#1. My iPhone camera is my best travel resource – I use my iPhone to take pictures of almost everything when I travel. For example, instead of keeping all those receipts for meals I simply pull out my iPhone and click a picture and send it to the accounting department rather than stick the receipt in my wallet. Here are some other ways you can use your smartphone when traveling:
#2. Take a picture of your taxi cab number before you get into the cab (I always forget when I get out) – This is a safety valve in case I accidentally leave something in the taxi.
#3. Take a picture of your car at the airport parking lot – This is an easy way to remember where your car was when you parked it.
#4. Take a picture of your rental car – I rent so many cars that I can’t remember what type of car or even the color of the car I rented. I also walk around the car taking a video so I can prove that I did not add any dents during my rental.
#5. Take a picture of your meeting agenda –Many meetings today have meeting apps, however, they still give you a binder full of agenda’s, etc. I just take a picture of the agenda on my phone.
#6. Take a picture of your luggage – If your luggage is lost it is easy to show the airline rep what it looks like.
#7. Take a picture of your hotel room number – This is an easy way to remember your room number when you lose the cardboard key holder that the plastic room card is in.
#8. Take a picture of your credit cards (front and back) – This is an easy way to have all the info if lost or stolen.
#9. Take a picture of your passport – If you travel internationally often you have to fill out forms and this is an easy way to access your passport info without having to find it and pull it out.
#10. Take a picture of the restaurant business card where you ate – This will let you share with friends when they ask for a recommendation of a place to eat (or not eat)
#11. Take a picture of the wine bottle – If you find a great wine be sure to snap a picture and save it.
#12. Take a picture of business cards –Many people use a business card app but I find that if I take a picture of the business card along with a picture of the person. You can then add their picture to your address book. There are a lot of good apps that you can use to easily add the business card info to your address book.
Please CLICK HERE to send me a list of additional ways you use your phone camera while traveling.
There are some “tourist traps” that are still worth visiting –
Many times when I talk to people traveling I will advise them that some of the best trips I have ever taken are off the beaten track. However, I must tell you there are many “tourist traps” that are a must-see even though if you are like me you want to avoid the crowds and see how the locals live. For example, how could you go to Beijing and not visit the Great Wall, or travel to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower? Nothing is more kitschy than a luau in Hawaii, but if you have never seen one you will have missed out on something. Sure, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a major tourist trap but if you are traveling anywhere around Florence it is surely worth a 1-hour visit. CLICK HERE to find a great article in Budget Travel Magazine that lists 25 tourist traps around the world that you need to visit. I have visited 21 of the 25 places. Let me know if anyone has been to all 25.
I am flying home today after spending the last 3 days at Ambiente, one of the world’s largest trade fairs for consumer goods. Frankfurt is not one of my favorite cities in Germany but it has plenty to do and see if you are a business traveler looking for good eats and treats after your business meetings.
Moxy hotel is chic, hip, and young –
On this trip, I used some of my Marriott points to stay at the Moxy Downtown Frankfurt. Using my points saved me over $1000 for my 3-day trip. The Moxy hotel is chic, hip, and young, which leads me to the question, why am I staying here as I am none of the above? I usually stay at a Marriott or Westin but this hotel was in a great location and was half the point cost of the other hotels. The rooms are small and sparse but the lobby had kind of a communal bar, reception, restaurant feel to it. I am actually glad I gave it a whirl.
Taxis are limos in Frankfurt –
Most of the taxis in Frankfurt are Mercedes Benz’s. When you hail a cab you will feel like you are riding in a limo. Taxi rides are not cheap here. The taxi from the airport to downtown is over $50. Rides within the city seemed to be about $20 every time we jumped in a cab.
Coronavirus is already affecting the economy in Europe –
Not many people in Europe have been infected yet by the coronavirus but its effect can already be seen in many ways here. Attendance at the Ambiente fair was down an estimated 25% by some exhibitors. People were wearing face masks everywhere. I think the world economy will take a pretty big hit for the first half of 2020 from the virus.
Electric scooters and bikes are everywhere in Frankfurt –
The scooter craze is everywhere in this city. It seems like they have figured out a reasonable balance of scooters and bikes here as they are everywhere but seem well maintained and orderly, unlike many cities in the states where they just seem to be thrown everywhere.
I brought four N95 face masks with me on the trip –
I did not know what to expect so I thought I would rather be safe than sorry. I actually thought that if someone on the plane was coughing a lot seated nearby I would give one to them. It is amazing how just a couple of coughs will make people around you stare with concern.
Final call for our cool bicycling tour to Portugal and Spain –
Who is going to take the last two spots on our bicycling journey to Portugal and Spain taking off on May 21st? Join our fun tour hosts, Susan and Rich Rodenburg, and pedal through some of the most scenic routes off-the-beaten-path. Ride along the stunning coastal route of the Way of St. James from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during Medieval times. The tour is also led by local outfitters with expertise in the areas we ride through. If you are not up to pedaling, we can provide you with an e-bike! CLICK HERE to see the detailed itinerary. If you have any other questions call or email Beth at (402) 858-0033 / GroupDepartment@exe
The Coronavirus has basically shut down a large part of the Chinese economy in the last week. Factories all over China are closed, people are not traveling to or within China, and some people in China are just locking their doors and staying home in hopes to not catch the virus. The stock markets around the world have allowed the fear of contagion to take over and have experienced major stock market drops as people worry how fast and deep the virus will spread. In other words, your 401K investment plan will probably take a bigger hit than your physical health from the Coronavirus.
Let’s slow down a little with all the hype about Coronavirus –
The Coronavirus, centered in China, has had a major impact in the last month on travel to/from China and many countries in Asia. As you are probably aware there are now over 17,491 reported cases and 362 deaths as of Monday. One of the best ways to keep track of where the virus has spread is a new app created by John Hopkins Medical. CLICK HERE to view the application.
The good news is that many proactive things are happening –
The good news is that it appears governments around the world are working aggressively to contain the virus in China. Most flights from around the world to China are now canceled and people that have visited the region of China and traveled back home are being quarantined around the world. This aggressive and proactive approach hopefully will quickly slow the growth of the virus with the hope that the number of cases will soon reach the top and start falling in the coming weeks.
Here are five key questions/facts about the Coronavirus that should keep you in the know:
#1- Influenza (flu) is much more dangerous than Coronavirus –
Currently, the flu season worldwide is a much bigger risk than Coronavirus. The CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths last year or about 3000 deaths a month during the 2018–2019 influenza season and this year appears even higher. Compare this to the 362 deaths last month from Coronavirus and it puts things in perspective. The Washington Post had a recent article titled, “Get a Grippe, America, The flu is a much bigger threat than Coronavirus, for now”. CLICK HERE to read the article.
#2- Should you travel to China in the next 90 days? –
No, We will find out in February how fast and how wide the virus is growing. Most of the airlines have stopped flying to China anyway so even if you wanted to fly there it would be difficult if not impossible.
#3- What is Coronavirus and how can I protect myself? –
John Hopkins Medicine has a very good Q and A on almost everything about the Coronavirus. To learn more information about the Coronavirus CLICK HERE.
#4- Should I travel to other countries in Asia such as Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. –
The best place to answer that question is to check the color-coded map provided by the U.S. Department of State. CLICK HERE to find more information.
#5- What if I have a reservation to travel internationally? Can I change, cancel, or reschedule my reservation? –
Many of the airlines have already offered refunds for tickets to China and are considering options for travel to other countries as the virus spreads. This is one reason you should always use a travel agent as they can help you with all these changes. If you purchased travel insurance with a “cancel for any reason” clause this will also allow you an option to change or alter your travel plans. Insurance policies often do not provide coverage until the U.S. Department of State issues a “Do not travel” for an area where you are traveling. However, sometimes a travel agent can work with your travel supplier to see if they can change your travel date to another time in the future.
You need to be vigilant but not paralyzed –
The bottom line is that there are a lot of people trying to scare you with this new virus outbreak. It is indeed serious but put in perspective is probably not yet going to affect many people outside of those traveling to China.
This is one of the best and most emotional tours I’ve ever taken! –
We are honored to assist the Nebraska National Guard Historical Society once again as we repeat last year’s successful and most emotional journey. This year, we take off to France July 14-25 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Not-So-Quiet-Storm took place on June 6, 1944. In the early morning hours, more than 156,000 Allied soldiers stormed the usually tranquil and serene beaches off the coast of Normandy. During our days in France, we will pay homage to the sacrifice and courage at Normandy, Lorraine, and Luxembourg American Cemeteries, visit D-Day sites, and museums in the area. We will also visit the World War II Museum in Bastogne, Belgium. Our tour ends in Paris and will include scholars and academics on military history. Call or email Beth at our friendly Group Department at 402-858-0033 – GroupDepartment
For the last three weeks, I provided you with 45 of my top predictions. Today I am presenting you with my last 15 predictions for 2020. During the past seventeen years, 73% of my predictions have come true! Here’s the rest of what I think will happen in 2020 part 4/4…
To view the previous predications, CLICK HERE.
#45- It will be cheaper to cruise than to stay in assisted living– You do the math. A seven-day cruise costs are as low as $75 a day. Living in an assisted living center is over $100 a day. I can’t wait to retire!
#46- Hertz and Avis Car Rental will start offering “non-refundable” and “no-show” fees in 2020- For the last 7 years I have been predicting that car rental companies will start charging a “no-show” fee if you do not show up for your car rental. Avis and Hertz once again are foaming at the mouth to kick this idea off by charging this fee to vacation renters. Enterprise/National which is the largest car rental company has put the brakes on the idea for the last 7 years but their competitors see so much revenue with these new fees that they will go ahead and launch these new fees in 2020 regardless if National says “No”.
#47- Don’t fly Frontier, Spirit, or Allegiant during the holidays or risk being stranded for 4 days or more- Flying low-cost airlines during the busy holiday travel seasons is just not smart as a simple weather event, cancelation or mechanical problem can leave you stranded for days. During holiday travel windows (one week around each holiday) the plans are all 100% full. This means that if a low-cost airline has weather or mechanical problems there is no alternative flight to put you on as these airlines do not reciprocate with other airlines to provide alternate flights for stranded passengers.
#48- Frequent flyer tickets are no longer free- The airlines sure know how to screw up a good thing. Some major foreign-flagged international airlines (i.e. British Airways, Lufthansa) are now charging fuel surcharges and other fees to redeem frequent flyer miles for what used to be free tickets. Recently one airline charged me $1000 to redeem a (free) ticket to Europe. The Big Four domestic airlines do add some moderate fees for frequent flyer ticket redemption but they are usually less than $50.
#49- People will start sending their luggage by FedEx instead of checking it with the airlines- Every major airline (except Southwest) now charges as much as $120 roundtrip to have you check your luggage. While travelers hate these fees the airlines have figured out they can charge these fees without suffering the wrath of their customers. After three years of predicting, I anticipate that in 2020 we will finally see UPS and FedEx start to promote a “door to door” luggage service at a cost equal to or less than the cost of taking your luggage to the airport and paying those fees.
#50- Almost four out of ten hotel rooms will go empty in 2020- Despite the hotel industry’s continuing to build more and more hotels the fact remains that almost 35% of hotel rooms will be empty in 2020. Obviously some markets like New York City, Chicago, and other metropolitan areas will continue to see increases in hotel rates because of limited hotel room supply. However, many areas of the world have seen thousands of new hotels being built and will continue to offer very attractive rates. Look for the best hotel rates in Europe in 2020 as the dollar will continue to make strong gains against the Euro.
#51- Southwest Airlines’ credit card will offer free companion tickets when you fly in 2020- One of the best values in 2020 will continue to be the Companion Pass offered by Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card. This program is the best thing since apple pie. This program works only for those who charge at least 110,000 on their credit card in one year or fly 100 one-way flights on Southwest. So if you travel a lot or charge a lot for your business this card may provide you with two-for-one tickets as you fly into the sunset.
#52- The assistant manager at McDonald’s will make more than the co-pilot of that regional jet you fly on this afternoon- Starting pay for pilots for some regional airlines starts as low as $22,000 a year. This means that the people in charge of the life and safety of 50 people on a jet plane are in some cases being paid less than those asking if you want to super-size your french fries. READ MORE
#53- In 2020 there will be two classes of travelers, the haves and the have nots- Airlines are rapidly building their marketing efforts around their best customers in order to coax them back. They will give all the perks like free baggage, seat upgrades and express check-in to these frequent travelers. The rest of us schmucks will be forced to wait in long lines, get stuck in middle seats by the bathroom and pay for our luggage.
#54- Travel to Cuba is dead in 2020- Travel to Cuba was hot, hot, hot for the last 4 years but recent limitations have been put back on travel to our neighbor to the south. Even the cruise lines are prohibited from traveling to Cuba. The airlines have also had to scale back on travel to Cuba.
#55- The number 1 item left behind at the hotel lost and found will be your cell phone charger– I think we need to petition the phone companies to build a universal charger so we could use all the lost chargers at the hotels and we would never have to buy another charger again.
#56- Airline customer service (an oxymoron) is actually getting better in 2020- Some will ask, “How could it get any worse?” Actually I have seen an amazing turn around in airline customer service heading into 2020. Delta Air Lines is leading the pack with its “southern charm”. United Airlines is getting better as they expand service and flights. American has had a tough couple of years but senior management is trying to get everyone to row the boat together consistently across their massive network.
#57- Car rental taxes can add up to 60% to the cost of renting a car- I know when you read this many of you will shake your heads in disgust. Local city governments are becoming addicted to taxing the new traveler coming to town.
#58- Five cities will be designated as “taxi or Uber only” cities for business travelers- Corporate travel departments are getting smart and encouraging travelers to consider taking a taxi or Uber instead of renting a car in some large US cities. The cost of renting a car including tax, fees, parking, and gas can often run as much as $100 a day in major metropolitan cities. Renting a car in Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Newark, N.J. is often a big mistake and corporate travel departments will now start flagging travelers to avoid renting cars in these cities.
#59- Expect airlines to offer travel sales for discounted miles– Airlines know when and where they have empty seats. Plus they have billions of frequent flyer miles on the books that they need to provide redemption incentives to get those off the books and stimulate sales of seats. In 2020 they will offer special sales so instead of it taking 35,000 miles to redeem for a free seat to Mexico they will have sales that lower that redemption level to 25,000 miles or less. The airlines know many people only have enough miles for one free ticket and that usually, 2 to 4 people in a family will travel to Mexico. So if they have one free ticket they also get to sell one ticket and fill two empty seats.
#60- The airlines will start charging for “Emotional Baggage” in 2020- This is my attempt at humor. Ironically all the charges and fees charged by the airlines have gotten so outrageous that crazy ideas like this might not surprise some people.
Bonus #61- Travel agents are back in vogue- Having a great travel agent makes a trip easy and fun, plus saves time and money. Travelers are returning in droves to travel agents as they want someone to coach them to make sure their travels are worry-free. Thanks so much for your business these past years.
Bonus #62- Americans continue to be the best travelers in the world- Don’t let anyone tell you that people hate American travelers. Everywhere I go people tell me that Americans are the best travelers in the world. They are friendly, easy-going, law-abiding, good spenders and great tippers. Even the French love Americans.
Bonus #63- Executive Travel will celebrate its 35th year anniversary in 2020- Thanks to all our customers, employees and friends who have helped make this happen.
Bonus #64- Nebraska’s football team will win the Big 10 football Championship in 2020.