Air travel can be a quick and convenient way to get you to and from your vacation destination.
While air travel can be a positive experience, it can also cause unnecessary stress and spoil your getaway. If you are someone who is new to flying or someone who always seems to have bad experiences at the airport, there are things you can do to make sure your flight goes off without a hitch.
Below are eight common sense tips that you can follow that will make your air travel cheaper and less stressful overall. Following all of them is no guarantee that you will have a stress free flight, but it will prepare you for any unforeseen issues during your trip.
Shop Around For Tickets
A major stressor when vacationing can be money. Airline tickets can eat up a major portion of your vacation budget unless you shop smart and look around when purchasing tickets.
When looking up flights and purchasing tickets, it is best to avoid the airline’s own websites. When purchasing tickets directly from the airline, odds are you will be paying close to full price for a ticket.
Instead, visit third-party booking sites such as Priceline, Expedia, or Trivago. These sites will often have deals not offered by the airlines. Websites like Priceline even offer a name-your-own-price service that can get you tickets up to 50% off.
Each site can offer different prices for the exact same seats. Before making a final decision, look around at as many booking and travel services as possible. More money saved on flights means less stress and more money to spend on your trip.
Be Flexible and Book Early
Airline ticket prices vary day to day, even hour to hour. The most expensive times to fly are on weekends, Monday mornings, and Friday evenings. Moving around the days to fly to cheaper times of the week can cut your ticket price by up to half.
If you cannot change the day you depart, booking early can still save money no matter what day you fly. Waiting until the last minute is the worst possible way to purchase flights. A plane ticket that cost $90 six months ago could wind up costing over $1,000 at the last minute.
Also, try flying out of a different, nearby airport if you have that option. Flying out of smaller airports often requires making multiple connecting flights, which adds cost. See if there is another larger airport nearby that can get you to your destination.
As soon as you have your dates for your vacation finalized, shop around and book your tickets.
Review All Baggage Rules
One annoying aspect of flying today is paying baggage fees.
Every airline has different policies around how much they allow and charge for checked bags. Check the website of the airline you are flying or call them and double check their policy so fees do not surprise you at the airport.
When checking the airline’s baggage policy, keep an eye out their weight limits. Many airlines will charge you extra if you go over a certain weight. To know for certain, after packing your luggage, place your luggage on a bathroom scale. If you go over the limit, see if you can put it in your carry-on, another passenger’s lighter bag, or leave it behind if it is not important.
As you pack your bag, also be sure to remember Federal law about what you can and cannot bring on the airplane. The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website has easy tools to make sure you follow all their air travel guidelines. Not following all the TSA’s rules can lead to searches and extra delays.
Verify Rides and Transportation
Late rides can derail your entire trip. A few days before and up to the morning of your trip, double and triple check with any taxi, bus, shuttle service, carpool, or train rides you have arranged to and from the airport.
Make certain any transportation tickets you have are the right date and time and review the airport’s parking procedures. If you have friends or family driving you, keep them informed of your flight progress as often as possible.
Look Over the Airport Layout
As air travel grows, so do airports to accommodate the extra air travel.
Most airports in major cities across the globe have become sprawling, massive complexes that can be confusing to novice travelers. Trying to navigate from gate to gate can be immensely stressful, particularly when flights are late and time is short.
To avoid any added rush, before you head to the airport, check the airport’s website to find a map of the area. Find exactly where you need to park or be dropped off, look where the ticketing and check-in area is, and confirm where exactly your gate is.
Remember Important Documents
With all the rush of packing and getting to the airport, you can sometimes get forgetful about even common sense things.
Before you step out to travel to the airport, make sure you have your wallet or purse, phone, government identification, passport, money, and tickets if you have them. Showing up at the airport without your identification or money can lead to unnecessary delays and security checks.
Be careful with your important documents and money. It can be easy to set them down and lose them in all the commotion that airports have. Keep them on your person at all times.
Arrive Two Hours Early
The common rule of domestic air travel is to arrive at the airport roughly an hour and a half ahead of time to account for any unexpected delays.
While this is good advice, the lines and wait times at security checkpoints have been increasing. Sometimes an hour and a half is not enough, especially if you have never been to the airport before or are unaccustomed to air travel.
Show up an extra half hour early. If you do happen to breeze through security and find your gate with time to spare, use this to your advantage. Use your extra time to find a spot and relax before your trip.
Relax and Be Patient
Even if you have taken all necessary precautions to try to minimize problems from popping up during your travels, problems can still happen. Airports and airplanes can have large crowds, long lines, cramped spaces, ridiculous fees and annoying passengers. All of these can add to your stress.
When you are at the airport, after arriving plenty early try to find a spot to unwind.
Find an airport restaurant or lounge and enjoy a drink or meal. Bring books, magazines, or a tablet to keep you distracted. A pair of headphones can be a lifesaver for irritating surroundings. Always remember to not panic, rush, or worry.
No matter what your do or go, always be sure to have your bags and belongings with you and listen for any announcements about your flight over the PA system.
Anything can happen when it comes to air travel. Costs, luggage, delays, security, and rude passengers can start your vacation or trip on a sour note. Following the above tips can help you feel comfortable knowing that no matter what the situation, you are prepared to confront any last minute issues and are able to enjoy your flight and trip.