Book Now. Save Later- “Travel Hints”

8 09 2010

This is a fairly simple travel hint.  The idea of booking your fall and winter travel seems like a wise idea until you review your funds.  End of summer, start of football season, good weather outside=more drinking than usual, and for some of you school starting up means you don’t have excess funds at the moment, unless your parents buy your plane tickets home in which case you do.  Bottom line of this hint- travel gets very expensive during the holidays.  A flight that would normally cost you $200 dollars round-trip will more than likely DOUBLE.  Planning on cashing in those frequent flyer miles? Forget about it.  The majority of airlines already have dates blacked out during the holidays.  I suppose you could spend $20,000 on a chase credit card to earn enough points to  “avoid those black out dates.”  If you plan on flying home for the holidays or staying at a hotel while you are away from your over-priced condo/apartment I suggest you book by the end of this month or in October.  Once the end of October hits moving into November the malls have setup shop with Santa which means Americans are “ready to spend money”.  

Here are some ways to avoid the travel blues during the holidays:

1) Take advantage of offers through travel vendor websites.  For example an airline might offer- “Book now and fly roung trip for $100 or less during the month of November” Take them up on the offer.  They are trying to drive sales hard now so they can increase the rates based on supply and demand.

2) Explore your transportation options.  Could you rent a car or take the train? I would not suggest renting a car if you are traveling more than 200-250 miles each way.  However rental car companies offer lower rates during the holidays if you book far in advance (3-4 weeks prior). 

3) Stay with the family.  Hotels are a waist of money unless you are: a) on business b) legitimate vacation c) college road trip in which case you will be staying at a Best Western or Comfort Inn…which is dirt cheap anyways.

4) Be weary of the days RIGHT BEFORE or RIGHT AFTER the actual holiday.  In most cases people will not travel on Christmas eve…it reminds people of a nightmare situation similar to that in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (excellent movie however).  What that means is Thursday December 23rd, 2010 will be a very tough day for travel.

5) Plan flights that are not during “High-Times” such as 9-11am and 4-8pm.  If you can plan a flight at 1:00pm in the afternoon or 9:30pm at night you will be golden when it comes to long lines at the parking shuttle, security gates, etc.  

6) MOST IMPORTANTLY- Even though I mentioned this before, make a reservation for everything.  By the time the holidays roll around you should have a reservation/confirmation # for every single aspect of your travel.  No exceptions.  The travel company’s favorite customer is someone who does not have a reservation during the holidays…say goodbye to those savings.  

I’m sure I’ll see you at the bar when a group of flight attendants don’t show up for that flight you paid an arm and leg for.

Slow and Steady Reserves the Room- Weekly Travel Hints

17 06 2010

Earlier I brought you “Top Five Travel Hints of the Week” Well frankly five is a bit too many on a weekly basis.  Instead I will be bringing you a Weekly Travel Hint and provide an ample amount of input and advice.  If you are an aggressive traveler you reap benefits rather quickly.  However for many of us out there we travel frequenty and ask ourselves “Hey wheres that free round trip flight?”  The answer may be in your decision making.  Our readers typically range from mid 30’s and 20’s working professionals  to young soon to be college kids.   However you will find that over your lifetime (especially in your early 20’s when your friends are getting married and/or you’ve got extra cash to travel with) you will start to use different travel vendors.  I hope you find this week’s advice as useful as I did once I was informed.

What do Hilton Hotels, Motel 8, Southwest Airlines, AirTran, Hertz Rental Car and several other vendors all have in common? ALL of them have a preferred customer program.  Any company in the travel industry REGARDLESS of the specific sector all have programs that reward their frequent customers.  We see this often with our parents getting free flights to Hawaii or in movies like Up in the Air.  Both your parents and George Clooney do one thing: They stick to one networkPlease allow me to explain.  If you want to earn free hotel nights, free flights to vegas to rock out with old friends, or park for free at your local airport you have to follow the golden rule of traveling: Use the same network repeatedly.  Do you know what four flights on four different airlines gets you? Four complimentary soft drinks and maybe some peanuts. When you decide to stay in the same network in all aspects of your travel you will see those glorious emails enter your inbox reading “Congratulations You’ve earned..”  I will provide a few examples;

Hotels: Each Hotel is more than likely in a network with several others.  Check out: That is the website for the Hilton Network including hotels such as; Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Doubletree, etc…  If you stay at a hotel in the network you accumulate points for use in any hotel within the network.  Ex) You stay at Hampton Inn a few times you earn a free night at a Hilton Hotel of your choice.  Sound easy? It is.  Just make sure to enroll in the program.  All programs are free and they last a lifetime.  Even if you are a casual traveler you should be contributing to your account.  Hilton is NOT the only one who does this.  There are also great programs such as Marriot Rewards and Priority Club that cover several hotels.  **Also hotels will frequently run promotions such as “Stay with us 4 nights this month and earn a free night!”  That is always something to keep an eye for.**  Marriot has a nice line-up of hotels and Priority Club is Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza (Knoxville Tits), etc.  Also each network has a credit card of such that usually doubles points for qualifying stays.

Airlines: Very similar to the hotel structure, but there are not networks EXCEPT: Star Alliance (which is dominating the airline industry).  Now you can use the same frequent flyer number for several airlines: US Airways, United, and Continental, check out all of them:  The key to airline programs: Do your research. You need to find out what airline has the major presence at your local airport. Ex) In Nashville, TN Southwest Airlines is very predominant.  In Charlotte it is US Airways BIG TIME.  Join the network best for you and start earning free round trips.  Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few trips.  Also airlines process points in TWO WAYS: 1) Miles (the amount of miles you fly gets put into a bank and 25k miles may equal a roundtrip flight) 2) Segment points (Southwest uses this and you receive points for flights…this may be the best option if you travel short distances such as 400-700 miles).   Like hotels, Airlines have credit cards usually offering a free round trip after first purchase but BEWARE they are usually backed with high interest rates.  Free trips are also subject to black-out dates, be sure to refer to the airlines website regarding that information.

Rental Cars: Probably the biggest flop in the travel industry.  Each company offers a preferred program.  Several companies including National and Hertz offer free rental after so many paid rental days.  These are harded to build, but it is still a good option to join-up. Quick rental car tip: If you make a reservation, they owe you a car.  If they “Lost your reservation” or “We are out of cars” then you better make sure you don’t pay.

Final pieces of importance: 1) Stay with the same program.  Make sure to truly look at the price difference before making a decision.  Ex) If you are a American Airlines member and their flight is $20.00 more than the competitor, choose AA to accumulate the miles.  Choosing the same travel vendor will pay dividends. 2) Do your research.  Where you live and often travel to dictate which program is the best for you. 

Happy trails.

Your “Top Five Travel Hints” of the Week

19 05 2010

May I interest you in any warm cookies?

Greetings from East Brunswick, NJ!  Hopefully that location tells you how exciting my destination is. New Jersey sucks.  Northern New Jersey, that is.  Southern New Jersey, around PA, is actually quiet nice and is the part that earned the state the nickname “Garden State”.  From what I can tell, there isn’t a garden within 10 f***ing miles of where I am sitting.

I am here to bring you the “Top Five Travel Hints” for this week but I will make local suggestions throughout these articles. I am also developing quite the list on UrbanSpoon (a website and favorite iPhone application) where I write reviews from various eateries.

Local suggestion: The Frog and Peach.
Located right in the heart of Downtown New Brunswick, this place is a pretty good spot.  I could especially see this being a date spot…too bad I couldn’t convince a girl to come to New Brunswick with me during the work week.  Pretty expensive but they do have a “Frugal Farmer” section where you get a 3 course meal for around $30. The chicken meatballs were all sorts of tits.  They also had a featured item – “Macaroni and Cheese with Aged Gouda”.  This wasn’t mom’s Kraft mac and cheese with hotdogs…but it’ll do.

Here are your TOP FIVE TRAVEL HINTS for this week:

1.)  Ask for an upgrade – More than likely it will be “unavailable”.  However, I have found that rarely you actually find someone who doesn’t hate their life and they will give you the hook up. The important thing here is; If you don’t ask, you will not receive. Last week, I asked and they hooked me up with a handicapped room with a super-badass bathroom and a shower so big I could have fit a lazy-boy in there.  A big bathroom is always a party plus.

2.)  Arrive to your lodging between 4:30-6ish – During this time the majority of hotels offer complimentary warm cookies. Enough said.

3.)  Ask your selected hotel if they have a “manager’s reception/happy hour” – Many hotels do not advertise this feature but you can find out with a quick phone call.  This is a period of time between 5-7pm where the hotel offers free beer/wine/appetizers for guests of the hotel.  Even if your not a guest, I would suggest going if you’re dressed business casual or more. Quick hint for Nashvillians: The Embassy Suites near Opry Mills has an exceptional ‘manager’s reception’ that includes liquor.

4.)  Ask the receptionist if the hotel partners with a local gym – This is easy enough. Most of the time hotels will have sub-par workout facilities and will partner with LA Fitness for free sessions if staying at the hotel. Great way to get out.

5.) Always check your AC unit AS SOON AS you enter your hotel room – If for some reason the AC in your room is f***ed up,  you will suffer greatly. Get that sort of issue resolved quickly.

~Any suggestions or travel hints of your own?  Please post!~

Tales From Truckers

15 05 2010

This will be the first in a series that will keep our readers up to date on the stories I hear from truckers.  I work at a trucking company where I interact with truckers on a daily basis.  Oh the stories I hear, some of which I unfortunately cannot unlearn.

The Watermelon

This story has been one of my all time favorites. The conversation goes a little something like this:  Trucker: “You wanna hear how to have sex with a watermelon?”  Me: “How can I say no?”

He goes on to explain.  Well, you have to wait until it is nice and hot outside.  A beautiful summer day will suffice.  That way the inside of the watermelon feels like the real thing. It’s important that it is about three weeks from maturity, timing is everything. This will come into play later.  Now, what you want to do is cut out a hole, depending on size of course, and place it on the ground.  There are many positions when you are making love to a watermelon so make sure to try them all out.  When you have finished up take the hole you cut out and place it back.  Since the watermelon is three weeks away from being ripe, the hole will fill itself in, leaving no trace of tampering or your antics.

Ok, so this is kind of American Pie’ish. Could be a farce.  But, here’s the kicker.

Now, Hardly Working, you need to take this special watermelon to the Farmer’s Market, along with all the rest of your garden goodies.  You have to wait for the perfect customer.  Preferably a nice old lady.  You sell her that special watermelon, and I quote, “Giver her a nice treat she hasn’t had in a while”.

So, be careful who and where you buy your watermelons from.

Top 10 Things I Hate About Work

12 05 2010

Let me set this up…

I can probably think of a million things I hate about work and I’m sure you could, too.  If you’re one of those people who actually claim to “enjoy” their job, then you are one of three things…

1) Delusional 2) Complete Loser OR 3) Filthy Rich

Anyways, I’ll be doing this Top 10 one post at a time…and as fast and slow as things piss me off at work…and in no specific order of hatred…and here we go!

#1 – The Communal Refrigerator

Insulated lunch bags make you look like a fairy.

At first thought, the idea of a communal refrigerator sounds glorious.  You might think, “Finally, a place where I can store my lunch and rest assured that it will be just like my fridge at home!”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  It only takes one shithead to ruin the fridge for evvvvveryone else.

Allow me to elaborate…I actually woke up early to make my own lunch (and this is rare).  I make a turkey sandwich with the good bread (and you know what I mean by good bread).  I even took the time to throw some lettuce and pickles on the damn thing.  I brown bag it and throw it the communal fridge.  I swear, it and this never fails, that everyday of the week some jackass has to get their TUNA fix.  You know who you are…and you should be ashamed of yourself.  There should be a bylaw that thou stanky tuna shall never be allowed to enter thy communal fridge.  To get to my point, my turkey sandwich that has been in the chill box since early morning has actually been marinating in gagging aroma of putrid fish.  Have you ever eaten a turkey sandwich that tastes like tuna?  It’s miserable, disappointing, and ultimately nauseating.

Other Communal Refrigerator Pitfalls:

  • “Don’t you dare put your lunch box ON TOP of my brown bag lunch, Janice.”
  • Swiping my snacks makes me want to sneak-attack you…you don’t want that, trust me.
  • Just because I have a whole gallon of milk in the fridge DOESN’T mean you can use a splash for your coffee creamer.
  • “Good God, Clarence, is that your leftover Chili’s from last week that’s growing mold?”
  • I don’t care how much you like banana peppers.  Do NOT buy your economy sized jar and expect people to be cool with it taking up half the fridge.
  • If you do want to write your name on your lunch, please add an additional and humorous threatening remark as well…or a joke…or a slam on another coworker that eats out everyday.
  • If you spill something, clean it up or I’m using your sweater to do it…I’ve seen me do it before.

Introduction- Stories from the Road

12 05 2010

Good Evening and welcome back to Tennessee Before Daylight.

Due to times changing I will now be bringing you new “Stories from the Road” My previous writer names have been; The Management Trainee, Recent College Grad, and the Tennessean.  Several things have changed and I can no longer provide you with great stories and experiences related to those titles.  However I am now bringing you stories from the road (primarily the Northeastern segment of the US), which I work for my job.  This will include stories from Boston, DC, Philadelphia, NYC, Baltimore, and occasionally a story from some small town in Maine.  The stories will be a combination of reviews from restaurants, comical highway signs, and all other experiences in between.  Either way I grew up in Tennessee and now have to deal with yankees all the time and we all know how ridiculous and terrible they are.  I hope I don’t turn into one.  In the meantime enjoy the stories and be sure to check out the listed places when you find yourself visiting.

So far one major party plus: All the bars in New England have containers with Cheez-its for snacking.  Huge play