Advice to new travelers

Are you a new traveler? Just graduating college, starting a new career which requires travel? If so I have a couple important pieces of advice:

Start accumulating frequent flyer miles now, and have a strategy for doing so.

All major airlines have some type of frequent flyer program for rewarding passengers. Make sure you sign-up for each airline you plan to fly before you take you first flight, getting miles posted retroactively can sometimes be a problem. You may not think you will ever get any value out of the miles now, but if you start accumulating them early you could earn award flights, upgrades to business and first class, and other perks reserved for frequent flyers.

Most airlines participate in alliances with other airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and even online merchants. By choosing one frequent flyer program to concentrate your miles you earn rewards even faster. As an example, if you were to join United Airlines program you have the ability to credit miles to the program even when you fly qualifying flights on USAir, Lufthansa and a bunch of other airlines. And when the time comes to redeem your miles you can select flights on United's partners, increasing your chances of finding the flights you want.

There are several large airline alliances, Star Alliance, oneworld and Sky Team, research the carriers in each alliance to see which one meets your needs. A great resource for frequent flyers is FlyerTalk.com, an online community that offers tips and advice to maximize your miles.

Hotels, car rental companies, credit cards and even Amtrak offer rewards programs as well, be sure to include them in your strategy as well.

One last note, most miles have an expiration if you don't continue to have activity in the program, watch the dates carefully, and pay attention to any program changes. Even if you aren't scheduled to take a flight you can almost always add miles by making a small purchase through the airlines shopping mall links, even a .99 iTunes purchase can qualify.

For more information please feel free to contact me at doug@davaulttravel.com

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