Welcome to a weekly feature on the Delta Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
A while back I had a post about watching your Delta seats like a hawk as you hit the different days that medallions have an “auto” shot at upgrades and some of the best economy comfort and exit seats open up (as they go to 1st class). But that is just about seats. What else matters and why?
I cannot tell you the number of times I have read about some family getting to the airport only to find something has gone horribly wrong with their flight plans. Either the flights have changed times or routes or something that means their original flights and times are not flying. They may have just missed the “new” ones or have 8 hours now to sit in the airport. If they had checked 7 days out there would be no stress and plenty of time to adjust other things like cars and hotels if major changes have happened.
Hotels. This is much less common, but hotels have issues. Construction. Conventions and downgrades. Storms or power issues or even just closing down or changing to a new chain name (like it is now a La Quinta and it was a Ramada before or something like that – it does happen more than you think). If you are checking 7 days out, there should be time for the chain to fix it or if you booked with something like Travelocity they can have time to help you. Then, don’t forget the night before to check out an upgrade (see E16 post in Essentials tab).
Speaking of that, a 3rd party site, or a travel agent or even if you booked with Ultimate Rewards points will use an intermediary to book for you. Take my recent trip down to Grand Cayman where I spent UR points to book it. Chase uses a travel agency and they in turn booked with Fun Jet who then in turn booked with the resort who then in turn booked my dive package. I called 7 days out to confirm dives and the dive place said the hotel did not have diving on my package. Ruh-Roh! It took some time and two days, but all the people up and down the food chain got it done. Much better than showing up at the resort and dealing with it from down there!
Cars. I book a long way out. I want to make sure they don’t sell out of cars when I need one. But you can cancel cars, under most situations 1-3 days out without penalty (be sure and check before you book). So, 7 days out, check if there are much better discount codes and once again start at a place like the Ultimate Rewards mall to compare prices or use something like TopCashBack and then to the car site direct and use codes. I saved myself $150 on my last rental by following these steps and it works time and again! Lastly insurance. Have you checked to make sure you are safe wherever you rent and NOT just collision but do you need to add the personal liability rider (not covered by credit cards). Important things to check on that are low stress days before the trip and high stress at the rental counter.
Maps, restaurants, coupons and more. This is also the time to start printing all your maps and other coupons you might need. They will be current and will get your mind thinking of all the places you want to go and not miss. There have been many times I have had a short visit to some place and had to pick where I wanted to go; this is the time to confirm all those places. In the case of some places, say a tour of the Colosseum in Rome, printing a pass online can save you hours in line and this close you should be able to check the weather to lock in the best day for that kind of a tour. Months out you are totally guessing.
Credit cards and more. I have a great check list that are almost all reader suggestions, in a PDF page (see E14), that you can print out and use to check off all the last minute things you want to do before you travel. Picking what cards to use, ones with NO international upcharge (like Chase INK or Sapphire or Barclay’s Arrival to name a few) if traveling outside the US, and that you and your wife don’t have the same cards on the same accounts if married is always a good idea (just in case). Same goes for cash. How much do you need and how much will you convert to whatever currency.
Communication. The last one to consider is staying in touch. Have you checked your phone if it will work where you are going and or do you even want to add an international calling plan option to your phone. Perhaps the best choice is a web based calling plan that can move with you or one like Skype. For me, I put my phone in airplane mode and don’t switch back until I land back in the USA. Either way, best not to be wishing you had looked into communication options once you are “over there”! Also another important reminder when booking internationally, and definitely longer than 7 days out, is your passport expiration date, make sure you have at least 6+ months on your departure date!
So those are my rookie suggestions you should make sure you confirm 7 days before you travel. Have I missed any we should take a look at as well – comment and let us all know! – René
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