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If I'm Paying for Hotel Parking, Do I Still Need to Tip the Valet?

Valet Parking

When you’re spending as much as $30 a day for hotel parking, tipping the valet each time he or she retrieves your car can seem like an unnecessary investment. That $30, however, goes only toward the valet’s base pay, which—much like a waiter’s—is calculated assuming that he or she will receive gratuities. If you don’t want to hand out money each day, ask the concierge if it’s possible to leave a total tip at the end of your stay: many hotels pool and distribute tips evenly to the valets.

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 courtesy of Hola Images/Corbis

How Can I Make the Most of an Airport Layover?

airport

Quick access to a city center via public transport makes it easy to steal away for a few hours and take in some sights—and even a meal. Here are six airports we love, all with convenient luggage storage.

Heathrow, London

Minimum layover needed for two hours in the city center: 5 hours
Travel Time to City Center: 15 to 20 minutes
How to do it: Heathrow Express to Paddington ($57 round-trip; trains every 15 minutes)
What to do: A short ride on the Tube gets you to Waterloo, where you can walk along the South Bank for views of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard’s glass spire. End with a tagliolini with clams at Gordon Ramsay’s Italian-inspired Union Street Café.

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How Big Can My Carry-On Bag Be These Days?

Carry-on bag

Though some airlines (JetBlue; Alaska) give you a few extra inches here and there, the major domestic carriers are all in agreement: the maximum allowable carry-on bag is 22" x 14" x 9". This standard has been in place for years, but in the past airlines were lenient about ensuring bags adhered to it. United, however, started enforcing its size limits in March. So to play it safe, invest in a suitcase that doesn’t exceed those measurements.

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.

Courtesy of Rimowa

Are Frequent Flyer Programs Worth It Anymore?

Airline loyalty

In an upheaval of frequent-flier programs, major domestic airlines will soon be basing your benefits on the amount of money you spend with the carrier rather than on the distance you fly—a move that privileges front-of-the-plane travelers over those who are more price-sensitive.

Delta led the charge in February, saying that beginning next year it will calculate your award miles according to ticket price, rather than miles flown. United made a similar announcement in June. (They also both instituted minimum-spend requirements for elite status with their programs this year.) JetBlue, Southwest, and Virgin America already have similar models in place.

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I’ve Heard Repositioning Cruises Are a Great Value—But Are They Worth It?

Celebrity Cruises

These seasonal cruises, when ships relocate from one part of the world to sail in another, can offer as much as 70 percent off the price of regular voyages—though be prepared for more days at sea and potentially costly one-way flights. We asked cruise editor Jane Wooldridge to find the best ones.

Crystal Cruises, San Diego to Auckland, New Zealand; Cost per day*: from $212; 15 days
You’d ordinarily pay more than $400 per night on the luxury 922-passenger Crystal Symphony, where a recent update added Murano glass, Calcutta marble, and a 37-foot-long living wall. Guests have two days to explore Oahu, Hawaii, then a dozen more on board that are filled with filmmaking and art classes, magic shows, and lectures on maritime history and international relations. Oct. 28, 2014.

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Should I Be Worried About Cybersecurity While Traveling?

Cybersecurity

Smartphone, tablet, laptop. Chances are you carry at least two of these devices on the road. I’ve been known to pack all three, along with a BlackBerry, for good measure. (Yes, I know: overkill.)

In many ways, our gadgets have become invaluable travel companions. But with their proliferation come new opportunities for cybersecurity breaches—whether it’s using an insecure Wi-Fi hot spot to check your e-mail or losing a device as you move from place to place. Unless you are carrying state or trade secrets, you are probably not a target for major espionage. But even the most leisurely of leisure travelers is still vulnerable. The risks run the gamut from having your credit card information stolen to full-on identity theft. Here are the major threats you should be aware of—and how to avoid them.

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How Do Airlines Decide Who to Bump?

Passenger at Airline Customer Service Counter

Each carrier makes its own rules regarding who gets boarding priority when a flight is oversold or over capacity because of a change in aircraft. After looking for volunteers to give up their seats, some domestic carriers bump those who checked in last; others start with passengers in the lowest fare class. All of them give priority to people in special circumstances: those whose trips would be severely delayed, travelers with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, and (naturally) people in premier cabins or with elite loyalty-club status.

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: iStockphoto

What Do Hotels Do with My Half-Used Shampoo?

Hotel shampoo

Most hotels discard leftover amenities, which is good for hygiene, but not so much for the environment. Today, an increasing number of properties worldwide donate their extra products for recycling and reuse, thanks to nonprofits such as Clean the World. Since 2009, the organization has collected and sterilized more than 17 million bars of soap and 325,000 gallons of shampoo and conditioner and distributed them to those in need—eliminating hundreds of tons of waste in the process.

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

 

Best Deals Travel Deals for September 2014

September Best Deals

From a culinary retreat in Buenos Aires to a Wild West adventure in Texas, T+L serves up ample inspiration for a late summer getaway.

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What Is an Airline Code Share?

Airline Code Share

If a carrier issues you a ticket for a flight operated by a different airline, that’s the result of a code-share agreement. This happens frequently between international alliance partners (SkyTeam; Oneworld; Star Alliance), but is not restricted to them. Be advised: not all code-share flights are equal in the eyes of your frequent-flier program; some may not count toward elite-​qualifying miles or segments.

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