* We’re sending lots of love to everyone in Boston (our cousins were at the marathon but are thankfully safe).
Back in October we hardly would have called ourselves traveling experts. Honestly we only took a flight once every few years (we went to Alaska for our honeymoon in 2007 and didn’t get back on a plane for a family vacation again until 2012 when we went to Hawaii for our five year anniversary). But thanks to our book tour, we’ve been on lots of flights. 29 of them in four months to be exact
. So while we still can’t quite claim expert traveler status yet, here are a few things we learned about planes and hotels along the way…
#1. If your airline is gate-checking bags, get on the plane towards the end of boarding (even if you’re invited to board earlier). On small planes where rolling suitcases & duffel bags are tagged at the gate and stowed underneath the plane, we found that often the last bags to go on were the first to come off. So if you’ve got a tight connection or just generally don’t like waiting for your bag, don’t be in a rush to board because your bag may end up at the bottom of the pile. Don’t be dead last and get left behind or anything, but try going on with Zone 4-5 people instead of Zone 1-2. Note: this works best if after you gate-check your bag, the only other carry-ons that you have can slip under the seat in front of you since overhead bin storage fills up while you wait to board.
#2. If you’re arriving to town before hotel check-in, just call ahead. Our flights often got us into town before noon – a few hours before the standard hotel check-in time of 3 pm. We used to think this required us to kill some major time, but usually all it takes is a call to get into your room early at no extra charge. We often called before getting on the plane (to let them know we were interested in an early check-in) and then again when we landed in that city (to hopefully secure something that was ready). This method only failed us once, but in about a dozen other circumstances when we arrived early, there was a room waiting for us.
#3. Be the bright spot in the front desk clerk’s day. Hotel employees deal with plenty of jerks each day (we witnessed more than a couple), so by being the friendly / smiley / not-engrossed-in-your-phone guests can sometimes earn you more than good karma points – we even scored a couple of random room upgrades.
#4. If you can’t reserve plane seats together, book seats that would be next to each other, even if they’re in different rows. All of our tour flights were booked by our publisher (many of them last minute). So on the few occasions where we couldn’t get seats together, we’d ask the desk agent, which worked in most cases. But for two instances it didn’t. So as a last ditch effort, we chose an aisle seat in one row and a window seat in another – even if it was a row up. Then we’d get on the plane and before the person in the seat we wished to switch with sat down and got settled we asked if they minded sitting one row up in the same exact seat that they booked. In those two cases, the person didn’t seem to mind at all (of course nothing’s guaranteed, but we thought it was worth a shot).
#5. Whenever possible, pack light and carry on. In all of our 29 flights, we never lost a single bag. This is because we packed light and carried on every single time. I just carried my purse (which also had our camera, our phones, our tickets, some snacks, and our itinerary) and John carried the backpack (with our books for reading on the plane, our computer, and signing stuff in it) along with dragging the carry-on-sized rolling suitcase along (full of clothes, shoes, etc). This is all that we brought with us, even when we were gone for nearly a week:
It might seem hard to get all of your stuff down to just a few bags, but our advice is to pack a few wardrobe staples that can all be interchanged (ex: don’t pack any tops that need specific shoes or pants that don’t go with anything else). In our case, a few pairs of jeans and tops along with one extra pair of shoes each, and some obvious things like underwear was all that we needed in our suitcase. When we travel with Clara we use one more rolling suitcase for her clothes, sound machine, blanket, and a few other comfort items, but since each person is allowed one suitcase and one carry on, we’re still good to go in that scenario without any bag checking.
6. Keep toiletries easily accessible in a plastic bag that you can pull out in two seconds at security. Many of the airports we traveled through were extremely strict about removing our liquid toiletries from our luggage when going through security (and it can really slow you down if you have to dig through your suitcase to grab them) so we learned to keep our plastic bag of contact solution and other small liquids more easily accessible. Rather than burying it with the rest of our toiletries in our suitcase, sticking it into the front pocket of the backpack made for easier grabbing.
Oh but they’ll take any and all fancy sodas away from you as you go through security 100% of the time.
#7. Make a travel document to use as a quick-reference itinerary for every trip. We put all of our hotel accommodations, flight confirmation numbers, and scheduled dates for departures & check-ins on one sheet of paper that we printed out before we left for the airport. It’s also a nice simple sheet to copy for a family member so they know where to find you in an emergency.
#8. Do a night-before-check on your flight, print tickets at home, and double check your hotel reservation. This is another one of those prepping-beforehand-is-much-easier-than-panicking-later things. We liked to check on our flight the night before, just to be sure it wasn’t delayed or canceled and, if possible, even print tickets at home to save time at the airport. We also learned the hard way to check our hotel reservations – on one of our first tour stops, we arrived to find that our hotel was booked for the following night instead of that night and we had to kill a few hours while everything was straightened out.
And if you’re lucky, your room looks like this…
#9. Everything takes longer than you think. Always give yourself a lot more time to do basic things like fly somewhere, catch a cab, check into your hotel, etc. In the beginning of our tour we tried to squeeze in a lot of things that we soon learned we’re close to impossible (ex: a house crashing after a delayed flight meant shooting a house in the dark and then eating a crazy-late dinner and collapsing into bed at 1am, which didn’t set us up well for our morning signing the next day). So it was a lot less stressful once we stopped underestimating the time it would take to do things and started being realistic about how much “fuzzy” time there is in there. You know, all those moments spent deplaning, waiting for a cab, or sitting in a restaurant waiting for the food can really add up.
#10. Hotel TV can stink. I know, this isn’t a huge deal for most people (us included) when you’re going to be staying somewhere for a few days, but when you’re traveling on and off for four months you definitely start to miss the simple comforts of home that help you unwind (your own couch, your own bed, and even your DVR). So we wised up in the last month of travel and got a free one month trial of Amazon Prime, which allowed us to watch Downton Abbey on our computer in any hotel. It sounds odd, but having this simple luxury really helped us relax and it made those random hotels feel a little more homey (instead of sitting on the bed watching Cops and missing “real life” like crazy).
So there you have it. Ten things that made all that traveling a little easier, more fun, tastier, and more comfy. Do you guys have other tips out there! I’m sure there are some we have yet to discover and a few that we’re forgetting thanks to scrambled travel brain. That’s a real thing, right?
Psst- Here’s a post about toddler travel that we did a while back, just in case that’s on the agenda for you.
Gabriella @ Our Life In Action says
I am the endless list maker and amazingly I still manage to forget some crucial item that I need.
P.S – prayers going out to everyone in Boston
Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. says
I really like the one about packing light. It takes away so many headaches when you travel! I’m even planning on only taking a carry-on for our two week trip to Europe next month! Here’s to hoping I can fit it all in!
We traveled to Italy for 16 days last fall, and I took only a backpack on the plane, and a carry-on suitcase. I didn’t want to check any bags. The backpack was great, because it fit a lot of stuff (multiple pockets that zipped–padded compartment for my DSLR) and was hands free when I wore it. I packed clothes that washed and dried easily (no dryers in Italy) along with a Rick Steeves clothes line. It worked fantastic, and soooo much easier than a big cumbersome suitcase. My husband did the exact same thing, and it was awesome. I spent many hours shopping online at Zappos, finding the right sandals to wear for lots of walking–with free shipping both ways, it was easy to try on and return–and I wore those sandals 99% of the time.
AnnieM, can you please share what sandals you ended up buying? Thanks!
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh says
Great travel tips! I’ll never be able to get our stuff down to 2 backpacks and a carry on. We go places for 2-3 weeks at a time and the Mr is a chronic over-packer. We’ve never had to pay but before we bought a luggage scale we had to rearrange a few times. So there’s my tip, if you’re an over-packer like we are, invest in a manual luggage scale ($10 and has a hook that holds up to 70 lbs or so). This will save you time and stink eye from other passengers if you’re close to or just over the limit.
Why wouldn’t you just step on the normal scale with your luggage?
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh says
Because buying something that fits in my hand is better than trying to benchpress my luggage on my regular scale.
Amber C says
I travel A LOT, especially overseas, and these are great tips! The only one I would caution people about is the seat switching thing. Despite flying a ton, I hate it, and choosing my seat is a way to cope with the anxiety – but, as a single person, I’m one of the first people asked to move if this happens. Recently on a flight from London, a family of 6 had all booked seats all over the plane and then all wanted to sit together. I wouldn’t move (because it was an 11 hour flight and I was already freaking out) and the flight attendants treated me terribly because of it, even though I was visibly upset. So expecting people to be okay with moving can be both unpredictable and pretty awful for the people who are being moved.
But YES to only carrying on!
I love all your travel tips, but I have to agree with Amber. I don’t have any travel anxiety, but I do work to get just the seat I want. I travel alone a lot, so people think it is totally OK to ask me to trade seats. I used to smile and trade seats with people, but inside I was TICKED OFF! I started to nicely explain that this was the seat I wanted, and did not want to trade. I then became the jerk of the flight, try being hated by a plane full of people for 10 hours!
Not to be a jerk, but just wanted to toss it out there… just because someone smiles and moves, does not mean they are really OK with it. My suggestion, book early if you really want to sit with your traveling mate. Or, if booking early is not an option, just realize that you won’t be sitting with your mate for several hours. Nobody wants to have to be the person to say “no, I really don’t want to move”. (Sorry, but this just happened in the last month, so I am still a little raw)
Oh yes, I completely agree that booking early is best! In our case the publisher did all of the booking (some of it at the last minute) and there were only two flights where we had to switch. Before the guy even sat down we just asked if he minded sitting one row up in the same seat – it seemed especially easy for folks if they weren’t settled already. Both of us have switched seats for people when we’re traveling alone, so I guess we didn’t think twice about asking :)
ITA about the seat switching thing. If you can’t find seats together when you book, you need to be prepared to just sit in your assigned seat instead of being rude and asking people to move to accomodate your lack of planning.
Otherwise, these are good tips.
I’ll be happy to be a dissenting voice here. I often travel alone, and I am always happy to switch seats as long as I don’t end up with a different type of seat than what I wanted. I prefer window seats (I’m small and fit well there, and then I get to control the lighting and looking out the window). Nothing makes me happier than when I had to take a middle seat and then I end up with a window seat when someone asks to switch with me.
It’s always one of those “read people well and be polite” circumstances. And to those who don’t want to switch, just say no — you don’t need to explain, and folks who want to switch need to accept that and move on.
Jeanna Strassburg says
I’m not trying to be rude here- I honestly just want to know. What is so rude about being asked to switch a seat?! It seems like most of the seats on the plane are pretty indistinguishable! Unless maybe you are in an emergency exit aisle? What ever happened to being kind and courteous and helping someone else in need? Especially if your not sitting with anyone? Someone enlighten me.
I have two partners who are executive platinum fliers, so I book flights every day. In my experience, seats are not interchangeable, especially if you fly a lot. People do develop favorite seats, and have good reasons for doing so, especially if they’re flying solo and on business.
I agree – if you can read your person and be able to give them a ‘equal or better’ seat, it’s ok to ask, especially if you’re flying with someone who obviously needs assistance. But for most healthy people, not sitting together for a few hours is not exactly a major problem in my book. I do agree that asking before they settle in is better, but do try to read your person before bringing it up, especially if you’re trying to switch into a “good” seat on the plane.
And, there are web sites that show you which seats are popular. If you (generic you, here, not J&S) really want to sit together, request the less popular sections of a given flight.
We travel overseas once a year to visit my husband’s family and we NEVER can get seats together even if I book 8 weeks in advance for the four of us. The biggest culprit? Two people traveling together who ‘leave’ a seat between them when they book. If you look at the seating chart, there are only orphan seats left.
I sympathize with the OP that being asked to move can be distressing, but the airlines need to do a better job at keeping blocks of seats for families that travel. If it were just my husband and I, I wouldn’t care if we are separated for the flight duration. It doesn’t make sense though, to ask a stranger to take care of my child because the airline only had single seats available in alternate rows up and down the airplane.
Laura H. says
I think the two of you are good *people readers* and would not offend someone by asking to switch seats. We travel as a family of 3 and have been separated only twice (2 seats and 1 seat)– even with the best planning and travel agent. One time the plane was completely packed and we just sucked it up because there was no room to move and we were *close enough* but another time an intuitive couple saw me handing things to my young daughter and husband and they happily offered to switch.
I was kind of surprised to see where it would bother people. But again….I don’t think you’d stick someone in a seat that was worse than their original.
Have to say–if John or Sherry asked me to switch seats, I’d be super excited! And probably act all weird on the plane and gush and jump up and down…
In all honesty though, if you’re going to ask someone to move, I think it’s totally cool if you are offering them a better seat, but kinda icky if you’re like, “Hey window-seat guy, would you mind sitting here in the middle so I can sit by my partner?” Then I’d probably pretend to not speak English (smile and nod, smile and nod…).
Totally agree. As a single person, I am asked all the time if I will switch seats. I used to switch, even though I didn’t always want to do so. These last few flights have been outrageously expensive and you know what? I don’t want to switch. I have anxiety issues and by the time I’m asked to switch seats I’m probably two pills to the wind and don’t give a crap what anyone thinks about me not switching. If one wants seats together so badly…book them that way.
I might have some anger that was repressed from a flight…
My husband travels 75% of the time. He books his own travel, lots of time at the last minute. He’s not a small guy: 6’2″ and 240 lbs. He normally sits first class because he’s able to with his travel points but when he sits economy, he pays the extra to book the seat he wants and will be comfortable in.
It might be different in the States, but lots of Canadian airlines require you to pay up to $60 or so to book the seat you want in advance. If you don’t pay it, you get assigned a seat that is left at the time of check in. My husband has come across a few people who have wanted to switch and it’s always no (unless there is a small child involved). I would be upset if I’d paid for my seat only to be asked to move – no matter if the other seat is the same “type”.
When my husband and I travel together, 50% of the time we don’t sit together. It’s no big deal, I can live a few hours without being attached at the hip.
And Alex, 8 weeks is nothing, I consider that almost last minute for an overseas flight. Also, it’s an overseas flight – why would you want to sit in the middle?! You know that you’re going to be traveling once a year, book it early!
@Caroline. I would love to book my tickets earlier, but financially, I can barely afford the $1000+ a ticket that the 8 week mark usually costs. I have tried booking 3 and 4 months out and the tickets are $2000 a piece. I have been tracking prices since January for our trip in June and it’s scary expensive. Yes, we could go back every other year and save the money, but my MIL would never see her only grandkids. (BTW, I am 12 weeks out from departure and tickets are now down to $1550 each.)
Again, I think the airlines need to do a better job of keeping blocks of tickets together. Yes, if you book your ticket last minute, you can expect bad seat assignments, but I’m guessing many of those asking to swap were not booking last minute.
Tripit.com is really good for corralling your itinerary stuff. Once you have an account, you can forward confirmation emails directly to trip it and they will auto-add it to your itinerary. You can also manual add stuff if you want.
I second the tripit recommendation – and they have an iphone app so all of your itinerary details can be carried on your phone as well….and you can share your trip wiht others so loved ones at home know where you’re staying etc.
The other cool thing about it is that you then have a history of all your trips in one place. Great if you ever go back to a city (so you can remember where you stayed, what you did, restaurants you ate at etc).
I came here to say this! Even the free version is incredibly helpful.
[email protected]'er All About It says
Ack! I just said this below without reading. Commenter-fail -> ME!
Haha, no worries Lindsay!
+1 – I clicked through from my reader JUST to make this comment :) great minds think alike!
Amy in Pittsburgh says
Tripit is AWESOME. And the basic app, which covers most of what you’d use it for, is FREE!
Henna | HENNA BLOSSOM BLOG says
You guys have had QUITE a year! :) Life is interesting, isn’t it…
I love that one of your tips is “Be the bright spot in the front desk clerk’s day.” SO you guys. Especially in travel we can get so wrapped up in what we’re doing…
Rebecca @This Nest is Best says
Travel Tip #1 – When you get home, pin your new location on your Pinterest Challenge map (which is finally on the wall! – http://thisnestisbest.com/2013/04/16/dining-room-updates-hanging-the-diy-map-art/)
Seriously though, these are great tips! We’ve definitely learned to become lighter travelers – often you only wear half of what you packed anyhow!
Haha, I love it!
Annabel Vita says
Ooh, good tips! I posted my packing tips here http://www.annabelvita.com/2011/09/21/pack-painlessly-every-time/ (short version, get separate travel toiletries and chargers so they’re always packed).
I also like to collate lots of information about where we’re going into a notebook, so it’s like a home made guide book! http://www.annabelvita.com/2011/06/02/write-your-own-guidebook-for-super-well-prepared-weekend-breaks/
So smart! Love the tips!
Ali B. says
Great tips! I knew some of them, but there were others here (like the Amazon Prime thing) that I totally didn’t realize.
Oh, and this isn’t even my blog, but this well-traveled fashion blogger has an awesome system for packing a few pieces for a whole lot of outfits while on a trip: http://outfitposts.blogspot.com/2012/12/summary-one-suitcase-beach-vacation.html. I used it when we went on our cruise in December and it was the most stress-free dressing-on-a-trip scenario ever.
When you fly internationally and in coach (or at any time you’re on a flight where a meal is served that doesn’t require you to cough up ten buckaroos), go ahead and order a special meal like vegetarian, low sodium, low fat, etc.
It’s a nice way to get your meal before the masses, and you don’t have to decide between lasagna or chicken only to find what you really wanted was given to the guy two rows ahead.
Oh, and when you fly internationally, make sure you – ahem – wear breathable fabric. It’s not the time to wear tight, restricting jeans. Especially if you’re a female. You know what I mean. Take an extra pair of undergarments just in case. Besides, you never know if your 15 hour flight will suddenly turn into 42 hours of horrific travel… and what you want most in the world (besides a hot shower) is a clean pair of undies.
Amen on the “breathable” pants! I always make sure when flying to wear yoga pants or a maxi skirt — never jeans. Also slip-on shoes for the security check.
Ditto! I fly international several times a year for work…and while not terribly business appropriate, I have my travel wear down to a science. Jersey maxi skirt, T shirt, slip on shoes (preferably sandals)…and TMI here, a cloth panty liner. I’m perfectly comfortable for the entire flight and can change the liner as needed.
Great tips! I traveled a lot before I got married and those are great tips that I have learned from experience as well!
Glad your cousins are ok! I had cousins and a friend there as well who are all thankfully ok! Prayers to Boston!
Great tips! I travel often for work and I 100% agree about building a wardrobe that will fit in one suitcase. Wrap dresses and nude heels (that go with EVERYTHING) are my best friends. Also – I always keep a spare phone/ipad charger in the front pocket of my suitcase should I forget mine in a hotel along the way. Side note: Hotel front desks usually have a big box of lost and found chargers so you can always ask them to “borrow” one for the night.
Ooh that’s a great tip!
Great tips! Love the blog!
Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms says
Great tips! Traveling can be so fun yet arduous so anything to make it better and more fun helps. It was also fun to get more insider pics and facts about your travels!
Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy says
Some great tips! The real gem is waiting to board when gate-checking bags. So smart! We also have netflix on our laptop so that makes for good hotel TV/movie watching even if it’s older shows. :)
We’re supposed to be taking a trip, just me and the bf – but I got a new job (I guess a month and a half ago is not new anymore… Ha.) so vacation time is minimal in the first year. Here’s hoping we can swing it!
I’ve traveled a lot (even though I’m not a big fan at all, especially of flying, but I love it when I get there). And my one single piece of tried and true advice is: do what you need to do to make yourself feel comfortable, even if it might seem ridiculous to someone else. Need to get to the airport 4 hours before to feel settled? Wear your favorite striped socks? Bring your favorite book? Eat swedish fish all day? Look at printed pictures of your loved ones? Whatever. Remember, part of traveling is the experience of getting there, and whatever you need to do to get you there so that you can have a good time when it’s all said and done is on the table. Sure people might look at you funny (wearing a neon eye mask or bringing your own instant coffee), but who cares? It’s part of your journey! :)
Haha, I love it!
yes ,yes, yes!!!! I have a friend who will vacation with me, but not travel to the airport with me! I “need” to get there 3 hours before my flight time, she prefers to stroll up to the gate as it is closing. So we drive separately and then spend the trip together. We travel frequently together for work as well and we can share a hotel room, but not a car to the airport!
Great tips! I love JetBlue so these two tips are specific to them…
1. Purchasing ‘even more space’ can sometimes get you ‘even more speed’ depending on the airport. This means you get to skip the entire security line which is amazing when it’s miles long.
2. JetBlue allows you to check-in via their app if you aren’t checking bags – no kiosks, no waiting, even no printing – you can literally walk up to the security line with your phone and license!
Nichole K says
Alaska does the same thing as #2 above! I usually try to not check bags so I check in with the Alaska iPhone app a day ahead which gives you a digital boarding pass that you pull up up when it’s time to go through security or board. Genius! (And I’m not a paid advocate ha!)
or you could do what we do & fly ourselves in our own jet/plane. one end of the country to the other in less than a couple hours. 28,000-32,000 ft pressurized same as the airliners but no TSA, no delays or layovers, no missed connections, you can use your electronic devices whenever you want (because contrary to what they tell you, they do not interfere w/ anything electronic or mechanical on a plane), no lines for the bathroom, pack as much as you want & (bragging) its first class legroom all the time, baby ;) seriously though, you could not pay me enough to ever fly commercial again *shudder*
Kate | This Wandering Life says
This sounds AMAZING!!!! I have always dreamt of piloting by own jet/plane. OH dreams…
Whaaaat? Haha, is this seriously someone’s comment?? People are absolutely crazy.
Laura C says
Debbie – I would love to fly myself in my own jet. Would you please pay for my flying lessons and buy me a plane? Thanks!!
Erm, while that does sound very comfortable, I hope you’re at least buying carbon offsets.
I agree that carrying on your luggage is the best way to go if at all possible, but just be warned that it doesn’t mean you’re completely insured against loss. On one trip we had to check our carry-on bag at the gate, as the overhead bins were full. They said they would check it all the way through to our final destination rather than bringing it back up at our first stop, but unfortunately our bag didn’t make it onto the second flight. It was very discouraging to try to get things ironed out at 11 pm after a long day of travel. Luckily, we lost it on the way home rather than the way there, so we weren’t without our luggage during our trip.
Oh man that stinks!
I always make sure the bag I’m bringing will fit under the seat in front of me. I’m sure it’s more difficult if you’re traveling with little ones, but I’ve never had to give up my bag because of it. And bonus: I never have to get up during the flight if I need something from my bag.
Lauren Nicole says
Had a similar experience. They lost my luggage on the way home from our honeymoon. My advice in regard to that experience is that you ALWAYS carry your makeup in your purse/backpack that you can stow under the seat if necessary. I had put my makeup in my big suitcase on that flight so I could fit a breakable souvenir in my backpack. HUGE mistake. I had to go to work the next day, so I had to go out and buy $50 worth of makeup to cover me for the 3 days until my suitcase arrived at my house.
I think the best thing to remember when traveling is that things WILL go wrong. You can’t escape it, a flight will be delayed or canceled, or you’ll hit traffic, or its going to rain. Just remember that it doesn’t have to ruin your trip!
I recently learned that I could check in through my iphone. Totally surprised more people don’t do it! Saves tons of time and it’s one less thing to keep track of since you always have your phone anyway. It’s especially fast if you’re not checking any bags.
Aw man, I love watchins COPS! (Maybe because my boyfriend is a deputy?) Either way, that show never gets old for me, lol! I must be part of that 1%!
Thanks for the tips! :)
Haha, it’s my BFF’s favorite show!
Great tips but if I could only! I always over-pack just because I dress as my mood changes. Something that I love today I might hate tomorrow, I actually pack up to 10 pairs of shoes for a 3 night trip. Crazy I know.
I always have my toiletries in a ziploc, in my handbag and always carry an empty plastic and a shopping bag in my luggage front pocket just in case, because you never know.
Chelsea @ Riding Escalators says
Great tips! I used to travel a ton in the last couple of years and it’s funny how you start to become a seasoned traveler who gets annoyed by all the other people in the security line. I would be stepping up to the belt with my shoes untied, laptop in one hand and toiletries in the other, when the security guard would have to stop someone ahead of me for trying to pack a full-size bottle of shampoo or forgetting that they had to remove their belt or sunglasses. I’d turn into one of those ornery people who gets all up in a huff and sighs loudly and then ultimately trips on their shoelaces. ;)
Good tips! We travel alot too, and sometimes with other family members who don’t travel alot. The best tip is to Pack Your Patience.
Haha I love that!
Thank you for posting tip #3!
As a front desk clerk who works at a hotel, and like a lot of people in customer service, when the customer gives a little kindness they often reap a lot of reward in the end! I love giving a cheaper room rate or free bottles of water and snacks or room upgrades to super kind people! I like rewarding good behavior! :D
Aw you’re so sweet! We love desk clerks like you!
Hear hear! We desk clerks also make sure every shift knows who the rude guests are – especially if you dare return!
I’ve only flown once by myself (no family or friends on the same trip), and one thing I did to help make my quick connection easier was to look at a terminal map beforehand. I knew that my gate could (and probably would) be switched, but knowing which concourse was where helped me make a beeline for my connecting flight and even have time to grab some food. I also wore slip-on shoes to make removing them for security quick and easy.
Great tip Brenda!
Whitney Dupuis says
So thankful that your family is ok! Praying for Boston!!!
Also, great tips! We will be taking a flight in September and it will be our 3 year old’s first time. I will definitely be taking these tips into account.
Great tips! As an aside – am I the only one who was greeted with a new mobile version of the site today? I always read yhl on my phone and it always pops up as the desktop version. Today I got a mobile version that I couldn’t navigate past the first screen of today’s post :-(
We put that up last night, so it’s still new and I’m so sorry you had an issue navigating! You can always click to go back to the normal web view if you don’t want to be in the mobile version. Not sure why you couldn’t navigate past the first screen though… hmm. Anyone else having that issue? We just checked on our phones and we were able to get around so perhaps it was just a momentary glitch? You have to click the image to go into that post and then you scroll down to read (on an iPhone) and left to right (on an iPad) to read. Hope it helps! :)
No, I was having an issue because I kept waiting for it to load more content without realizing I just have to sweep my finger to the left, then it was all fine.
Gotcha! So glad that the swipe fixed things :)
Awww… no mobile version on my ‘Droid. :(
So sorry Lesley! Right not it’s just on apple and nexus (I believe) but we hope to get it on a droid someday!
I noticed this too! It worked great for me. So cool!
So glad :)
I have an iPhone 4S, and the mobile version sucks for me. I can’t see comments on the mobile post, and can’t comment myself. When I go to desktop version it opens it in a new window. I’m also using Chrome for browsing. Hope that helps you fix the kinks!
Click the small arrow in the top right of the screen when you go to our site, and select “desktop site” to view the original format :)
Oh, I did! I was just giving you the specifics of my issues (and what hardware and software I use) since you were asking people. I’ll use the desktop and check in on the mobile version as progress is made :)
Yes, I’m having this issue too on my laptop…at first it comes up normal, but quickly goes to a one page and can’t go any further kind of view.
We disabled the mobile site yesterday afternoon, so if you clear your cache it should be back to the normal format (it is on both of our iphones and our ipad). Although you’re having problems on a laptop? That wouldn’t be the mobile site – perhaps it’s your browser? Maybe try restarting, checking the site in another browser, and clearing your cache/cookies? Hope it helps!
I haven’t flown in almost 6 years but I love the carry-on only tip!!
I always like to avoid wearing flip flops when I’m flying because it grosses me out to think that my bare feet are walking where everyone else’s bare feet walked through security when you have to take off your shoes. I prefer having socks to buffer my feet from the grossness : )
Chelsea @ Riding Escalators says
Ditto! I’m afraid of getting warts or someone else’s foot diseases. Yucky!
I always fly with my big pashmina, because it can double as a blanket on the airplane. Planes are weirdly cold at times! I loved your tip about being kind, too. That was always my strategy when I used to travel a lot for work. You’ll never regret being kind and patient with someone!
La Rêveuse says
Me, too. Mine is cashmere, never wrinkles, is light but warm, and can be used as a scarf. My daughter loves that I’ve used it to wrap her as a baby. :) I wouldn’t fly without it!
Any advice on what to do if you’re scared!? I hate flying. I’m flying from Boston to Arizona by myself in less than two months and last night I was having nightmares about it.
Lots of thoughts and prayers going out to my city. The emergency responders were fantastic. Lot of heros out there.
I used to have plane anxiety and the best things for me to do are to eat (empty stomach = upset stomach) and to bring things to keep my brain busy (books, sudoku, a journal – whatever you can do to take your mind off of things).
For me, anxiety about flying is related to not knowing what to expect. So I planned things out, even asking friends what to expect in terms of getting through security without problems. I gave myself way more time than I needed to get to the airport, and I went straight to my gate before I went looking for food. I had some podcasts on my mp3 player that I had loaded specifically for traveling, so I was looking forward to that. I kept my hands and mind busy, and that helped me stay calm. I hope your trip ends up being fantastic!
Echoing what Brenda said withher podcasts, I totally like to “treat myself” when flying. I buy a trashy magazine that’s a guilty pleasure, or a page-turner that someone’s recommended. (I read both “The Hunger Games” and “Room” in their entirety on planes; it’s a great way to pass the time since you’re completely absorbed in the book.) Also, snacks. :) I like to have something healthy (a piece of fruit) and a more indulgent treat that I wouldn’t normally buy (Cheetos!). Basically, things you would do to make flying more entertaining for a small child, you should totally do for yourself!
I absolutely dread flying. I went to Cuba over Christmas and I bought a bunch of trashy mags, two books, some mints (they make me feel less nauseous), and then I held my boyfriend’s hand whenever there was turbulence. It seemed to help!
Due to family living in NC, a boyfriend in Florida, and a nasty case of wanderlust, I’m flying much more frequently than my scared-to-fly-self would like. But some things that have helped my anxiety:
1. Put your headphones on and get your music playing as soon as you can. Try to zone/rock out to something you love. Reading a suspense or action type book or trashy magazine is helpful to get yourself engrossed in something.
2. If you hit some minor turbulence that is just ‘shaky’ try shaking your foot to the beat of your music. Somehow this tricks my brain into thinking that I’m the one moving my body around as opposed to the turbulence.
3. Try to ride out rougher turbulence by thinking of these air pockets as ‘potholes’. If you’re like me and live somewhere like Chicago, these potholes can feel a LOT worse than turbulence sometimes!
4. Some airlines let you plug into the armrest and you can actually hear your pilots talking and communicating with other planes in the air. So they’ll get a report about turbulence coming up in 15-20 seconds and then, lo and behold, the plane will start hitting turbulence. It calms my mind to know that this is a normal patch of turbulence as opposed to something going wrong.
My husband is a nervous flyer– we make it a point to get to the airport early enough for him to have a pre-boarding cocktail. Probably not for everyone, but for him it takes the edge off :)
[email protected] says
Excellent tips! When we travel we usually carry on 1 suitcase, take the largest purse I own, I take a computer case/backpack and my husband takes a bag pack. We still usually check a bag though because I take a lot of mousse, hair gel, hairspray, shaving cream and lotion. (Oh the woes of having curly hair and sensitive skin)
I hear you on the curly hair woes. If it’s only a quick weekend trip, I try to straighten my hair so I can get away with carrying on. Anything longer than that, and I have to check because my hair products don’t come travel-sized.
Teresa @ wherelovemeetslife says
Great timing and tips! I will also be sure to read through the comments on this one. I will be traveling with an infant for the first time in May and I’m a little nervous about being prepared. I think I need to start putting together plans now!!
La Rêveuse says
Just make sure you overpack diapers in your carry on. On my flight home from the Bahamas with a 5 month old, there were tornadoes around Atlanta so we tacked another 12 hours on to the time we spent in the terminal. I was down to the very last one! Not easy to find diapers in terminals, and they are super expensive and a pretty big size.
We just got back from our first trip with our 8 month old. She surprised us and was great. Besides being prepared – extra diapers, change of clothes for both of you, etc… and being organized, if financially possible, I would purchase a seat for your baby. She didn’t stay in her carseat the whole time, but it was much more pleasant for a four hour flight not to worry about her climbing on the person next to her since we had the entire row. Also, if you are traveling with more than one adult, have on person board first with all the stuff and get settled. Then the other person boards at the end with just the baby. It could mean the difference of almost 45 minutes less of being on the plane.
Alex The friendly airhostess says
I’m a flight attendant and boarding last is NOT a good idea. On mainline(aka big planes with real bins) you’re setting yourself up to not have bin space for your carryons. It is first come, first serve and when something is checked at the door cause there is no bin space, it is going to baggage claim…not brought back to the jetway for you.
On the little planes, if you wait til the end to get on and the plane is weight-restricted(on warm days due to thinner air, the plane can’t carry as much weight) or oversold, you’re setting yourself up to get bumped from the flight. You’re also guaranteeing that your luggage hasn’t had the full boarding time to get loaded, if there’s weight restrictions, the people’s luggage that showed up first is already loaded. If you have kids, strollers, carseats, etc…boarding last is really disrespectful to the baggage guys…those SUV strollers take time to be carried down the stairs…and be nice and fold those puppies down! The single 25 year old baggage guy isn’t an expert in finding hidden latches to collapse a stroller.
Just a side note to the person who suggested ordering a special meal: they are usually extremely bland. One vegetarian meal will be made to accommodate several dietary restrictions: no dairy, no pork or gelatin, no meat, no spice…aka no taste. If you are worried about not getting to choose between the chicken and the pasta entrees, pick a seat as far forward as possible, we start serving from the front. You can always tell when someone read in a magazine that the special meals taste better– they’re asking for another choice because rice and soggy beans aren’t exciting.
with the exception of liquids or gels(jello, apple cause, soup, etc), you are permitted to bring snacks for yourself. We work 14 hour days and with storms and mechanicals they can go longer-delays happen a lot. bring a protein bar or bag of trail mix for yourself! Having your own food will make your much comfier for sure! And please don’t check your medication in your bag!!!
Happy flying friends!
Thanks for all the tips Alex! When we gate check our rolling bag we only have a purse and a backpack, both of which can slide under the seat in front of us, so we don’t need any overhead bin space at all. I’ll add an update to the post to help people realize that it only works in that case! We also don’t wait to be the last ones on the plane or anything, we might just board in Zone 4-5 instead of Zone 1-2 :)
Lynn @ Our Useful Hands says
My heads in the clouds today, but so glad to hear that you’re family is okay up in Boston. People are just straight up crazy…I pray that evil doesn’t become our new norm.
My absolute best, Lynn
For about five months one year, I used to fly between Syracuse and NYC every single week, and I definitely learned what works for me when traveling. Besides always carrying on, packing toiletries in an easily accessible Ziploc bag, and wearing shoes I could slip on and off, I learned that having extra Ziplocs and even plastic grocery sacks came in very handy. Whether used for separating icky items (like suddenly muddy shoes) or making sure something small doesn’t get lost, they became lifesavers.
I also learned how important it is to stay hydrated, something that’s hard (and costly) when you’re traveling so much. Besides always asking for a bottled water on the plane, I brought along a flat flask that I could fill up at water fountains and not have to shell out for pricey post-security drinks.
Finally, absolutely bring whatever makes you feel at home. For me that was my sound machine and a long cashmere cardigan that could double as a blanket on the plane. Do what you gotta do to stay comfortable!
Great tips! The one thing that I would comment on is that, in my experience over the past two years living abroad and traveling overseas with two small kids, I’ve learned to take as little as possible to carry on the plane. If you are needing your hands to keep up with kids, you don’t want to also have to keep up with heavy bags, so I’d rather take the chance of having my luggage lost or delayed (which thankfully hasn’t happened to me yet).
Whenever possible, pack light and carry on. –
I would add, recognize when it is worth the extra check baggage fee. When I traveled with only my then 9 month old, it was worth the fee not to have to drag a rolling bag around the Atlanta airport while carrying or pushing her in the stroller as she does not like the baby carrier.
This summer, my husband and I are taking her and her 3 year old brother on a 12 day trip. I’m thinking checking one bag will again be worth it not to have another thing to drag around the airport during our lay-overs!
I hate to be that girl who points out a correction, but the website for the blog post says “twelve tips for smoother travel” – not sure if you can change that now, but thought you should know early on if you can!
Anyway, I love all 10 tips!
Thanks Amanda! We collapsed two of the tips into one to make it ten, so the url is just the old title. Since we linked to it from Facebook I think we’ll just leave it – haha!
One tip to pack a little bit lighter for you. We also traveled for years with our sound machine. One day we discovered the free app – “WhiteNoise” for iPad/iPhone. The free version is plenty for us, but purchased the full version because we love it so much. Now we always have a “sound machine” right in our pockets! You can even customize the sounds to your own liking. Thanks for the good tips!
christina @ homemade ocean says
I really don’t know how you all did it!
I love to fly, and follow most of your tips already but I CAN NOT TAKE my ears popping. Seriously, I am that annoying girl that is practicing breathing techniques and chomping on gum and taking a swig of sprite every three seconds to get them to pop. And don’t get me started on the layers of ear buds/phones. Can’t help it, my ears have refused to pop one too many times. Talk about painful!
I did recently hear that you should spray nose spray before you fly, helps keep everything popable :)
I always carry my bag of liquids in my purse or backpack so it is easy to grab.
Whoa new phone browser web page thing. You’re new. It doesn’t work great from my iPhone but maybe it’s just being grouchy? Maybe I just don’t like change. Hahaha, love the tips though! I also was able to perfect my airport/luggage skills from flying when I was younger. Parents in different states meant 4 flights a month (round trip every other weekend) from age 6-16. The people of southwest are like extra parents to me!
Oh no, what’s not working?! We have heard from a few folks who had luck with it (and it works on our ipad and iphones) but we’d love to know if there’s a glitch since it’s so new! The only thing we’re still working on is commenting (right now you’ll get redirected to the normal format to comment). We’re still figuring things out :)
Ok not sure if this will post under my original comment (but I commented earlier about the new browser not working great on my iPhone).
I’m using it through the Facebook app so maybe that’s why there are some glitches? But when I hit the rocket looking icon which what looks like will take to me ‘articles like this’ it only list the same article (ten tips for travel) and then a bunch of blank thumbnail images below it each with no working link. Then when I hit the house icon (which looks like should take me home) just let’s me click desktop version and not your other tabs.
But I LOVE that I can just swipe through to previous posts – that is so handy! And hopefully this is just my phone/app that it’s being wonky for.
Thanks so much for the tips Emylee! We’re brand new at this so we’ll go in through the FB app and try to see if we can iron out those glitches :)
Vanessa B. says
I wear slip-on shoes and pack my belt and the silver stack bracelet I always wear in my carry-on. That way I can zip through security and then put them on afterward. For a long flight I carry on my toothbrush/paste and some wipes so I can feel a little more fresh when I arrive. And I drink water. Lots and lots of water.
Meg Kearney says
I travel ALOT for work. The Boston-LA flight every other week. If you travel this frequent and not just vacation every now and then my biggest travel advise is to stick to one airline and get your priority status. American isn’t always the best or cheapest – but after you become a gold or platinum member you get perks such as preferred front of plane seating, no more middle seats, you can board first, free checked bags (although I don’t normally do that.) For me the boarding first is the most valuable… that and when I used to fly lots of redeyes the airline club at the airport to use the showers!
I travel weekly for work and use TripIt (the free version of the app) and you can forward all of your confirmation emails to [email protected] and they store all information and you can access it on your phone – as well as send itineraries to your family.
Also – you can now bring on full sized contact solutions as long as yours doesn’t contain the Hydrogen Peroxide in large amounts (sadly mine does)
Tripit is truly amazing. I hate to sound like I’m plugging it, but it really helps you keep organized. I also have the feed from Tripit to my calendar so it goes from email – tripit – iCal. BTW, the main coder is a friend and UVA alum, class of 1995 with me (and my good friend, your sister, Katie). Small world.
Amanda B. says
Tip #3 is good advice anywhere. At the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the library, McDonalds… :)
[email protected]'er All About It says
I highly recommend downloading the app Tripit. There’s also a website where you can set up an account, Tripit.com. We travel pretty frequently and it’s hard to keep all of those confirmation numbers in one easy place, but Tripit makes it a snap! Hotel reservation #’s, flight #’s, maps once you’ve landed, and we’ve even had confirmation numbers for shows and games that all will stay in one convenient app. Best.Thing.EVER!
I second the Tripit motion. We just got back from a 3 week trip to Europe and we used Tripit everyday.