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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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Is it Impolite Not to Tip a Bellman if I Don't Have Change?

Tipping Bellmen

A: Overseas, tipping is by and large not expected at every interaction. So if you don’t have the right change, you won’t break your bellman’s heart. That said, handing out a few American dollars is also acceptable; it’s a nice gesture of thanks and—in some parts of the world—U.S. dollars are as welcome as local currency. If you have no change and your bellman did a top-notch job, it’s worth seeking him or her out at the end of your stay to deliver a tip.

In the United States, where porters often make less than minimum wage, tips are expected to supplement salaries. So don’t be shy about asking a bellman to break a larger bill. “These people are working for cash, so they have cash on hand,” says one bellman at a New York City hotel. Otherwise, get your porter’s name and leave a tip with the concierge before you check out.

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites. 

Photo by HBSS/Corbis

TSA's Precheck Program Opens to the Public

201312-hd-tsa-pre-checkjpg

The Transportation Security Administration (a.k.a. TSA) is opening its first Precheck enrollment center, at the Indianapolis International Airport today. Until now, PreCheck has been available only to loyalty-program members of the TSA's partner airlines and people enrolled in one of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs, such as Global Entry. Today marks the first time any traveler, regardless of frequent-flier status, can sign up to get expedited security privileges. All you need is $85 (which covers five years), proof of citizenship (though not necessarily a passport), and a little extra time at the airport. The TSA plans to roll out an additional 300 such centers by spring 2014—with the next ones coming to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

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 credit: iStockphoto

Is it Rude to ask Someone to Quiet a Child on a Plane?

child crying on airplane

A: If the child is an infant, try to be sympathetic. Intervening won’t help, but some earplugs might. When an older child is misbehaving (kicking the back of your seat, for example), then go ahead. Usually, talking directly to the parent—or even the child—will do the trick. If the problem persists, you should involve a flight attendant to keep the situation from escalating.

37: The percentage of passengers who would prefer to sit next to a smelly adult than a crying baby.

Source: Harris Interactive

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

Illustration © Images.com/Corbis

T+L's Holiday Travel Survival Guide

holiday travel

Today officially kicks off the holiday travel season—are you ready?

An estimated 25 million people are traveling by air this Thanksgiving. That means crowded airports and full flights—all made worse by a winter storm that’s scheduled to hit the eastern seaboard later today. To help you ease your way through the crowds and anticipated flight delays, we’ve put together our holiday travel survival guide to get you from Point A to B—and home again. Bookmark it, print it, stash it in your carry on. Just don’t leave home without it.

Before you leave

Sign up for text and email alerts about flight delays and cancellations from your airline and services such as FlightStats. You can also get a sense of what’s happening with FlightStats’s compendium of delays and cancellations around the globe.

Use social media. Sometimes it can take a crucial few hours for a text message with information on a flight delays to arrive. Be proactive about checking airline Twitter handles for updates. You can also use Twitter to stay on top of weather updates (@weatherchannel) and breaking news (@cnnbrk).

Read More

Do I Need to Lock My Bag When I Fly?

luggage lock

Last year, 26 million bags were reported mishandled worldwide; of those, 12.9 percent were pilfered or damaged, according to global aviation consultancy SITA. It may sound like a lot, but that still comes down to just about one bag per 1,000 passengers. Want to reduce the risk? Be sure to get the right lock—only those with Travel Sentry or Safe Skies emblems are TSA-approved.

45: The percentage drop in mishandled bags worldwide from 2007 to 2012.

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


 

Photo by istockphoto.com

Travel Advisory: Warnings vs. Alerts

Travel Advisory

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issues a Travel Warning when it identifies a chronic and sustained threat to U.S. citizens in a given country. Sometimes it warns against all travel there; sometimes it simply informs people of the risk. Travel Alerts usually address problems of finite duration, such as elections, public demonstrations, or hurricanes. The DOS also issues Security Messages and Emergency Messages, depending on the situation. To get updates for a particular trip, sign up for the DOS’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at step.state.gov.

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


Photo by istockphoto.com

6 Things You Didn't Know About Your Boarding Pass

201311-hd-boarding-pass-highlightjpg

1. The Bar Code
The International Air Transport Association mandated in 2005 that all 240 member airlines have to use boarding passes embedded with bar codes rather than magnetic strips—making it possible to print them at home and ushering in the era of paperless travel.

2. Flight Time
The practice of padding flight times to account for unpredictable tarmac traffic peaked around 2010. Airlines have since scaled back. This JFK-LAX flight went from six hours, four minutes in 2005 to six hours, 40 minutes in 2010. It’s now six hours, 15 minutes.

3. Security
The TSA’s PreCheck expedited security program continues its rapid expansion, adding new partner airlines and airports to its ranks. If you’re a member, scan your boarding pass to see if you’ve been granted PreCheck clearance for a given flight.

Read More

If a Museum's Admission is "Recommended," Must I Pay it?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A: According to Harold Holzer, senior vice president for public affairs at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (where the suggested admission is $25), the institution’s pay-as-you-wish policy is in line with its mission to remain fully accessible to the public. So if your income is limited, or you’re just planning to run in quickly to see a single painting, you should not feel obligated to pay the full amount. Holzer does point out, however, that it costs roughly $50 per visitor to run the enormous museum. It’s worth keeping in mind how much you value an institution—and how much it relies on you to continue operating—as you consider what amount you’d like to pay.

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


Photo © Sylvain Sonnet/Corbis

Are Dress Shoes With Jeans Acceptable at Most Restaurants?

fancy restaurant

A: Though casualization has largely taken hold worldwide, there are still some restaurants where jackets (if not ties) are required. Avoid jeans at places with two or more Michelin stars, even if no dress code is listed. And don’t forget about the emphasis on smart in “smart casual,” particularly in fashion-forward cities such as Paris and Milan.

4 of 6: The number of New York Times four-star restaurants in New York City that require jackets.

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


Photo by iStockphoto

Best Companies for Traveling Solo

traveling solo

Q: Can you recommend any companies that are good for solo travelers? —Carolyn Hall, Chicago, Ill.

A: A couple of months ago, after my daughter had passed through the dependent stage of infancy, I started to get the itch to take a big trip. The problem, my husband and I realized, was that one of us was going to have to stay home to take care of our kids. (With two of them under the age of four, it’s not a job that’s easily outsourced.) I would be traveling solo.

Read More

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