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TIPS on planning your vacation
We all are movie, restaurant and travel critics, said Jim Johnson, who leads Boeing Travel Management Co.'s leisure department. His job is to help the travel critic in each of us have the best vacation experience.
"I want the tales of your time away to draw envy from all who listennot sighs of relief that they didn't pick that destination." Johnson said.
More people seem to be staying closer to home this year because of recent economic and safety concerns. "So travelers are looking for bargains and safety," Johnson said. "Both can be foundand we can help." He offers these tips to make the travel experience easier and less stressful:
1) Plan a vacation, or you won't get away. "A destination vacation is an incredible getaway, but if that isn't your comfort level in uncertain times, slate a trip to the beach, a regional festival or a friend's home," he said.
2) Plan to remain connected, if you must. If you have to be reachable by the office, take your laptop and stay in a hotel with high-speed Internet access or in an area where your cell phone will work. Don't feel restricted: Johnson sails in Washington state's San Juan Islands and syncs e-mail in port.
3) Take advantage of great buys. There are great bargains on cruises and destination vacationswith the best for those with flexible schedules. One caveat: "Know what you're buying and who you're buying from before you pay."
4) Use a reputable agency. "You need someone special when you're making special plans," Johnson said. "If you have a problem, you want someone to answer the phone and immediately help." Booking onlineas can be done using Boeing Travel Vacations, www.boeingtravel.com/ leisure.htmlis a great value for simple vacations that include just air or hotel. "If you need two elements, consider an agent. If you need three, call an agent. Our number is 1-800-243-8292." Customers have even found they can get an air-car-hotel package for a bit more than the online air-only price. Boeing employees and retirees also have access through Shared Services' Boeing Travel to additional discounts from preferred vendors. Boeing Travel is the nation's 19th largest agency, managing all business travel for Boeing in addition to serving other corporate clients and leisure travelers.
5) Use a major credit card; consider travel insurance. By using a credit card, you have a greater chance of recovering your money or arbitration if there's a problem. Johnson also advocates travel insurancean inexpensive way to cover unexpected changes to your travel plans.
6) Know your airfare, rental car and hotel restrictions. Each airline's Web site states its uniqueand changingticket policy. The Iraq war and health concerns in Asia, for example, prompted many to temporarily change their policies. With a rental car, be aware of per-mile or refuel charges, as well as taxessome locales charge 20 percent or more. Review your hotel check-in and checkout policies; phone if you'll arrive late or ask for a late checkout if you need an extra hour.
7) Review airport security guidelines. Check the Web sites for the airports you'll use for any security traffic restrictions. Also, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration site, www.tsa.dot.gov/ public/index.jsp, shares how you and your camera and luggage can easily navigate through the airport.
8) Check flight schedules. Airlines continually adjust capacity to meet demand. Boeing Travel is notified when airlines change departure times on flights Boeing Travel has booked for clients. A minute or two is normal. "When a flight shifts 10 minutes earlier, we e-mail or contact clients and inform them of the change. Those 10 minutes are very important."
9) Ask for a lower rate. "When you get to the car rental counter or hotel, ask for a better rateor upgrade," Johnson said. "Many times, your request will be accommodated."
10) Be a critic. Boeing Travel wants to hear feedback on services you purchase through them. "It helps us in negotiations and helps us help you have even better vacations."
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