Fall is on its way and with the cooler nights coming in, I'm already thinking about planning an awesome winter vacation to somewhere warm and tropical! Hawaii anyone?
Travel can be a headache and incredibly stressful, to say the least. In fact, when you're a travel-lover and in a relationship with or married to someone who doesn't enjoy it at all, it can not only keep you from exploring new sites, enjoying awesome new food, trying out some new adventures, and taking in some fabulous new culture, but it can cause problems for your relationship and marriage too! Especially since travel and exploring new things together can be one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship! No one should ever eliminate travel altogether because they find it too stressful.
Whether you're traveling for work or for pleasure, there are ways to make it easy, and believe-it-or-not, actually quite relaxing too! I've scoured the internet and interviewed some frequent travelers to come up with some amazing tips for helping to ease the pain of getting to your destination, and ensuring you can sit back and relax, and enjoy the ride too!
Planning the Trip:
- The best tip I can offer on saving money when planning your trip, is to book it as soon as you can! You're more likely to get the best rates when you book out as far in advance as you can. Use sites like Kayak.com, AirFare Watchdog, and CouchSurfing.org to find the best rates on flights and hotels, as well as other cost-saving sleeping accommodations.
- Hotwire's Trip Watcher will also alert you when rates drop, helping you snag the best deal. Also be sure to check airlines websites as sometimes eliminating the middle man will actually end up getting you the best deal.
- Book early on a Tuesday morning and/or weekends to get cheaper rates.
- If you travel with just a carry-on, you can book one-way flights with a connecting flight in the city of your destination to get an even cheaper rate.
- Be sure to check the First Class option to when booking your seats, as oftentimes it's not much more than coach, plus you get a free meal and all the free alcohol you want.
- Be sure to read reviews on those hotels before booking!
- Buy Insurance on those big ticket trips. It's worth every penny!
Packing for your Vacation:
- Pack as little as is humanly possible and use rollable luggage. Take half of what you think you need. Anything you forget, you can easily buy in your destination city.
- If possible, packing only a carry-on is always the best option. Luggage can get lost and if you end up in Europe, you may find that lugging that big check-in bag up all those stairs in Venice in no way feels like a vacation!
- Heard of the Garment Burrito? Google the video it to watch how it's done. You won't believe how much this allows you to get into a carry-on and it does it without wrinkling your clothing too! I like to pack Jersey for this reason, as this material doesn't wrinkle, is lightweight, and doesn't take up much space in your luggage either! Forget the jackets and coats and pack layers instead. Also stay away from jeans if possible as they tend to be bulky and take up too much room as well as absorb dirt and odor. Mix and Match outfits, so you can wear each item at least twice. Take as few shoes and toiletries as possible, as these tend to be the things that take up the most room.
- Keep small travel toiletries on hand that fit the airline requirements, and don't forget to pack a scarf, earplugs, and load up your favorite movies, music, games, and podcasts on your phone or tablet to make the flight more enjoyable.
- Also, pack a copy of your Passport and/or ID or save to your phone. You never know when you may need this.
Before Flying out:
- Read up on your destination to learn more about the history of the city/country you're visiting and plan your sightseeing and entertainment accordingly. I like to read travel blogs to get great tips for entertainment, where to stay, where to eat, etc.
- Download the Airline app to be alerted when your flight is boarding, download your boarding pass, find out when your plane has been delayed, etc.
- Traveling abroad? Download the Google Translate App.
- Get your currency exchanged before you head out on your trip. ATM's abroad will charge you a much larger fee and cash comes in handy from the moment you leave the airport!
Get Through Security Lines Faster at the Airport:
- Check in as soon as you can before you even get to the airport. Those who check in first are more likely to get upgraded and those who check in last are more likely to get bumped.
- Have your boarding pass uploaded to your phone before you get to the airport.
- Again, packing only a carry-on is key here. Have to travel with a check-in bag? Ask the airport to put a "Fragile" Sticker on your check-in bag. This will ensure your bags will be put at the top of the pile, and you'll end up leaving the airport faster!
- Traveling with an instrument? Carry it on the plane and ask the flight attendant to store it in the coat closet.
- Before your trip, sign up for TSA Precheck, and Global Entry if you're traveling abroad. For a small fee, you can speed through customs and security lines, and you don't have to take off your shoes and belt, and remove your laptop and toiletries from your carry-on, when passing through security!
- Didn't sign up for the TSA Precheck? Have your shoes and belt off before you get to the front of the line, and make sure your kids are good to go too! Help keep the lines moving quickly!
- Get Bumped from your flight? Negotiate the voucher for your next flight. You can usually get DOUBLE what they're offering if you just ask!
- Flight get Delayed? Airlines won't announce it, but you can get FREE Alcoholic drinks, so always be sure to ask!
- Don't waste your money on the airplane internet connection. It sucks and never loads fast enough. Traveling with Southwest? They have an awesome FREE TV App you can download and watch while on your flight!
- Here's where your pre-loaded tablet or phone comes in handy, not to mention that scarf and earplugs.
Arriving at your Destination City:
- Packed a carry-on like I suggested? You can head right out of the airport and don't have to wait in line for your luggage.
- Don't call a Taxi to get to your hotel, instead call a town car service or Uber. You can usually get a very similar rate if not better and get a more luxurious ride, not-to-mention a clean place to sit.
- Rent a car? Be sure to ask them the current rates when you get there, even if you've already booked. Often times last minute rates are far better than the rate you got when booking ahead of time. I saved myself $400 on a car Rental in Miami by doing this, and got the fun Red Mustang Convertible instead of the boring gray four door sedan! Renting a car is not always best, so research your destination first. Parking can be dreadful in many cities, especially in The Eastern US and in Europe too.
- Buses are often ignored but can be really great for travel between certain destinations. They are generally very clean and offer perks like Free wifi and outlet access!
- Download and use the Embark App. It's one public transport app that works everywhere! It works in hundreds of cities around the world and will show you the quickest and best route with one-tap directions, as well as the one that's best for the environment too! It tracks live times and tracking of buses, trains, trams, ferries, and more, it even has Uber integration! It also interacts with screens at stops and stations too, making it easy to find your connection time and more. The Embark App is Available on Google Play and the App Store.
Enjoying your Destination:
- Don't leave expensive or important items behind. Things get stolen. Only pack what you need and what you plan on carrying them with you from day to day.
- Purchase a ScotteVest to keep yourself organized and everything within reach. This handy vest not only has a pocket for anything you could possibly need with you while traveling the city, including a place for your passport, sunglasses, camera, and even water bottle (and more). But it also has a chain you can hook your money too so you won't get pick-pocketed and it's actually really quite fashionable and warm too!
Time to leave:
- Buy Too many souvenirs? Sometimes it's cheaper to Fed-ex your luggage home.
- Follow the steps above for getting to the airport, checking in, making it through the lines quickly, and (somewhat) enjoying your flight. Don't forget to arrange a pick up at the airport if you didn't leave your car in long-term parking.
Tips for Frequent Flyers:
- If you travel a lot for work or plan on seeing the world in the next few years, make sure you get a credit card that helps you earn frequent flyer points.
- Sign up with your favorite airlines and hotels, including subscribing to their email newsletters, to earn points, find the best deals, and make booking your next trip a breeze!
- Always be sure to renew your passport before letting it expire, as this will save you a lot of time and hassle the next time you plan that vacation abroad!
- Use Expedia for booking hotels. It lets you rack up points to use at any hotel or destination in the future, and the rewards are generally better than what any specific hotel will give you.
- Always have a travel pack with your travel essentials ready to go, especially for those smaller toiletry items. It will save you so much time when you have to keep packing for trip, after trip, after trip!
Hopefully equipped with these tips above, you can make the most of your travels and hopefully ease the mind of your non-loving travel partner too! Just remember, You're going on vacation, so be happy, even when spending time at the airport and commuting to your destination! Relax, slow down, don't plan too much, stay positive, and don't forget to enjoy the ride!