Tips for Air Travel in Summer
Book Your Air Travel As Early As Possible
When I learned that I was going to be going to Hawaii for over a week, I was ecstatic. My friend and I had been saving money for a long time, and now we were going to be able to plan the trip we had been dreaming of.
By booking more than 3 months ahead, we were able to save a lot of money to use on other parts of our trip.
When booking a trip, look at the following items:
- Day of departure. You can save a lot of money by leaving on certain days. For us, leaving on either a Saturday or a Tuesday or Wednesday saved us each a few hundred dollars.
- Time of departure. Not all airlines offer multiple departure times for all cities, but if it is an option, look to see what the price differences are for different times. Again, by choosing the earliest flight of the day (leaving at 5 AM) we saved another hundred dollars.
- Type of plane that you will be on. If you do not like the RJs (Regional jets, the ones with visible propellers) then you may want to see if there is a larger plane available. If you are coming from a small city to a larger one to get to where you will finally end up, you may be on an RJ for the first leg or two of your flight)
- Time of layovers. I once could have saved over 800.00 by taking a flight that had a 13 hour layover in a smaller city. It sounded really good, so I telephoned the actual airport to learn what time the services such as food and gift stores would be closing. They closed at 9pm. I arrived at 7pm, so that would give me a chance to have supper in a restaurant before literally laying down on the floor to get my sleep for the night. My flight was leaving the next morning at 8am, so I would have had to been at the airport at 6am if I chose to leave and get a hotel room off airport premises. Although I normally would have done it, by the time I looked into all of these issues, the flight was sold out, so I had to take the more expensive flight.
- Nearby cities and destinations. Major cities often have more than one airport. Check all airports in the area to see if there is a savings.
- If you have connections, make sure that they are either in the same airport, or make sure that you have ample time and funds to get to the alternate airport.
- Select your seat assignments now, before the plane fills up with passengers.
Print and Save Your Tickets
When I make any travel reservation, I always print off the ticket immediately and place it in the same place every single time. I then send an email to myself telling me where the ticket is, where my passport and other information is, and I then send an email to everyone I am traveling with, even if they are in the same room with me at that moment. The email that I send out includes our travel dates and times, as well as what time we will meet if we are meeting before we arrive at the airport, or where we will meet when we are at the airport.
Make sure that you check your passport before you travel. If you are going to be traveling using your passport and your passport expiration occurs while you are gone, it is better to renew it now rather than try and come back into the country with an expired passport.
Once you have printed and saved your tickets, sent the email to note the location of the tickets, checked your passport for expiration date, set a date on the calendar for one month before you travel, two weeks before you travel, one week before you travel and the night before you travel. You will see why in a moment.
Using a Calendar
Air travel can be fun, but it can also have some issues. If an airline sells enough tickets to fill a small plane, then even though you booked on a larger plane, they may bring out the smaller plane. The reverse is also true.
I start checking about a month before I fly to see if the plane has changed, or to see if my seat assignments have changed. I simply log in to the airlines' site, enter my information and pull up the flight and look at seat assignments.
I will do this at the one month mark, one week, and the night before I travel. I will also look to see if the flight times have changed, or if there is anything else that might have changed. Sometimes, you will see flight times move forward or backwards a few moments, sometimes, flights will move forward as much as more than an hour. Be prepared.
I use an online calendar that notifies my phone, but whatever method calendar you choose, make sure that you actually will use it and not forget about it.
Learn About Your Luggage
No two airline carriers have the same rules about luggage. Whether it is checked or carry-on, the airlines will have guidelines about the maximum size for checked, the maximum size for carry-on as well as what it will cost to check your bags. Some carriers are now CHARGING for carry-on luggage. Make sure that yours is not one if you can help it. Some carriers are charging as much as $100.00 for a carry on bag if it does not meet their carry-on size requirements.
Check with your carrier to learn the size requirements for luggage. Some airlines will let an inch or two slide while others are very strict about the size of bags that are allowed on.
The same rule applies for weight of bags. Make sure that you learn what the weight per bag is. Weigh your luggage when it is fully packed. Remember to allow space for souvenirs to bring back home, and to know how much weight you can add to your bag. When we came back from Hawaii, I did so much shopping that I ended up buying a second suitcase and paying for the oversize fees. I knew that I was going to do it before we even left home for the trip, but if you are not prepared for something like that, then think about it now.
Check your luggage over. Make sure that all of the zippers work, all of the wheels are in working order, the handle pulls and releases with no problems and that the luggage is free of all tags and information from prior flights. It may seem cool to you that you have tags going to destinations all over the world, but your bag may end up going all over the world if the baggage handlers cannot determine where your bag needs to go.
Mark your bag with your information in and outside of your bag. Make sure that you have your phone number inside the bag so that if your bag is lost, they have a way to get in touch with you. I always make sure and put my email address on my luggage as well. I have phone numbers of where I am going, phone numbers of where I will be staying at as well as my cell phone and email address. It is a lot easier to find me if my bag is playing hide and seek!
Bad Weather Happens
No one likes to think about what can happen in the event of bad weather. Bad weather causes delays and cancellations. I always carry a small blanket in my carry on bag and an inflatable travel pillow. If we are going to be a few hours, then I am able to get a small nap. If we are going to be several hours, I always have a craft project or a book. Try to not choose activities that are completely reliant on electricity. In bad weather, even airports can lose power, and the generators that they have are going to be used for essential needs first.
If you are traveling with children, quiet toys are your best bet. Coloring books, books, magazines are all nice distractions. When I travel with children, I make it a point for them not to see what I have purchased for them until we are either on the plane, or we are delayed at the airport.
In the event of bad weather, fill your water bottle at the water fountain, secure a seat for everyone in your travel party if you can. If not, if everyone has blankets, you can fold them and sit on them. A friend of mine actually carries a small seat cushion in her carry on bag because of being stuck at an airport one time for several hours. In the day, it was a seat cushion on the floor when she was stranded. At night, it was a pillow. Plan ahead for bad weather. Make sure that you have a plan if the weather is bad before you leave.
Dressing for the Airport
Dressing to go through airport security is easy enough. You will need to remove your shoes when you go through security as well as put your carry on luggage and personal items through the metal detector for security to inspect.
Make sure that if you are traveling with little ones, you personally go through the bag that they will be taking with them. Remove all liquids and gels, and if they are for travel, place them in a zip top bag and be prepared to remove them when you go through security.
I remove all hair items that are metal, and I travel with a cloth headband to get through security. I carry a pair of socks to slip on when I remove my shoes. I don't like the idea of walking across a bare floor that someone with disgusting feet may have walked upon moments before me.
I bring about $20.00 in small bills with me, in case I want to purchase a newspaper, a snack or a drink. I always bring my own personal water bottle, which I fill at the water fountain for free.
Dress in layers. Planes are either hot or cold with no middle ground. Don't wear something that is uncomfortable.
Security-Keeping Everyone Safe On the Plane
When you go through security, you will have to have your government issued photo id with you. If you are leaving the country, you will have to have your passport with you.
Security is a huge issue and it is taken very seriously. Do not joke about security issues while in line, do not let those in line with you do it, either.
Photography is not allowed in the security areas, nor is video recording. Make sure that you don't give in to temptation to take a little video of your wee one as they go through security.
You can check out the websites of the TSA and get a current list of what is and what is not allowed on board the plane, or what is not allowed past security. If in doubt, check it out.
There are instances that certain allowances for liquids and such are allowed, such as for baby food, baby formula, and breast milk. The TSA website is your best bet for up to date knowledge of what you can bring on board, what you can check as well as what is not allowed on board any aircraft. Medications are allowed through as well, but do check to see if there are any medicines you are using that are not allowed on the plane.
Only approved breathing devices such as CPAPs are allowed. Check out the TSA guidelines for Portable Oxygen Concentrators and similar if you use one to make sure that you are following all of the rules. When you have completed that, check with your carrier to make sure that they do not have further rules or restrictions.
Traveling With Children
Traveling by air with children can either be delightful or a nightmare. It depends on how well you plan ahead.
If you have the money, do invest in the seat for the small child and don't let them sit on your lap. It may seem like something easier to do right now, but in the event of an unplanned landing, the only thing securing your baby from flying about the cabin is your arms. In their own seat, you can get a seat that is approved for airline travel, and you can be assured of their safety.
I have seen so many parents with a wiggly baby or toddler, and both are completely exhausted by the end of the flight. If you can manage it, book well in advance. Call the airline and make sure that you explain that you do not want to be seated away from your child. Use the money that you are saving elsewhere by being a frugal traveler to get your baby a seat. I cannot express how strongly I feel about this.
Children that are toddlers are easily entertained with books, colors, magazines and quiet toys. One of the most successful toys that I have ever got for my nieces were small finger puppets and regular hand puppets. If the child is not old enough to resist putting items in their mouth, buy age appropriate puppets instead. Do not purchase or bring noisy toys with you on the plane. The other passengers will not find the toy delightful.
If you have a DVD player or other media player that you are bringing, bring enough headphones for everyone and a headphone splitter jack that turns the port from one headphone to one or two.
Make sure that your media player is fully charged before you leave home. If there is a way to purchase and use an extra battery, do bring it, making sure it is also fully charged.
Older children will delight in some of their favorite toys as well, choose quiet toys for them, too. Boys tend to like small cars and trucks, girls like dolls that they can dress up and change outfits.
The tween and teen child is actually easy to shop for. A small media player and headphones will suffice for them as well as some recent copies of magazines that they like to read.
Remember that children are not small adults. They are children. Explain the process of what will be happening one step at a time to them. Explain the packing process, the security process, how the lines work and how boarding the plane will go.
Make sure that if you are traveling with more than one adult that if a child needs to go to the lavatory you take care of the need right then. When you are seated, check each seat back pocket that you occupy for an air sickness bag. If there are none, notify the flight attendant as soon as you are able to. Remember that they are also busy with duties, but they will get some air sickness bags for you as soon as possible. No one plans or wants to be sick, but it happens. Explain to your child what to do if they need to vomit.
If your child becomes angry, frustrated, upset or unreasonable, explain what part of the trip that you are at, and what will be happening next. Sometimes, all that a child needs to know is what is going on to feel secure. If they cannot calm down, find out what is going on with them. If the plane is near landing, they may be experiencing uneven ear pressure, which can be very painful. A child safe lollipop to suck on can provide relief for older children, breast or bottle feeding can help a smaller child.
The best thing that you can do for your sense of well being and your skin is to make sure that you get enough water to drink while you are on board the plane.
Most of the planes today pressurize the plane to an altitude of approximately 6-7000 feet. For some of us, this is an altitude that we are not used to. It can be dehydrating, not to mention that you are breathing recirculated air.
I try to consume 8 ounces of water for every hour that I am in the air. This does not include non water beverages. Your skin and head will thank you. If you start feeling ill on the plane, ask your cabin crew for some water. It may regenerate you rapidly.
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