Travelling Tips for the Disabled

Unlike in the past, today people with disabilities have been recognized, and are less discriminated against. In many countries there are legislations that protect them and make their life a little easier. Also many public buildings have been designed or renovated in order to accommodate people with disabilities.

With all these improvements, people with disabilities are now able to travel for vacation or a business trip to places far away from their home. However, with all these improvements we have made, travelling for people with disabilities is still a challenge for them, especially when they are travelling alone or, they are travelling to an unknown destination. Below is a guide to help people with all forms of disabilities to travel safely.

1. Plan well in advance
Planning is key to any form of success. This is very important because it reduces chances of getting stranded and being inconvenienced. Booking flights and hotel rooms are the top priorities, however if you are going to stay at a friend’s or a relative’s house; notifying them in advance is very important. Then they can be prepared and even pick you up from the airport.

2. Book hotels that are disabled friendly
Hotels with disabled friendly structures are very convenient as they allow disabled individuals to move freely with minimal effort. Most of these hotels also have special emergency protocols that ensure disabled individuals are not left behind in case of an emergency, unlike some hotels where these issues are over looked.

3. Use a travel agent that offers travel packages for disabled travelers
Booking flights and hotel rooms with travel agents that offer travel solutions to disabled people is advantageous in a number of ways. They ensure they book for their disabled clients airlines and hotels that are disabled friendly. They strive to offer services and suggestions that will ensure their clients travel comfortably.

4. Understand and know your rights when at the airport
Travelling, for people with disabilities, is very hectic, especially when they arrive at the airport. They face the challenge of getting proper information and directions. This is further aggravated by the huge number of people traveling and long queues. In airports, there are attendants that are supposed to attend to the needs of those travelling with disabilities.

Disabled travelers should not, and are not, treated differently when they go through security measures. They are also protected from any form of discrimination from any airline. Disabled travelers are advised to be very conversant with their rights to avoid and report any form of discrimination when travelling.

5. Bring extra medication
There is no harm in carrying an extra dose of medication when travelling. People do lose their luggage as they travel so, having an extra dose will act as a backup when one dose gets lost. This also ensures that when travelling, a disabled person does not run out of their medicine forcing them to start looking for a drug store when travelling. These medications should be stored properly to ensure their safety.

6. Take a doctor’s note and contact information when travelling
A doctor’s note contains important information about a condition that a disabled person is facing and this will help doctors save a lot of time on tests in case of an emergency. Contact information for your doctor allows other doctors to get important information from your doctor should the need arise. This small, but vital, information can save lives.

7. Use direct flights
It is very hectic and tiresome for a disabled traveler to use connecting flights. Using connecting flights exposes them to loss of their luggage and even injury as they get in and out of a plane. Using a direct flight cuts all these risks down and saves a lot time and energy when travelling. Direct flights also ensure that those travelling with disabilities are not stranded in an airport as they wait for a connecting flight.

8. Disabled travelers are advised to have some knowledge about where they are travelling to
There is nothing more difficult than looking for directions to a place you do not know about. This is even harder for disabled travelers so, it is advisable to have at least some knowledge and understanding about their destination. This will give them an upper hand when moving around and the knowledge to know where to go and where not to go. This will be very helpful when they are stranded or experience an emergency situation and need urgent assistance.

9. Carry the appropriate luggage
Disabled travelers are advised to carry luggage that they can manage when they are travelling. Unless they have company, travelling with a huge amount of luggage is not easy. Traveling lightly enables disabled travelers to be more flexible to situations that arise besides, a large amount of luggage can also easily get lost.

10. Enjoy travelling
Many disabled people do not travel often because of a lot of limitations which discourages them. However modern technology ensures safe travel for all regardless of their condition. Travelling should be enjoyed by all since it is a chance to experience new things that are different than what they are used to.

Going Green With Your RV Travels

It’s easy going green while camping in your RV. Responsible American’s across the country are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and protecting this great planet of ours. RV manufacturers and RV parks have heard the call and are making it easier for enthusiast to go green by offering solar RV’s and recycling at RV campgrounds. Whether it’s solar panels on the roof of your RV, biodiesel fuel or camping in RV parks that cater to green camping the solutions are abundant for people who take sustainable living seriously. Here are a few unique and not so unique ways to preserve and protect our environment and maintain sustainable living and camping.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association put out a list of tips for RVer’s to think about on their travels. Some of the tips are just plain common sense like, routine maintenance of your RV, including regular tune-ups to conserve energy and emissions, using non-toxic cleaning supplies and tank additives, recycling at campgrounds and using roads designed for RV travel. Other tips that campers may not have thought about include mixing drinks from powder and assigning a specific glass to individual family members so the use of paper cups is eliminated. Keeping campfires small minimizes the amount of ash and pollution in the atmosphere. In the summer months, use natures natural shade trees to stay cool and eliminate air conditioning emissions or in the winter park your RV so that it is not exposed to north and western winds.

RV manufacturers have answered the Green call by adding solar panels to the roofs of RV’s which can save up to 90% of generator use. TRA-Certification, Inc., an independent internationally accredited third-party green certifier has become the RV industry standard. This third-party certification helps consumers to decide if an RV is green enough for their standards before they buy. The TRA rates an RV’s energy-efficiency and environmental-friendliness. It evaluates the manufacturer’s claims that the various materials and components that go into building an RV are in fact what they claim to be.

Innovations in the products and supplies necessary on camping trips have come a long way over the years as well. A company called BioLite launched an ingenious multi-tasking camp stove that converts waste heat into electricity. That’s right you can charge your cell phone while you roast your marshmallows over the fire… very cool! Or how about cooking over an open flame or campfire. Though not the most convenient, cooking on an open flame is the most natural and earth-friendly way to prepare meals while camping.

Try using LED lights and lanterns, which use a lot less energy than incandescent bulbs. Or, use less propane by lowering your RV thermostat and using blankets to keep warm while sleeping. Eat with reusable dishes and utensils and eco-friendly biodegradable soap is an excellent alternative to dish soap for cleaning your dishes. Remember, disposable products may be convenient, but they are harmful to our planet. Recycle whenever you can; most campgrounds offer separate recycle bins for plastics and cans. If your campground doesn’t have a recycling program, do it yourself by separating your trash and taking it with you to properly dispose of when you get home.

Use less electronics. Turn off your phone, unplug the TV and DVD, and keep the laptop closed. Instead, spend quality time with your family or get to know your fellow campers in your campground. Bring along the bikes instead of towing a second vehicle. Riding bikes not only helps save on energy and emissions but it’s also a healthy way to see the sights while camping.

When you really stop to think about it, Going Green with your RV Camping is much easier than you think. A little forethought and research goes a long way in making your trip a sustainable one and best of all you are doing your part to save this wonderful planet of ours.

Elements of a Strong Corporate Travel Program

In order to make the most of your corporate travel budget, it is critical to plan for leveraging your program for all it is worth. Telling travelers to select the lowest logical airfare is just not enough. Here are the elements that should be considered when planning or evaluating your travel program.

1. Travel policy

A well written and disseminated travel policy is the foundation of any good travel program, and I am consistently amazed that so many corporations have such an outdated and poorly conceived travel policy, if they have one at all. It is not difficult to find a well written policy. One can be found online quite easily. All that remains is that it is edited to reflect corporate culture, and disseminated within the company so that everyone understands and agrees to follow it. For this reason, it is a good idea to have everyone sign a copy of the travel policy to ensure that it is read, understood and owned by all company staff. I suggest that everyone in the company signs a copy of the travel policy, whether they travel or not. They may change positions in the company later and be required to travel. A travel policy need not be long or complex. Some of the best travel policies I have ever seen were only a few pages long.

2. Centralized travel internally and externally

Many companies do not centralize their travel program, and they pay a price in terms of a loss of expense reduction opportunities and internal efficiencies. Many companies that do not centralize travel have a fear of requiring travelers to do something they may not want to do, along with the idea that centralizing travel will require hiring a Travel Manager. Both of these may be legitimate concerns but they do not have to be in most cases. By requiring travelers to book centrally, you are not necessarily causing them to lose flexibility. You can centralize travel while still allowing travelers to book on their own, either with a travel agency of your choice, or online through a provider that you have partnered with and have confidence in. By assigning someone with the responsibility of overseeing travel, you are getting a single point of contact both internally and externally for travel issues. If your company spends less than $1 million in air travel, you probably do not need a full time travel manager. In these cases, travel oversight can be given to the finance department, human resources, or even an executive level assistant. Here is a look at the advantages to be gained by centralizing travel.

When you centralize travel with a single agency, you gain in a number of important ways. You will have a single point of contact for problems while travelers are on the road, and you will have one entity to go to for all your travel needs. This eliminates the problem of consolidating a travel report from among several sources. By bringing travel together, you will gain significantly from economies of scale. If you can measure total travel among various divisions or locations, you can get more for your money from travel suppliers. This will allow you to gain more from airline soft dollar programs, which means more free tickets and upgrades, get a higher percentage discount from our preferred airline, and get better negotiated rates from your hotel and car contracts. Your fulfillment costs will decrease as well, as your travel agency will often discount their fees for a higher overall volume of travel.

3. Mix of online booking and personal service

This is an addendum to the previous element, which calls for centralizing travel with one travel agency. This is important, but in doing so, you need not require travelers to use an online booking system, and you need not require travelers to call the agency directly. By offering travelers the option of doing either, you are accomplishing several goals. You will reduce your fulfillment costs, as online booking is cheaper in terms of a service fee. By giving travelers the option, you are giving them a sense of control, thereby increasing morale and standing a better chance of a high adoption rate. Thirdly, you leave open a best practice of using your online booking engine for less complex itineraries, and allowing senior executives, frequent travelers, and complex itineraries to be booked directly with a travel agent that can offer a higher level of service and a better overall travel experience where it is most warranted.

4. Look under every stone

While the bulk of most travel programs revolve around the air budget, there are several other areas one can investigate to find savings opportunities. There are a couple of more obvious areas to look, such as negotiated hotel rates at your favorite hotels, or car rental discounts with a favored supplier. Often your travel agency will already have discounted rates through consortia affiliations and agency car contracts. There are also some less common areas that should be investigated. For example, if ground transportation is a concern, most suppliers will offer discounted rates and a direct billing option. Direct billing arrangements with hotels and car rental agencies are also a great way to increase efficiencies and make the job of the accounting department easier.

5. Leverage hard dollar and soft dollar contracts

Most major airlines today offer hard dollar discounts as well as soft dollar incentives in exchange for company loyalty to their product. If your travel program is over $1 million in air spend, you can secure a discount off of the lowest fares of your carrier of choice in return for a market share commitment. For your secondary carriers, or if your volume is less than the minimum required by the airline, you can enter in to soft dollar programs for free tickets and free upgrades, as well as traveler status enhancements or airport club passes. These programs require little in the way of volume, but they are not well publicized so you may need to hunt for them or ask Baker Travel or your current agency to point you in the right direction.

6. Do not neglect hotel volume

Hotel volume is sometimes overlooked but it should not be. Negotiated rates can be had through your travel agency or directly with the hotel properties of your choice. Individual hotels near corporate locations will negotiate discounted rates for you in exchange for a minimum room/night commitment. By utilizing a travel agency, you are likely to receive discounts of 5% to 50% on thousands of hotels worldwide.

7. Have at least one car rental contract

Rental car contracts are easy to enter into and require little in the way of commitment from the corporation. Choose a partner that has airport locations and a reputation for excellent customer service. You can save 5-10% very easily and can also negotiate frequent renter membership for all your employees. This will make them more efficient and enhance morale. You can also enter in to direct billing agreements at the same time that can make the jobs of your travelers and accounting staff much less stressful.

8. Understand group and meeting contracts

Airlines and hotels will discount your fares and rates when you have groups traveling together or meeting at a single destination from multiple points of origin. These meeting contracts can bring you airfare discounts of 2-10%, and if you have enough travelers on a single airline, you may be able to negotiate for free tickets to be awarded at contract completion. The minimum requirement is usually 10 travelers going to the same place at the same time. Some airlines have higher minimums so be sure to ask before a contract is generated. Hotels will discount their rates in a similar way with a minimum of 10 room nights. These discounts can range from 10% to a much higher discount depending upon occupancy rate and seasonal variances.

9. Use reporting to consistently improve metrics

Well managed travel programs require constant monitoring and financial controls to be properly leveraged. Insist on timely and customized reports that can be designed to bring you the information you need most. By receiving regular reporting on traveler behavior and provider contract performance, you will be in a better position to fulfill contract obligations, achieve cost reduction objectives and see where opportunities for future savings may lie.

10. Use all avenues to enhance traveler comfort and efficiency

Lastly, any well managed travel program will take in to account the comfort and productivity of their travelers. When travelers are comfortable, they can focus on their main priorities that help propel your business forward. If travelers are happy, they perform at a higher level. Ask if your travel agency can upgrade traveler status on a preferred airline. Look in to purchasing blocks of airport club passes so they can be used strategically during long and complex itineraries. There are many ways to reward travelers for the difficult and often grueling chore of travel. These kinds of rewards generate feelings of loyalty and increased productivity and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about how your company can better leverage their travel program to benefit your bottom line and the satisfaction of your executive level, feel free to contact me. I am delighted to point you in the right direction.

Limo Traveling Protocol

Traveling by limo is a special experience and people usually try it on their special occasions. Some are already accustomed with the protocol related to the limousine traveling; others just can’t follow the unwritten rules of traveling by limo, although they are not on the first limo ride. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that is all about common sense and nothing is too complicated. Going by these rules will stop you from embarrassing your friends and keep a good relationship with the rental limo company, for future events.

First of all, limos are for civilized people who want to act like adults. Display a proper behavior when you get into the limo. You should never dive or jump into a limo. It is not a swimming pool or your best friend’s car.

Men should act like real gentleman and hold the door open for women who are the first to get in. Women should step into the limo with grace and elegance minding their steps and long dresses. Remember that the limo is not a fort, so don’t crawl into it.

Limos are used by a lot of people during their lifetimes and many of them can’t stand the smell of smoke. For this reason, many limos are designated as non-smoking. You should respect the non-smoking sign and the other passengers that will use the limo after you. Moreover, if you smoke and smoking is not allowed you’ll be paying the damage and the special odor cleaning of the limo.

If you are in a limo that allows smoking, ensure you use the ashtrays that are provided. Never click cigarettes out the window while you are in a limo. Being in a limo, you are supposed to represent class and sophisticate taste and throwing butts out of the window is considered bad manners.

The limo is no garbage can, so don’t throw garbage on the floor, stain the seating or cause the limo any damage and smell. You should have your garbage put in designated containers into the limo.

When people are in limos, they will often engage in certain discussions or actions that could make the chauffeur feel awkward and sometimes distracted from driving. To prevent that, make sure you roll up the privacy screen. This will provide you and the chauffeur with the discretion needed.

Respect your chauffeurs with an appropriate attitude and words and you’ll get back respect and courtesy.

Don’t forget to tip the chauffeur. This is the way you thank someone for a job well done for you. They tried to provide you with a memorable experience and they deserve to be rewarded for that. If you had a great time with your limo rental, then you should tip them 20 percent, but if the service was not what you expected, give him only 10 percent. If the limo driver does a horrible job, shows up late and acts rude, then you give him no tip at all.

Follow this protocol and you will have a fun trip without any unfortunate and awkward situations during your limo ride.