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Travel Tips by Shannon

Posted Aug 09 2011 3:27pm

I travel quite a bit.  While the majority of the time I live in an apartment in Philadelphia, my family and I are jetsetters.  We not only travel locally to the shore in the summer months, but we also have a home in Florida that we enjoy spending time at whenever we can get it.  My family tries to get down there at least once a month if they can, and I try to join them whenever I am able with my work and school schedule.

This month is a travel packed month for me.  I’ve already been to Orlando, back to Philly, and now I’m heading to Orlando again.  At the end of the month, I will be going to Europe for a fun-filled few days and Barcelona and a cruise to some costal European cities.  That trip includes long flights and transfers so I am not looking forward to those. 

Here are some tips to make your traveling experiences a little smoother and nicer!

Tip 1: Pack as light as you can.

When you are traveling, especially alone, the trick is to pack as light as you can without having that feeling that you are going to need something.  These days when I travel, I bring sneakers, a pair of flats that will match everything, and flip flops for shoes.  Also, if you are going somewhere for a week and you can do laundry, only bring 3 pairs of workout clothes and wash them half way through the week.  I understand not wanting to repeat “going out” clothes on your trip, but no one in the gym will notice your repeated black capris and tank top.  Trust me…no one is looking!

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I usually bring a small black rolling carry-on that my mom got me for Christmas.  If you are thinking about investing in a new one I highly recommend the Samsonite that has four wheels.  You can wheel it upright while sticking your tote bag on top so you don’t have to lug an additional heavy bag on your shoulder.

Also, put bags in bags.  You can bring two carry on items on the plane, so I bring my rolling suit case that goes in the overhead compartment, and a tote bag.  But inside my tote bag, is another smaller everyday tote bag and a clutch for going out.  Don’t be afraid to be a bag lady because no one wants to bring a huge airplane tote bag everywhere you go on your trip.

Tip 2: Be one step ahead of security

If you don’t travel often, sometimes you are unaware of the drill.  But follow these guidelines and you will move through security with ease.

  • When in line, have your ID and ticket out and in your hand.  I hate when someone finally gets to the front of the line then decides to start digging…
  • Know what needs to come out and off.

Tip 3: Get a good “number”

If you fly Southwest, you have undoubtedly made the mistake in your life that you forgot to check-in exactly 24 hours prior to your flight.  The way Southwest works is that there are no assigned seats when you book your flight.  You can check in online exactly 24 hours before your flight up until you leave, but it is first come first serve with your boarding numbers.  Meaning, the sooner you check in, the sooner you will board the plane the next day.  If you are traveling alone, this doesn’t matter as much, but if you are traveling with friends and family and plan on sitting together…you are going to be doomed if you have a “C”.

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A15 starts the numbers, so A19 is pretty primo!  Here’s a tip:  if you are worried about checking in exactly 24 hours ahead (for example you are at work and have no access to a computer) and want to get a good number, you can pay a little extra to get an early number.  There’s a price for everything!

Tip 4: Pick your seat strategically

If you are flying on an airline, such as Southwest, that you are able to pick you seat, do so strategically.  If you are one of the first people on the plane, look towards the middle of the plane where there is usually a flight attendant standing in a row.  That row is the exit row, and it is your new best friend.  It has twice the leg room as the other rows, and it the closest you get to first class when flying Southwest.  I would even go as far as to say that the middle seat in the exit row is still better than a window or aisle seat in another row.  Especially when you travel with tall boyfriends, like myself.  I am actually blogging from the exit row as we speak!

If you don’t get the exit row, don’t worry!  Definitely go for an aisle or window seat depending on your preference.  If you have no checked any bags, go for the nearest seat of your choice towards the front of the plane.  That way when you are de-boarding the plane, you can grab your stuff and waltz off without having to wait for 95 people to get off the plane ahead of you in a moseying fashion. 

Tip 5: Plan your meals

Lately, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to plan my meals on travel days.  In my family, we are serial dining outers, so getting some crabby fries at Chickies and Petes sounds like a good idea, but on the first day of a trip, I need to remember that I am probably going to be doing a good deal of eating out this week.  Would I rather go to a nice restaurant with my family?  Or would I rather grab junk in the Philly airport?  No brainer. 

Today I didn’t have any food to pack/eat before the airport, so I soured the airport for a wheat bagel.  After going to four places that sold bagels (but all were out of wheat) I settled on a plain bagel with a small package of cream cheese, and a salad to eat on the plane since I know I might be going straight to the gym after the airport (I hate working out famished!). 

Sometimes you have to compromise and get the lesser of two evils in the airport.  A plain bagel is much better than a big sausage egg and cheese on a croissant…extra grease!

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Salad for the flight

Tip 6: Have some fun

Today I decided to pretend that I was a super mysterious possible celebrity in the airport.  This involves keeping to myself (darn I love chatting! – I kid…I’m not really great at stranger small talk), and wearing a hat and sunglasses.  Is that Britney Spears over there?  No just some weirdo girl with sunglasses on in the airport…

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Tip 7: Don’t let the cranky people in the airport get to you.

The airport is full of some cranky pants people.  I admit sometimes I am one of them.  Traveling can be stressful, whether you are going on a vacation or traveling for business.

Ok, lady, so you barked at me that those 4 seats were taken…I’ll sit over here…and watch as none of your “family members” even come sit in them. 

Ok food court lady, I understand it’s probably a hassle to park far and go through security daily when you come to work, but you don’t have to yell at me for ordering a wheat bagel when your menu says you carry wheat bagels.  I’m not the one putting you in a bad mood, grumpy bear. 

Don’t let anyone ruin your mood and get your trip off to a bad start!

Tip 8: Charge up!

One of the ultimate mistakes one can make is not charging your electronics before a flight.  Even if it’s a shortie, the one time you don’t charge your ipad/mp3 player there will be 3 delays, an emergency stop in Cleveland, Ohio, and a wait to get to the terminal once you land…all entertainment-less….

Tip 9: Read up and lighten up!

Traveling is the perfect excuse for reading up a storm!  I have recently made the switch from regular books to books on my iPad and I am not looking back!  There is so much less weight in my carry on, and I can bring several books as once without taking up any more space.  The only drawback is that it will eat away at your iPad battery, and you cannot read during take-off and landing.  But sometimes it’s nice to just close your eyes and relax a bit for those few minutes.

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Also, a good thing to do is to open up all your favorite blogs so that you can read them on the plane without the internet.  Catch up with all your bloggy friends from up in the air!

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Tip 10:  Enjoy your trip! 

Whether you are going on a vacation or traveling for business…be sure to get the most out of the new city.  Explore a little bit and have fun!

Any useful travel tips you have come across from your experience that you would like to share?

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