Let’s put this upfront: Traveling by airline flights will never be as easy or pleasant as it used to be. That’s just the way it is. New security requirements are not going to disappear any time soon, and neither are luggage fees or charges for booking tickets by phone. But the news isn’t all bad. Travel by air is safer than ever according to the latest statistics. Take the right steps and it might even be relatively comfortable and affordable. Here are a few tips to help you with that.
1. Book Your Tickets Online
The cheapest airfare you can get is generally found online. Many of the airlines now charge you for buying tickets by phone. If you run into trouble booking your flight with a vendor like Expedia or Travelocity you can call them for help. If you book on an airline website and have trouble you can call the airline, and they usually won’t charge you for a phone-booking if you started the process online. Ask the operator just to be sure, and insist that they drop the charge if it later shows up on your credit card statement.
2. Try Carry-On Only
Many travelers, even those going overseas for weeks, are opting to bring only carry-on luggage. The advantage is not just in avoiding the checked luggage fee. In fact, although you will often save the luggage charge on domestic flights, most airlines still allow one checked bag for free on overseas fights. But besides the possible savings the other advantages have to do with the simplicity of traveling light. If you pack just a carry-on bag the other passengers will be waiting for their luggage (at both ends of the trip) while you walk on by and get on with your plans. You don’t have to worry about lost luggage. It is easier to get in and out of taxis with just one bag. You are less of a target for criminals when you carry less. It can be tricky to keep it light and still have everything you need, but if there is something you overlooked you can always buy it when you arrive at your destination. And remember that the airlines allow a hand held item in addition to carry-on luggage, so you can bring a briefcase, a laptop, or a big purse.
3. Bring Food and Water
In recent years there have been many reports of passengers being stranded on airport tarmacs for hours because of bad weather or traffic jams on the runways. Sitting there for hours is bad enough, but what isn’t mentioned is that attendants generally can’t serve meals during these delays, and they sometimes run out of water for passengers as well. So it pays to have a snack and something to drink with you. Usually you can buy a bottle of water or soda in the airport after you pass through security, and then take it onto the plane with you. Bringing your own food especially helps if you’re vegetarian or you have other special dietary needs, since the options offered by the airline will be limited and not always of the best quality.
4. Try Different Dates
A departure on one day of the week can be substantially more or less than a leaving a day or two earlier or later. Many travelers find Tuesdays to be best for flying overseas, but the cheapest days will vary depending on your destination. When you search for flight online, use whatever flexibility you have to try different departure and return dates. Playing with both of these can sometimes save you hundreds of dollars.
5. Go Where the Flights Are Cheaper
Sometimes you have to be somewhere specific, and so you just have to pay the price. But if you are traveling for pleasure you might consider checking on flight costs for several different destinations that you would like to visit. One might save you hundreds of dollars versus another. Do that a couple times and you save enough to pay for another vacation. The prices for different flights will go up and down, so over the years you might still visit everyplace on your wish list, but for a substantial discount each time.
6. Bring an MP3 Player
The talking and coughing around you are bad enough, but the crying babies… One way to make a flight a lot nicer is to have your own music with you. An MP3 player loaded with all of your favorites will drown out most of the noise. Also, if you have a difficult time relaxing when flying you can use meditation recordings. Prior to your flight go online to buy and download a good downloadable one. Make sure it’s one that uses brainwave entrainment technology and get one that has a session lasting thirty minutes or longer. Load this onto your MP3 player and you have a good tool for relaxation. It might even put you right to sleep, which will really make the flight seem a lot shorter.