(The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)
By Mitch Lipka
Aug 21When is the best time to book a trip to Walt Disney World? What are the niftiest travel apps? How do you arrange a speedy Plan B if your flight is delayed or canceled?
The answers to these and other travel questions from those in the know could make the difference between a pleasant journey and one you want to forget in a hurry.
During a Twitter discussion on Aug. 19 hosted by Reuters, a panel of experts fielded questions about travel. Below, we elaborate on the pundits' responses beyond the 140 characters allowed in a tweet.
The panel comprised Brian Kelly, who runs ThePointsGuy.com; Tim Winship, editor and publisher of FrequentFlier.com, and Jason Cochran, editor of Frommers.com.
(Read the entire Twitter thread at #ReutersTravel.)
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BOOK HOLIDAY TRAVEL?
About four to six months in advance will likely give you the best chance to get better prices. Within a month or two of major holidays, prices tend to rise considerably.
It's risky waiting for a last-minute deal. You could end up paying some of the highest fares, or not getting a flight at all.
AT THE AIRPORT, YOUR FLIGHT'S CANCELED. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Call the airline reservation service to see what other flights they can get you on. If there's a major cancellation, you'll likely encounter a crowd at the airline's customer service desk. If you have airline lounge access, try to find help there, too.
Consider using Twitter or other social media to get answers. But note: You're more likely to get a prompt reply if you have a large social media following.
If your plans are disrupted and an immediate solution isn't in the offing, feel free to show true emotion (without yelling or screaming). It can be discombobulating when you're expecting to travel somewhere but are stuck along the way. Airlines are able and willing to compensate customers who have been thrown off course.
WHEN'S BEST TO VISIT DISNEY WORLD OR A SIMILAR THEME PARK?
Visiting theme parks at off-peak times can make for a very different and considerably more pleasant experience, partly because you'll enjoy lower hotel rates.
If you can swing it, go while school is in session. A trip just before the winter holidays, for instance, will allow you to see the parks all decked out, while avoiding wall-to-wall crowds and multiple-hour-long waits for rides.
WHAT ARE SOME HANDY TRAVEL APPS?
Jason Cochran, editor of Frommers.com, recommends CityMapper. The app provides detailed transit information to help travelers get around in eight cities: New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and Berlin.
He also likes Voxer, which turns a smartphone into a walkie-talkie, so you can talk to anyone else on the app for free. HiConverter converts just about any currency or measure.
Brian Kelly, of The Points Guy, likes the Uber app for car services, HotelTonight to get last-minute hotel deals, and TripIt to make his itineraries.
WHAT ARE SOME MUST-PACK TRAVEL ITEMS?
Among the recommendations: An extension cord (for hotel rooms with too few outlets in the wrong places), foam ear plugs, plastic zipper bags, a mini travel charger with USB ports that allows a single outlet to charge multiple devices, and noise-cancelling headphones.
Also, don't forget the dryer sheets.
Why dryer sheets? A scented one can be used to take the stink out of a trash can or drawer; it's also handy for wiping lint off a computer screen or removing sticky stuff off a hotel iron.
The sheets, which could double up as bug repellent, may also repel other things - stuff one in a shoe, for example, to keep your suitcase fresh as a daisy.
(Editing by Beth Pinsker, Lauren Young and Bernadette Baum)