Archive for Travel tips

Update, and money savings in Australia

Posted in Australia, Travel Tips with tags , , , on January 3, 2013 by getgowing

Greetings

from

Sydney!

(Though I’m sure with my posting frequency by now I have probably 5 people reading this)

Koala hug  :-)

Koala hug, though more like a cheap feel ūüėÄ

I’ve only been here a little more than a week, but so much has happened!!! An Aussie Christmas, a few more scuba certifications while swimming with massive rays, New Year’s Eve on the Sydney Harbor, and of course trying out Virgin Australia long-haul business class. ¬†And I haven’t even done my 2 night stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney which would usually go for about 850 USD per night. ¬†But I wouldn’t Get Gowing if I actually paid that much for it. ¬†Nor could I afford it anyway. ¬†I’ll be writing some of those posts while I’m here in Oz so you will get some good reading in.

In the meantime, here’s a tip I just stumbled upon in the Sydney CBD (Central Business District, all their cities have one, and it’s pretty self explanatory what it is). As an American traveling here, costs can eat you alive pretty quickly. A typical meal that would be about 6-8 USD, like a sandwich and a drink, will be around 10-15 AUD (Australian Dollar). One of the obvious ways to save money is to cook your own food, but sometimes that isn’t feasible. If you head into Chinatown, there are relatively cheap meals there, and also in shopping mall food courts. The Market City shopping center 5 minute walk away from Central Station has all Asian food in the food court, but most offer a selection of 3 entrees + rice or noodles for 7.90-8.90 AUD. OR in the heart of the CBD in the MLC Center underground where there are several eateries; most of them cater to businessmen and women and only serve lunch. ¬†So when I got there around 3:45-4pm, many of them were offering their leftovers from lunch for only 5 AUD! ¬†I picked up a combo box of rice with green and red curry chicken from a Thai place, and an awesome chicken avocado cheese mixed greens pesto panini for 10 AUD. ¬†Every dollar here and there adds up.

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Tips for traveling with kids

Posted in Travel Tips with tags , , , , on June 5, 2011 by getgowing

I do not have any kids, so I cannot really give much advice. ¬†But here’s a great column I read every now and then, and she recently compiled an A-to-Z Guide to Traveling with Kids.

Airplane seat selection tips for non-status flyers

Posted in Airlines, Delta, Seat Expert, Seat Guru, Travel Tips, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 10, 2011 by getgowing

I understand that most people flying (and probably most people reading this blog, if anybody is actually reading it) don’t have the luxury of elite status with an airline, and thus don’t have first dibs on those prime seats in coach. ¬†Don’t fret! ¬†There are ways to score those exit row, bulkhead (first row of seats behind a wall divider), or front section of coach aisle/window seats!

First thing I used to do is reserve the best seats I could without any status and without paying extra. ¬†Use sites like Seat Guru and Seat Expert to help make your decision. ¬†I know with Delta, there are many versions of the same aircraft, so having the seat map provided by the airline website open along with one of those websites to do a side-by-side comparison of which version is helpful. ¬†For instance, Delta flies 8 different versions of a Boeing 757-200, but they all differ slightly. ¬†Look at where coach seating starts, ends, how many seats are in the first row of coach, how many seats are in the last row, what row are the exits….these are where they differ slightly. ¬†Also, their First Class cabins may also differ slightly, so compare those too.

Once you have chosen your seats, you can’t do much else until the departure day nears. ¬†I would recommend checking in at the earliest possible time, which the US-based airlines allow online check-in at 24 hours before the first flight. ¬†At this point, they MAY release all seats to be chosen by anybody. ¬†(This is the trick I used when flying to Japan in 2006. ¬†Its how I scored an exit row with infinite leg room for the 13.5 hour flight). ¬†Try to see if you can change to the premium seating then. ¬†If not, all is still not lost.

I would try again at the airport baggage check counter.  When you are checking in your bag ask the agent if there are any seats available closer to the front of the cabin.  If not, then just keep your seats and drop off your bag.  The next place to try is at the gate.  Its here where you will probably have the most success.

On Delta, if there were any seats available that were blocked for elite/medallion selection only, they get released at 3 hours prior to departure. ¬†So they are fair game at T-3 hours, FREE! ¬†You can call a Delta customer representative to try and get the seats changed, or just ask the gate agent to change them. ¬†If there is a line, just go to a neighboring gate agent that isn’t busy with customers. ¬†However, the best coach seats are probably still taken by elites at that point.

When the agent first gets to the gate (usually about 60-90 minutes before departure), be sure to be waiting at the desk.  Let them know that you are interested in changing your seat.  See if they can do anything at that moment.  If not, ask them if it looks like any elites will be upgraded out of coach into first, and if it seems like there will be any, ask if you can take their seat after they get their upgrade cleared.  They will probably say come back in X minutes when I clear the list.

About 5-10 minutes before they start boarding the flight, they usually call names to go to the desk. ¬†These are the elite members who received their first class upgrade, as well as anybody on standby who was cleared onto the flight. ¬†Now I would linger around the desk before they clear the list. ¬†If the agent is busy with a line of people waiting, you may be out of luck getting a better seat. ¬†I wouldn’t ask for a seat change if they have a long line of people needing help, it may just annoy them further. ¬†But assuming everything is fairly calm, I would make sure they saw my presence (they should already know why you’re at the desk). ¬†If there were just 2 or 3 people needing help, I would stand AT the desk, but on the side so I could still easily talk to the agent if he started clearing the elites. ¬†When the time finally comes, hopefully the agent reassigns your seat right after the elite upgrades, but before the standbys get cleared.

One little caveat…you may get stuck with a middle seat, but in a much better row like an exit row. ¬†A risk you should be willing to take if it gets down to the wire.

Try this tip out next time. ¬†I hope you manage to score those coveted bulkhead seats. ¬†Oh…one more thing I forgot. ¬†Delta blocks a few bulkhead seats for gate assignment for any passengers with babies, or elderly, etc….so you may be able to snag those if nobody needs them without much hassle. ¬†GOOD LUCK!!

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