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How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle) Paperback – March 4, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The USA Today columnist draws on his 20 years as a travel advocate to give the inside scoop on how to navigate the world of travel, with detailed advice." --Publishers Weekly

"An indispensable road map....even seasoned travelers can learn something from this wide-ranging guide that hits on everything from finding the ideal suitcase to snagging a great airfare." --USA Today

"For less than $20 you can save yourself a thousand travel tears." --Detroit Free Press

"Whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or you travel regularly for business, this is a book you can use." --Library Journal

"Even the most seasoned travelers can use a helping hand, especially as traveling has become increasingly complicated....Elliott offers tips and advice — and plenty of them." --Chicago Tribune

"Christopher Elliott, the trusted consumer travel advocate...has compiled his tips and strategies into a book, whose spot-on subtitle promises to “Save Time, Money and Hassles” for travelers." --The Sacramento Bee

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT is a nationally acclaimed consumer advocate who is National Geographic Traveler's Editor-at-Large and resident ombudsman. He writes their "Problem Solved" column, a nationally syndicated weekly travel column, a regular USA Today column, and a daily blog focused on solving consumer travel problems. Elliott writes a weekly column for The Washington Post and is a personal finance blogger at Mint.com. He's hosted a cable TV show and a nationally syndicated radio show, and was an independent producer for NPR and a commentator for both NPR andMarketplace. As a pioneer in digital journalism, he founded the Internet's first business travel website in 1994 and began blogging in 1996, before it was called blogging. He became ABCNews.com's first travel columnist in 1997, and his work has since appeared in a variety of major news outlets, including CBS Interactive, CNN.com, MSNBC.com and USAToday.com. As an early adopter, he was one of the first journalists with a presence on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Currently, his family is on an open-ended journey around the world, covering the adventure for nationalgeographic.com and the Huffington Post.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426212739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426212734
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Corey Scott VINE VOICE on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a pretty well-seasoned traveler (I travel by air about 20 times per year), I was hoping that this book would have more "insider" tips and tricks to make traveling easier. While it's a good guide guide to get someone started, I found that it lacks any real information that couldn't be discovered on your own after traveling a few times. The author also has a bias against loyalty programs for some reason, suggesting that you stay away from them. Sure, on average you might (read: MIGHT) pay more by remaining loyal to only 1 company, but the advantages for many people will outweigh that by a long shot. For example, free access to airport lounges (otherwise up to $50 per visit), free checked bags (sometimes saving up to $300 each direction), free first class upgrades, drinks... the list goes on. The same goes for hotels, rental cars, etc.

Many other valuable tricks I've found over the years were not mentioned. Such as the fact that you can buy 1-day lounge passes on eBay for a fraction of what you'd pay at the desk. Or the ability to have your airline book you a backup flight if it looks like your existing flight might get cancelled, before it actually does. I think these facts are far more useful than knowing that you can ask for a pat-down instead of going through a body scanner - a fact which is clearly posted on signs when you stand in line.

3 stars for being a good guide for a beginner, but it falls far short of making you "the world's smartest traveler".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a moderately experienced traveler, I was looking in this book for some clever techniques that could elevate my game to the heights of (almost) "world's smartest".

Indeed, the table of contents was promising, seeming to cover all the bases. So, the book looked comprehensive. And from a veteran travel writer for Nat Geo, too. It had to be good.

But it wasn't. The advice in all sections is very basic. Even newbies who know how to read the fine print on their documents, and then exercise old-fashioned American common sense, won't need this book.

And I do mean "American". The book is entirely and solely for US residents. You want to know about rail travel? There's a comment or two about Europe, but the section on rail is really about Amtrak. If you're not traveling in the US, the book loses much of its limited utility.

It also reflects on Mr. Elliott's role as a travel ombudsman, so the best advice in the book is how to recover from abuse by airlines, hotels and other travel industry suppliers. If you've been treated badly or lost money, you might learn something about how to seek restitution.

The book had promise and could still be helpful to a US-based tourist who's timid about booking a domestic vacation. International? Forget it. Anyone with more gumption and farther horizons can get better travel advice in books by Rob Sanger or Edward Hasbrouck or even off the net.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While the book is easy to read, it is also very repetitive in the advice it gives. To me, almost all of it is common sense and can be summarized in a few sentences, no matter what topic the author talks about (e.g. booking flight, hotels, rental cars, cruises):

1. Always compare prices for everything (flights, hotels, rental cars, ...) from different sources before you book.
2. Always read the fine print of any contract you sign - it's important to need to know the details.
3. There is no solution that works for everyone (e.g. not one way to book hotels).

I don't travel a lot, so I was hoping to get some good advice, but I feel like I already knew ~90%. Also, there was little concrete advice. Most chapters give an somewhat broad overview over different options and end with "you have to figure out what works for you". I liked the chapter about Loyalty Programs (bottom line: they are probably not worth it), but that's not worth buying the book for.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a good book to pick up if you are planning a big trip or just want to save some money on a shorter weekend get-away-- or anything in between. It is full of up-to-date tips on traveling which are useful to a wide range of travelers, from budget do-it-yourselfers, to cruises, to package tours, and even gives you tips for surviving a timeshare sales event.

Christopher Elliot includes many useful Do's and Don'ts sidebars that he calls "SMART" and "NOT SMART" and many examples of what to do if your plans change or something goes wrong. In his "PROBLEM SOLVED" sections, he gives real examples of people who have written to him with problems with their travel and he has helped them with a solution.

How you read this book will depend if you're a glass half full or half empty person. There are so many problems (and solutions) detailed that I felt a little overwhelmed but in the end I think it's good to know what might go wrong so you can anticipate and be flexible when things happen.

The book is broken into three main sections and 22 chapters.

I - Before You Go
---------------------------
1. Find the Most Reliable Travel Advice
2. Book Your Next Trip
3. Make Sure Your Papers are in Order
4. Stay Healthy and Safe
5. Find the Best Travel Insurance Policy
6. Buy the Right Luggage
7. Manage your Travel Loyalty Program

II - Getting There
---------------------------
8. Rent a Car
9. Take a Road Trip
10. Make Sense of the World of Air Travel
11. Make the Most of a Terminal Visit
12. Plan a Cruise
13. Handle TSA and Travel Security

III - On the Ground
---------------------------
14.
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