Last October I posted my plans for staying frugal on my first flight across country in years. Since that trip, I’ve taken a few more, and I’m currently in Chicago at BlogHer. I’ve learned a few more things during my recent travels.
1. Over Prepare
Take more snacks that you think you’ll need. When I flew home from Bentonville in October, my flight was late getting into Denver. I had planned on grabbing a meal on my layover, but there wasn’t time. So I was starving by the time I got to San Francisco. The discomfort could have been avoided, had I packed extra snacks.
This is also good advice, in terms of luggage. If you are checking luggage, it’s a good idea to carry a change of clothes and some toiletries on the plane with you. Just make sure you follow the airline regulations for carrying on liquids. If your luggage is delayed or lost, you’ll have at least one clean change of clothes.
2. Pack a Lot of Entertainment
I get bored really easily when flying. On my last flight, I packed a book. Unfortunately, when I got on the plane, I wasn’t in the mood to read. It would have been much better if I had remembered to download some interesting podcasts onto my iPhone. Packing DVDs for viewing on a laptop would have been good, too.
This is also good advice for layovers. Flying back from the CPG Summit in March, I had a layover in San Francisco. Unfortunately my connecting flight home was delayed several hours, so my short layover turned into a long layover. Since San Francisco charges exorbitant amounts for internet access, I couldn’t use the web to entertain me. I ended up buying a book at the bookstore. I finished it by the time I got home. This time I packed movies, books, and downloaded some podcasts. I’m prepared for anything!
3. Carry On all Power Cords & Chargers
Marci suggested this in the comments last October, and it’s the best piece of advice I’ve received. If your flight is delayed or you get stuck with a long layover, a cell phone charger and laptop cord will be priceless commodities. You want to make sure you can get a hold of your family to tell them about any delays. And a laptop is good for endless entertainment, but only if it has power. And unfortunately most laptop batteries don’t last a really long time. It’s better if you can plug in.
4. Carefully Consider an Aisle or a Window Seat
If you like to sleep on the plane, a window seat is a good bet. I like the window seats, because I can lean over and rest my head on the side of the plane while I sleep. That ensures I won’t end up resting my head on the poor stranger next to me.
However, if you’re a person who needs to get up and move or use the restroom a lot, an aisle seat is a better bet. I learned this the hard way, when I had to climb across two strangers to use the restroom on a crowded flight. That wasn’t very much fun…for me or them.
5. Make sure Your Carry On Bag has Wheels
I learned this one the hard way. That trip to Bentonville…the one with two layovers? I was carrying a laptop bag and a purse. Both needed to be slung over my shoulder, and I had a lot packed into both.
After traversing across three different airports each way, my arms were TIRED! Since then, I’ve packed along a carry on with wheels, and it’s made my life a lot easier! Especially in airports like San Francisco, where you might have a long walk between terminals, even if you’re not switching airlines.
6. Carry Extra Money
This can be in the form of a debit card or carefully guarded cash. But sometimes despite the best planning, unexpected expenses come up. You’ve packed lots of snacks, but your layover tripled in length and you’re hungry. Having money for airport food is a good idea.
Or if you come down with a headache or motion sickness, it’s nice to be able to buy medication at the airport shops, even if it is expensive. Realize that you can’t pack for every contingency in a small carryon. Make sure you can afford the unexpected.
I’ve learned a lot since that flight in October, and every trip I’ve taken since has gotten better.
Have you learned any airline traveling lessons the hard way? We’d love to hear them!