How to Skip the Longest Lines: Disney, Vegas, and More
This article was written by Stephanie Gaskell and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.
For many, the holidays are a time to do something special. But choosing to visit a popular tourist attraction means one thing—long lines. While it might seem like an occupational hazard, there are ways to skip the lines and avoid standing around with the masses. Here are some insider tips for getting VIP access.
Let technology lead the way
When it comes to skipping lines—there’s an app for that. In fact, there are several apps that will let you hire someone to stand in line for you. TaskRabbit is a service where you can hire people to do all kinds of tasks—including waiting in long lines (even at the DMV!). Another popular service is SameOleLineDudes, which currently only operates in New York City. But beware. Many businesses are pushing back against paid line-waiters. Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, Texas, which is famous for its lines around the block, recently banned professional line-waiters.
Look for a pass
Let’s say you’re trying to get into a major theme park where the lines are notoriously long. Many of them offer special packages that allow you to plan your trip in advance, so you don’t arrive to find yourself standing in line. Disney World has a Fastpass program that prints out a pass telling you exactly what time to come and enjoy the attraction. This frees you up to walk around or grab a bite in the meantime. Likewise, Sea World offers a service called Quick Queue Unlimited for just $19 that allows you to skip to the front of the line.
Use your connections
If you’re heading to the ritzy Las Vegas night club scene, there are a couple of ways to bypass the velvet ropes and get right in. One trick is to ask your concierge to book a reservation for you. As a local, they often have connections that can help you breeze right in, especially if a nice tip is involved. Another option for skipping lines is to purchase special passes through sites like Vegas.com or Best of Vegas.
Be a VIP
If you decide to forego the Elvis impersonators and head to the real thing, Graceland, the home-turned-museum of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tenn., allows visitors to purchase VIP tickets to skip the crowds. The King would approve. Let’s say you’re heading somewhere more subdued like The Vatican, a place where millions of visitors flock each year. You can avoid long lines here by buying a “fast-track” ticket through a travel agency, like Viator, which offers packages that let you bypass the lines at the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, and St. David’s. The lines at the Empire State Building are almost as vast as the views. Cut to the front by purchasing a VIP Main Deck Experience package that will take you right to the 86th floor observation deck with no waiting.
Now that you know the secrets, get out there and enjoy the sites without waiting. And once you’re at the front of the line, look for us…we want cutsies!
3 Easy Ways to Turn Your Holiday Spending into Rewards for a Spring Break Trip
This year, many holiday shoppers will begin and end their trips to the store during the cold, dark nights of winter, and spend days trudging through the snow. Wouldn't it be nice if you could use your holiday spending to earn a much-needed trip to somewhere much warmer or well-deserved spring break vacation? Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to capitalize on your holiday shopping to do just that. Earn rewards through spending The simplest way to earn rewards in the form of points and miles during the holidays is to use the right credit card. Since spring break is a peak travel period, shoppers may wish to avoid earning traditional frequent flier miles that come with severe limits on their use. Instead, it's worth considering credit cards that earn rewards that can be redeemed for statement credits towards any available flight, hotel, car rental, or cruise. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card offers double miles on all purchases, and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits toward travel purchases. Similarly, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus also offers double miles that can also be used as statement credits toward travel reservations. Finally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers double points for each dollar spent on dining or travel, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each toward travel reservations made through Chase's Ultimate Rewards travel center, or transferred to points and miles with travel providers. Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses You would have to do a lot of shopping to earn enough points and miles for a free trip during spring break, but you can boost your rewards balance quickly by applying for a new card with a generous sign-up bonus. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card currently offers 50,000 points, worth $625 towards travel reservations, to new applicants who spend $4,000 on new purchases within three months of opening an account. The Capital One Venture Rewards card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card both offer 40,000 bonus miles, worth $400, to new applicants who spend $3,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening. Utilize online shopping portals Most airline frequent flier programs and hotel loyalty programs offer an online shopping portal as a way for members to earn additional rewards. It's not uncommon to earn an extra 3–10 miles per dollar spent at popular retailers over the holidays. To use these portals, you first have to create an account. Then, you browse the retailers on the portal, and enter the site through its link. Finally, you make purchases the way you normally would, and earn additional points and miles beyond what you earn from your credit card rewards. Many airlines and hotels also offer a dining rewards program that allows you to earn more points and miles when you eat at participating restaurants. This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.
One "STEP" Every American Can Take to Stay Safe Overseas
For the second year in a row, The U.S. Department of State has issued a worldwide travel alert just as the holiday season is approaching. Last December, of course, it was in response to the hostage crisis in Sydney. This year the alert cites the threat of attacks from ISIS/Daesh, Boko Haram, and isolated terrorists in the wake of recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Mali, and the downing by ISIS/Daesh of a Russian plane over Egypt. Besides general common-sense travel tips, such as avoiding public demonstrations and crowded hubs and staying up-to-date on local news and warnings from the country or municipality you’re visiting, the State Department recommends one very concrete "step" every American travel can easily take: Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive travel alerts, find help in an emergency, and use the Smart Traveler app to access maps and the locations of U.S. embassies. We want you to continue traveling, and we urge all Budget Travelers to enroll. TALK TO US! Has the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or Smart Travel App helped you in an emergency overseas?
How to Save 30 Percent on Holiday Flights
Haven’t booked your Christmas or New Year’s travel yet? Don’t despair: There may still be bargains to be found. Our friends at Hopper.com, whose data science team analyzes trends to predict the best times to book and fly, tell us that flying on the Monday before Christmas, December 21, can save you up to 30 percent compared with flying later that week. (It’s also possible to save big by departing on Christmas Eve and either returning Christmas Day or on or after January 5.) New Year’s travelers can save up to 25 percent by flying on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. TALK TO US! Have you found airfare savings by being flexible with your departure/arrival dates this holiday season?
Resources for American Travelers in France
We stand in solidarity with the brave citizens of France and with those affected not only by acts of terror in Paris but also the unthinkable attacks in Beirut and with all those who continue to suffer in the ongoing conflict in Syria. In the firm belief that the world continues to move forward toward a more peaceful and just future for all, we offer safety tips from the U.S. State Department for U.S. travelers: The State Department urges U.S. citizens traveling abroad to maintain “a high level of vigilance,” which includes being aware of local events, monitoring media and local news sources, and when appropriate, limiting activities to the essentials. Airports and train stations in France are open, but travelers can expect delays because of heightened security measures. Contact transportation companies (airlines, railroads) to stay up to date. Some border points may also be subject to heightened security and restricted movement. If you’re planning on using public transportation such as buses, the metro, or trams, visit ratp.fr for the latest information. The State Department offers the following links for more information: * See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and France Country Specific Information. * Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. * Contact the U.S. Embassy in Paris, located at 2 Avenue Gabriel 75008 Paris, at +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22 or by email at Citizeninfo@state.gov. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22. * Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). * Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook.