Traveling is fun but getting through the airport and through security can sometimes be a hassle. I’ve done a bit of domestic and international travel from the US. I don’t know everything but I’ve listed some tips here that help me and have done some research and gathered tips from others as well.
If you haven’t traveled by air before or if it’s been a while, then here are flying tips and tricks to help make things easier and more comfortable for you.
Tips for Packing Your Luggage
It’s a good idea to have a good baggage tag on all of your bags. Often, those paper ones that you get at the ticket counter are only good for one trip, if that. They can rip off easily and then who knows who your bag belongs to. That’s an easy way to lose a bag, so don’t use those – ever. Get yourself a good baggage tag and then make sure it’s securely on your bag.
I like to also tape a business card or address label inside my bag. Do this in case the baggage tag on the outside falls off or gets lost. Of course, you bag should not be locked if this is going to be of any use.
Read more tips for packing your suitcase.
Try to Get Your Seat Assignment Right When You Book Your Flight
You want to be as close to the front of the plane as you can. This way, when it’s time to get off the plane, you get off right away and don’t have to wait 5 to 15 minutes for everyone else. This time can make or break your trip because if your flight gets in late, you run the risk of missing your connecting flight. Also, it’s just plain nicer to get off the plane as soon as you can.
Before You Fly
Think of things you have to take care of before your trip. Things like paying bills and putting services (like your mail or anything else) on hold is important to take care of a few days before your trip.
Notify Your Bank
You will want to call your bank (and credit cards) and let them know which countries or states you’ll be traveling to. The worst thing is to get somewhere and then not be able to pay for your food at a restaurant or with your rental car or something. Fraud is a big deal, so banks and cracking down on it and if they see suspicious activity, they are going to do what they can to protect you and themselves even if that means keeping you from your money temporarily. Tell them all the countries that you will be in – even the ones you are just passing through.
Get Your Body Prepared
Some people like to take Emergen-C or other vitamins to help boost their immune system. That makes sense because you are going to be in a closed cabin with lots of other people with recycled air for a good amount of time. It’s very easy to get sick on an airplane.
Quick story: I once caught an eye infection on a plane. I must have touched something and then touched my eye. It was not fun.
Bring along some hand sanitizer along with you (travel size) so that you can clean your hands often during your flight. Hey, it’s better to look like a germ-o-phoebe than catch something that makes you sick.
If you are sick, then please cover your mouth and bring hand sanitizer – or even wear something over your mouth (surgical mask) for everyone else’s sake. Be a polite traveler.
In the Airport
Always check your gate on your connecting flight. It might have changed from what’s on your boarding pass. Pay attention to the departure boards (computer screens) in the airport. Flights often change gates.
It’s easy to get lost in an airport. Follow the signs and don’t be afraid to ask people for help or directions.
What to Wear on the Plane
Definitely wear comfortable shoes. I like to take mine off when I get seated. Make sure you’re wearing clean socks so that your feet don’t stink. Put in some air cushion insoles in your shoes because you’ll be walking quite a bit through airports. Some airports, like Frankfurt, are quite large. When your feet feel good, your body is less stressed.
And I like to bring a light jacket with me on the plane. For some reason, planes get very cool. They crank the air conditioning plus you’re up in the sky, so plan for the flight to be cool. With a jacket near by, you can easily put it on and be comfortable. Also, with a jacket and if you’re a guy and don’t carry a purse, you can have things you need in it like gum and snacks and headphones and stuff.
Another tip with what clothes to wear on an airplane is wear dark pants. If you happen to drop food on yourself or if someone else does, then you don’t have to worry about stains so much – they don’t show as much. I think wearing white pants or a while dress/skirt would be about the worst decision possible.
And don’t wear clothing that’s constrictive like tight jeans. Although the look of women in tight jeans is great, you’re just not going to be comfortable, ladies. If you’re a guy, wear pants that are not tight but have room.
Board the Airplane as Early as You Can
This is important if it’s a large plane and you have a pull behind bag or a suitcase on wheels. You want to make sure that you find a good place to put it in the overhead baggage storage on the plane. It should be right by your seat or forward in the plane – not further back from your seat. If it’s further back, then it’s going to be very difficult to get to your bag once everyone stands up to get off the plane.
During the Flight
If you have a long flight (a long flight for me is 5 hours or more), then here are some tips to feel good while flying:
- Freshen up during your flight. Go to the bathroom and wash your face. Don’t worry about taking too long in the bathroom, it’s a long flight. There’s time. Take some time for yourself so that you feel good.
- Consider bringing along a change of socks or underwear. As you near your destination, go in the bathroom and do a quick change of these things and you’ll feel more fresh and clean.
- Bring along some deodorant or cologne/perfume.
- Get up and stretch. If there’s a line for the bathroom, then great – that’s more time to you get to stand and move around.
- While sitting, make sure you move your feet and legs often. Stretch them out as best you can in your seat.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is the medicine of life. Being dehydrated leads to being uncomfortable.
Taking Bathroom Breaks on the Plane
Timing is important. Don’t take a break before a meal or you could be blocked from your seat. Go after a meal or before another one – they’ll turn on the light a bit before the meal, so that’s your cue to get up.
If your sitting in a seat that’s not on the aisle, don’t worry about asking people to let you out. That’s just part of the sitting there. They have to do it. Wake people up if you have to. They’ll get back to sleep later. It’s just part of the game.
If you are traveling by yourself, here are a few tips:
- Get to know the people around you. While sitting on the plane, it doesn’t hurt to get to know who is sitting next to you. You might end up needing their help in the near future – you never know.
- Only walk in areas that are well lit and where there are other people. Don’t find yourself in what may appear to be an abandoned part of the airport late at night. Yes, things happen at airports.
- Carry a whistle. It should be a good one that can get other people’s attention.
International Travel and Your Cell Phone
If you are traveling internationally, be careful using your cell phone / mobile phone. You could incur some pretty hefty roaming charges even if you have it turned on and are not making any calls. Data roaming charges are high and if you have apps running on your smart phone, then they could be using data without you even doing anything. Put that phone in airplane mode or else turn it off. Another option you have it to buy a local SIM card for your phone. You’ll have a local number but you’ll be able to use your phone.
And don’t forget to charge your phone and bring along the charger. Get international adapter plugs if you’re going to another country where you will need them – like Europe.
Flights, Air Travel, Discount Airline Tickets
Find discount airline tickets and deals on airfare to many US cities like Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Orlando, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, Milwaukee, Seattle, Cleveland and other great destinations.
When you travel, you want to get the best price you can on airfare. Some airlines are raising rates and even charging ridiculous rates for things like checking bags and meals. It’s a competitive industry but airfare seems pretty expensive sometimes. You do best with pricing when you book your trip out far in advance, but that’s not always possible.
What’s nice about booking airfare is that it’s easy to do online. Many websites now help you shop and compare prices on airfare so that you get the price on your vacation travel.
In addition to shopping online, you want to watch for deals on airfare. Many airlines will want to fill empty seats on flights that are coming up soon, so they will post special offers and last minute airfare deals. These are usually found online but since they’re posted at the last minute, you have to find the right websites to keep an eye on.
Not only on domestic flights, you can find deals on international flights as well. Flights to Europe, Asia and other destinations often go on sale at the last minute. Airlines need to cover their costs on international flights as well since those flights usually use more fuel and have more meal on board. So even if you are traveling internationally, you can get cheap flights if you know where to watch for them.
If cheap airfare websites offer e-newsletter lists where you get emailed special offers on last minute flights, it’s a good idea to sign up for those lists. That’s just another way where you’ll be able to catch these deals when you need a good price on a flight somewhere.
Good luck with your travel plans, If you search for good deals on airfare, you will find them. Make sure you’re comfortable with the flight times and how long your layovers are. It’s easy to get confused about this after checking out lots of flights on websites, so don’t forget to check. Also watch how many stops you’ll have. If you need a special meal like vegetarian or lactose free, be sure you specify that from the website you buy your flight from.
Tips on Buying Airline Tickets
Here are some tips on booking your trip, if you haven’t done that yet:
- Book your tickets in the name that’s on your identification. If not, you’ll have trouble.
- Pick your seats as soon as you can. Usually, you can do this as you book. I prefer window seats but I know others that prefer aisle seats for some reason. You might also want to get a seat next to or near someone else. The earlier you do this, the better chance you have of getting the seat(s) you want. You might even be able to get the seats near the wing / exit row, which can give you more leg room!
- Try to book your flights to get to your destination as soon as you can. You have a better chance of getting on other flights if there are delays. On the same note, make sure that you’re not booking flights too close together. Plan an hour between flights if you’re connecting to make sure you can still board the next flight if your flight arrives late.
Planning Your Trip
Packing for your trip is important. Think about how many days you will be staying (including the day you come back) and try to figure out the amount of clothes you will need and what kinds of clothes you will need. You can pack considerably less if you can plan on doing a load of laundry wherever you’re staying. If it’s at someone’s house, then they will most likely have a washer and dryer available. If it at hotel, find out what laundry facilities they have. I like to bring a trash bag for my dirty clothes so that they don’t stink up my clean clothes.
What’s also nice to have is a travel packing list. If you travel from time to time, having a list of the things you know you should bring can really make packing easy. You’re a lot less likely to forget something if it’s on your list.
Before your trip, you’re going to want to confirm your travel plans (airlines, rental car, someone to pick you up, etc.). Some people take that Emergen-C (seltzer water and vitamins) before they travel. I’m not that paranoid but maybe taking some vitamins or zinc to help boost your immune system is not really a bad idea.
How Many Bags?
Next, figure out of you are packing one suitcase or two. Most airlines now charge for an extra bag that you’re not carrying on. If you are part of an airline miles program or have their credit card, you may be able to get a free checked bag. If you are using a carry on bag (make sure it’s small enough that you can bring it on board), then you can also bring a small backpack that can fit under the seat in front of you – that is, if you really don’t want to check a bag. Going with the carry on and small backpack might be the way to go.
If you are checking a bag (what I usually do since Delta gives me one free, checked bag because I have their American Express card), then you can bring a bag on the plane as well. I have my laptop in that bag (inside a protective laptop case) and sometimes one change of clothing if I’m flying internationally.
Start Packing Your Bags
Now that you’ve figured out how many bags you will bring and what clothes you will need, it’s time to start packing. Most people pack a day ahead, but I like to pack the same day if I have enough time, that is. I like to lay out everything I need to bring on my bed so that I can see it all before it goes into the suitcases.
Folding clothes several times seems to help them not get too wrinkled usually. There are those plastic space saver bags you can get. I’ve used them and they work pretty well. I really only use them if I’m really tight on space. I sometimes roll some clothes and that seems to save space as well. If you’re packing shoes, tuck some socks into the shoes – there’s usable space in there, so use it.
Your checked bag can only be 50 lbs, (it used to be 75), so you can’t really pack it too full anyway any more.
Travel Size Products
When packing toiletries, you really want to go with travel size products. In the USA, the TSA rule is “3-1-1” which means have 3 ounce or smaller containers and put them in a 1 quart size plastic, Zip-lock bag and there is only one of these bags allowed per traveler. This is for your carry on luggage. I’ve traveled overseas quite a bit and have had two of these bags, which is no problem. They want your liquids in one bag and gels in another bag – they want them separated.
If you are checking a bag, then you really don’t have to worry about the size of these items but it really only makes sense to bring as much as you’re going to need to keep the weight of your bag down and have more room for packing.
A few days before your flight, shop around for travel size products. You can find them online or else many local stores like Target or Walmart will have them available in enough brands that you should be able to find suitable replacements for your normal brands. You can also just buy some small, 3 ounce containers that are empty and load them up with anything you need like shampoo or lotion or whatever. This can save you some money.
Remember to leave some space in your bags for any souvenirs or anything that you might bring back. This is where having a carry on backpack can come in handy.
Do Your Final Pack
Again, put everything out that you’ll need so that you can see it and pack it up. Think about all the compartments in your luggage and be smart about where you’re putting things and how you’re using the space. Rolling things up (your clothes) can really help save space. I do that all the time. Put heavier items toward what will be the bottom of the suitcase if it has rollers – or don’t pack them at all to save weight.
If you need to buy travel luggage, then go a few days before your trip and find some good luggage. The famous roller bag is really handy. I like the kind that has four wheels on the bottom that all swivel.
Keep the Weight Down and Avoid Baggage Fees
If your bag weighs too much, you could get charged extra. For most airlines, 50 lbs. is all you get per bag. Avoid packing books and things that quickly use up your available weight. Also, start with lightweight luggage. If you use a heavy bag to start with, then you’re already starting with a disadvantage. Get some luggage that is lightweight and durable.
Tips for Flying Internationally
If you are going to another country, then find out what kind of power they have there and if you’ll need any kind of converters for your electronic equipment or small appliances (think hair dryer or shaver) that you might have with you.
How about a translator or book? Will you need a language translation book or app on your phone to help you communicate with people?
Make sure each piece of luggage you have has ID tags on them as well as inside them. On my main suitcase, I have one of my business cards taped with clear packing tape on the inside of my bag, too. When you open it, it’s easy to see. If the outside tag gets lost or torn off, there’s the inside one.
Airline Miles Programs and Perks
Speaking of airline miles programs, make sure you do take advantage of them. Earning miles for flights can really add up even if you don’t travel much. Airlines appreciate loyalty. With many credit cards, you can also earn miles. Some offer triple miles (my parents use their Capitol One card and get miles on any airline) or when I use my Delta American Express card to book flights on Delta, I get more miles than usual. Compare miles programs between airlines and see which program you like the best. Better yet, sign up for multiple programs since they usually greatly reward you for signing up for a credit card, which can be one free domestic flight.
One more benefit of miles programs is that you’re more likely to get upgrades. If you travel frequently and are loyal to an airline, they might have some extra seats in first or business class and they may choose to upgrade your seat for free.
Don’t forget to bring some cash and have a credit card with you. Before you leave, make sure you’ve contacted your bank and tell them in which states or countries you will be traveling so that you don’t run into problems using your cards.
Keep your wallet and cash in your front pocket and not in a coat pocket or back pocket so that it’s less likely to get pick-pocketed and stolen. Some people even use those wallets with chains on them for when they travel… good idea.
Make sure you have your driver’s license (domestic travel) or passport/visa (international travel) with you. On international flights, I also like to have a photocopy of my passport and visa in my carry on luggage in case I would happen to lose it. I figure that photocopy could really come in handy and save a lot of hassle. Maybe even go a step further and scan your passport and store it at a web-based email account like GMail where you can access it anywhere with your username and password. Yet one more thing you can do is take a good picture of each document with your camera phone and have it there.
I did lose my passport once in Tokyo. When I was getting off the plane, I had to pee really bad (REALLY bad). I had it in my hand, went to the urinal and left it on the shelf that was above the urinal. Thank God someone turned it in. It was really strange hearing my name over the intercom in the Tokyo airport but then I went to the counter and they had it – I didn’t know I lost it until then. Yikes.
Keep your identification with you at all times. Have it on you. A button down shirt with a chest pocket can be pretty handy or wear khakis that have multiple, deep pockets so that it stays in there and does not get lost.
Pack Some Snacks
I like to pack some nuts or granola bars in my carry on bag or have one in my jacket. Delays can happen and meals are not served on a lot of flights (mainly just international flights), so having something to get you by is important. My stomach gets upset sometimes when I don’t eat, so I like to have a snack or two available.
Pack some gum to help your ears adjust to the pressure in flight, too.
More About Your Carry On Bag
If you need to take medication or wear contact lenses (like I do), then make sure you have what you need, medically, in your carry on bag. Stick to allowed sizes of liquids. Carry medications in their prescription bottles so that you can prove that those drugs were prescribed to you. Bring your glasses if you plan to take out your contact lenses in-flight or on your trip. Contact lens refreshing solution can also help keep your lenses moist.
Hand sanitizer is also a good idea. A good place to get germs is in airports and on airplanes. I got an eye infection once from being on an airplane – not fun.
What to Wear When Traveling
What you wear when you travel can make a huge difference when it comes to your comfort. Wear comfortable clothes. Wearing a pair of khakis or chinos instead of jeans is smart since jeans can be tighter. Looser clothing is more comfortable. I’m a guy and obviously don’t wear women’s clothing but I would imagine that longer skirts and dresses would be more comfortable than shorter ones.
I also wear darker clothing. This is because if you have coffee or food on the plane or in the airport and accidentally spill something, it’s not going to show up. You won’t be walking through the airport with stains on your clothes. My motto in life is from Forrest Gump when he makes lots of money on Apple stock – he says, “One less thing.” So wearing dark clothes and not worrying about getting them dirty or stained is just one less thing to have to worry about.
Arriving at the Airport / Getting Your Boarding Pass
A day before your flight leaves, check and confirm your flight online. Most airlines let you check in online now. When you do that, you can either print your own boarding pass or else have it sent to your smart phone, which they can scan at the airport (there are scanners for them now). If you are checking a bag, then you will have to drop by the ticket counter to drop off your bag (and pay for it if necessary).
I think the best way to get to the airport is to find someone to take you. You’re then not dealing with taxis or parking, which can be expensive. A week before your flight, track down a good friend who would be able to take you. If you do have to park at the airport, then find one of the cheaper parking lots.
If you didn’t check in online, then go to the ticket counter when you arrive at the airport. Get your boarding pass there. You can usually do that now at a kiosk. They will ask for your confirmation code or name or you can scan the credit card used when booking the flight. Make sure you get all the boarding passes that print and then check any bags.
Going Through Airport Security
The reason why you need to arrive 1.5 to 2 hours before your flight is mainly due to getting through security. There may be long lines. Going through security is a pain but here are some tips I use, which may help make it easier.
Have your boarding pass and identification ready. TSA is there and will need to check this. Don’t get into really any kind of conversation with the TSA people. Just smile and greet them. Thank them when you get your ID back. They don’t really want to know you and don’t have any interest in you either. Don’t take it personally. If you’re acting too strangely, you are probably more likely to be pulled aside to get checked out. Be polite but don’t stick out. This also helps to keep the line moving.
Wear a jacket. This is probably my biggest tip. With a jacket, you’re able to put things your wallet, keys, change, watch, gum and whatever else is in your pockets in the pockets of the jacket. You really don’t want to put loose things in the trays and you want to have as few trays as possible so that you don’t accidentally leave anything at security. Also, most planes have it a little cold in the cabin, so it’s nice to have a jacket just in case.
You’ll need to remove your shoes and belt – so don’t wear pants that are too loose. 🙂 As you’re waiting in line to get some trays, you can do things like untie your shoes, take off your belt or put things into your jacket pocket. The sort of vibe that you feel when it’s your turn to start traying your items is that you want to move quickly and not hold everyone up – so be the person that’s prepared. So also think about how many trays you will need.
You’ll need one tray for your shoes, belt and clothes. One more tray for your laptop (I’ve been told you don’t have to take the laptop out of the protective tray). The laptop should be off. Don’t stack electronics – so don’t put an iPad on top of your laptop or phone on top of your laptop. A carry on bag should not need a tray. I will put a backpack into a tray. Put your boarding pass and identification in a tray. Check all your pockets again, then wait to go through the metal detector of body scanner.
Once you’re through, remember how many trays and items you had. Get them all. Put your shoes on (don’t tie them) and put on your belt and jacket. Gather everything and then there are usually some seats where you can go and tie your shoes. At that point, check to make sure that you have everything – especially your phone, boarding pass and wallet.
If TSA Does Stop You
If they do want to do some further investigation into you as a traveler, don’t freak out. Sometimes it’s just another bag check. Sometimes it’s a pat down. Just be calm and comply with them. Don’t give excuses about how the rules don’t apply to you or whatever. They’re not going to like that at all and it’s only going to make the experience even worse. Cooperate with them and just get through it.
If, in some extreme examples, you feel like you’re getting treated unfairly, then you might want to consider wanting to be able to call a lawyer – that would have to be pretty extreme though. I would at least start by asking for a pen and paper so that you could start jotting down names and badge numbers. Only play these cards if all else fails and after you’ve done your best to comply with them. I’m not a lawyer here – I’m just saying what I would do.
Waiting for Your Flight
Now that you’re through security, go find your gate. Check the monitors in the airport to make sure that it hasn’t changed. I like to at least go to it and check it out even if I have a lot of time. On the way, I might get some coffee. You are best off getting coffee and drinks after security since they’ll make you pour them out there.
Go check out the gate and make sure your flight is there. Next, it’s time to think about meals and eating. I mentioned having some snack food available but think about if you should have a full meal or not. Check out how long the flight is and then add an hour to that (to get your bags, get to your destination, etc.) and see if that’s enough time or if you think you might get hungry before then. See if you can grab a burger or go to one of those airport restaurants. Most airport food places where you sit down know that you might be in a hurry and food seems to come out pretty quickly there.
I know some people that always get a few drinks before they get on a plane. That’s not me. They can knock you out if you need that (so I sometimes do) but they’re also going to make you want to go to the bathroom – but so does water and coffee, actually. It’s up to you.
Drinks at the airport might be more expensive. In-flight alcohol really isn’t too expensive if you ask me… I like whiskey and 7up (a “7 and 7”) and for $7 you get a small bottle and the 7up, which is actually like two drinks or $3.50 each – so not too bad. If you do buy alcohol on the plane and you’re not in first class, then they seem to want to have you pay with a credit card – not cash anymore… just FYI.
Probably the best way to how to bring alcohol on a plane is to buy it at the airport. Some of the duty free shops on international flights are actually a good deal and you can save some money. Don’t get the huge bottle but go ahead and buy a smaller bottle that you can put in your carry on baggage.
Just About Boarding Time
The flight will start boarding about a half hour before it’s going to take off. Make sure you have one last bathroom trip (in a nice bathroom) before you get on the plane.
Boarding the Aircraft
They will call off zones and you’ll board. It’s really best to not even get up until your zone is called. There will be less congestion up at the gate. If you are concerned about getting your carry on bag in a compartment, then you will want to get up and wait and get in as soon as you can though. I like the flights where people hardly even move when their zone is called – you know there aren’t many people and it’s going to be somewhat relaxing.
I have a funny story quickly about boarding the plane (feel free to skip the next few paragraphs if you want)… I was leaving India at night. It was late and I was getting tired. It was one of those times when I just wanted to get on the plane, in my seat so that I could get to sleep. The flight was to Singapore, I believe. Anyway, they called the first zone – it might have even been first class – and everyone (I mean everyone) got up and headed toward the gate… even though their zone was not called. They made an announcement and made everyone sit down again. They called the zone again and everyone got up. Again, they made everyone sit down. This happened yet one more time. Ugh! People!
The not so happy ending to this story is that we got into Singapore 15 minutes late (organizing everyone on the plane was also a huge hassle… ok, utter choas – it reminded me of being in Junior High on a trip to a basketball game or something) and because of that, we missed boarding our flight and had to stay in Singapore a whole day and weren’t even sure we could get on the next flight (they told us a 10 day wait) – but we were first in line the next morning and got seats. If you get stuck somewhere, Singapore is not a bad place to be… I love it there.
When you board the plane, smile at the flight attendants and say hello. Make a joke or something and help them enjoy the trip, too. They’re people. You might even need their help and if they remember you, that could be to your advantage.
Find your seat. Stow your bag(s) and figure out if you want your small bag by your and if you want to wear your jacket or not.
Enjoying Your Time on the Airplane
Definitely bring a book or magazine that you want to read. Time will fly by if you have a good book.
Download movies to your iPad or mobile device before your trip. I do this a lot. Not all flights have movies (mainly just the international ones). iPads and phones are also good for games but I like to save my phone battery for making calls if I need to (or bring some backup power for your phone). Make sure you bring some good headphones as well. I have a sad headphones story in just a minute or so – read on.
Arriving at Your Destination
Once you arrive, it’s important that you gather up everything you brought with you. It’s ok to leave magazines you don’t want on the plane. I do that. Make sure you have your iPad and headphones.
One More Story
This makes me sick to talk about, but on one trip, I bought some of those nice, Bose noise canceling headphones (before the trip). You know, the expensive pair. I travel a lot and thought I’d get some good use out of them. Well, I got just one use out of them. I left them on the plane! I realized it too late and tried to track them down but nobody in their right mind would turn those in I guess. I felt so sick. I hardly ever lose stuff. I just had too much with me. I guess that’s why I always use a backpack now so that I can put that stuff in it. I now use a $35 pair of earbud headphones (earphones) that I also really like and do not worry about losing them.
Ok, you’re at your destination or you’re going to catch another flight. You’ll either head to baggage claim if you checked a bag or check the monitors for the gate of your next flight.
Travel Safety tips
If you are traveling alone, there are some things to be aware of when it comes to safety.
First, trust your gut. If you are going to an area that doesn’t feel safe to you, don’t go there or wait for someone else to come by. Don’t take a nap or sleep in an area that’s too secluded or you could be setting yourself up for trouble – yes, even in a security controlled area of an airport.
Second, communicate with people you know as you travel. Text a spouse or family member or friend when you get to each destination or as you leave. Let them know where you’re at and where you’ve been. If you do somehow go missing, there will at least be some kind of trail.
Women, make it sound like you’re not traveling alone if you are… or even if you’re not. Place a fake call once in a while to “John” or someone where people can hear it. Do what you can to make it look like you’re not alone. Don’t divulge too many details of your travel plans to strangers either.
Kids Travel Tips
Ok, admittedly I don’t have really any experience with this. If you’re a parent, then you’ll know what things will help keep your kids occupied while traveling. Books, handheld games (Nintendo DS, etc.) or DVD players (or iPad) would seem to be good ideas. If your kids fight, then sit between them. If you have a baby, then bring bottles so that you can help your baby swallow as the air pressure changes (I don’t even have kids and can’t believe how some parents don’t think of this one and have their baby screaming without knowing what to do).
I’d also get them some kind of identification (even if you have to create it yourself) and put it in their pocket or pin it to the inside of their jacket or something. Make sure your mobile phone is listed. Put their picture on it along with an address, your name and your mobile phone number.
Sometimes there’s a family line when you’re going through security. Check for that. Small things like this can help you keep your sanity. Kids under 12 should not need to take of their shoes, so don’t remove them unless asked by TSA. It might even be a good idea to do some practice at home going through security so that your kids know what will happen when the time comes. They won’t freak out at all. Explain to them what will happen, that there are strangers there and why it needs to be done.
Dealing With Travel Problems
Sometimes there are problems with travel. There are delays due to weather or equipment malfunctions – hey, life happens. Here’s how to deal with them.
First, have the phone number to your airline’s support / help people in your phone. Also, this is where being in their miles programs really helps. They know you a little more and see that you are loyal.
If you are using a travel agent, then that’s even better – they should go to bat for you because they will want your repeat business. I’ve only used a travel agent 3-4 times now but on one of those times, it really helped to have them as I got stuck in Frankfurt for 6 days with that volcanic ash cloud fiasco.
Second, find the customer service counters at the airport. They are just counters for customer service and not the counters at the gates. Personally, getting on the phone is probably faster and easier but sometimes there’s no line at those counters.
Third, have someone you can call to help you. It might be a spouse or a friend of family member. Before you go, make sure they have the airline phone number and your travel itinerary so that they can speak on your behalf. Sometimes you might find yourself literally running from gate to gate and it’s almost impossible to talk on the phone, carry your bags and weave through people – all at the same time. Having someone else can really help – they are almost like your personal concierge or travel agent. I always email my itinerary to someone the day before I leave.
Fourth, ask other travelers for help. Maybe someone sitting next you can help you or have some ideas for you. We’re all kind of in the same boat and have probably all had problems, so others might be able to give you a helping hand. It’s worth a try.
If you plan your trip well, it will go much more smoothly. I like the phrase, “failing to plan is a plan to fail.” When you’re stressed right before your trip, you’re more likely to forget something, which could cost you time or money. Get good sleep before your flight. Don’t eat greasy food. Email your itinerary to someone before you go and make sure you have everything you need packed up smartly. There are a lot of things in your control and it’s really only your fault if you could have prevented a problem while traveling.
Comments? / More Tips?
Do you have any more, interesting travel tips that you know of? Feel free to add them by leaving comments below!
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