How to Fly the World Like an Emerald Traveler

Emerald World Santorini

These days, it seems most travel companies provide the illusion of convenience without actually making travel easier. So it comes as a pleasant surprise that National’s Emerald Club makes renting a car a breeze. Straightaway, the program offers a handful of great benefits to travelers:

  • Emerald Aisle Access: Choose any car (midsize and above) on the Emerald Aisle and only pay the midsize rate.
  • One-Click Reservation: Applies information from your member profile to expedite your rental process.
  • Drop & Go: With convenient email receipts, just drop off your car and go.
  • Free Rental Days: Earn 1 rental credit for every qualified car rental. (Free Rental Day = 7 credits)

The airlines could learn a lot from this stellar loyalty program. In my last post, I imagined what hotel stays and air travel might be like in an Emerald World. But what about turning that imagination into reality? Here are my favorite tips for flying the world (almost) like an Emerald World traveler and scoring the same types of benefits with your favorite airline …

Emirates Luxurious Private Jet Service
First Class Flyer © Roderick Eime

Emerald Aisle Access

Ahhhh … the Emerald Aisle. It just sounds exotic and exclusive, doesn’t it? And it is: you reserve a midsize car and only pay only for a midsize car but, at pick-up, you drive away in any car of your choice from the Emerald Aisle.

While you can’t exactly choose your own plane while flying, there are clever ways to go about choosing your own seat. I’m not just talking window-versus-aisle. I’m talking about upgrading your entire class of travel from Economy (*cough* cattle *cough*) to Business or even First.

Skyscanner points out a number of excellent tips for scoring a flight upgrade. Beyond the obvious (spend lots of money in the first place), there are many clever ways to up your chances of landing an upgrade. A few of my favorites:

  • Fly on bank holidays when business travelers are less likely to be flying and therefore occupying the premium class seats.
  • Arrive early, as upgrades go fast, in order to beat the rush.
  • Be nice. Seriously, airline employees deal with a lot of angry people on a daily basis. Bring a little sunshine into their day and, if you ask nicely, you just may be rewarded.

One-Click Reservation

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that many travelers — even frequent ones — overlook. Sign up for every loyalty program you can! The main reason is simple: to earn miles, points, credits, drachma, whatever. But you knew that already, you savvy traveler you.

The secondary reason though is that, like National’s Emerald Club, it makes booking a reservation much easier. Hop over to your favorite airline website, login, book as usual, and all your personal information — name, passport number, address, Global Entry number, blood type, pet’s name, etc. — is prepopulated. It’s a no-brainer and it can save you boatloads of time. That’s time you could be using for important things like up-voting your favorite Daily Kitten.

Luggage Cart
Carry-on? Not so much. © Derek Finch

Drop & Go

You can already step off your flight and go (unless you were seriously misbehaving on the flight, in which case TSA might like to have a word with you at your destination). But … what about your baggage?

The best solution is to fly carry-on only. Many travelers have caught on to this idea and even Mrs. Vagabondish has finally shed her trusty shipping-container-sized checked suitcase. Anyone from business trip weekenders, to cruise ship travelers, to round-the-world, two-month-long vagabonds can do it. Seriously, the length of your trip doesn’t matter. It just requires a little clever packing and recognizing that what you need to pack and what you think you need to pack are often two different things. Independent Traveler offers a nice primer on how to go about this for a variety of different types of travel.

Free Rental Days

So, you’ve already signed up for every frequent flyer program under the sun. But, are you earning the maximum points you should be earning with the appropriate travel-centric credit card? Free miles are free miles, no matter where they’re coming from, and you could probably be earning a whole lot more.

Understanding which credit card is right for you as a traveler can be difficult. For most folks, it boils down to just two things: a great initial sign-up bonus and solid ongoing rewards. While there are a myriad of cards to choose from, they should, at the very least, offer these perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 or more on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn 2x miles on purchases

Of course, maybe someday everyone will offer the same perks as National’s Emerald Club. Then we wouldn’t need to jump through these hoops in the first place. Am I right? (Just sayin’ …)

Disclosure: This post was published in partnership with National Car Rental. Read our view on sponsored content.

About The Author

Founding Editor

Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

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