The Unseen Safety Net: Exploring the World of Travel Insurance with Richard Aquino from Allianz

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Ever wondered about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ safeguard of your travel dreams? In this episode, we journey into the realm of travel insurance with special guest Richard Aquino from Allianz. Richard demystifies the complexities and showcases the indispensability of travel insurance, especially when it comes to guaranteeing peace of mind on your vacations. From a detailed discussion on health coverage overseas to highlighting the extraordinary measures taken during unique circumstances, this episode is a must-listen for every traveler who seeks a worry-free journey.

We also bring you the week’s hottest travel deals with Jessica Deverson, our resident ‘deals guru.’ We deep dive into irresistible offers from Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Viking Cruises. Later, we share a poignant firsthand account of a life-saving medical evacuation operation and ponder the process of finding the perfect hotel for your stay. And just for a fun touch, we debate some airplane etiquette, including the contentious issues of seat reclining and armrest ownership. Buckle up, it’s an episode packed with valuable insights, light-hearted banter, and unforgettable travel stories!


Mike Putman: Hello everyone, I’m Mike Putman. Uh, we are missing James in action, so hopefully he’s okay, but I’m sure he’ll be joining us here shortly. Uh, but I didn’t wanna delay our special guest that we’ve got today, who’s been patiently waiting. And um, I’d like to welcome to the pod Richard Aquino. He is the Vice President and head of sales of Allianz.

One of, uh, the industry’s great partners. So Richard, welcome to the podcast.

Richard Aquino: It is great to be here. Thanks for the invite.

Mike Putman: Well, great. Well, um, you know, uh, we wanna take this opportunity. I. Today to learn a little bit more about you, as well as learn a little more about, uh, the travel insurance component, uh, and how travel insurance helps so many travelers out there. But before we dive into that, I wanna, uh, just find out a little bit more about you and your travel habits.

So, I’m gonna ask you some, uh, what we call rapid fire questions. And again, this is just to kind of, uh, get it for our listeners to get a sense of, of who you are and how you travel. Our ethos of this podcast is, uh, how to travel better, how to see more of the world, and do it in a responsible way. So, um, that, that’s a lot of what we talk about and, and travel insurance is certainly a big part of that.

But first I’m gonna ask you just some few, a few fast questions about personal likes or dislikes or how you travel so we can learn a little bit more about you, Richard. Okay. Alright. So, uh, just quick, uh, answers, uh, that, you know, first thing that comes to your head. How many countries have you visited personally?

Richard Aquino: well over 15.

Mike Putman: And by the way, we, we did not prep Richard for these. So these are, uh, these are definitely, some of these might require a little more thinking, but 15 is a lot of countries to have visited. Richard, are you an aisle or a window guy? Aisle, yeah. Myself as well. Give it a little more leg room there. As long as you don’t get your knee out in the, uh, aisle and get run over by the beverage cart, which I’ve had happen.

I imagine you’ve probably had some travel insurance claims over that.

Richard Aquino: uh, yes, actually.

Mike Putman: Are Richard, are you a guy that plans your travel well in advance or are you more spontaneous?

Richard Aquino: Well in advance, well, for business, I’m more spontaneous for leisure, uh, uh, for my, with my family, a little more planning.

Mike Putman: That’s good to hear, especially from an insurance company. You wanna make sure that, uh, you got the proper people with proper planning in place, uh, uh, with that mindset. When you travel, would you rather, would you take a hike or maybe visit a museum?

Richard Aquino: Uh, hike.

Mike Putman: Hike. Okay. And if, if you purchased a favorite souvenir or.

Something that’s, you know, really memorable from one of your trips. Uh, your most memorable thing that you’ve, you’ve brought back home.

Richard Aquino: Oh, I think, uh, good question. snow globe from Europe for, at Christmas time I brought back for, uh, one of my daughters.

Mike Putman: Okay, I gotta tell you a quick story. I bought my, wife, a really expensive snow, snow globe, and I don’t know where it was, but it was some, it was somewhere where I was flying and, um, wasn’t thinking at the time. Put it in my check, uh, my carry-on luggage and t s a took it from me. I didn’t have time to go back and check it in, so I lost a very expensive snow globe.

So hopefully some t s a agent’s kid has that, uh, that beautiful piece. Hopefully I’m, I’m sure you check yours in being a thought out planned person.

Richard Aquino: Yes, it was checked.

Mike Putman: Alright. Now, when you travel, do you check in your bags or do you carry on typically?

Richard Aquino: I try to carry on as much as possible.

Mike Putman: Alright. And then when you travel, do you take books or do you have a Kindle that, that you travel with?

Richard Aquino: I’m a movie guy, so

Mike Putman: Oh, neither.

Richard Aquino: movies.

Mike Putman: All right. Well, good. Well, good. Well, thanks for, uh, thanks for answering those questions. Uh, that’ll help our listeners get a little more idea of, uh, more about yourself and your travel habits.

So, so Richard, tell us why should someone purchase travel insurance?

Richard Aquino: Well, I think it’s protecting your investment, right? It, travel insurance does a lot of things for you. If you, you know, at Allianz we have really. Really strong products that are built with a lot of different benefits for, you know, for things of cancellation, but also inconveniences along the way.

So there is, you know, I always say there’s human nature and mother nature when you’re traveling. So you’re protecting your investment if you have to cancel your trip for some reason. I always say don’t lose it. Uh, reuse it, right? So if you’re, doing a cruise or, or even, you know, heading down to, to, uh, Disney World, I.

You know, if you can’t go for, for a reason, whether it’s a, a broken ankle or a loved one got sick and you have to cancel, you know, get your money back and, go at another time, that, that I think is key. And then of course there’s all the, the things that happen on the trip when it comes to, uh, you know, travel delays, uh, in today’s, uh, in today’s world.

Mike Putman: And that happens more often than not, unfortunately. So Richard, can you give our audience, um, an idea of scope of products? I mean, and I know you have some kind of light coverages and super deluxe coverages. Can you help explain kind of the range of products that you offer?

Richard Aquino: Yes, I can. And, and I’ll tell you, I mean, this is why I say, uh, it’s great to use a travel advisor, right? Because Travel Advisor one is. You know, the trips are complicated, travel’s complicated. If, if you’re taking a cruise, there’s, uh, there’s dozens and dozens of cabins to choose from. But also in, in insurance there’s, different products to choose from.

And there is, we have, you know, we have, we have, uh, you know, strong products and we have really premier products, if you will. All built to really cover, you know, the benefit levels depending on, on where you’re traveling to and, and what you’re comfortable with. meaning, you know, the amount of coverage that, uh, that, that you want on your journey.

Mike Putman: How much you wanna leave exposed, I guess is another way of thinking. Thinking along those lines. You know, one, one question and, just kind of as a general answer I. When Americans, and we, and we’ve got a large international audience, uh, as well, but we get this question a lot when Americans travel abroad and they have medical situations, and I know you can’t speak holistically, but in general are, does American health insurance cover Americans when they’re outside the US?

Richard Aquino: That’s, that’s a difficult question to answer because there’s so many different policies. What I will say is years ago as I think healthcare changed in America, meaning the, the, the plans kind of, you Americans had more choice, right? So some cover you in network and that’s considered out of network.

Some cover you in a geographic region, like the next three states might be covered where you live, but outside of those states might not. So, it’s really a tough question to, to answer. I, I will say that. What Allianz Travel Insurance does is it’s not just covering the cost, but it’s also, you know, finding the right hospital, talking to a global assistance company that can assist you, you know, on, on what things are called or where to go or what, uh, facility is the best one equipped near your location.

So, so, To answer your question is I think healthcare coverage is complicated in the states, and I think you’re, you know, to protect yourself from, uh, whether it’s a ma something major or just some questions. It’s good to have, uh, uh, an Allianz policy with you. I.

Mike Putman: Sure. And talk a little bit if you will, about what I call the in intangible value of travel insurance. And that is just having that piece, giving a customer traveler peace of mind when they travel. I mean, how important is that as a component of the travel insurance?

Richard Aquino: I think it’s key. I mean, my, I have a, I have three kids and a wife, and, and if you think when I travel, you know, I, I don’t wanna worry about, if one of my kids fall down and get, get six stitches and where to go and the cost, I mean, I just wanna know that there’s a global assistance number I can call, I can get the right help if I have to come home, I can get assistance, whether it’s, you know, through the airport or, or getting on a, specially a special seat on a flight home.

There’s just so much to me, comfort, knowing that, that if something goes poorly, Travel insurance steps in, and, you know, we talked earlier about all the, the travel delays and weather delays. I mean, if you delayed it in an airport overnight or you need to get some help with a flight coming home, I mean, those things are key and happen all the time.

And it’s, nice to make one call instead of 66.

Mike Putman: Yeah, that’s for sure. And you hear, you know, sometimes, uh, we’ve heard clients come back and say, you know, I don’t know if that travel insurance was worth it. ’cause I never used it. I didn’t fall down, I didn’t break a leg, I didn’t cancel my trip. But I think it’s that intangible of having peace of mind that lets you totally relax.

You know? ’cause when you’re on, when you’re on a holiday or vacation, you’re, you’re getting away from your normal lifestyle. You’re getting away from your, from the grind typically. And, you know, part of that allure is having peace of mind that you just don’t have to worry about things. And, and, and candidly, I think this is why these all-inclusive resorts are so popular is you pay one price upfront and you get, you know, drinks and included foods included, so you don’t have any other worries.

And I think by adding travel insurance, and especially with a, a strong partner like Allianz, that peace of mind is, uh, invaluable and, and really lets people let go and, and, enjoy their vacation.

Richard Aquino: It. It is so true. It’s so true.

Mike Putman: So, Richard, do you have any, without exposing anything confidential, do you have any war stories you can tell us about unusual coverages or.

Richard Aquino: we’d have to extend the podcast for a, a few hours just to name ’em all. But, you know, there’s things that, are, uh, small that I hope that when I hear about ’em, you know, a, a simple, you know, a, a travel delay or. I mean, people were trying to get to the honeymoon and or to the wedding, actually a destination wedding.

But you know, there’s, there’s things like that where assistance come in. But one of the, you know, stories also is, uh, the volcano a few years ago that went off where, you know, we had a couple clients who actually got injured from a burn that, that had to be hospitalized. And this is. Know, this doesn’t happen all the time, but where, you know, we, we send, uh, of course we’re talking to their doctors.

We send the nurses, we work to get ’em home, on a special flight. So, so I, I think I’m showing you the, kinda the breadth of, it’s really interesting things when you have 26 people trying to get to a destination wedding and some storms roll through. You’re trying to coordinate with the airlines and then you have major things that happen where really it, it’s, it’s unexpected.

Where, where a lot of help is needed. And I go back to, you said is, is the peace of mind when you’re traveling. You know, you hope not to use it. Kinda like car insurance. You know, when you get in your car, you don’t say, Hey, I’m gonna get in an accident. I didn’t get in an accident.

You know, you try not to, you try not to.

Mike Putman: That’s great. Well, listen, Richard, I really do appreciate you taking the time outta your busy schedule to be with us today. And, um, I’m sure you’ve enlightened our listeners about the value of, of travel insurance and, uh, specifically with, uh, your products at Allian. So thanks so much for joining us and uh, we hope to have you back soon.

Richard Aquino: I enjoyed it. Let’s travel.

Mike Putman: Alright, thanks. Alright, so this week we’re bringing back our very own deals, guru Jessica Devon. Uh, she’s gonna enlighten us with the top hottest travel deals that are available this week. So welcome back, Jessica.

Jessica Deverson: Thanks for having me.

Mike Putman: We’ve been anywhere exciting this past week.

Jessica Deverson: No, not this past week. I haven’t, well, I guess New York last week, but

Mike Putman: Oh yeah. Is it hot in, um, sweltering in South Florida.

Jessica Deverson: Um, yes, I, uh, the heat index has regularly been at 1 0 6, so sweltering is an understatement.

Mike Putman: But you get those ocean breezes though, don’t you?

Jessica Deverson: Yeah not breezy enough to take it down from 1 0 6 but it’ll do.

Mike Putman: Well, let’s, let’s tell our listeners about some great deals where they can escape the heat for the summer or maybe get back into the heat in the wintertime.

Jessica Deverson: Right and all this heat across everywhere and people still, you know, want their Caribbean and beach vacations and pools and you know, just as long as you have a drink in your hand and somewhere fun to be and you know, no worries, then I think the weather and the, temperature is no problem.

Mike Putman: Yeah, well, you know, I, I live in South Carolina and typically, and, and I’ve traveled to the Caribbean a lot during summertime and while it’s hot there, it’s not as hot as it is in South Carolina.

Jessica Deverson: Definitely same, same in South Florida.

Mike Putman: What you got for us?

Jessica Deverson: So I have three cruise deals this week. All of many of the cruise lines really want you to kind of send off summer in a big way. Send whether you’re booking close in and trying to get squeeze in that last little bit of summer vacation or you’re starting to plan for.

Fall trips, um, winter in festive season trips or looking at next year to get the, get cruises on your calendar. All of the cruise lines right now have really great deals. So first off is N C L Norwegian Cruise Line, and they’re having a big end of summer splash kind of offer with 35% off of all cruises.

Um, and that’s anything from whale watching in Alaska and a nice, you know, nice cool temperature there to heading to, uh, Europe and Hawaii. Obviously the Caribbean. Um, now’s a great time to book because it’s 35% off all cruises and free airfare for the second guest. And the best part is you can also enjoy free, unlimited open bar, free specialty dining free excursions, and a few more options.

So, um, really great offer there from Norwegian. One of our, you know, favorite contemporary cruise lines.

Mike Putman: Yeah, I was on a N C L ship not too long ago and they have really upped their game. It’s a very high quality standards are, are, have certainly been elevated, so that is a, a great deal and a great cruise line.

Jessica Deverson: Yeah, absolutely. NCLs definitely up their game. And if you have a chance to stay in the Haven, I know James has raved about it before, but the Haven is amazing, so.

Mike Putman: I’ve only heard, I haven’t been in there.

Jessica Deverson: That’s your next

Mike Putman: Yeah.

Jessica Deverson: Then

Mike Putman: That’s it.

Jessica Deverson: um, next up we have Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, a fan favorite, and they also have an end of summer offer. 30% off every guest plus kids sale free on select sailing. So really great deal there. Every guest gets a discount and kids are free. And if you’re booking in summer, I mean, you know, that’s a great time to get the kids on board for free.

And then, you know, also thinking of vacations coming up. Plus right now there’s a bonus offer, which is up to another $150 instant savings on, um, select 2023 and 2024 cruises. And on top of that, if you book a balcony or suite, you can receive a specialty dining experience for two. Now that is only with certain, um, travel agency.

So you’ll have to check with your favorite travel advisor to see if they have that special offer. But if when you book a balcony or suite, you can get specialty dining. And then on top of all that, yes, all of these are combinable and stackable. You’ll also receive up to a hundred dollars onboard credit across all categories on nearly any sailing.

So, like I said, amazing offers all combinable for Royal Caribbean. So definitely a great time to book.

Mike Putman: So let me play that back to you. 30% off the first two passengers, kids go free specialty dining for certain categories, potential for dollars off. This is good for 2023 and 2024 sailings.

Jessica Deverson: Yep. And an additional a hundred up to a hundred dollars onboard credit,

Mike Putman: They even forgot about that. Geez. I

Jessica Deverson: yep.

Mike Putman: so they’re basically paying you to go on a cruise, it sounds like.

Jessica Deverson: Correct. Just pay the taxes and you’ll be fine.

Mike Putman: What an awesome deal.

Jessica Deverson: And then last but not least Viking Cruises has really been milking their 25th anniversary. Um, they’ve started last year with their 2020 fifth anniversary celebrations, but the sales are still going. So, I mean, keep taking advantage of these offers while they’re there. And biking cruises, if you don’t know, they’re, they’ve been voted number one for ocean cruise. Expedition cruise, um, which is amazing to cover all three of those and still be voted number one by readers of, you know, travel and leisure and Conde NAS travelers. So, Obviously they’re doing something right. And with their 25th anniversary sale ocean Cruises, you get up to free Airfare plus Special Cruise, Faires Plus double pass guest discounts.

And then for Rivers and Expeditions you’ll get up to free airfare, special cruise faires, and really low deposits of $25. So, great easy way with those low deposits to lock in your cruises. At only 25 bucks. I mean, book everything. So, uh, Viking Cruises has that sale going on and they’re closing out summer with big deals as well.

Mike Putman: I mean, you could take options on several different cruises and just kind of decide later on what it is you want and if you lose the $25 per cabin or per person, so what

Jessica Deverson: Exactly.

Mike Putman: heck of a deal? Well, it’s the, the cruise market is, uh, you know, the things that I’ve been seeing is, uh, low availability throughout the summer.

And higher than normal prices. So they’re, they must be predicting a soft, uh, fall, winter season to have these kind of aggressive pricing out there already. What do you think I.

Jessica Deverson: Yeah, could be. Um, but the cruise lines are all reporting great, strong numbers. So, um, you know, may perhaps, you know, they’re trying to close out these last couple cabins for this year or front loading for next year. But either way, um, you know, they’re all reporting great numbers, very strong, um, very strong capacity.

So definitely don’t, you know, take advantage of these offers while you can, because just because there is an offer doesn’t mean you’re going to get. At the cabin you want or the category you want. So,

Mike Putman: Good point. Yeah.

Jessica Deverson: it’s, it’s always better to book early and get exactly what you want.

Mike Putman: Yeah, and, and I’ve never said this on this podcast, but I’m telling you now is a buying event. You need to be, if you’re thinking about going on a cruise next year, or e even later, this, this year, now is the time to call your travel agent and to make your bookings because those are exceptional values.

So, um, Jessica, thank you so much for being on and, and for bringing our listeners those great deals. Uh, fantastic work.

Jessica Deverson: Absolutely. Thanks for having me and we’ll talk again soon.

Mike Putman: All right, thanks. That was Jessica. Jessica, Devon, our deals guru. Alright, so it’s great, uh, that our co-host, Mr. James Ferrara, has joined us. Hello James.

James Ferrara: Hello, I, I’m fashionably late as usual now, Mike and I, I, yeah, I had a, uh, a conflict and, uh, Mike was kind enough to, um, speak with our guest to begin, and, uh, Richard was great and such an important topic. But coming out of that, Mike, it reminds me of a story that you and I share. Even though we both have our own companies, we actually had a mutual customer and they found travel insurance to be lifesaving.

Do you remember that?

Mike Putman: I do, I do. Now that you mention it. Um, yeah, this was back probably six years ago. We had a client that was based in the uk and we’ve got, you know, we’ve got, travelers really all over the world. This isn’t just a, you know, we’re not just a US based company. But this particular client had gone to the Philippines and I think it was with his girlfriend or his wife, And unfortunately had a terrible incident while riding a scooter.

Had a very significant brain injury. And, uh, they happened to call into the customer service center and, um, our agents said, you know, how can we help you? And they said, we gotta get outta here. Boyfriend or hu or husband, again, I can’t remember the context, uh, has just had a, a very traumatic brain injury.

Luckily they had emergency medical evacuation insurance coverage. So, uh, we were able to coordinate a helicopter to go pick that person up because they were on a remote island in the Philippines. It was too small to land a jet in. And that helicopter picked them up, took them to Manila, where we had another, we had a private jet waiting with a medical professional.

Flew them all the way from the Philippines on a, again, a private jet back to the uk. very significant, probably lifesaving coverage. Uh, and it cost the, uh, end client nothing. Because they

James Ferrara: But the total bill was,

Mike Putman: the total bill was over $250,000. It was, you know, Very significant. And you gotta think, alright, you got an airplane, you gotta put a medical professional in there, you gotta get a helicopter. And then once you’re done dropping the, the patient off or the client off, then you gotta deadhead that plane all the way back to wherever it’s stationed.

So yeah, big, big cost. And a another reason travel insurance is a good thing to have.

James Ferrara: Obviously an extreme example, but not so uncommon and. You can be sure that those folks, when everything was better and, and everyone was well, they didn’t sit back and say, gee, maybe I shouldn’t have spent that a hundred bucks on travel insurance. Right? I mean, the value to them was crystal clear. And I think that’s the lesson here.

Don’t, don’t be foolish and, uh, have peace of mind and Get yourself covered for a few bucks and it’s the right thing to do. So, listen, let’s go to, uh, maybe some happier stuff. I know we’ve talked a lot, uh, recently about all-inclusive resorts and about flights. Boy, we’ve been talking a lot about flights.

It’s on everyone’s mind. Air travel, and we’ve shared some strategies and some hacks, uh, for flights for sure. Let’s go to hotels because you and I do a tremendous amount of travel. The same is true of our guests, right? And together we are the biggest traveling tribe, uh, in the world. I. An issue we have to deal with all the time is finding a good hotel and what does that even mean, right?

A hotel that’s good for us at that particular moment. Sometimes I wanna be pampered and luxurious. Other times I’m on an in-n-Out business trip and all I care about is, you know, location and cleanliness. So whatever it happens to me at the moment, the appropriate hotel, the best possible hotel. And the best possible rate for the hotel, the best possible cost.

So, I thought we’d spend a few minutes talking about what we do and the strategies that we know about. And the first strategy, just let me get it out there, is you should be working with a professional travel advisor. Hello? I mean, this is just, you know, Stupid. Now it doesn’t cost you anything.

Please tell me. I don’t have to keep explaining that. It doesn’t cost you anything. Right? The hotel plays the travel advisor and it’s the same rate whether you go directly to the hotel or you go to a travel advisor. So why not have the help? And they’re trained. They know what all the options are. They know what to look for.

They have all the tools that you don’t have. I mean, you can do it yourself. You could go online and spend hours and hours and hours looking, and even still, you won’t get to the best result, not the same result that a, a travel advisor will get to. But if you choose to go that route there are some things you should know.

And I’m gonna start this off by saying, by talking about. Finding a hotel that’s right for you. You can’t possibly go in and look up every hotel in London, for example, right? There are tens of thousands of them. You can use a good booking engine to narrow your search results a bit, but you’re still gonna wind up with hundreds of choices.

So you use filtering and sorting tools and both. Mike’s companies, all of the travel clubs they operate have this on their platform. And Intel Travel does also very powerful hotel search tools. But still you’re gonna be left with a lot of options. Then maybe you wanna filter by traditional hotels versus sort of Airbnb style.

Short term rentals, right? Apartments and, and condos that will help you narrow down results. But even this, you still have a lot of options. Reviews are big. Filter right Mike? I mean that’s really important in today’s world.

Mike Putman: I kind of bring reviews in, in, in, in my personal process later on. You know, I, I try to narrow. Look, when I’m going to a city, I’m looking for generally four or five star hotels, and I use that as a sort feature. And if it’s a crazy expensive city, like Tokyo as an example, I might say, alright, I’m gonna lum it a little bit and stay in a three star hotel.

Uh, but that’s kind of the first thing that I do is I, I find out where I wanna be in a city and hopefully I’ve got a general idea, kind of, you know, like a community or do you wanna be on the east side or west side? Something along those lines. And then, um, That refines the search down. And then I say I, I’m looking for four and five star hotels.

And then, uh, and then I look at if, if you’re a member of a travel club, then you have access to rates that you’re not gonna find on Expedia or Um, these are called close user group rates, and they’re not for the general public. But if you’re a member of a, of a travel club, you will have access to these And what I do

James Ferrara: Or if you work with an in Intel travel agent also,

Mike Putman: correct.


James Ferrara: we provide those, we provide those to our advisors as well. But again, these are rare and you only find them through certain channels. As Mike said, I.

Mike Putman: Yeah. I wouldn’t say they’re, they’re not necessarily rare, but the channels are very specific in which the hotels choose to distribute these rates. Um, For me like if it’s a four or five star hotel and it’s in the, you know, Mayfair district in London as an example, I’m gonna be okay with it.

And, and that’s how I search. And then once I get it narrowed down to maybe two or three properties, and, and generally what I do is I’ll look at the value of the hotel. So, um, you know, a lot of the sites will have comparison tools. It’ll say this is the public rate. Um, or your int inte travel agent can do this as well.

This is the public rate and then this is the special rate that we’ve got. And then compare, you know, what creates the largest value. Narrow it down to two or three hotels, and then I’ll start looking at the reviews to make sure you know, there’s not construction going on or somebody didn’t have a bad experience.

’cause you could still have a five star hotel with not such great experience.

James Ferrara: So I find reviews tricky, right? Because. You don’t really know who’s writing those reviews. Let’s assume they’re all legit. Although there is that problem too, that’s been in the news lately that hotels and competitive hotels have been caught, you know, loading up reviews, including negative reviews against each other.

So there’s that issue, but even beyond that, let’s assume they’re all legit. My issue with reviews is I don’t know the person writing that review. When they say luxury, they may not mean the same thing that I mean as luxury. When they say clean, when they say spacious, you know, it’s not really scientific.

So you do have to dig in a little bit and get kind of a consensus from the reviews. And also we each have our own values that are important when we’re looking for. Hotel, and like I said, those can change from trip to trip depending upon, you know, I’m traveling with my family for leisure versus me traveling for business.

But one of the things I tend to look at as I’m narrowing my search and I’m getting to price, is I look at square footage of the room. Because to me as an American, it’s just the way I like to travel. I like some space. Particularly in, in parts of the world, hotel rooms are much smaller than we’re used to in the us so I compare square footages and look for a little more space when I’m narrowing my search.

I also, and I’ve shared this tip as it relates to restaurants before, but you can’t search anymore. Like best hotels in Paris because there’s so much digital marketing going on and online sort of, uh, a paid content and manipulation that you can’t really get an answer to those kinds of queries.

You’re just gonna get a lot of marketing stuff. A lot of advertising essentially. But if you pick a local. Publication that has some journalistic integrity. Like if you were traveling to New York and you picked the New York Times and you searched in the new New York Times for best hotels in New York, you’re gonna get an article written by a real reporter and probably they do it every year.

So you’ll see it for the last several years. And in that article you are going to get. A local expert’s view of the best hotels in that city. So I recommend that you look for that kind of review written in a journalistic way by a good publication local to where you want to travel to. And you won’t find every, you know, they, they’ll do these articles and maybe only list five or six hotels, you know, describe them in detail, but, Those could be some really interesting leads on hotels that have more character and are a little less traveled.

You know, they’re not gonna be big brand big box hotels. They’re gonna be something a lot more interesting. So that, that’s a technique that I do use.

Mike Putman: Yep. And that that certainly, that certainly can work as well.

James Ferrara: But Mike, you’re so good at price. How do you do it? You’re so good at finding these, these hidden deals.

Mike Putman: You know, and, and it’s really, there is, uh, with hotels again, and it’s, this doesn’t make a logical sense, but there is a, a little trick that most people don’t know about. Uh, and it’s getting access to these closed user group rates. And again, travel clubs have access to ’em. Tele travel has access to these too, and these are rates that you’re not gonna find everywhere else.

I’m planning a trip to Tokyo, uh, which I mentioned Tokyo a minute ago, and I was looking on one of, uh, travel club sites that we have, and I found a hotel, five star hotel that was 74% off, and that’s not 74% off the back of the rate the rate on the back of the hotel door, you know, which is always the highest rates you can imagine.

This is the write off of a, uh, leading online travel company. So, um, it was, uh, rooms are very expensive there. It was, uh, I think $3,500 for a three night stay, and it was discounted down to 1100 or some, something like that. So, um, fantastic deals, and it’s just getting access to having that pricing. And, and again, sometimes I’ll.

N you know, I may wanna stay at this hotel, but if this one’s 50% off or 30 40% off, I might choose that one. Uh, even though it’s not my first choice, but I would rather personally save the money and spend it on you know, really nice dinners, uh, which I’m planning to have in in Tokyo as well.

James Ferrara: Well look, I know I’m biased, but this sounds like an awful lot of work, an awful lot of time. So I say again, go to a professional travel advisor, find one that is. Experienced and educated, even certified in the destination you want to go to, and you, you’re going to discover the hidden gems through them at the best possible rates, and you’re gonna save a lot of headaches.

In my opinion. I’m a busy guy. I don’t have to, when my wife asks me to make hotel reservations, I, you know, I cringe. I mean, I don’t have time for.

Mike Putman: So you, you overanalyze hotels a little bit too, in my opinion. But, but yeah, I mean, and, and the reality is that the, you know, the last plug for travel agents on, on this particular edition of the podcast, but listen, their compensation is already included in the hotel rate that you buy. So if you buy the hotel directly from the hotel, paying a fee and not getting a service, and the travel agent can help you with the service and they collect their fee from the hotel while oftentimes saving you money off of what you might site.

So yes, use the travel

James Ferrara: in the mail, Mike.

Mike Putman: Now you gotta support. That’s where I came from. You gotta support. But I, you know, there, there’s, uh, an interesting survey that just took place, James. And, um, you know, there, there’s some pretty controversial, uh, travel ideas that came about from this. Um, kayak and A Y T M put out a survey and they surveyed a thousand people to determine proper plane etiquette.

Right? So I know you guys have all been on a flight and you’ve seen some pretty gross stuff. Um, and there’s actually a, a really funny, uh, Instagram account called passenger shaming that you should subscribe to if this has any interest to you. It is really bizarre what people, what some people do on airplanes.

James Ferrara: I see it on buzz speed. Every once in a while they’ll do a list of like the things that flights attendants have seen people do, or that travelers have done. It really is gross.

Mike Putman: But here’s some of the results from that survey. Um, and the, the, the first one is, is probably the most, uh, controversial and that is reclining. So you’re on a plane for some period of time. You’ve got a little button, unless you’re flying on Frontier or Allegion and you don’t have a button to recline.

But in most, uh, flights, you do have a button and you wanna relax. You want to push your seat back, give you a little extra leg room, and um, you know, get, get your, your back at a, at a certain certain level. And for some reason this has become very controversial.

James Ferrara: I think this is only controversial for people who are not experienced at flying. I, I, I mean, to me this is an open and shut case. The sea. Yeah. You’re not surprised. I know the sea is designed to reply. You are paying, especially now, quite a good fare to fly on that plane. You’re entitled to use the function of the sea.

Now, that said, there are ways to do it and probably ways not to. I think you’re entitled to recline. You can press the button and recline. Some people think you should turn around and just let the person know behind you. You, you’re going to recline your seat. That that’s a polite thing to do, and I can’t argue with that, although I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.

What I do is I tend to recline very gently and even in stages over a few minutes, so I don’t just slam the feet back into somebody’s knees or laptop, but I don’t feel guilty at all about it. What about you, Mike?

Mike Putman: Uh, no, uh, similar. And, and the respondents from this survey, 88% said they approve of reclining in general. You know, but you have, you do have to think about without belaboring this too much is aircraft are now maximized for space, right? And meaning that they’ve squeezed more seats in on the same size plane.

And, you know, years ago in a normal con uh, uh, well, let’s say an old configuration, moving your seat back an inch and a half, Had very little impact to the passenger behind you. Today it can encroach and it’s especially during a mealtime. If you’re on a, on a, on a long flight and you move your seat back, then that could put the tray table in someone’s gut, you know, really pushing on ’em.

And, and especially if that tray table’s full of food, it’s, uh, it could be a little bit annoying. So, My advice is during meals, put your seat forward. If you do want to recline your seat, you know it’s courteous to tell the person behind you, Hey, I’m coming back, or something like that. But, uh, but it’s fair game.

It is your space, as James said.

James Ferrara: Yeah, absolutely. the other, battle that sometimes happens is armrests,

Mike Putman: Yeah. No kidding. Yeah.

James Ferrara: Yeah. Now, Some people think that if you’re sitting in the middle seat, first of all, why would you sit in the middle seat? But if you are and you couldn’t get out and if you couldn’t get out, you don’t have a good travel advisor or, um, you didn’t go to the airline website and try to move your seat around.


Mike Putman: you’re too cheap. Or you’re too cheap to pay.

James Ferrara: yeah, could be. Um, some people believe that if you’re in the middle seat, You’re entitled to both armrests on both your left and right side. ’cause otherwise it can be very comfortable. You have to hunch your shoulders, keep your cross your arms or whatever to try to fit in between.

And especially, you know, feature unfairly small, but also Americans are unusually large. So the combination is not good for the guy in the middle seat. And, um, other people think. No, that’s, that’s not fair that armrests are fair game for everyone.

Mike Putman: Yeah, I, I look it, my advice is always get an aisle seat or a window seat and you don’t have to worry about this. Uh, and even if it means you gotta pay a little bit more, but yeah, I.

James Ferrara: I did hear an announcement on, uh, Instagram reel or something. Uh, it was a Southwest Airlines pilot. I. Who had come on and he was admonishing the passengers for all kinds of unruly behavior. But at the end of his speech, which was, you know, a little negative, so I think he was trying to turn it to a positive, he said, and for all of those, uh, of you in the middle aisle you get both armrests.

That is my gift to you. You are welcome.

Mike Putman: Oh, that’s right. One last one I wanna talk about, uh, on this survey was what about shoes and socks? So, should people be able to take their socks off? Let’s leave shoes out of this discussion, but should they be able to take, uh, take their socks off on a plane?

James Ferrara: You know what is wrong with people? What is wrong with people? They take their socks off. They walk around in bare feet. These planes are not. Clean. Do I have to explain this to you? They are not, those carpets are filthy. There’s food under the seat you’re walking around with, and then people have to smell your feet, see your feet.

For those of you who don’t take good care of your feet, some people put their feet up on the window or whatever, like what? I don’t know. These people brought up in a.

Mike Putman: Well, surprisingly, 24% of the people surveyed said It’s okay to take your socks off on a plane.

James Ferrara: But 24% of people also believe all kinds of other crazy things. It’s just, it’s not, okay. Take it from Mike and Dave. Do not take your socks off. Do not put your feet up. Do not clip your nails in the plane. I mean, this was real stuff. This was part of the survey too, I think. Don’t, don’t do it.

Mike Putman: Well, time is kind of wrapped up for, uh, for this podcast. So I wanna thank our listeners for joining us today. And, uh, please, uh, subscribe and tell your friends to subscribe to No Tourist Allowed. And if you have any feedback, please share it on no tourist We’d love to have your. Comments or questions, and this is how we generate some of our topics, uh, that we discuss on the podcast.

So please, uh, please share your feedback.

James Ferrara: Yes. And remember guys, authentic travel, local culture, local food. Push yourself out there, get lost, have that kind of experience. No tourists allowed.

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