6 tips for becoming a smarter traveller

The smart traveller is always ready with a plan, but doesn't mind conforming when problems arise. Even if you've never travelled before, you can look like a pro with a little planning. Here are six tips for travelling smarter.

6 tips for becoming a smarter traveller

Know the policies of your airline and hotel

Airlines and hotels are highly competitive. Those boasting unbeatable airline fares and hotel rates often have more policy restrictions and hidden fees. Collect data from their websites and make phone calls to gather details on refund policies, "black out" dates and checked baggage services.

Before you book, read reviews

Review sites are useful evaluation tools for travellers. Tripadvisor has one of the biggest online databases for reviewing various tourist destinations, but there are several other reputable websites to help guide your steps. When online, check for recurrent themes to judge the authenticity of the reviews.

Before you leave home, check if your flight is on time

Never leave for a flight without checking if it is possibly delayed. At the time of booking, ask directly for contact numbers that will allow you to speak with an airline representative regarding arrival/departure statuses. Although all airlines pledge to call customers about flight changes, it rarely happens. Some of the lengthiest delays involve maintenance checks, flight crew rests and weather issues.

Know key industry terms for your airline and hotel

Before your trip, join travel forums to learn the jargon of the airline and hotel industry, which often proves valuable. You will understand exactly what airline representatives mean when they use "weight and balance" as the reason why your family was left stranded even when there were enough seats were on board to accommodate them.

Pack extra clothing in your carry-on bag

Apply Murphy's Law whenever you have checked bags on a flight. Travel with a carry-on bag packed with extra clothing and important articles. Since airlines are notorious for re-routing, mishandling or otherwise losing your bags, use your carry-on privileges wisely or invest in the airline's baggage insurance.

Plan for flight cancellations and delays

Some airlines have a partnering system that allows you to travel on other carriers in the event your flight is delayed indefinitely or is cancelled. However, not all passengers are eligible for this privilege. For your backup plan, know which alternatives you are willing to pursue in case of unexpected travel changes. Keep a list of options to act on, including accessing airline meal vouchers, complimentary hotel accommodations, or possibly an airline refund.

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