As a frequent flyer, I’m constantly looking for ways to make my trips smoother. I hadn’t flown much until this past year, so I’ve learned quite a bit in a short amount of time! By being aware of basic airline rules, as well as knowing a few helpful tips, you can make your journey less stressful and focus more on your getaway! I wanted to share what I’ve learned, and hopefully make your next trip easier and more enjoyable.
1. When booking your trip, try to book at least three weeks in advance. Prices tend to go up in the three weeks leading up to your departure. I recently made the mistake of holding off on booking because I was waiting to hear back about a job. I missed the three-week mark and prices steadily increased, eventually costing me $60 more each way than it would have cost me to book the flight when I first decided to go. Southwest allows you to change your flight for free, and you only pay the difference in airfare if your new flight costs more. JetBlue charges you $40 to change your flight (and whatever the price difference is), but that’s a small fee compared to the $120 I ended up paying!
2. Always, always, always pack at least the night before! And not just “a few outfits” packed – I mean everything! I only leave out things I’ll absolutely need in the morning: my hairdryer, my toothbrush, and any electronics, and I keep those as close together as possible so it’s easy to throw them all in my bag before I leave. Also make sure your liquids bag and your boarding pass, as well as your id, are all together and in your purse. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling around for something when you should be on your way to the airport! And always keep your quart-sized bag of liquids and your electronics where you can grab them quickly at security – this keeps everyone behind you happy!
3. Try to book your flight for as early in the morning as possible. I am so not a morning person, but the airport is less crowded, making security a breeze. You also get to your destination early, instead of wasting the better part of your day traveling, which is a much better situation!
4. Get to the airport at least an hour early. Even an hour is pushing it – I usually aim for at least an hour and a half. You never know what you could run into on your way (my train once broke down – I made it with minutes to spare!) and security can get absolutely insane in the afternoon! Give yourself plenty of time – you’ll be thankful when you’re calmly waiting to board, instead of shoving past other customers!
5. Pack lightly. This one has taken some practice because I never know what I’ll want to wear. My rule is if I’m only going for the weekend (Friday-Monday): two pairs of pants, four or five tops (hey – I can’t predict what my friends are wearing!), two pairs of shoes, and accessories – and this is counting what I’m flying out in Friday! A cute scarf or belt can completely change an outfit, and jewelry and a cardigan will let you get away with the same jeans and top twice, which is perfect for longer trips.
6. Check your flight status the night before, and in the morning before you leave. You don’t want to get to the airport for your 6:30am flight, only to find out it’s been delayed three hours! This is important if you’re flying into a city that gets severe weather. I went to Chicago last weekend, and while my flight was (thankfully) on time, over 400 other flights weren’t thanks to an unexpected snowstorm. I would have been angry had I gotten up at 4am just to wait around the airport all morning!
7. Know that sometimes things go wrong. Maybe you forgot your sweater, or there was a mixup with your luggage (which I’m sure you had labeled with your name, phone number, departure city, destination, and the address you’re staying at, right?), or maybe you missed your flight. It’s ok. Things have a way of working out. Just stay calm and find a representative – they’re there to help you! They’ve gotten me out of some real jams, and are happy to do so (it is their job, after all!)
Do you have any tried-and-true travel tips to share?