Whether you’re a travel rookie or travel vet, there’s always room for improvement. Traveling can be frustrating, from booking flights, to going through airport security, to feeling uncomfortable on the flight. While some of these inconveniences are unavoidable, there are ways to combat most of the common struggles associated with traveling. Here are the five key tips and tricks that’ll have you traveling like a pro.
1. Use a third-party site to book your flights
Not only can flights be expensive, they can take hours of your time and effort to research flight times, airlines, and other flight aspects. A major flight hack is to use a third-party website to book your flights, like Expedia or SkyScanner. These sites/travel agencies search several sources to find the flight options available then present you with the best and cheapest, depending on your needs. Instead of spending your time researching all the different flight options, let them do the work for you.
Another reason this is a huge air travel tip is because third-party sites tend to offer different protections that you may not get without them. For example, if you book through two separate airlines to get to a destination, you may not be protected in the case of a delay or cancellation. Third-party sites generally take on that risk and offer you protection in the case of a cancellation or missed flight from a delay.
Of course, the best thing about third-party sites is the deals you’ll find. If you’re looking to travel, but can’t dish out dollars for it, a third-party site is a good option for you.
2. Enroll in a Trusted Traveler Program to expedite your security process
Okay, you’ve got your flights, now what? Another major headache in traveling is going through security screening at the airport. Lines are long, it’s not fun to take off clothing/shoes or take out your laptop and liquids, and you never know how much time you’ll have to spend going through security.
Instead of worrying about all of this, enroll in a Trusted Traveler Program that includes TSA precheck. With TSA precheck, you’ll have access to expedited lanes and lesser screening requirements. Time spent going through security at the airport significantly decreases when you have TSA precheck.
Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI all offer TSA precheck with enrollment, as well as benefits when re-entering the United States from certain locations. Check out the TSA website to learn about specifics of all of the programs and decide which is best for you. Each of the programs lasts five years and costs a fee, though your credit card company may cover the cost for you.
3. Pack an empty water bottle and snacks for the airport and flight
Alright, you’ve got your flights, you’re through security, and you’re walking to your gate. You realize you’re hungry and thirsty but don’t want to pay the ridiculous airport prices, what can you possibly do? Answer: plan ahead.
While you can’t bring liquids larger than 3.5 fl oz on your carry-on, you can bring an empty water bottle. Most airports in the United States have water bottle refill stations, so if you have an empty water bottle, you’re set for both the airport and flight. The same goes for snacks. You may not be allowed to bring certain perishable foods, but it’s definitely cheaper to bring some cookies or nuts with you from home than it is to buy it in the airport. You may not have the space to be completely stocked full of snacks, but something is better than nothing.
4. Sit at a cafe for WiFi in the airport
Airports can require long hours of waiting, and waiting can be hard. What makes waiting easier is access to WiFi. With internet connection, you can work, watch Netflix, or do whatever else to pass the time that you have at the airport. But, not all airports offer free WiFi.
Before paying for WiFi, there are a few things you can do. First and foremost, check the airport guide or airport website to see if there is free WiFi offered. Often, the airport offers some sort of free internet perk, even though it may be slow and come with a time limit.
If there isn’t free WiFi or if the speed/time limit isn’t working for you, you can always buy WiFi at the airport. Instead of paying $20 or whatever the price is, it’s usually much cheaper to find a Starbucks or cafe in the airport that offers free WiFi with a purchase. Spending a couple bucks on coffee that comes with unlimited WiFi is more economical than paying a large amount for a few hours of WiFi. So, next time you’re bored in the airport, grab a coffee, take out your tablet, and enjoy.
5. Bring a scarf or layered clothing for the flight
We’ve covered pre-booking, pre-security, and pre-flight tips, now for the #1 airplane travel tip!
Flights are always variable. You never know if you’re going to get a smooth, quiet flight, or a noisy, bumpy flight.
One thing that always tends to be true, however, is that flights are cold. There’s nothing worse than being on a 10-hour flight and freezing your socks off the whole time. While some flights will provide you with blankets, you honestly never know. Instead of leaving your warmth up to chance, pack a scarf or a jacket in your carry-on. That way, you’ll be warm on your flight and can enjoy your music, movie, or snooze in the best way possible.