to hotels, tour operators to cruise lines, the winners represent the travel industry’s best ideas for a better world. (You can find the 2013 Global Vision Awards here.)

Please drop a note to TLGlobalVision@timeinc.com if you know of a company or organization that should be among this year’s winners, or encourage them to submit an application, available here. The deadline is April 1, 2014.

Related Links:
2013 Global Vision Award Winners
Coolest Up-Close Animal Encounters
T+L Hiking Guide

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins/Courtesy of Lindblad Expeditions

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