Today's edition is all about the indusrty we love to hate...the commercial airline industry (or as I like to call it, the world’s collective punching bag). But I’d like you to help me change that. The numbers don’t lie. According to published data, if you fly every day, you will die in a plane in roughly 19,000 years. The odds of dying in an airline accident, according to the National Safety Council, are so low it’s shocking. Over your lifetime, your odds of being unintentionally poisoned are about 1 and 113 vs. losing your life on an airplane, which is about 1 and 8,500. The bottom line...flying is the safest mode of transportation. And let's face it, who wants to walk to Texas? But, it's important that the flying public understand more about the process, the technology and the people involved to help us have a stress-free commercial flying experience. Some of these thoughts may seem obvious, but its a good refresher. I have found that usually the simplest answer is the best.
Lost or "Mishandled" Baggage
Statistically speaking, the airline is not going to lose your checked luggage. Airlines "mishandle" about 7 bags per 1,000 people per year. I find that to be pretty amazing, consdiering the volume of luggage they handle daily. In all my years of flying, my luggage was delayed a few days once, and yes it was annoying. Want to avoid that potential hassle? Don’t check your luggage. Have it shipped, use only carry on or buy clothes when you get there then donate them before you leave. If you have to check your luggage, then avoid tight connections. Your checked bags travel faster through airports than you do, but even they can be lost or miss their connection.
The airlines don’t like their planes flying in bad weather. They, like you, don’t like weather-related incidents like crashing. They don’t like delaying or losing their employees or their passengers. When your flight IS delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, I say have a party. I know it sucks...but rejoice the airline has decided to value your life over profit and stayed on the ground until the weather imporves...which it always does. Keep in mind that it's not just about the weather at your departure airport. It’s also about the weather enroute and the weather in the destination in which you are expecting to land.
What appears to be bad news because it has delayed your departure, is actually good! I love it when my airline discovers a problem with its equipment before it leaves the ground. A mechanical problem, once detected, can be resolved. A repair can be made, and you can be on your way. If a mechanical problem is discovered in the air, a plane usually lands without incident. Yes, you may not like being in an unscheduled place for a period of time, but it’s better than the alternative.
These delays can also cause you a delay in flying. This is primarily the responsibility of the airports involved. Too many planes trying to take off and land need space and excellent planning...so if you run an airport...get it together. And airlines, you need to continue to help, too. Because when we the flying public runs late, we don’t really care that it is the airports fault. You, the airline, are going to bare the brunt of the public shaming on Twitter.
Crew issues is another reason planes are late and for this, I put the responsibility squarely on the airline. If you run an airline, then you already know this. Get your crew there, rested and ready to go. We bought a ticket to fly with you, and the general understanding is that YOU are going to hold up your end of the deal...we can’t fly the plane by ourselves.
Big Airline vs Small
If you are concerned about abnormal problems with flying, then to help hedge your bets, fly with an airline large enough to handle problems quickly. More problems arise when an airline cannot recover quickly from an abnormal situation. Larger airlines have more planes, more available crew and more resources to get you to where they said they would within an acceptable amount of time. What do I mean by large airline? Southwest is a big airline and they have about 713 planes in their fleet, while a smaller airline like Jet Blue has 223 planes in their fleet.
I have said on so many occasions, if you want to increase the likelihood of successfully flying commercially, then we have to do our part...play the game if you will. Check in online, print your boarding pass or have it available on a fully charged mobile device. Get to the airport early: 90 minutes for domestic, two and half hours for international. Check your bags. Tag your checked luggage inside and out. Wear comfortable but upscale clothing. Leave the flip flops at home. Do not wear excessive perfumes. Look, act and smell like the passanger you want sitting next to YOU. Know what you can and cannot bring onto an airplane. Be nice to people and save the stressed out, pushy attitude for your analyst's office.
These are my opinions, so take them for what they are worth. But I assure you, I want your commercial flying experience to be as pleasant as possible. More specific information and videos about US carriers and international carriers that fly in and out of the US can be found within the travel company video index. Have a fantastic flight!
Today's post is all about the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World. The following itinerary is about staying at a Walt Disney World resort on the park property and NOT exploring the rest of the region. Pricing is based on middle of the road options and my editorial opinion. You can dial up or down based on your budget.
Two adults and two school age children
At least seven months from the date of departure.
If this is your first time, I suggest a five-night trip. That accounts for two travel days and arriving by air. I’ve randomly selected July 15-20, 2017. Why five nights? Because that is ample time to hit the highlights of Walt Disney World in four days. Of course you can spend more or less time, but I think four is the minimum.
Time of Year
If you have school-age children that aren't homeschooled, you most likely need to travel when they are out of school. This means you are traveling at a peak time to Walt Disney World. We can discuss the pro and cons of this time period in another video. A video about Peak Season can be found here.
Where To Stay
This itinerary was based on staying at a Walt Disney World owned moderate property. Disney has three basic resort categories: deluxe, moderate, value and campgrounds. I selected a standard room with a standard view at Port Orleans. Two queen beds and a bathroom. Bottom Line on accommodations for five nights including taxes and park hopper passes: $2,944.04
Arriving By Air
Orlando International Airport is the largest airport in the vicinity. Southwest Airlines has the most number of flights followed by Jet Blue, Delta and American. I selected Delta. Round trip from NYC for four people with all taxes and fees is $912.00. Don’t forget baggage fees. In my opinion, each family member gets one carryon which, on most airlines, is free and the family shares two checked bags. This adds about $100 round trip to the bottom line. Sanford International is about an hour's drive from Walt Disney World and Allegiant is the biggest carrier there. If you are planning on driving, I would suggest no more than six hours in the car per day. Anything over that is a hostage situation. Bottom Line on Air: $1,012.00
Ground transportation in your departure city will affect your cost and I highly suggest booking a car service or an Uber so you don’t have to mess around with long term parking. I budgeted $250 round trip in your departure city. When you arrive, Disney has a very cool feature called Disney’s Magical Express. This is bus service from the airport. My time is more valuable than waiting with the herds, so I say book a car and get to the resort faster. $75.00 each way adding $150 to the total. Bottom Line Ground: $400.00
Big Daddy Travel Boss Surprise #1
I have a special surprise for the whole family. Take them on a 15 minute helicopter tour of the parks and the region. Your family will be talking about it forever and it really amps up the excitement level! Its $350 bucks and departs from the airport! BooYah! If your inbound flight was on time and you booked an early departure from your home, then you do have a little extra time before you can check into your hotel around 3:00pm, so this is a perfect option. Bottom Line: $350.00
One of the benefits of staying at a Disney-owned resort is you really alleviate the need for a car rental. Their transportation will take you to all the Disney attractions and it is included with the cost of staying at a resort owned property.
I have included park hopper passes in the accommodations total. Park Hoppers allow you to go from one park to the next at any point in the day or night during the arks operating hours.
I opted to NOT select one of the Disney dining plans. I have found (through experience) that I needed a little more flexibility with dining. I have included two very cool dinners in this pricing, one at O'Hana at The Polynesian Village...because who doesn’t like meat on a stick! And a dinner at Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. Both dinners will run you about $285.00. In addition, no matter how old the kids, I say one character breakfast is an excellent idea. So I have included a breakfast at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Hotel which will cost you about $100.00. I also budgeted about $440.00 for the rest of your meals. Once again, you can dial up or dial down based on your preferences. Bottom Line on Dining: $825.00
Souviners and Unanticipated Extras
You can’t leave without some souvenirs, so I added $250.00 for the family and $300.00 in unexpected random things I couldn’t think of. Bottom Line: $550.00
Big Daddy Travel Boss Surprise #2
I took the liberty of including a $300.00 spa appointment for your significant other. He/She will love you for that! Other nice touches are a round of golf or an amazing dinner at The Grand Floridian. Again, a little surprise goes a long way. Bottom Line: $300.00
Because I would consider this a big ticket vacation, I would go ahead and insure the trip and that will cost you about $120.00.
Bottom line for this exact itinerary: $6,501.04
If you would like to book this trip, message me in the comments below or send me an email with a link to this video and I’ll hook you up with my travel agent who may be able to price out the exact itinerary for less. Or, you can book most of these items direct with Walt Disney Parks. When they ask how you heard about this itinerary, tell them Erik The Travel Guy suggested it.
Again, keep in mind, this vacation is your jumping off point. If you have additional thoughts on your last trip, drop them in the comments below. Do your own homework and then get ready to have the vacation of a lifetime at Walt Disney World.
PS. Learn more about Walt Disney World here. Price out your own itinerary with my handy dandy vacation calculator here.
This week, its all about a bucket list destination...Hawaii. For a good portion of the US population, Hawaii is a destination that takes awhile to physically get to. However, overcoming this obstical is easy and planning a meaningful itinerary is also easy if you follow this week's suggestion.
This vacation takes you to the high seas on board Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America cruise ship. Cruisers understand the value of a cruise, thats why the industry has one of the highest customer retention rates in travel. If this is your first cruise, then look closely at the details of this trip. It solves a number of logisitcal issues so you and your family can focus on experiencing the culture of this amazing place!
First-time cruisers, watch this video.
This is what I consdier to be a longer-duration trip than the average (ten days) with a bottom line price tag of $17,733.94.
Two adults and two school-age children.
At least eight months from the date of departure.
I selected Augsut 18-27, 2017. Why nine nights? It includes a seven day cruise plus a little time to enjoy Honolulu and adjust to the time zone.
Time of Year
If you have school-age children that aren't homeschooled, you most likely need to travel when they are out of school. This means you are traveling at a peak time to Hawaii. We can discuss the pro and cons of this time period in another video. A video about Peak Season can be found here.
Where To Stay
This itinerary was based on selecting a balcony cabin on board the ship and a one night stay in Waikiki at a popular Hilton property.
Norwegian Cruise Line - Pride of America
By selcting this itinerary, you will be seeing some of the best of the state! You and yours will embark in Honolulu and travel to Maui, Kona, Hilo and Kauai. Wow! I've been twice and I loved it! Bottom Line on the cruise (including stateroom, port charges, food, non-alcoholic beverages, and taxes): $5,732.94
Arriving By Air
Honolulu International Airport is the largest airport in Hawaii. Followed by Maui. I selected United Airlines for this itinerary and I opted for Economy Plus seating on non-stop flights from Newark Liberty. By selecting Economy Plus, you get two checked bags per person included in the cost of the ticket in addition to "Economy Plus" seating (with more leg room). Bottom Line on Air: $5,976.00
Ground transportation in your departure city will affect your cost and I highly suggest booking a car service or an Uber so you don’t have to mess around with long term parking. You will need to get from the airport to the Hilton in Honolulu and then to the ship the next day. After the cruise, you will need to get from the cruise port to the airport. Bottom Line Ground: $350.00
You will not need to rent a car in Honolulu, however you will be renting one in Maui for one day to explore the island. Bottom line on car rental: $120.00
Shore excursions are NOT included in the cost of your cruise passage. Therefore, I have selected a few to help get the most out of each port of call. However, these are completely up to you, your desires and your budget. These excursions can be booked on your own, directly with the cruise line or by a qualified travel agent. Below is a list of my suggestions:
Pearl Harbor Tour - $150.00
Volcano Helicopter Tour in Hilo - $2,000
Kona By Land & Sea - $540.00
Kauai Manor House Dinner and Cultural Luau - $700.00
Dining on board the ship is included in the cost of your cruise passage. However, this ship features specialty restaurants with a nominal upcharge. In addition, alcoholic beverages are also NOT included in the cost of the cruise ticket. You will have meals on travel days and a meal or two outside of what is included. Therefore, I budgeted an extra $815.00 for meals and alcohol.
Souviners and Unanticipated Extras
You can’t leave without some souvenirs, so I added $250.00 for the family and $500.00 in unexpected random things I couldn’t think of. Bottom Line: $750.00
Because I would consider this a big ticket vacation, I would go ahead and insure the trip and that will cost you about $300.00.
Bottom line for this exact itinerary: $17,733.94
If you would like to book this trip, message me in the comments below or send me an email and I’ll hook you up with my travel agent who may be able to price out the exact itinerary for less. Or, you can book most of these items direct with Norwegian Cruise Line. When they ask how you heard about this itinerary, tell them Erik The Travel Guy suggested it.
Again, keep in mind, this vacation is your jumping off point. If you have additional thoughts on your last trip to Hawaii, drop them in the comments below. Do your own homework and then get ready to have the vacation of a lifetime!
PS. Learn more about Norwegian Cruise Line here. Price out your own itinerary with my handy, dandy vacation calculator here.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. This blog is a reflection of my mission. I travel (on average) 30 weeks per year hosting and producing a television series for PBS. In addition, I host a weekly radio show and produce original travel videos for online distribution. I am very fortunate for these opportunities and it is my hope you will join me on my travels!