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Feb. 13, 2020, 11:19 a.m. EST

Save time and money when you travel with these tips from the experts

What four experts said at the New York Times Travel Show

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By Richard Eisenberg

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“They pay terrible exchange rates or charge high fees,” Castellanos said. “And the worst place to get cash is at an airport currency counter.” Instead, he advised, “if you desperately need local cash, go to Customs and get on the other side of Security to find the proper bank-owned machines.”

Travel insurance? Frommer recommended always buying it for big-ticket travel like a safari or a cruise, but not for just a hotel room or a flight. Frommer’s favors purchasing a policy through an insurance market site like Squaremouth.com or Insuremytrip.com or Travelinsurance.com.

“Never buy travel insurance from your travel provider,” Frommer said. “If they go out of business, you’ve lost your insurance, too.”

Related: 6 inspired ideas for traveling smarter this year

Kepnes noted that although high-end credit cards offer customers travel insurance, “that only covers what you purchased on their cards and they don’t have high coverage limits.”

How to save time when you travel

Castellanos had a few wise words about saving time when you travel, too. “I think of travel as an exercise in time management,” he said.

When traveling abroad, Castellanos advised, get the U.S. Customs’ Mobile Passport app. “You answer the five [inspection] questions you’re supposed to answer when you’re returning to the U.S. and then you get a QR code [a bar code] on your phone,” said Castellanos. “When I touch down, I immediately make a beeline for the Mobile Passport line. Typically, I find no people in it.”

You can use Mobile Passport at 27 U.S. airports and cruise ports. The app is free but there’s also a $14.99/year paid version — Mobile Passport Plus — that stores your passport information into the app.

Castellanos also recommends saving time by buying a city sightseeing pass to bypass lines at museums and other local attractions. “Go to the tourist information office or ask your hotel for a sightseeing pass,” he said. “Some of the passes bundle sites to save you some cash. But more importantly, they can save you some time.”

You might also buy  The Sightseeing Pass  for one of 16 cities around the world, including Washington, D.C., San Francisco and London.

How to travel more sustainably

Traveling sustainably was a big topic at this year’s New York Times Travel Show. That’s not surprising, given the growing “flight shaming” movement leading more travelers to find ways to offset their carbon footprint on vacation.

Seth Kugel, the former Frugal Traveler columnist for the Times and author of “Rediscovering Travel: A Guide to the Globally Curious,” gave an entire lecture on how to be a sustainable traveler.

Also see: A majority of Americans view the coronavirus as ‘a real threat,’ but most think the U.S. government is ‘doing enough’

Kugel’s definition of sustainable travel: causing a positive, or the least possible negative impact, on the earth and on a local destination’s physical environment, society, culture and economy.

Flying is the least sustainable way to travel, since planes burn so much fuel, especially reaching altitude and descending. That’s why Kugel advised against taking short flights. Instead, he said, hop on a bus. “Sometimes, buses these days are pretty comfortable,” Kugel added. (During Frommer’s talk, she noted that the Kayak travel search engine can now tell you when you can take a train or a bus instead of a plane, to lessen your carbon footprint.)

Kugel also urged fliers to pack lighter. “If you put less luggage on a plane, that means the airlines save on fuel and you’ll save on baggage fees,” he said.

Before renting a car for a trip, Kugel said, call in advance the agency where you’ll pick up the car to specifically reserve a compact or subcompact.

Where to go on vacation in 2020

Finally, if you’re looking for ideas about where to travel in 2020, Frommer had a few recommendations here and abroad — some will likely surprise you. They came from her contributors’ Frommer’s “Best Places to Go in 2020” list:

The Bahamas:   “We chose this because a lot of people wrongly think the Bahamas is not open for business” due to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, said Frommer. While Dorian was perhaps the worst hurricane in history, only 30% of the 700 Bahamas islands were hit, Frommer said. “This is a nation that really depends on tourism and prices are plummeting there.” (Abacos and Grand Bahama still need time to rebuild, Frommer’s reports.)

Emilia-Romagna Italy:   Never heard of it? If you’re a foodie, you may want to make plans for a visit to Italy’s breadbasket, north of Florence. “Everybody wants to eat well and see where food is produced and you cannot go to a better place for it than Emilia-Romagna, Italy,” said Frommer. The area — which includes Bologna, Parma and Modena — is known for salumi, cheeses, handmade pastas, meat sauces and balsamic vinegar. There’s even a pork museum.

The Poles:  “Sadly, this is a climate change-related suggestion,” said Frommer. Warming oceans have made some itineraries to Antarctica and the Arctic possible. “You want to see this part of the world before it changes forever,” Frommer added. “It’s very expensive, but we think it’s worth it.” Cruises to Antarctica can cost $6,000 to $25,000, excluding airfare, the Frommer’s site notes.

Indiana:  “America’s newest national park is the Indiana Dunes National Park, off one of the Great Lakes,” said Frommer. “And Indianapolis is a cool city that’s having its two-hundredth anniversary this year. It has fabulous museums.”

Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of “How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis” and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS Moneywatch. Follow him on Twitter.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org , © 2020 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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