The Need To Know – Discount Airlines


Note: I apologize for the delay in this series for the first-time or novice traveler. I will try to post more often.

Back in the sixties, flying was an elegant luxury. Airlines such as Pan-Am ruled the skies with top notch service and comfort, whisking its passengers to far-off exotic locations. As time wore on changes came about. More competition, price wars, de-regulation to increased fuel costs, consumer demand for lower prices and crazy service fees. The airline industry has not only expanded to a billion dollar industry it is constant. Rarely, if at all, planes are not flying somewhere in the atmosphere. 

 
This vast global industry gives passengers a few types  of air carriers, depending on the region. There is the “regular” airline where prices points and seating range from coach to business to first class, each having its own perks. Most of these are the big airlines. Many of them may also have smaller regional airlines under their umbrellas.  Another form is the charter flights which are primarily used by tour operators selling package holidays. Then there is the discount airline. 

Discount airlines can offer some amazing deals. Incredible low fares that almost seem to good to be true. Though, they are true! That is the great thing about these discount carriers. They offer cut throat rates and can help you save money. The thing is, that you need to be aware of the extra fees and charges that are the ever present sidekick of these low price “heroes”.  Read the fine print and learn what their extra charges are since they will be plenty. It is the abundance of these extra fees that allow them to have lower fares. The other way they can offer inexpensive fares is by flying into smaller airports, often far from the city centre. For example, Allegiant Air has numerous flights from Bellingham, WA (USA) instead of Seattle, WA. Another is Ryan Air’s service from London-Stansted (UK), about 1.15 hours from London. It just costs less to land a planes at these airports. These savings are then passed onto the passengers. You just need to allot time and money to get to these airports.

So, when you see that amazing deal offered by a discount carrier, remember to look into their extra fees. These may include but are not limited to: 

  • checked baggage within their weight and size restrictions*
  • excess baggage fees*
  • overweight/over-sized baggage fees*
  • cost of paying for checked baggage at time of booking vs at airport check-in
  • paying with a debit card vs paying with a credit card
  • exceeding the number of carry-on and personal items in cabin
  • booking online vs booking over the phone
  • advance seat selection*
  • overhead compartment use
  • purchasing of food/snacks and drinks on-board*
  • purchasing of headphones/blankets/pillows*
*Common with ‘regular’ airlines as well
Discount airlines can offer you some fabulous prices that can not be beat. Just do your homework to find out how to get to these smaller airports, if that is the case and know what you will be paying in total. That will leave you with less surprises. And one more thing, do your homework with the non-discount carriers as well. Sometimes they have a few charges you were not expecting either.
 
Happy traveling!!
 
Disclaimer: The information provided on “Wanders the World” (formerly “Eeva’s Wanderings”)  is meant only as tips and suggestions. I, the author, am not responsible for any harm, injury, loss of life or property or any other misfortune that may occur should anyone act on, re-use or their interpretation of the information provided. I will try to provide up-to-date (at time of posting) information but am not responsible should it be out-of-date or incorrect. All opinions are my own and in no way are meant to mislead, defame, harm, humiliate or injure anyone.

The Need to Know – Accommodation


You’ve received your passport and have considered how you are going to get to where you are going. Now you ask yourself “Where am I staying?”. Unless you have family or friends with a comfy room and warm bed for you, the default answer tends to be “a hotel”.  Nothing wrong with hotels, actually I quite like them, however they are not the only choice.  There is something for just about everyone and every budget. I have listed these alphabetically.









Apartment/Condo Rentals: The comforts of home while you are away is a great way to relax and often save money. Since they come with the amenities of home (stocked kitchen, furnishings, and perhaps even WiFi) apartment rentals (also called Vacation Rentals) are becoming a popular way to stay around the world. Safe and secure sites like AirBnb and Wimdu have thousands upon thousands of listing and safe and secure setups so you know what you are getting. These apartments are owned by individuals who rent them out to travelers via the rental service. Rates per night fall into a large range, depending on location and size.

Camping: Often people go camping as a holiday or vacation in and of itself. However, it is also one way to stay somewhere that is popular, especially if you are on a road trip. Many countries allow for camping for a small fee at national and provincial parks. Often you have to book these spots in advance and they do offer amenities like showers and toilets nearby. Other places (and it is more common than you would think) allow you to pitch your tent for free, however you will more than likely be without a shower and have to use nature when it calls. Canada has numerous areas like this. You just have to provide your own tents and sleeping gear.

Motels: Motels often get bad raps. They are associated with the lower end of the accommodation scale, only one up from hostels. Think dark, dank rooms with old stained wallpaper that is peeling from the corners to bathrooms with stains and unreliable plumbing. Throw in a lumpy mattress and you have motel hell.  Truth is that motels these days are not so bad. They are cleaner, more modern (in some cases) and easily located on major roads and highways. Some even come with minor kitchen supplies like a refrigerator, sink, microwave and coffee maker.  Throw in a pool and you are all set. The great thing about motels is that you do not necessarily need an advance reservation. Prices will vary and do note that in some popular tourist areas the price may be inflated. When I stayed in Penticton, BC motel the cost was equal to a moderate hotel. 

Home Exchanges: Did you see the 2006  movie “The Holiday”?  In the film Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz swap homes via a home exchange service as the backdrop and then the story ensues. Using a home exchange service allows you the comforts of home and possibly a great neighbourhood to stay in and get to know an area like a local. There are numerous sites out there so do your homework and find out all the details. A popular one is Home Exchange.

Hospitality Stays: These are organizations made up of members (you must sign up to take advantage of them) that offer travelers a place to stay for free either in a spare bed, couch or the floor. It is a fabulous way to save money and get to know the locals in the area you are visiting. Now many think that this is unsafe as you do not know who you are staying with or who will be staying with you if you host. That is why membership is mandatory and completing your profile is recommended. Members leave references for other members that remain on your profile. These give an indication of what type of experience was had by both and the type of host and guest they are. Often these hospitality exchange also have active memberships in larger area where social events are organized such as hikes, city tours, potlucks, beaches days etc. I myself am a member of the largest of these organizations, Couchsurfing. Others include The Hospitality Club, Be Welcome and Global Freeloaders. A slight variation on the hospitality stays is Staydu, where you can stay with someone for free or in exchange for help or just plain money.

Hostels: As I mentioned under motels, hostels have received a bad rap. Many view them as the seedy places that rough and dirty backpackers stay and party. I am here to tell you that is not true. While it is possible to still find less than clean hostels or have a bad experience with a drunken dorm mate that does not mean they are all bad or that that is even the norm. Hostels these days are usually clean, safe yet modest. I have stayed in a number of hostels and will stay in them in the future. Even though most hostels rooms are dormitory style most of them also offer private rooms. You will find you have a locker to store your stuff and clean sheets are provided. Showers and toilets are usually in its own room in your dorm. Many hostels also provide kitchens, laundry service and provide tours and information. Since most hostels are part of a larger network you can find them in most every city and town around the world. The two largest networks are Hostelling International and Hostel World. The other bonus that comes with hostels it the incredible opportunities to make new friends!

Hotels and Resorts: Ah, the most familiar lodging available to travelers. This what comes to mind when most think of accommodations when away from home. Often conveniently located with room selections for everyone. Hotels come in varying styles and price points. It can be a headache to try to choose. That is why you need to know what you want from a hotel. Family friendly? Business oriented? Relaxing? Or simply a place to lay your head in comfort? Answering those questions along with your budget and location needs will help narrow down your search. Additionally, booking sites and online travel agencies can make the choice easier. If you are going on a package vacation there is usually a choice of resorts to choose from as well. Hotels.com and Expedia are two ways to make hotels choices around the world. Reservations are usually required and a major credit card is needed upon check-in. Price points will vary. Hotels are usually moderate to expensive. Though, sometimes a good deal can be found. Also be careful if rooms rates are offered per person or per room. It’s all in the details.

House-sitting: Care to do a bit of work in exchange for staying in someone’s home? Perhaps house-sitting is for you. With sites like House Carers and Mind My House you can learn how it’s done and what is expected. Many places will ask you to watch their pets and gardens and collect the mail. In return you get to stay in their home and get to know the area. – Sounds like a win – win situation to me.

So there you have it. Some great options for lodging. We are all different so it’s natural that we have different choices in how we travel and where we stay. I hope this has helped some of you!

Clipart credit here.

Disclaimer: The information provided on “Eeva’s Wanderings” is meant only as tips and suggestions. I, the author, am not responsible for any harm, injury, lost of life or property or any other misfortune that may occur should anyone act on or re-use the information or their interpretation of the information provided. I will try to provide up-to-date information but I am not responsible for any information that is out of date or incorrect. All opinions are my own and in no way are meant to mislead, defame, harm, humiliate or injure anyone.

THE NEED TO KNOW – DOCUMENTATION


Where are you from? What is the reason for your visit? How long will you be staying?  What is your citizenship?

All these are common questions asked of travelers when crossing into another country. That is why proper documentation is of the utmost importance. Without it you are, well, screwed. 

We all know that proper ID is a necessity. Without it we can not prove that we are who we say we are. It is needed, among other things, for many daily activities such as driving, buying a cell phone plan, buying prescription drugs or going to a bar. As stated above, with travel it is imperative to have your proper ID and papers. This is regardless of how you enter a country (plane, train, foot, car, bus etc). There are only a few exceptions to traveling without proper documentation. If you are traveling within Canada you do not require proper ID if you are going by bus, train or getting a ride with someone in a car.

How about everywhere else? Let’s take a look.

Driving (within Canada):

If you are driving within Canada, be it a rental or your own vehicle, then you require a valid Driver’s License (DL) and car insurance. For visitors you to Canada, while you may be able to drive within Canada on your country issued valid DL for up to 3 months, it is STRONGLY advised that you obtain an International Driver’s License/Permit to have along with your country’s DL. Car insurance is mandatory in Canada.

Flying:
To board an aircraft you must provide valid ID that matches the name on the reservation. This means that one will have to present either one piece of valid government-issued ID with the passenger’s photo, name, date of birth and gender OR two pieces of valid government-issued ID with one showing the passenger’s name, date of birth and gender.

International travel:

A valid passport is required for international travel. Canada requires that all passengers traveling by air, including children, carry their own passport when traveling to another country. For more information on obtaining a passport and upcoming changes visit the Passport Canada website.

Regardless of how you cross a border (by air, train, water, foot, motor vehicle) Canadians will  have to present a valid passport to enter a country. If you live in another country please check with your government agency to find out what the requirements are. Most countries require passports to enter. 

Visas:

According to the Canadian Government’s Travel website a Visa is:

A visa is an official document, usually stamped or glued inside a passport, giving permission from a foreign authority for you to enter a country.

Visas are issued by foreign government offices in Canada. Requirements, fees and processing times vary, depending on the country and type of visa you need. The most common categories are business, work, student and tourist visas.
Remember that representatives from the country to which you are travelling need to see your passport before issuing a visa. If you cannot visit the foreign government office in person and must mail your passport, use secure mail services and enclose a stamped, self-addressed return envelope.”


So they are important. Not all Canadians require Visas for all countries. In many cases, a valid passport will suffice. Before you go, do some research to find out if you do require a Visa, what type (business, tourist, student, transit, etc), cost and how long the process will be. In many instances it is a quick and painless process. Other times it is a lengthy and expensive endeavour.

Medical Insurance:

Buy it! You can never know what will happen when you are out of the country. You may get sick, have an injury or be involved in an accident. Out of country medical insurance can take care of the monetary aspect of your medical care so you can focus on getting well. Do not assume that Canada’s universal health care will cover you out of the country. It will not. If you do not have travel medical insurance you will have to pay for any medical expenses out of your own pocket should you be unfortunate enough to require care. If you have travel medical insurance on your credit card (or through other avenues) check the fine print for any exclusions or other pertinent information. Travel medical insurance can be purchased through a travel agent, when booking flights online and through some banks (e.g. RBC Insurance).

Other types of insurance to consider are Trip Cancellation and Interruption, Evacuation Insurance, Baggage Insurance and special considerations if you are an adventure sport enthusiast. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!

And finally, remember to carry all your documentation with you. It is also a wise idea to photocopy your documents and carry a copy in your luggage, away from the originals. Giving a copy to a trusted family member or friend who is not traveling with you is another option as well. Should you lose your documents then a quick phone call can give you the info you need to replace them.

I hope this has been helpful for you novice travelers. It may seem overwhelming but once you know what you need or where to get the information then you know.

For more detailed information, tips and travel health for Canadians, please visit the Canadian Government’s Travel website.

Disclaimer: The information provided on “Eeva’s Wanderings” is meant  only as tips and suggestions. I, the author, am not responsible for any harm, injury, loss of life or property or any other misfortune that may occur should anyone act on, re-use or their interpretation of the information provided. I will try to provide up-to-date information but I am not responsible for any information that is out-of-date or incorrect. All opinions are my own and in no way are meant to mislead, defame, harm, humiliate or injure anyone.

THE NEED TO KNOW


A recent conversation with a “novice” traveler made me realize how much I assume. I have traveled in some way, shape or form since I was three years old. I have traveled solo, with family and friends, to resorts, for business, backpacked,on bus tours and taken road trips. At some time or other I have driven, rode the bus, train, ferry, cruise ship and, of course, airplanes. I have traveled both pre- and post 9/11, including to The United States. As a result I like to think that I generally know the ins and outs of travel. Certainly this does not mean I know it all. I have many scenarios yet to learn from, to glean from experience.

I also assume that those who read this little blog of mine are as well versed in travel and know how to get around because, well it is the 21st century! Yeah, what is that saying about assuming things? Ya end up making an “ss out u and me (ss/u/me)”.

As a result I have concluded that I will do a series of blog posts about the “need to know” about travel. I will do my best to give clear, concise information about getting yourself prepped for travel. I will also throw you some tips that I have found helpful. Please note that since I am Canadian, the much of what I write about will be based on regulations for Canadians, however, you can use some of the info for your home country but check with your proper government sites for exact info. I hope that you will find this info useful. I am also open to suggestions, tips and other useful tidbits that I can share. The first in this series will be up soon.

Happy travels.

Disclaimer: The information provided on “Eeva’s Wanderings” is meant as tips and suggestions only.  I, the author, am not responsible for any harm, injury, loss of property or any other misfortune that may occur if anyone acts on them, reuses them or their interpretation of them. I will try to provide up-to-date information but am not responsible for information that is out of date or incorrect. All opinions are my own and in no way are meant to defame, harm, humiliate or injure anyone.