Friday Evening Open Thread: The Very Best Travel Wisdom

I’ve learned a few things, from the time I traveled frequently as a kid (my parents were divorced and lived on different coasts), to when I first started traveling for work in the mid-1990s. But the very best learning has come from other frequent flyers.

So I’d love to hear from you.

  • What is your best travel tip?
  • What you you learned – about travel, or anything else – this week?

But also,

  • What are you wondering, or what would you like to know?
  • Have you booked any great awards recently?
  • Have you found any great restaurants or off-the-beaten path spots in your travels?

If instead of offering a tip or idea, you decide you have a question, leave it in the comments. It would be great if other readers had answers.

Hope your weekend has started out great so far! And thank you for sharing your time here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary ┬╗

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  1. I’m 31 and learning from my parents to travel while you’re young. There are so many physical things I currently take for granted but I’m sure won’t one day.

  2. Hi, great blog. I’m been collecting miles for just 6 months and just learning. I need to fly to MAA. I am disabled so I need a seat that lays flat, so business class I figure. Could you tell me where to fly out of the USA? The best miles to use if it was you. Lastly if you reserve a hotel with chase/Amex etc. Miles do you have to still pay taxes? If you have to cancel hotels do you loose some or all your points? Thanks

  3. Travel tip I learned the hard way this week is to carry a full copy of your personal car insurance policy with you when renting a car in order to definitively prove that you are covered for liability insurance. Otherwise, you might be left with no choice but to buy it from them.

  4. Have you heard of any great deals on hotels end of September early October in India and Thailand? Thank you

  5. I booked 7 one-way tickets on AA using Avios points for a flight from MBJ to DFW for a flight in early December. I need one more ticket. Is there any chance another award ticket will open up, or am I most likely looking at buying the last one? Not opposed to buying the last one if I need to.

  6. If redeeming BA Avios on AS, does BA price an AS direct flight the same as it would an AS non-stop? I suppose this would apply to any airline as it relates to direct vs non-stop.

  7. Personally I will always select nonstop over price and other factors to minimize overall delays/frustrations. In addition, always carry a book and snacks for down time.

  8. United 50K bonus offer Visa question: I have the Mileage Plus MasterCard. Might I be able to get the Visa too because I would love the bonus!

  9. Thanks for running a great blog.

    A tip to share is to tell your readers (especially ones with elite status) to always keep checking award availability even after booking an award for a more perfect flight connection or date or higher cabin seat that opens up. Because seats are so volatile, it’s important to keep checking.

  10. Yes Heidi, you’re eligible for the bonus because Chase considers the MC and Visa cards separate products. In fact, I’d suggest you apply to get the MP Visa because, in my experience, they have been re-issueing Chase MC into Visas, and in THAT case you’d NOT get the bonus because they are just replacing your card. This just recently happened to me. I had a Chase Freedom card which was a MC, they transferred my account from MC to Visa, issued me a new Visa card with a new number, and, of course NO NEW BONUS!

  11. Hotel cards are pure fun! Lived 350 miles from Chicago for years but it never occurred to me to go there until I had free Hilton nights to use up. What a fun city to visit! We had a wonderful 3-day weekend in a fancy hotel, enjoying the museums, parks and architecture tours. I guess my tip is – don’t get so hung up on big aspirational trips that you overlook the pleasures of spontaneous mini-vacations.

  12. I was very happy to book a trip home to the parents for Thanksgiving earlier this week. A redeye on Wednesday night and then a evening direct flight back on Saturday. Availability around Thanksgiving may be horrible if you want to fly economy, but is wide open for business class. Thank you American and the 50K miles earned from the Citi card.

  13. Eze Relais and Chateau….most stunning hotel stays won’t be at chains even if we do love Park Hyatt Vendome…….and even if Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is superb.

    If the easiest Singapore Suites FF tix are on SIN-DEL then where would you go from there? On to Male or Seychelles? and how?

  14. I’ve read in one of the discussions that there are some opportunities for frequent flyers in the areas where there is TD Bank. Could you please share or provide a link/website where I could find more info? Thank you in advance!

  15. When travelling internationally, check out the Berlitz World Traveller on IFE games (if your airline has this). This is a quick way to learn, or brush up on, a few basic words and sentences in the language of the country you are visiting. While you can get by with English in tourist spots, hotels, and most restaurants and shops, I find knowing some basic sentences, questions and numbers in the local language scores some points with the locals and makes me feel more comfortable and secure as well.

  16. Just got off an Asiana a380 from lax to icn in F. I never would have dreamed I could travel like this a few years ago. Thanks for all the work you do to make trips like this possible for me and so many other readers.

    Now on to Thailand. ­čÖé

  17. With business cards do the credit card companies limit each card by company or user? For example I own a business can my wife and I get the same business card under the same business just in our different names and each get the bonus miles?

  18. Recently booked SQ suites for me and my wife LAX-NRT-SIN (and return) for next July). We’ve done SQ First, but REALLY looking forward to the Suites [pretty obvious that I’m also an avid reader of One Mile At A Time :))

  19. Donna: Sadly, the TD Bank opportunities that you speak of run out on September 3rd. They are changing their T&C for the worse.

  20. Tip: If you can’t find anyone to travel with you, don’t let that stop you from traveling. Going alone is better than not going at all.

    Learned this week: Kayak may have cheap fares, but look out for additional fees that can really add up with some carriers.

    Want to know: How long it takes to receive any updates on compensation requests for delayed luggage from Air Canada?

    Recent awards: Using 30k BA Avios for 2 roundtrip tickets from HND – OKA this winter.

    Restaurants: If you ever travel to Naga City, Philippines, visit the restaurant Triboo Grill. They have the best grilled chicken you could ask for.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  21. My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon and have no idea where to go with good beaches and more secluded all-inclusive resorts. Do you have any advice? We are gathering a bunch of United Miles and Chase UR points for the first time ever (I started reading your blog 6 months ago) and want to use them wisely. What do you recommend?


  22. I just recently purchased for 54k chase puts a flight from boston to st. Lucia through the chase portal. Would consider this decent value? My dates where firm, but in the future I now know to schedule my vacations around discounted point schedules.

    Want to know: if a flight isn’t showing up on ba but is on aa, can you call and get it as a reward flight?

  23. @Jed. As DeltaPoints reminds us, with delta if your plane crashes and you die, you lose all of the ff miles in your account! Perhaps the loss of ff miles could be an element of damages when your estate sues.

  24. Having been numerous times to two of the Centurion clubs, the Las Vegas club is far away better than the club at DFW. The food presentation at DFW is not nicely maintained. The service ware gets crusty and the area around the food is typically messy with spills and smears.
    Aside from all that, I was amazed by what I saw yesterday. The breakfast home fries were just deep fried diced potatoes. This is what they do on feed-the-masses cruise ship buffets. It surprises me that something like this would show up on a buffet endorsed by a local celebrity chef.

  25. Hi. If I have a Citi Hilton Reserve card, can I keep it open and get another one (and get another signup bonus, and get an additional annual free night by meeting the spend requirements)?

  26. Last August canceled 2 of our 3 Am Ex Starwood cards (personal and business) so I could sign up again for points bonus. Any chance Am Ex will reverse their new once in a life time rule?

  27. how can I get rid of the new and irritating pop up “you may also like” that blocks the middle 20% of your posts?! If I can’t get rid of it, I’m going to have to unsubscribe, and I will really miss your posts. I’ve confirmed that all my pop up ad blockers are on, but this one seems to override that, and it can’t be closed, b/c the “x” is in the up/down bar on the right, so not active. : (

  28. can’get get rid of it over the weekend, i don’t even see it, i had been told by boardingarea they were trying something but this won’t stay

  29. Gary, why do you…oh so powerful, world-renown male, care what I think?

    I am standing up against your insulting remarks against women travelers. Everyone else is too busy kissing your ass.

    But don’t worry. I can’t read anymore of your crap. Makes me sick. So….goodbye. I’ve promised myself this is the last thread I’ll read, and the last time I’ll post. I’d rather hang out with the those in economy class. Want to know a secret?? WE have more fun!

  30. I would like to know what my odds are of being able to apply a Hyatt DSU. I have been calling for a week on two reservations that are in 45 days, and there hasn’t been any availability each of the times I’ve called.

  31. @Krystyna, really depends on (1) the hotel, (2) occupancy of that hotel. Generally if the room type that the suite upgrade books into is available for booking, you can confirm into it.

  32. Gary, I apologize for my comment above, although unfortunately it is true.

    On another subject it seems to me that two of the OTA best price guarantees , namely those of orbitz and expedia are no longer true guarantees. Both of them require exact same cancellation times and it looks to me that their contracts with hotels might stipulate that none of their competitors have the same cancellation time, as no competitors seem to have the same cancellation time for the destinations that I have looked at. While they have many other questionable restrictions, orbitz seems to prohibit comparing to any reduced discounted or sale pricing, which also eliminates almost all potential matches. Is there an avenue for complaint such as ones state attorney general, federal trade commission, class action lawsuit, or other?

  33. I actually have a full list of travel tips. Here it is.

    Travel Tips For Remember For The Rest Of My Life:
    1. Keep the groups small. 4 is ideal. More than that is stretching it.

    2.If it is “my vacation”, make plans such as rentals and hotels early. It’s cheaper and should be fairly easy to change reservations if something comes up.

    3. Avoid tagalongs if possible. Sometimes it is nice, but don’t change my plans to accommodate others. The reason for this is if it is “my vacation”, tagalongs don’t really have a vested interest. So, if I change my plans to accommodate them, they really don’t mind if they cancel at the last minute.

    4. Start off on a small trip of about 2 days if I haven’t traveled with someone before. If it turns out well, build up slowly.

    5. If plans change, don’t cancel reservations quite yet. They may change again and if you need to make a reservation again, it’ll likely be more expensive. Instead, mark down on the calendar what is the cancellation policy deadline and sent a reminder for 2 days before that.

    6. Talk to almost anyone.

    7. If you’re dating someone and things are rocky already, don’t travel together.

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