Parlez-vous polite? Paris Wants Happy Tourists

Paris is aware of their dwindling economy, and tourism officials know that tourism is an important piece of putting that puzzle back together.  To make sure tourists are happy in Paris, tourism and commerce officials are distributing pamphlets to businesses. The pamphlets are part of the “Do you speak touriste?” movement that encourages businesses to be polite and friendly to tourists.

There is a long-standing feeling that French can be rude, especially to outsiders. This pamphlet provides a cheat sheet to taxi drivers, servers, museum workers and other merchants to meet the tourists expectations.

The six-page guide includes tips for connecting with 11 different nationalities. Their tip for Americans? The guides says they demand WiFi and enjoy high-end accommodations. It also says the Spanish like amusement parks and the Japanese need to be reassured. As for the Germans, they want to converse in their native language, German.

Tell us, what do you think about the Parisian’s efforts? Are they spot on with the assumptions about Americans? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us.

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Popular Underground Accomodations


Window seats are coveted on airplanes. Ocean view rooms are considered an upgrade on cruises. A hotel room with a great view is a perk for most travelers. However, these rooms don’t have great views. In fact, there is no view at all.

We’re taking a look at a variety of underground accommodations from Arizona to Australia because sometimes travel is just about shutting out the rest of the world.

First up is the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite in Arizona. The caverns are described as the “darkest, deepest, quietest and largest suite room in the world.” Don’t believe it? The caverns are absent of any light and nothing lives in them, so the only thing moving or breathing in the caverns is you. To reach your quiet room, you take an elevator down 22 stories (yes, you read that right!). However, this suite comes at a price. The Cavern Suite is $700 per night as a double, $100 for each extra person. Call (928) 422-4565 for reservations.

Next on the list is the Desert Cave Hotel in South Australia. Subterranean isn’t anything new for Australia. The Outback gets so hot, that many people retreat underground to the shopping, dining, church and accommodation locations. This hotel was chiseled out of the sandstone. Rates start around $200 per night. Email reserve@desertcave.com.au for a reservation.

Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita in Matera, Italy is next on our list because the beautiful stone structures and charm cannot be missed. If you are in search of one-of-a-kind accommodations that allow you to spend time under ground and above ground, you are in luck. The hotel serves breakfast and other meals are served on their flower-filled patios (pictured left). Rates start at $265 per night. Email matera@sextantio.it for reservations.

Tell us, would you stay at in underground accommodations? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Top 5 July 4th Fireworks Display Across the Country

July 4th is right around the corner and if you haven’t decided what you’re doing for the summer holiday, we’ve got you covered. We’re sharing the top 5 fireworks display across the country.

Whether you’re celebrating with your family or friends, want a rousing celebration or are in search of a more laid back celebration, there’s something for you with fireworks displays from New York to Hawaii. Read on to learn more about each display and pick the one that’s right for you.

  1. Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks | New York City: This patriotic display has become a tradition for many Americans whether they watch it on television or live from spots along the Hudson River. This year’s show includes 40,000 fireworks and is synchronized to a 25-minute score handpicked by Usher.
  2. Kaboom Town | Addison, Texas: This Dallas suburb lights up their skies with  fireworks on July 3 from 5 pm to midnight. It may be a small town, but their celebration is huge. With over $220,000 worth of fireworks choreographed to music, great food, live music and Addison Airport Air Show featuring the Cavanaugh Flight Museum Warbird Flyover. If you’re in the area, this not a show to be missed!
  3. Go 4th on the River | New Orleans: What could be better than extravagant fireworks on the Mississippi River? Even better, this display is set to music provided by the Navy Band and can be seen from several places in New Orleans.
  4. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular | Boston, Massachusetts: This Spectacular brings 500,000 visitors to the Charles River for the annual July 4th celebration. But here’s an insider tip for you – many locals argue that the best viewing spot for Boston’s fireworks is across the river in Cambridge.
  5. Ala Moana 4th of July Fireworks Display | Waikiki, Hawaii: The island city will celebrate July 4th with a fireworks display that will be launched from three platforms. The platforms will be located in Ala Moana Beach Park, and the free show is set for 8:30 p.m. on July 4.

Now it’s your turn to tell us. Where will you be celebrating July 4th this year? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook wall or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tips to Make the Most Out of Travel Insurance

A growing number of people are investing in travel insurance for their vacations. In fact, the travel industry reported the number of people who purchase travel insurance plans has increased by 20% in the last decade. People are becoming increasingly aware of the value and importance of the coverage that travel insurance provides.

If an unexpected event occurs on vacation, travel insurance provides peace of mind and important coverage.  Unforeseen things can – and do – happen on vacation, and travel insurance can help protect you and your loved ones while they are away from home.

Appreciating the need for travel insurance is a great thing, but it is also important to purchase your policy with knowledge about which plan fits your need. While the most inexpensive plan might be the most appealing, it may not provide the coverage you need. On the other hand, you may not need the most expensive plan either.

Our goal is to help you understand you have many options when purchasing travel insurance, and to pick the plan that provides you the coverage you need while still fitting into your travel budget. Here are the important items to pay attention to so you can make sure you’re getting the most from your travel insurance:

  1. Read the certificate of coverage. We know, we know – it’s not the most exciting read, but it is important to know the details of your policy. Read it as soon as you purchase the plan and be sure to read it carefully. It’s also a good idea to highlight portions that you feel are the most important to you. That way, if you do have to file a claim you can reference your certificate of coverage quickly.
  2. See if your travel insurance policy has a pre-existing condition waiver. This is something that is usually over-looked, however it can be extremely important if you need to file a claim. Some travel insurance policies are more inexpensive because they don’t include a pre-existing condition. On most of our policies, including the TravelSafe Classic and TravelSafe Classic Plus, if you purchase the plan within 21 days of your initial trip deposit, the plan exclusion for Pre-Existing Conditions will be waived. If you have an illness or issue that you feel may cause you to file a claim, make sure your travel insurance policy includes a pre-existing condition waiver.
  3. If your trip plans change, update your policy. Trip dates can change and that can bring charges for extra nights at hotels or increased flight costs. These adjustments mean your overall trip cost has changed, and that information needs to be passed along to your travel insurance company. If you don’t update for the non-refundable parts of your trip, the insurance company can actually deny any claim you might make. This is the case because in order to be covered, you must insure 100% of the non-refundable trip penalties. On the other hand, if the cost of your non-refundable expenses decrease, you should also contact us so that we can adjust your policy and refund you for any differences in your coverage.

 

Still have questions? Want to learn more about which travel insurance policy is correct for your next vacation? You can reach us by phone at 1-888-885-7233, by email at  info@travelsafe.com. You can also post your question on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you and making sure your travel insurance helps you with your travel needs.

Passengers Without Carry-On Bags Will Board First

American Airlines is making changes for passengers traveling light. The airline announced the “new system-wide boarding process that saves overall boarding time by allowing customers who are traveling light to board earlier. Customers traveling with one personal carry-on item that fits under the seat in front of them will be invited to board before Group 2.”

Another change in the airline’s policy will allow passengers to leave their carry-ons at the gate for check-in if they want to (that’s currently a free service).

Rising fees and the subject of overhead baggage have been filling headlines. So we want to hear your opinion on the recent changes. Do you think these changes are fair to passengers? Will you change your packing habits now? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Lost Luggage Tips

 

Did you arrive at your destination, but your luggage did not?  Unfortunately, we hear many stories about lost luggage and the stress it can add to a vacation.  There’s nothing worse than arriving at the resort and not having your swimsuit to enjoy the sun or arriving at the golf course without your golf clubs.  Wherever or whenever your luggage is lost, we have tips to help you know what to do (or not do!) if your bag is lost.

 

  • Stay calm. It is easier said than done, but keeping your cool is important in these situations.  When you are reporting your missing luggage, remember that they are not the person who lost it.  In fact, they are the people that can help you reunite with your precious cargo, so be kind!  Plus, if you’re calm, you’ll be more likely to provide clear and correct information that can help locate your bag.
  • Include details. If you provide details about your luggage and the contents inside including colors and size, there is a better chance it will be located and returned to you. Moreover, a photo can save the day in this type of situation. Snap a quick photo of your luggage (and a picture of the contents packed inside) on your phone so that  you can provide that to the airline as well.One more thing – if you create a packing list, that type of information can be very helpful when filling out airline and travel insurance claim forms.
  • Travel insurance, travel insurance, travel insurance! Travel insurance can provide an important safety net in many situations, but it can be especially helpful when your baggage is delayed. You can receive up to $250.00 if your baggage is delayed for 12 or more hours with our Travel Safe Classic Plus plan.If your worst nightmare comes true and your bag is lost, the same TravelSafe plan provides up to $2,500 for your baggage or personal effects.  In this case, make sure to keep your receipts for the replacement items you purchase and have a copy of the letter or email from the airline confirming that your bag was lost.  To view the complete plan details, click here.
  • Don’t give up! A common mistake many people make is to leave the airport and “deal with the next day”. No matter how tired or jet lagged you may be, it is important to report the bag as lost immediately. The airline will likely require you to file an official report (some airlines within 24 hours), and it will be the most effective if you file it at the airport.It is important to note that you can also file a report if your bag was damaged instead.
  • Leave your valuables at home (or at least in your carry on). Even though travel insurance and the airlines can help you with the cost of replacing your lost luggage, no one can replace your grandmother’s pearl necklace or anything that has sentimental value. If you have items that you would describe as “priceless”, leave them at home. If you must bring them on your trip, pack them in your carry on so that you can be sure they are not lost.
Now it is your turn to tell us, have you lost your luggage on a vacation? What is your tip for dealing with the airlines? Sound off in the comments below, post on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

London Airport Receives Massive Upgrades

London City Airport is aiming to create an “airport of the future.” The airport’s goal is to eliminate the annoyances that come along with flying.

Their lofty goal includes shortening security lines and making missing luggage a thing of the past.

These experiences will be delivered by technology called Internet of Things (IoT). This technology allows a variety of devices and machines to communicate and has proven to be the foundation for ground-breaking technology. For example, the technology has helped create “smart lights” which detect when you’ve woken up to turn on and “smart cars” which are said to avoid collision.

The London City Airport is the first airport to use this technology for commercial aviation. Over the next year, the airport will integrate different technologies to provide a picture of what’s possible.

A few of these possibilities include tracking luggage and passengers and a system that would allow passengers to pre-order food through their smartphones and have it delivered to their departure gate.

Overall, the airport is combining date to create a better customer experience. So now it’s your turn to tell us — would you welcome these types of changes at airports or are you considered about privacy and safety implications of this technology? Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Furloughs cause flight delays and cancellations

Air travelers are experiencing delays the government warned us about a few months ago. The delays are reportedly caused by forced federal spending cuts. On Monday, New York City-area airports reported delays for all incoming flights because air traffic controllers were forced to take unpaid time off.

Overall, furloughs kicked in on Sunday for 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers, including 15,000 air traffic controllers.

“Throughout today, the FAA has put in place a series of traffic management initiatives around the country to manage both reduced staffing as a result of employee furloughs and weather related issues,” Department of Transportation Press Secretary Justin Nisly said in a statement.

The FAA said there were 400 furlough-related flight delays on Sunday alone. Examples of the flight delays occurred on two Alaska Airlines flights destined for Los Angeles International Airport. The flights were diverted 60 miles away to Ontario International Airport Sunday night due to furloughs and bad weather. Due to the delay, the airline had to bus passengers to LAX. However, the airline waived rebooking fees through Tuesday, citing furloughs.

These delays are the only beginning. FAA workers are required to take a total of 11 days off by the month of September. The workers must take off at least one day every two weeks which means 1,500 controllers could be off the job per day.

“The best indicator of what this is going to be like is (that) we ran delays on Sunday — not one of the busiest days of the week — … on a perfect weather day,” said Stephen Abraham, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative in JFK.

In addition to delays, there were another 400 flights canceled Monday and 50 flights canceled Tuesday cancelled as of 5 am ET.

So what is your best bet for dealing with the delays? Be sure to check your flight status before heading to the airport. Be sure to purchase travel insurance to make sure your travel investment is protected against delays, cancellations and many other unforeseeable events.

We’d like to hear your thoughts about the recent flight delays and cancellations. Leave a comment below, write on our Facebook page or Tweet us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Kindess shining through tragedy for Boston travelers

Here at TravelSafe, we continue to keep the Boston Marathon bombing victims and their families in our thoughts. In the midst of the pain and heartache, stories of heroism and kindness offer a glimmer a hope.

We wanted to take a moment and share some of these stories – inside and outside of the travel industry.

  • All of the major airlines and several hotel chains are waiving some fees and penalties for travelers looking to change their Boston travel plans after Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.Here’s a summary of airline waivers as of early Tuesday:AirTran: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights up to three days after their original scheduled departure date.American: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 20. The ticket reissue fee will be waived for one change.Delta: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 20. Ticket reissue fees will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.JetBlue: Boston passengers with flight booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 21. Both change fees and fare differences will be waived. For travel beyond April 21, the change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.Southwest: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights to within 14 days of the original travel date. Southwest has a standard policy of not charging change fees.

    United: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights to within one year of the date of ticket issue. The change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.

    US Airways: Boston passengers with flights booked for April 15-17 may reschedule their flights through April 21. The change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply.

    As always, check with your airline directly for any changes to the issued waivers.

  • Sandra Sukstorf had only recently watched her husband cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon when she heard the explosion. As she and her husband wandered the streets, he so exhausted he could barely walk down the stairs, another hotel opened its lobby to the tired runners. When they couldn’t get back to their room, Sukstorf posted a message online and, within half an hour, heard from more than 200 strangers offering a ride or a place to stay.
    • El Pelon Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant with locations in Boston’s Fenway and Brighton neighborhoods, promised free Wifi, outlets, food and drinks to people who needed it. Owner Jose Torres said on Twitter that he was only repaying the kindness Boston showed him in 2007 and 2009, when his restaurants burned down twice in electrical fires.
      • Each of these acts remind us that when humanity is in the midst of an inhuman tragedy, it rises to show that kindness and compassion is all around. Tell us, what acts of kindness have inspired you during this tragedy?

    Get Featured as the Most Social Travel Advisor

    Are you a travel agent who connects with their clients on Facebook and Twitter? Do you pin exciting destinations on your Pinterest page? Do you share interesting travel tips and articles on your Google+ page? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be featured as the Most Social Travel Advisor in Travel Agent Central.

    The publication is reaching out to travel professionals who are on top of their social media game. If you are using social media to answer your clients’ questions on Facebook or boosting sales through Twitter, they want to hear how social has worked for you.

    Make sure to nominate yourself here by April 30, 2013 and share your agency information along with your proudest social media moments and tips for other agents.

    Please pass this along to friends and other travel agents who may want to enter as well, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck to all!