As a travel agent, my job is to have off the beaten path sights to see, know what to do in unforeseen situations, and stop as many unanticipated situations as possible. I can give all the advice in the world, but it doesn’t mean I always follow my text book advise myself. Each time I’ve traveled in the past few months I’ve been thinking more and more about what I would tell my clients rather that what I was doing and I thought I’d throw together a little what I tell clients vs what I do post.
Show up to the airport two hours before your flight, three hours if it’s international.
I once showed up to a flight a half hour before the flight took off, got my luggage and myself on the plane, and had a drink before take off. I wouldn’t recommend it and it was pretty stressful, but usually, you don’t need to arrive at the airport super early. Know your airport and when you’re traveling. That was at a small airport just outside of Los Angeles, I would have never done that at LAX or any of the airports here in New York City, or if my flight was first thing in the morning as that is the busiest time at an airport. But an evening flight out of Vegas, you bet ya. I’ll see ya an hour before my flight TSA.
One Quart-sized bag of liquids.
I have literally one time in my life put my toiletries in a plastic bag, and it was a gallon, not a quart. I don’t know if that is something TSA is actually looking for but I feel like they talk about the 3-3-1 rule so much I may just keep getting lucky. One thing I won’t budge on in the 3.4 ounce rule. I once forgot I had hairspray in my carry on and I was stopped at every airport for the next week and a half of traveling. Not worth it.
Book directly with the airline or hotel.
Usually this is going to be your best bet. You’ll 90% of the time get the best price right on the hotel or airline’s website, and the fare will be a little more flexible. But there has been a time or two where I’ll check Expedia or Orbitz and if the price is hundreds of dollars in savings… I’m booking there. Truthfully those third party websites tend to have super strict fares that are nonrefundable, and their customer service is generally below par. As a travel agent we won’t even look on those sites.
Like I said earlier, there are some tips that I definitely don’t lie about and usually it’s because I’ve learned the hard way. Here are a few things that I am sure to be before or during each trip.
Weigh my suitcase.
I’m not here to pay over weight fees to the airlines. I already have to pay to bring my suitcase most of the time. I have a luggage scale that I use it before every flight that I am checking a bag. You can get one pretty cheep on Amazon that works just great. Don’t think that they’ll give you leeway for a pound or two. It depends on who you get at the counter, but I’ve had to move around my luggage too many times.
Put your boarding pass on your phone.
There are some airlines that I always have their app downloaded on my phone (hey JetBlue, I’m talking about you) but if I am flying an airline I don’t usually use, I make sure to download the app while I’m traveling. Once I check in, on the app I screen shot my boarding pass, or add it to my wallet. That way, its always available while I’m at the airport. When I have a paper boarding pass, I tend to throw it into the bottomless abyss that is my purse making it so hard to find when going through security or when actually boarding.
Buy necessities once you get there.
There is ALWAYS that one thing you forgot. If you know you’ll have a little bit of time once you get wherever you’re going, leave your shampoo and conditioner at home and stock up once you get there. If you can get by with just a carry on, checking your bag because you have to bring your shampoo isn’t worth it.
Use TSA Pre Check domestically and Mobile Pass for international.
This year I finally hopped on the TSA Pre Check bandwagon and let me tell you… heaven! Living so close to New York City, I usually am dealing with pretty big airports with a TON of people. Skipping any line is always a dream. Mobile Pass is also awesome if you’re coming back into the country. Double check if it’s taken at your home airport and if it is, sign up! I not only got to skip the customs line at JFK but I also cut in front of the people who had Global Entry.