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How to be a Professional Traveler
We all have our limits when it comes to preparing for a flight. From the moment we book a flight, up to the moment we board the airplane. These limits can be both, mental and physical in nature. Did I pack too much? Do I have my passport? What’s up with this security line? These are just a few of the dozen or so questions we may ask ourselves during the travel process.
If you haven’t noticed or completely lack people watching skills, there are some travelers who seem to have the process down to an art form and those who are completely clueless in every aspect of navigating airports and time management. Travel can, indeed, be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be, if you set yourself up with a mental checklist and some personal travel rules to follow. A little knowledge and consistency can go a long, long way.
Know your limits and live within your means. Traveling on a budget is among the most stressful things you might have to endure. For those with less experience traveling, it can be very easy to get close to exceeding your personal or family budget before you even step foot on the airplane. In general, airports are consumer nightmares, especially for those on a tight budget. Give yourself an allowance on what you are willing to spend at the airport prior to boarding your flight. Of course you might feel the need to eat and those restaurants at the airports can be mighty enticing. They are also very expensive. If you have to eat and didn’t bring anything to snack on from home, we recommend dining at a restaurant instead of indulging at one of the many fast food chains inside the airport. You get more for your buck and if you’re not traveling alone, split the meal. The portions on one meal are usually generous and can easily feed two people. Look at it like this. One meal will feed two. Two meals will feed four and so on.
We would also encourage you to stay away from those duty free stores. Every item in these stores can be purchased for far less outside of the airport. Get your gum and toiletries at your local drug store. Most have a .99 isle of travel size products.
Don’t forget your I.D and passport and check expiration dates. This should always be the number one thing you check off of your mental checklist before you leave your house or hotel. It’s shocking how many people miss their flights because they simply forgot these everyday items. Nothing will put your stress level to the test better than getting to the airport and realizing your forgot your I.D and passport. It is also imperative to double check the expiration date on your passport. It’s easy to let it expire, especially if you don’t often fly outside of the country and many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months after your trip. Check the countries entry requirements.
Be on time and never assume. Every airline has the disclaimer when you print your boarding pass to be at the airport at least two hours prior to your flight. Never assume it won’t take that long. Sure, there are times where it takes half of the required two hours; however, there are also times it can take the entire two hours. There are so many factors than can suddenly come into play in an instant, weather being one of them. Give yourself plenty of time. The larger airports will likely take two hours and some even longer. Keep an eye on weather conditions at your airport and frequently check the status of arriving and departing aircraft. There are so many tools available for travelers to keep up with what is going in regards to airport operations. Flight Aware has a great mobile phone app to keep you up to speed on flight delays, arrivals and departures. You can also sign up to receive alerts from your airline via your mobile device.
Know your airlines baggage policy. Don’t be that passenger who decides to argue with your airlines customer service about not knowing the airlines baggage policy. They won’t care; it’s not their responsibility or their job to educate you about it. A new law has been implemented where the airlines have to disclose their bag policies during the purchase of your ticket. A few tips we want to encourage are that you know what you plan to take well ahead of your travel date. Making a last minute addition can easily put your checked bag overweight. Make a list of what you will need for your trip and follow it, religiously. If you plan on staying at a hotel, leave the hair dryer at home. Most hotels have them and if you’re not sure, simply call the hotel to see what room amenities will be available to you.
Check in online. Save yourself the time of waiting in long lines to get a boarding pass and print your boarding pass at home or at the office. You can check in for your flight online 24 hours prior. No printer? No problem. With super cool advancements in mobile technology, you can use your smartphone to display your boarding pass for many airlines. If your airline prefers paper, many airports have check in kiosks with very short lines.
Study your airports terminal layout. If you, like many other fliers are dealing with connecting flights, we strongly recommend viewing the connecting airports terminal map. Of course, it might not be possible to know which gate your connecting flight will be departing from, however, having some general knowledge of the airports layout can help tremendously, especially if you only have 45 minutes between flights. There are some great mobile apps available that give detailed layouts of airports and some even have current gate assignments.