Traveling for the holidays? Air travel is not always easy- and less so this time of year. Here are a few expert air travel tips to make your trip go as smoothly as possible and get you to your destination in time to enjoy.
- Plan on arriving at least a day or two early at your destination. This is especially important if you are going on a cruise, tour or attending an event, i.e. holiday gathering, reunion, concert, etc. Seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall this Christmas? Celebrating Grandma’s 90th birthday? Going on your dream Beercation cruise? You don’t want to risk the chance that you would miss one second of this once-in-a-lifetime event. Weather, mechanical problems, traffic on your way to the airport and other unexpected events happen with more frequency than you’d think. And a delay or missed connection of just a few hours could put the kibosh on making an event that was planned on the same day or even the day after your arrival. If you are traveling overseas or to a different time zone, you should also consider giving yourself time to adjust to the local time, so you are not a zombie and can fully enjoy the event you have travelled to attend.
- Take the earliest flight of the day if possible. The earlier the flight is, the less likely it will be delayed due to issues like waiting for your aircraft (which may have been delayed on the flight prior to yours) to arrive, air traffic, incoming weather issues, etc. This also gives you a chance to hop onto another flight if your flight is cancelled. If you are on a late flight, there is less chance of rebooking on another flight until the following day and the chances of a delay or issue with your flight goes up. Bonus- the first flight of the day is often cheaper!
- If a direct flight is possible, go for it- even if it is a few bucks more. This way if there is a delay, you are at least not worried about making your connection. There will also be less chance of any checked luggage being misdirected or lost.
- Pack things you will need immediately in your carry-on. We all know that our medications, contact lenses, vitamins, computers, etc. belong in there, but a change of clothing- or at least clean underwear and a layer or two to adjust to different weather can be a lifesaver if you are arriving in a cooler climate. If you are headed to a country where the currency is different, make sure to have some cash in that currency with you. Credit cards may not be accepted at the airport train station or local taxi service, so having some local cash upon arrival can be a lifesaver. An international adaptor/convertor for your plugs can come in handy to get your computer and appliances running or to keep your phone charged- especially if there are no USB charging outlets at your accommodation.
- Use a luggage tracker so if your bags are lost or delayed, you are able to track them down easier and assist the airlines in getting them back to you asap.
- Make sure you are insured properly for the trip you are taking. If you are traveling outside of the USA there is a good chance you will not have medical coverage should something pop up. You should check with the credit card company you are using to pay for your trip to see if they offer any coverage, and if so, get the details of what is- and is not-covered, along with important information like the limits of coverage and what is considered a “covered reason”. While some plans from higher-end travel cards offer some decent cancellation coverage, you should check with your travel advisor to make sure you are fully covered for delays, medical, emergency evacuation, etc. They can guide you on the best plan that works with the length and cost of your trip and even if an annual policy might be the best option for you.
- If you think you will need to make a claim on your insurance, Call the insurance company asap and ask them for guidance on what you will need to do to be able to properly claim for a covered reason. It is important to have documentation of the reason you are claiming, i.e. flight delays, illness, traffic accident, etc. If you call the insurance company they can tell you what you will need to proceed with a claim. If you have an illness that is causing you to cancel, delay or interrupt your travels, you will likely need a doctor’s letter or lab verification of your positive test. Also, pay attention to why an airline has cancelled or delayed a flight- while weather is often a covered reason, mechanical issues are airline issues and may not be covered by your insurance. In this case you should familiarize yourself with the airlines policies on what kind of compensation will be available to you should they delay or cancel for an extended period. Our sister travel agency, The Vacation Artists, offers per trip and annual policies. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any travel questions or for assistance with finding a plan that is right for you!
- Pack a snack and a water bottle. There is nothing worse than being stuck at an airport after the lounges and shops have closed or arriving late when nothing is open and you are starving. Granola/protein bars are easy to pack and there are usually filling stations for water bottles in most airports nowadays. If not, splurge for that overpriced bottle of water in the airport shop after security, you can refill it as needed and staying hydrated is one of the keys to feeling ready to roll when you arrive at your destination.