For some people, traveling is exciting. For others, images of lost suitcases, airport layovers and security lines conjure up headaches by the one word.
While travel is unavoidable, a lack of travel perks is not. The appropriate question today has changed from if you can receive travel bonuses to what perks will you receive and which are right for you.
1. Travel credit cards are an obvious way to rack up points. Cards such as the Capital One Adventure Card often have little or no annual fee the first year and offer bonus miles for each purchase. Cards can also get you automatically in line for seat upgrades or into clubs where you’ll be guaranteed an electric outlet, free drinks, and a friendly smile.
2. The biggest mistake most travelers make is not registering their miles. This depends a bit on how you booked your travel. If it was done directly through an airline or on Priceline.com, you will be able to claim those miles. If you do it through a travel agent or a website such as StudentUniverse.com, those miles might not be redeemable in exchange for getting tickets at a lower cost. It never hurts to ask the airline if you can claim the miles – but to do this, you will need to keep your itineraries with your flight and seat numbers.
3. Gate check your luggage. This may not always be possible but if you gate check, you will often save the expense of a checked luggage fee. In order to do this, your airline has to offer the service and you have to still bring liquids under the 3-1-1 rules as you go through security.
4. Finally, remember that you are not the only person traveling (unless you are doing a road trip by yourself, in which case you are the only person traveling). Be considerate to the other people on the plane, train, car, etc. – don’t talk so loud that people five rows away can hear you. Through using your “indoor voices,” a young mother with an infant or the student who was up on an all-nighter for the last day of finals will appreciate you more as a fellow traveler. Look behind you before you move your seat backwards to ensure it’s not an imposition on the person seated there. (It is very rare for me to move my seat backwards as I know how annoying it can be to have someone encroach on your seat space.) Clean up your trash from the flight, in addition to all of your belongings. And smile or share a kind word with the people working at your travel destinations and modes of transportation. They probably don’t receive that often enough.