Insider tips for planning, packing, and traveling
You can spot an expert traveler a mile away. They breeze through security lines and down to their gates like they own the place (typically with a light, neatly-packed carry-on in tow). You overhear them chatting with strangers about many miles they’ve accrued this year or how they just got bumped up to first class… again. As much as we pretend to be annoyed, we secretly want to be that expert traveler. Frequent travel will get you there eventually, but there are a few things you can do to get the “insider’s scoop” early in the game.
1. Take advantage of multiple mileage programs
We all have airlines we prefer to use, but if there’s a better deal with another airline, try it out! You can always sign up for more than one mileage program. If you travel enough, you can earn flights with multiple airlines in no time. Start paying attention to airline alliances. Knowing what airlines have codeshare agreements will help you know when you can earn miles for a current membership even when traveling on another carrier.
2. Use credit cards with travel perks
See what travel benefits your current credit cards offer. Consider looking into these top travel rewards credit cards and determine if they would be viable options. Some credit cards may gain you entry into airport lounges or score free airfare. Others might offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance, car rental insurance, baggage delay, and more.
3. Rest at airport lounges
How do you rest between flights? Do you pick up a few overpriced snacks from one of the shops, and then hunt down an empty terminal to take a quick nap on the floor? There’s a better way to get your fuel, rest, and a quiet corner with some Wifi. If you travel regularly, you might benefit from an annual lounge membership. Priority Pass gives travelers access to over 1200 airport lounges around the world. Annual memberships start at $99.
4. Sign up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
Tired of wasting time in airport security lines? Passengers with TSA Pre-Check head for a special line, skipping the wait and the trouble of removing shoes, belts, laptops, and liquids. Setting this up is a fairly simple process that requires a quick, online application and scheduled appointment at an enrollment center. The cost is $85 for 5 years. If your travels take you abroad, apply instead for Global Entry. The cost of Global Entry is $100 for 5 years and gives you all the benefits of TSA Pre-Check plus expedited customs screening for passengers re-entering the United States.
5. Request a special meal for your flight
Did you know that you can request a special meal for your flight? Most airlines will accommodate a wide variety of dietary needs such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and more! Special meals are often brought out first, meaning you could finish your meal and power down for your nap before the rest of the plane is even served.
6. Stay partially packed at all times
Frequent fliers have the packing routine worked out to a fine art. Have separate toiletries and personal items you use just for travel to avoid forgetting something important in the packing rush. Keep anything you don’t need outside of travel packed and ready to go. Draft a full packing list in a Google spreadsheet to double check each time you travel. This will save you from having to make a new packing list for every trip. You can have separate tabs in your spreadsheet for different types of trips such as, “business travel”, “missions trips”, “family vacations”, etc.
7. Let an agent help you with airfare
A travel agent can help you save time, money, and frustrating booking errors. A travel agent knows the in’s and out’s of travel and can get you that customized experience you’re looking for. What’s more, if something goes wrong on your trip, you have a name and number to call!
8. Don’t be afraid of a stopover
The more you travel, the more comfortable you will feel adding a “mini-adventure” to your itinerary. A built-in stopover is a great way to explore a new city for a very low price. Your travel agent can help you price out a stopover or may even know of airlines that offer free STPC (Stopover Paid by Carrier) programs along their routes.
9. Sign up for a hotel rewards program
Brand loyalty is highly valued in the world of travel. Sticking to a favorite hotel brand such as Marriott or Hilton can earn you special treatment, upgrades, and free stays. Check out some of these top hotel loyalty programs to see if you can find one with a brand you already love!
10. Don’t leave home without insurance
Many travelers don’t realize that their primary healthcare coverage will not work while they are abroad. As your chances of getting sick or injured may actually increase, depending on the nature of your trip, this presents a huge risk. Your travel agent can help you find the right travel insurance policy for your trip.