If you haven’t noticed, but I’ve been doing a lot of traveling since I began my study abroad journey back in January. And if you really haven’t noticed, then feel free to pop on over and read about my day in Liverpool, trip to Edinburgh, and a round-up of some of my other smaller travels.
I have plenty more trips planned and in the works of being planned, too. I’m always scouring other blogs and Pinterest looking for travel tips and places to visit. The thing is, I always find tips and tricks I’ve heard a million time over. So needless to say I was very intrigued when Veronica reached out to me about writing some travel tips for her point of view.
But what makes Veronica’s point of view different? Her father’s a pilot! So does this girl have some good tips for you! Keep reading to find out all the advice Veronica is dishing out for us!
And a huge shoutout to Veronica for writing this piece for my blog!
To become a successful traveler you have to find that sweet spot between having a plan and being spontaneous. Too much planning takes away from experiencing new things as they come, but not enough and you’re sure to miss out on a few must-sees, plus you’ll likely spend more money.
If you book your reservations with the right companies at the right time, pack smart, and keep a few pointers in mind along the way — with a suitcase in hand you’ll be unstoppable.
Don’t limit yourself to hotels. Especially if you’re traveling with a buddy or in a group. Hostels and Airbnb are usually the best ways to go, but there are hotel search engines to help you find reasonable prices. I usually stick with Priceline, mostly because I use it for rental cars as well, so my points stack up and I get coupons fairly often.
Rumor has it the best day to book flights is Tuesday, I don’t know if I fully believe that but I have noticed flights are cheaper earlier in the week. If I need to be somewhere at a specific time and it’s important I don’t travel standby, it’s too risky. When I book a flight I’ll usually bounce back and forth between Google Flights and Skiplagged, there are other decent flight search engines these ones are just my favorites. Be sure to open a new incognito window or turn on your private browsing feature so reservation sites don’t hike their prices up after they see you’ve been looking.
Packing is arguably the most important part of trip planning. Sure it’s good to have transportation lined out or things to do when you get there, but if you don’t have the essentials you need (or want) along the way, it will surely limit your trip.
15 quick packing tips:
- Make a list, check it twice
- Roll your clothes to save space
- Pack extra undies and socks
- Stockpile beauty product samples to bring on trips (space saver)
- Pack liquids in an accessible clear bag to streamline security
- Pick clothes that follow a color scheme so your last few outfits are guaranteed to match
- Don’t bring anything wrinkly or that you’ve never worn before
- Bring a water bottle to fill up at the airport (money saver)
- Review your airline’s baggage policy
- Keep essentials in your carry on, especially if you have a layover
- Pack dryer sheets in your bag to preserve the smell of fresh laundry
- Stash a laundry detergent stick in your carry on
- Make a photocopy of your ID
- Write down the address(es) of the place(s) you’re going
- Don’t forget to bring a belt!
One last packing tip I’ll leave you with is to quickly question each item you pack. Is this something I can afford to lose? If the answer is no, either financially or emotionally, it’s probably best to leave it behind.
If you’re good at sleeping on planes, that’s great. Experienced plane travelers know it’s all about finding what makes you comfortable and having that sleep kit handy when the flight attendant dims the lights.
I like to have thick socks, slip-ons, earplugs, and eye patches handy. I also try to dress in layers and usually wear a shawl or sarong. Temperatures can shift so quickly during plane rides it’s better to have an extra layer you don’t need than to shiver through your flight. Bringing snacks is key too. The airports, as we all know, are a ripoff but it also makes it easier for me to eat healthy. Rather than impulsively buying chips because they’re usually one of the cheapest options, I have my healthy snacks on deck.
If you get uneasy on planes, I recommend going for flights earlier in the day, the air tends to be less choppy. My dad also says that the best place to sit if you’re trying to avoid turbulence is next to the wing. If you don’t mind a bumpy ride but still care which seat you’ll be sitting in check out SeatGuru.
For international travelers, it’s good to consider what time it will be when you land. If you land in the morning, sleep as much as you can on the flight and try not to crash until the next night. This is the easiest way to fight jet lag. If your flight happens to be delayed, refrain from asking your gate agent what’s going on. It’s easiest to call a ticket desk or customer service line to ask them. The agent at your gate has likely already discussed the matter with several frustrated passengers and your questioning might even slow down the process.
When it comes to overbooked and canceled flights, don’t accept the first round of vouchers offered. Most times, the vouchers get more enticing. And if you’re bumped involuntarily insist on cash repayment over a voucher. Same with lost luggage, don’t be a pushover. You have rights as a passenger, use them.
If you have a layover, make the most of it. Airport lounges may sound boujee, because they are, but that’s only if you can afford the monthly membership fees. Daily passes can be well worth it and are usually around 50 bucks depending on the airline. Sometimes choosing an extra-long layover is the best way to go. I once had the option to book a 16-hour layover in Chicago for nearly half the cost. To me, that’s a free day of exploring Chicago plus half off my flight.
You finally made it, but don’t get too comfortable yet. For me, this is my most-likely-to-lose-things phase. It starts with sensory overload — so many things to look at in a place you’ve been thinking about exploring for months. Don’t let this get to the best of you. Each time you pick up to move, turn around and do a quick check to see that you aren’t forgetting anything.
It’s good to have a general idea of what you’d like to do when you land. You don’t necessarily have to book anything, but sometimes doing so ahead of time can save cash. If you prefer to keep things spontaneous, write out a list of interesting things you would enjoy doing or seeing. That way if you run out of items on your agenda you won’t waste time researching other activities.
One of my greatest resources is Groupon’s city-specific pages. Whether I’m at home in Phoenix or traveling somewhere it’s easy to find local deals. For example, a few weeks ago I was in Colorado visiting a few friends from college. I used the Things To Do In Fort Collins page and didn’t eat a meal or drink a beer that wasn’t discounted.
This last tip I say coyly because I fall victim to this sometimes, but try to wake up early every day of your trip. No sense in missing out on a beautiful morning in wherever you are for a few more hours of sleep. You can catch up on rest when you get home, or better yet you might even be tired enough to crash out the whole flight back.
Fortunately, departure procedure is one of the shorter sections in this guide. I say that because when it’s time to go home it’s likely you’re partially brain-dead, maybe even on autopilot. Or at least that’s usually how it is for me. Don’t let this result in silly mistakes like leaving things behind or missing your flight.
I’ve had my fair share of lost IDs and missed departure times but the past has taught me to keep a few things in mind when I’m packing up to go.
- Have a check-out list with all your most important/easy to forget items on it (ID, phone, wallet, chargers, laptop, toothbrush, etc.) to review as you’re leaving
- Check underneath beds, outlets for cords, the shower for toiletries, and the safe
- Plan on public transportation taking 5 to 10 minutes more than expected to get you to the airport
- Check-in for your flight before you get to the airport
You’ll want to stop at a grocery store or gas station on the way to the airport for snacks and anything else you won’t want to buy when you get there.
Overall it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. Avoid frustration at all costs. Traveling can be incredibly aggravating, trust me I travel standby, but it’s really rewarding too. Don’t miss out on little moments of happiness along the way because you can’t get over how a gate agent talked to you or how a baby cried through your whole flight. Look up and appreciate your new surroundings, the rest doesn’t have to matter.
Bio: Veronica Baas is a Colorado State University graduate who has recently moved to Phoenix for her first after-college job offer doing basic coding and content creation. She has spent her life traveling as a pilot’s daughter and lived in the U.K. as part of a study abroad program.
Veronica loves the Oxford comma, men in khaki pants, and a full gas tank. She dislikes dog hair on black dresses, her addiction to technology, and most mornings. Follow her other writing and photography endeavors on her website!