Payless? Yeah right.

Most of the time I use this platform to recommend things, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t also use it to warn folks of things that I’ve learned so no one has to fall into the same trap.  Here’s one of them.

I recently called AMEX to book a rental car.  Since I’m down in Orlando so frequently, I typically just ask them to find me the cheapest car they can find (I could care less about style points…just need to get from point A to point B).  They suggested Payless Car Rental.

I didn’t realize until I landed at MCO (Orlando International Airport) and was looking for the car rental reservation desk, that this particular company was located OFF-SITE…10 minutes away from the terminal.  That was an immediate turn off.   If that was the one problem I encountered, it’d be all good.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Once I got in front of the reservation agent, she asked for PROOF OF INSURANCE (as if I always carry that around).  They literally were not going to rent me the car without it.  Luckily, my insurance company is available 24 hours a day and I was able to get a copy faxed in.

For $9 a day, I  still wasn’t going to complain too much.  That was, until I brought back the car and saw my bill.  It was TRIPLE the amount of what was quoted.  Upon closer inspection, they charged me MILEAGE.  Anything over 20 miles, they charge PER mile.

Then, I had to wait for the shuttle to return me to the terminal.  They only had 2 shuttle buses running.  I literally waited 20 MINUTES for the shuttle to arrive which caused me to miss my flight.

Honestly, I was a little peeved at AMEX for not filling me in on all this ahead of getting there.  They had done so well prior to this experience.  Needless to say, I will NEVER rent from Payless again.  If you’re looking to drive minimally, maybe they’ll work for you.  But if you’re going anywhere outside of the immediate area or plan on driving a lot, I would go with someone else.  The savings ends up not being there.

Want to know one of my favorites?  Alamo.  They have kiosks to save you time from standing in line waiting for an agent.  Also, you get to pick ANY car on the lot within the car class you book…its first come, first serve.    Hope this is helpful.

Brian’s Travel Tips

If you’ve seen my Facebook and/or Twitter updates over the last few months, you’ve probably noticed how much I’ve been on the road lately.  I’ve always loved traveling, although lately it’s been a bit on the excessive side.  It’s gotten to the point now where I get antsy if I’m not traveling every 3-4 days.  Jet-setting in and out of cities forces you to learn some tricks to get through it all.  I’m going to share a few of mine with you.

Luggage:  My black Samsonite bag goes with me everywhere.  It’s a good size and can work for a 1 day trip or a 3 week trip.  Samsonite products come with a lifetime guarantee on any parts.  I actually had a zipper break off a few years ago and they fixed it and had it back to me within a week.  Totally worth the money!   Also, as a side note, I always carry on…I never check luggage.  The very few times I’ve checked my bag, inevitably, something has gone wrong.  You never want to be without your bags.  It has rubbed off on the wife and she’s been converted from a “check 1-2 bags” passenger to a bonafide “carry on” passenger.

.

Travel Wear:  With all the TSA regulations, you want to get through that process as quickly as possible.  My typical get-up isn’t going to win me many style points but it is the most effective and comfortable travel wear that I’ve found.  It’s the black track suit and Nike tennis shoes (loosely laced).  This wardrobe means no belts to take off, the shoes are easy to get in and out of and for the planes where the temp is a little cool, you can stay warm (they only give blankets and pillows now in first class).

Preferred Airlines:  For me, it’s Delta and Southwest.  I have to fly Delta because that’s where I have most of my frequent flyer miles and it doesn’t hurt that they fly to pretty much every destination.  I’m not a huge fan of them since they’ve taken over the airline industry (or so it seems).  Customer service can be a pain to deal with and they seem to nickel and dime you for everything.  Southwest has worked out awesome!  They have cheap rates and you get to pick your seat upon boarding.  If you start flying, pick 1 or 2 airlines max, get a frequent flyer account (might as well earn some points for flying which can eventually translate to a free flight), and stick with them.

Check-In:  If you have a smart phone, search for the airline app of the company you’re flying with.  You almost always can check-in right from your phone and with some airlines (like Delta) you can download the boarding pass on your phone instead of having to print the boarding passes from home or worse yet at the airport – easy and convenient.

This is your boarding pass!

Pre-Flight Meal:  I usually always go with my standard Starbucks oatmeal and tall drink (type of coffee depends on the season; right now it’s the Caramel Spice). Both will be low in calories, warm you up and keep you full for a long flight or two (sometimes those connections can be really tight and you won’t have time to get anything in between flights).  Plus some airlines don’t even give you snacks (I’m talking about YOU, American Airlines) so definitely eat before you board.

In-Flight Entertainment: For me, it’s the Kindle and movies.  I’m an avid reader so I’ve got  a ton of books as well as newspaper subscriptions on my Kindle so I can read something for work, pleasure or stay up on the news.

If you’re a weekly frequent flyer, I’d recommend the InMotion Entertainment rental account.  You can rent DVDs (up to 2 at a time) and return them to  almost every major airport.  I’ve actually watched a movie on 1 flight and on my connection flight turned it in and rented another.  You can have them out as long as you want (30 day limit before you end up owning it).  It’s an awesome service.

Personal Care: I always have gum, hair product and deodorant on me at all times.  Especially if you’re taking an early morning flight, you tend to want to sleep on the plane (in my case, it’s where I do the majority of my sleeping) and bed head is inevitable.  So you definitely want to have some product with you.  If you’ve had a coffee pre-flight, gum is a must (especially if you’re running into a meeting right off the plane not to mention that you can chew it on the altitude decent so your ears can pop easily).  Deodorant is for those emergencies.  You never know when you might need it.

Travel Accessories: I always travel with my car charger, aux cable and brown extension cord with 3 outlets.  Most rental cars now have an aux hook up so you can talk on your phone handsfree through the stereo as well as listen to your own tunes from your phone or mp3 player instead of trying to search for a FM station that suits your musical tastes. The brown extension cable goes in my carry on and has come in handy more times than you know.  Sometimes I’m at an airport and there’s only 1 outlet that somebody else is already using.  I’ll just plug this bad boy in and all of us can share the power.  Also, in a lot of hotels, the nearest outlet isn’t always close by.  Having the extension cable makes it possible for you to use your devices where you want to use them.

That is the Brian B travel Bible for 2011.  Hope it’s been helpful.  See you at an airport soon!