Updated: Jun 11, 2022
It's summer folks! That means travel is happening - in a BIG way. Especially with what seems to be loads of people moving away from where they grew up.
The current state of the travel industry post-pandemic-during-global-unrest-amid-wild-fuel-prices isn't exactly easy to navigate.
Thus, after an influx of questions about this sort of thing posed by family, friends & even the nice gal who did my manicure...I wanted to impart some basic handy tips & tricks I've learned over the last 5 years. When you google "travel tips" it's too easy to get overwhelmed with the volume of information, so I'll try to keep this as short, sweet & informative as possible.
MOST IMPORTANT: When booking anything relating to travel I ALWAYS use a credit card instead of my debit card - it is SO much easier to deal with "shit happens" with a credit card rather than messing with your bank account.
My first stop when searching for any flight, is to open a Google Chrome Incognito Window (this is important, because Incognito mode prevents airlines from tracking how many times you searched for a flight & showing you higher prices)
Go to: https://www.google.com/flights from that window
You can now set all the search parameters for the flight information you need (Airport to airport, round trip or one way, set how many stops etc.) - but the BEST feature of this flight search with Google is the calendar feature. When you select the date for your trip, it will open the calendar widget & show you the cheapest days to fly:
Once you choose your dates & other info, it will show you which airlines offer the best pricing.
Now you can choose to:
Book right then & there through Google.
Use your travel miles to book the flight with CapitalOne or whatever travel program you belong to.
Go directly to the airline's website & book with them, if you do this you can also usually sign up for that airline's loyalty program at the same time > which will come into play later.
Get the airline's app downloaded onto your phone - easy to check on your flight, check-in beforehand, track your rewards etc.
IMPORTANT WHILE BOOKING: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS GET THE TRIP PROTECTION OR REFUNDABLE TICKET OPTION. It isn't that expensive and you DO NOT want to lose ALL your money just because your plans change or "shit happened". TRUST. ME.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT: So many options! I'm a big fan of getting dropped off because paid parking is ridiculous. That being said - family & friends is always the best/easiest way to make that happen, but if you would prefer/need to make other arrangements - here are the other typical options...
Uber/Lyft/Rideshare: pricey sometimes, but very quick & convenient - but be mindful: at home in Boston at Logan Airport, they re-route Rideshare drivers to wayyyyy out beyond most of the terminals, so keep in mind you might have a longer haul to the check-in desk.
Public Transit: as long as you make sure you leave time for delays - this is a great, cheap way to get to the airport. Here in Boston the Commuter Rail as well as buses & subway system can all get you there, use the trip planner on the MBTA website.
Park & Ride: If you have the option to park your vehicle or even get dropped off at a bus terminal who's only job is to do runs back & forth to the airport? I recommend it. They are fast, they are cheap & it saves a ton of struggle. (Logan Express)
CHECK-IN: Get there a couple hours before your flight - sometimes you can check-in with the airline's kiosks or even use that aforementioned airline app; If you're checking a bag, sometimes you can even print your own luggage tag for your suitcase & put it on the belt yourself. *IMPORTANT: If you are traveling with a lot of liquid beauty products CHECK THEM IN YOUR SUITCASE because plenty of international airports do not allow more than 1 clear ziplock bag of product in your carry-on* (they do make exceptions for baby formula)
make sure you have your booking confirmation & your passport readily available whether you check-in at the kiosk or the airline desk
SECURITY: One of the most important things to get through security easily is PREPARATION. It's the small things that make the biggest difference.
For example: putting your toiletries near the top of your bag or easily accessible so that you can get them out into the conveyor-trays quickly;
wearing slip-on footwear so you can take them off quickly & put back on quickly; I'm going to get my parents each a pair of these sneakers when they start traveling.
Have all your electronics easily accessible so you can grab them too for their own trays
GATES & LOUNGES: So make sure you know where your gate is as soon as you get through security - usually you can find your gate on your boarding pass or you can find your flight on one of the tv screen alllll over the airport - then follow the signage above you to get closer to your gate.
If you have a really long layover - I highly recommend looking into whether the airline you're flying with has a lounge in the airport. For example, I transit through Amsterdam a lot and KLM has an amazing lounge in Schiphol airport. For about $69 you have access to: bathrooms, free food, free drink, sleeping pods, showers, luggage lockers and baby changing stations.
BORDER PATROL/CUSTOMS: If you're traveling internationally, you're going to have to pass through border patrol when you make it to your destination airport - be prepared for a line (because lots of people from your same flight will also be going through the same border desks); and when you get to the counter - the officer will likely ask you about the reason for your trip & who you're visiting - keep it short & sweet, get your passport stamped...and check back here for the next blog post about ground transit & lodgings ;-)