5 Travel Booking Secrets That Will Help You Score Cheaper Flights

Travel search engines are a dime a dozen. From snagging last-minute hotel rooms to skirting pricey airline fees by booking individual one-way tickets, it seems as if today’s travel sites have it all figured out.

But if you put 100 percent of your trust in these tools, you may not be getting the biggest bang for your buck.

The folks at DealsPlus, an online community for bargain hunters, reached out to travel experts and insiders to find out where these websites are hiding some of the best deals — and how you can beat the system.

Whether you’re planning for a future trip or in search of the perfect last-minute summer escape, take note of the booking secrets in the infographic below.

Trust us, these 5 tricks will change the way you search for travel.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/travel-booking-site-secrets_us_57745e00e4b0cc0fa1367cd1

The million-dollar blogger and his life of total travel

2009: Started a travel blog, posting once or twice a week

2010: Got a request for a single $85 ad

2010: Posted more frequently, saw more ads come in

2011: Generated revenue of up to $2,000 per month

2013: Started to ramp up with more sites and more content marketing

2013: Hit a high of $60,000 in a single month

2015: Passed 250 websites under management and $1 million in earnings

Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/29/travel/million-dollar-travel-blogger/

NY has more travel-related Zika cases than other states

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The state Health Department has identified 324 cases of Zika among New York residents infected with the mosquito-borne virus after they or their sexual partners traveled to areas where Zika is prevalent.

New York has more traveled-related cases than any other state in the nation because of the large numbers of people who travel between the New York City metro area and Central and South America where Zika is widespread, said Bryon Backenson of the state health department. There have been five confirmed travel-related cases in Onondaga County

There have been no Zika cases caused by mosquito bites in New York or elsewhere in the continental U.S.

Pregnant women infected with Zika can give birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition in which an infant is born with an abnormally small head. The virus also can cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a potentially deadly type of paralysis.

Onondaga County Health Department officials say there is no risk for mosquito transmission of Zika in Central New York because the type of mosquitoes that carry the virus are not here.

Pregnant women are being advised not to travel to countries where Zika is spreading. The state health department is distributing Zika pregnancy kits to pregnant women who may travel to affected countries. The kits include mosquito repellent, larvicide tablets and condoms, because Zika can be spread through sexual transmission.

Contact James T. Mulder anytime: Email | Twitter | 315-470-2245

Article source: http://www.syracuse.com/health/index.ssf/2016/06/ny_has_more_travel-related_zika_cases_than_other_states.html

Why I booked a trip with an A.I.-powered travel app

When you need an answer to a problem, what do you do?

If it’s urgent enough, we always pick up a phone to call or text. Not many of us will use Google to find out what to do about a bunch of bees invading the house. Before you can finish typing, you’ll get stung. And if you get stuck in an airport, there’s often no time to start an Expedia search and weigh all of the options. We need someone (or something) to do the thinking for us…or else.

To test this theory, I decided to use a new app called Lola that lets me use chat to make my travel plans. It’s A.I.-assisted, and there’s a chatbot involved, but you also communicate with a human agent. When you first use the app, you might find yourself chatting with a bot about the basics. Are you looking for a hotel or a flight? From when to when?

I needed to book a flight and a hotel for a trip in two weeks and, frankly, I was getting a little worried. I knew the rates were starting to go up, and I have a budget set, so I jumped into the app. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because I usually don’t trust chatbots to make actual travel plans using my credit card. Maybe the bot will send me to the Bahamas? It’s reassuring to know that with Lola, and apps like Mezi, there is a real person involved, for now. I was able to explain that I don’t like flying late at night. I said I needed a hotel that’s newer, located near Silicon Valley, and doesn’t have bed bugs. (That last part was a joke, and it proved to me that a human agent was involved when she typed LOL.) We had a quick conversation about my plans.

Pushing the “book” button feels strange, but that’s only because I chatted with someone for two minutes about a flight and then decided the flight looked perfect. Where was the complicated listing of flight options? What about the time I usually spend on apps like Hopper and Expedia trying to find the best deal on different dates? The A.I. behind Lola was obviously doing most of that behind the scenes, and that’s as it should be. Bots that remove the consternation and stress involved with travel, that fill in the missing pieces for us, that let us act like humans and ask random questions or joke about bed bugs will always save us a ton of time.

One thing I didn’t like is that there is a pause when Lola goes away for a while and does some of the heavy lifting. I asked the agent about when the chatbot takes over completely, and she said there are three scenarios. One is when a human agent isn’t available, so I presume that means a bot would tell me no one is available. (That never happened…I was always under the impression that the operator was looking into my travel plans.) Another is when you use the app to ask about flight status during a trip, something I plan to do on the day I travel. And, last, the bot helps out initially to parse your request and do the hand-off to a human.

It was also cool that I received a confirmation and receipt by email so quickly. I did have to type in my credit card info to book the trip, but not to use the app. As far as I can tell, there were no extra charges to use Lola, but a rep told me the company plans to offer an annual membership. I also never found a hotel. I’m planning to find one using a different app or, more likely, Airbnb.

It’s interesting that Lola is designed to help me on the trip itself, though I’m not sure in what capacity yet. It is likely that it will be to check on my flight status or maybe change a reservation, rather than to arrange laundry service. I’ll plan to cover how the app performed after my trip.

Article source: http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/30/why-i-booked-a-trip-with-an-a-i-powered-travel-app/

Travel Security Heightened for 4th of July

A day before millions of travelers are expected to hit the road, rails or sky for the long Independence Day weekend, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says Americans should expect to see more security in public places during their holiday.

“The American public should expect to see, this July 4th weekend, an enhanced security presence at airports, train stations and other transit centers across the country by TSA and state and local law enforcement as well as security personnel generally,” he said at a Senate Judiciary Hearing Thursday morning.

In addition to federal efforts, several airports throughout the country have said they are beefing up security in the wake of the attack in Istanbul.

The cities of Miami, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York have all said they are adding extra security for the weekend.

Los Angeles International Airport says it is expecting a record number of travelers and that they have more K-9 Units, police personnel and traffic enforcement units in place.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told ABC News it has added high visibility patrols equipped with tactical weapons and equipment at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports.

The Transportation Security Administration has VIPR teams deploying to airports across the country.

The VIPRS — a team of behavior detection offers, explosive experts, and air marshals — were created partly in response to a series of high-profile foreign train attacks in the early 2000s. They often work special events that need extra security to deter acts of terrorism.

Airports across the country are already adding security to transit centers as Turkey is reeling from an attack that killed 43 people at the nation’s largest airport.

Hopper, an airfare prediction app, is predicting Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Chicago and New York to be the most popular destinations for holiday travelers this Independence Day.

ABC News’ Becky Perlow, Erin Dooley, Ali Weinberg and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/travel-security-heightened-4th-july/story?id=40246819

The Best Time to Hit the Road for Fourth of July Travel

This Fourth of July weekend is expected to be a record-breaking one when it comes to the number people of traveling– not the best news for those hoping to hit the road during peak travel times, according to a recent report from AAA Chicago.

But, when is the best time to hop in the car and get on the way to your destination?

The Illinois Tollway anticipates the heaviest travel day will be Friday, July 1, when nearly 2 million vehicles are projected to be on the road. On an average day, about 1.5 million vehicles use the Tollway.

Drivers are advised to start their weekend travel before lunch or after 8 p.m. on Friday. This advice holds true for drivers on the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80); drivers headed to lake visits in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin; as well as drivers on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) and the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355).

Record-Breaking Travel

AAA projects nearly 43 Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend, which represents the highest fourth of July travel volume on record and five million more travelers compared to Memorial Day weekend. The holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4.

In Illinois, 2.3 million people will be traveling for the holiday weekend, which is a one percent increase from 2015. Of those travelers, two million will be driving (up one percent from 2015) and 104,000 will be flying to their destination (a .5 percent increase from 2015).

Gas prices across Illinois are on average $2.55, down substantially from $3.00 in 2015.

“Independence Day is always the most-traveled holiday of the summer, but this year it will be bigger than ever, primarily because of low gas prices,” said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., President and CEO, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Airports will be just as crowded as the roads, because low fuel prices are making it more affordable to fly. If fundamentals remain the same, this could be a record-breaking year for summertime travel.”

Eight million people are expected to travel on the Illinois Tollway over the holiday weekend, which is a 5.6 percent increase in travelers from 2015, according to an Illinois Tollway press release.

“Summer travel on the Illinois Tollway has become increasingly busy, as more customers realize the benefits of our investments in our roadways and bridges,” said Executive Director Greg Bedalov. “To help customers better navigate traffic this summer, we encourage motorists to start their weekend trips early or wait until later in the evening on Fridays.”

To accommodate increased Fourth of July weekend travel on the Illinois Tollway, most construction activity will be restricted to better serve Tollway customers. Most temporary maintenance and construction lane closures will be suspended from noon on Friday, July 1, through 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5. Some work may continue behind barriers to keep work on schedule. To view a list of construction projects still taking place over the Fourth of July weekend, visit here.

Local Traffic Updates

Low gas prices driving increase in auto travel this Independence Day
Eighty-four percent of holiday travelers – more than 36 million people – will drive to their Independence Day destinations, an increase of 1.2 percent over last year.

Air travel is expected to increase 2.2 percent over last year, with 3.3 million Americans taking to the skies this Independence Day. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will increase two percent to 3.3 million travelers.

Most of those travelers are expected to fill cruise cabins and AAA’s holiday cruise bookings are 35 percent higher than last Independence Day.

Airfares and hotel rates lower than last Independence Day
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be nine percent less this Independence Day, with an average round-trip ticket costing $207.

Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.

Illinois State Police District 15 Out in Force
The Illinois State Police District 15, like many police agencies across the state, will be out in full force during the holiday weekend.

The goals of State Police are not only to assist traveling motorists but also to decrease traffic fatalities and serious personal injury through high visibility and strict enforcement of all traffic laws.

“District 15 will have additional officers on patrol and will be conducting special enforcement details focusing on speed, distracted driving, truck lane restrictions and alcohol-related offenses in an effort to reduce crashes and prevent fatalities,” said District 15 Commander Robert Meeder. “We are asking drivers to help keep the Illinois Tollway safe by slowing down, putting away their cellphones and buckling up all occupants to ensure safe travel.”

District 15 special traffic details will focus on the fatal four offenses that include speeding, driving under the influence, seat belts and distracted driving.

These details will include seat belt enforcement by officers at toll plazas, air speed details throughout construction work zones on the I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project and the use of special enforcement vehicles such as motorcycles, unmarked squad cars and fully marked colored squads throughout the Tollway system.

Get Patched In

Article source: http://patch.com/illinois/crystallake/best-time-hit-road-fourth-july-travel