My 2012 Travel Resolutions

by Chris on January 3, 2012

Lessons learned: My travel resolutions for 2012, based on things I didn’t do the year before.

Resolutions 2011

Rigid New Year’s resolutions have a limited place in travel, where patience, understanding and flexibility are the building blocks to a successful trip. Most of the meltdowns I observed on the road in 2011 came when people refused to accept that plans had changed or didn’t do enough research about where they were going.

That being said, I made some travel blunders of my own last year that I’d like to avoid in 2012 (hey, when you’re on the road for 120 nights, hiccups are bound to happen). In no particular order, here are some of the money-saving resolutions that I vow to enforce this year:

Avoid destinations during peak weeks. Staying grounded during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, when infrequent travelers clog airport security, and flights are routinely overbooked, remains a smart strategy. Yet how do you satisfy distant family members who yearn to spend quality time together?

Our solution for 2012: Pick a non-holiday week that works for everyone and get together then. For our family of frequent travelers, we’ve decided that renting a villa in Belize in mid-November is a more affordable – and fun – option than coming together at the height of the pricey season.

Say goodbye to hotel wi-fi fees. Traveling professionally requires me to stay connected, no matter where I am,. Yet many hotels, particularly those in the Middle East and Asia, impose daily wi-fi charges that can add up on an extended stay (witness the $125 wi-fi bill I paid during a four-night stay in Cairo).

In 2012, I’m fighting back. On my first trip of year – a two week trip to Japan – I’ll be using a mi-fi device that will allow me to access the Internet at all times. The service costs $14.95-per-day, but that’s still cheaper than many hotels – and I won’t have to worry about finding coverage.

Become vigilant about airline status. I used to book the lowest fare, no matter what the airline. But the constant and continual fees that airlines have added in recent years mean that low base fares are deceiving. Having elite status on the Star Alliance or SkyTeam makes many of the peskiest add-ons, such as baggage fees and priority seating costs, go away. From now on, I’d rather stick with one or two airlines, where I can keep my perks, even if it means paying more.

Seek out counter-intuitive destinations. Egypt isn’t for everyone, particularly now when violent protests take place on a regular basis. Yet for intrepid travelers who plan their visits with an eye toward safety, seeing the country’s sights has never been more appealing. Luxury hotels can be had for a song, and there are no crowds at some of the world’s most historic sites.

For 2012, I’m eyeing several countries that have been in the news for the wrong reasons, including Mexico and Greece. While these trips may require some extra planning, I’ve found that visiting a country when the chips are down is not only easier on my wallet, it’s a chance to go behind the headlines and find out what’s actually going on.

Change dining habits. As an avowed foodie, I like to visit restaurants with notable chefs, which are rarely cheap. But I’ve found that I can try many of their famed dishes – for less money – if I go at lunch. It’s often easier to get a table at mid-day, plus you won’t drink as much wine.

Other good times to visit hot restaurants: Happy Hour, when many places practically give food away to encourage drinking (just make sure you nurse yours), or a less popular day of the week, such as Tuesday.

Do you have any travel resolutions for 2012? Share them below!

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

cailin January 3, 2012 at 11:52 am

very smart tip about eating out at lunch instead of dinner… I’m sure I could incidentally still knock back a few too many beers at that time of day though depending on where I am… hahaha
I also heard about this mi-fi thing! very cool, would help me with my crazy data phone bills too I’m sure :)

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Scott - Quirky Travel Guy January 3, 2012 at 11:58 am

These are great resolutions. Eating out for lunch is the best budget option. I’ve also decided to try to narrow my traveling to 1 or 2 airlines… I think it will take a while to see the long-term benefits, but it will be worth it in the long run.

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Kirsten January 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I too never used to be loyal to an airline, and was incensed at how much I ended up paying in fees when I really started to add things up. Being loyal to skyteam and mostly flying Delta in 2011 has actually saved me so much time, money and headache that I will never again return to the days of non-loyalty. (I might jump ship to Sky Alliance, but I will always be a loyalty girl now. Can’t recommend it highly enough.)

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Chris January 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Kirsten – Now that you have elite status on SkyTeam, you can request a status match to one of the Star Alliance airlines. I’m in the process of doing that so I can get status on Delta too.

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Don Nadeau January 12, 2012 at 5:26 am

Chris, thank you for the nudge to look into status match. United’s turns out to be much easier than anticipated: http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6867,53424,00.html

I hope Delta works as well for you as it has for me, with frequent domestic upgrades for this lowly Silver Medallion. Of course, I try to avoid flying out of airports like LaGuardia on a Friday afternoon. It helps that Delta offers more first-class seats on its flights than United.

The downside is that Delta does not have an Economy Plus type option on most domestic flights for when you are not upgraded. You get preferred seating, but not that welcome extra legroom.

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Chris January 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Don – Delta has granted me Silver for now, with a status match challenge. If I can get 8,000 miles in 90 days, I get to keep the status for the rest of the year. I’m still in Japan so the leg back home will count so I’m mostly there. Glad to hear that you can get upgrades with Silver. I’m looking forward to it!

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Don Nadeau January 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm

That’s a really generous offer from Delta.

Grabbed an inexpensive Delta Economy Comfort seat on a 16-hour gate-to-gate Dubai to Atlanta pain fest last November. Not a sleeper seat to put it mildly but much appreciated extra legroom on a full flight. With Silver, a 50% discount: http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/economy_class/economy_comfort.jsp + more info: http://blog.delta.com/2011/05/05/economy-comfort-installation-updates/

Enjoy Japan!

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Don Nadeau January 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Sorry for those long URLs, which are fouling the blog template on my Mac.

I never click on hidden links from people I do not know and figured there might be at least a couple of people out there as paranoid as me, as unlikely as that may seem!

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john February 22, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I definitely do the lunch trick…or i ask them to box up half my meal that way it is lunch the next day!

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