It’s June. That time of year many of us take to the highways and airways in search of a week or two of hiking, sun bathing, or some other source of R&R. So, just for fun, I thought I’d share some my family’s hard-earned travel-tips. You can thank me later. J
#1. Never check a bag. Never. For any reason. We have done 17 day international trips, and we all take carry-ons. Be creative. Do laundry. Cheat by taking the largest carry-on plus a huge “hand bag.”
#2: Wing it. Be spontaneous. Don’t think you have to have the trip nailed down 100% before you go. Some of the best deals you’ll ever find are available only after you show up to a place.
#3: Be happy! There are a thousand things to stress out about on a trip – especially international ones. Make an agreement with your fellow travelers that NOTHING is going to stress you out. Even if you have to fake it. Whatever it takes. Stay happy. It’s good practice for the rest of life anyway!
#4: Fly the same airlines at all cost. The miles are worth it. I always fly Frontier in the States (since it’s a Denver-based airline it makes it easy) and British Air international. Now I get free upgrades, free tickets. Better treatment. Don’t save $50 on a local flight or $150 on an International Flight and fly a different airline. Pay the little extra and stay with yours.
#5: Buy clothes that don’t wrinkle. Even wrinkle-free dress shirts can be hung in the hotel bathroom and the wrinkles will get steamed out while you shower.
#6: Rent the cheapest car available online and when you get to the counter, work on an upgrade. Really work it. You can often book an economy car and get a luxury car last minute for just a few dollars more a day!
#7: Get to the airport LATE. When you do that, you save tons of time, because they will move you to the head of the line! A little risky, but I’ve saved 100’s of hours over the years doing this.
#8: Buy your international tickets far enough in advance to get free upgrades using your miles. I always fly Business/First on British Air because I have enough miles to always get upgraded from Economy. But I have to buy those tickets three months or more in advance for this to work.
#9: Be very nice to the person behind the airline check-in counter. They have more power than you think. Smile. Encourage them. Make a joke. And then….drop the ole “are there any upgrades available today?” You’d be surprised.
#10: Download “Seat Guru” to help you choose seats and “FlightBoard” to keep track of everything. Those two apps are great for a smart phone.
#11: The best ways to fight jet-lag are: Don’t eat the airplane food (or eat very lightly). Don’t drink alcohol on the plane. Drink tons of water. Go on a good walk when you arrive (in the sun if it’s sunny). Exercise and sun are your friends! And when flying East internationally, try to sleep (I take one Ambien). When flying West, try to stay awake.
#12: If you’re overly late getting to the airport, then just go in the First Class line (which is usually open) and they will always take you – as long as you’re actually late.
#13: Look for airline sponsored credit cards that give you at least 50,000 miles on that airline. Sometimes you have to charge a certain amount before they give you those miles. Once you’ve done that – and paid it off – cancel the card. I’ve done this a couple times each with British Air, Frontiers and United. It works great and the credit card companies are happy for you to do it!
#14: The discount websites like Orbitz, Kayak or Travelocity are great places to start, but don’t assume they have the best prices. Sometimes I check there and then go directly to the airline’s site – and it’s a few dollars cheaper…and they typically provides a little better service with more options.
#15: Look for a “small upgrade” at the last minute – usually at the airport. When you buy an economy ticket, most airlines will offer a last minute upgrade to something like “economy plus” or an exit row seat for around $25.
#16: Always ask for the exit row. When buying your ticket. Or…when checking in online. Or…when at the airport. Even at the gate. And lastly, when on the plane. Doesn’t hurt to ask. And if there are two exit rows, be sure to choose the back row, as the front row doesn’t recline.
#17: Traveling with small kids can be a pain or a joy. We have flown several hundred thousand miles with our three kids – at every stage in their lives. I’ll be giving some tips on traveling with them….once I think of them. 🙂
#18: Children are at peace (generally) when their parents are at peace. Dad and mom, do whatever you need to speak calmly, honor each other, slow down and not yell at your kids about not moving down the airplane aisle fast enough or wanting to go potty right after the plane takes off. Relax. Chill. Enjoy! If you do, they will.
#19: If you have a baby, be sure you have him/her drink as the flight descends. Their ears won’t naturally adjust unless you do, and they’ll hurt. That’s why you often hear babies crying as planes descend. Same is true for your kids – have them drink. And I always chew a piece of gum as the plane lands.
#20: Don’t forget your headphones. I keep all my little travel accessories in the same drawer so they’re easy to find.
Feel free to comment and add your tips to the list!