December 1, 2014

8 Travel Tips for Beginners and Pros

Is it sad that we're already counting down to Christmas break?  14 (school) days!!  Personally, after such a hectic Thanksgiving vacation, I'm looking forward to much needed rest and relaxation.  Doing absolutely nothing all day siting in front of the fire...fourteen days away.  

Not that I didn't enjoy my Thanksgiving vacation, it was amazing, just very busy.  It started on Friday after school when my aunt, uncle and I caught a flight to Atlanta to visit some family.  I was supposed to surprise my cousins, but someone let the cat out of the bag. :) In a family like ours, its not easy to keep secrets!  So we got into Atlanta without any issues (thank goodness!)  

I knew we'd be going shopping.  Why I didn't leave more room in my suitcase...good question.  My bags were pretty full when I came in.  It's a miracle the zippers didn't burst on the way home!  I stuffed more crap into my suitcase than you'd imagine!  Shoes, shirts, boots, tennis shoes, hoodies, purses... I had to buy it!  It was on sale!  

We were in Georgia for five days.  The Browns vs. Falcons game was Sunday, so Monday and Tuesday my cousin and I hit up the shops.  If you're wondering why there was nothing good on Black Friday...sorry we bought it all early.  Literally though, we bought it all.  Christmas shopping 2014 check!

On Wednesday I flew from Atlanta to Michigan.  Talk about climate change!  75 and sunny to 29 and snow...not my kind of weather.  It was my first time flying alone with a plane change.  (Not going to lie, I was a little nervous)  But everything went as planned so it was fine, and I learned a couple tricks for traveling.

1. Roll Your Clothes
To fit way more than you need in a suitcase or duffel bag, roll your clothes.  At first I was could a ball take up less space than a flat, folded t-shirt?  Trust does.  When I folded all my clothes and tried stuffing them in my bag, they didn't fit.  Rolling them gave me a little more space to squeeze in even more stuff I didn't need.  It may be smart to fold clothes on the way there and roll them on the way back...I'll have to remember that for next time!

2. Check In on a Mobile Device
After years of experience, my aunt has found it ten times faster to check in for Southwest on her iPhone.  All you do is check in 24 hours before your flight on your phone and print your boarding passes from the computer at a convenient time.  Next time you fly, try it.

3. Arrive Early and Ready
Get to the airport at least two hours early.  This gives you plenty of time to get through security and find your gate.  Recently, I haven't had any issues with screening, but the day the line is out the door and across the parking lot could be the same day as your flight.  Be safe and arrive early.  You'd rather sit at a restaurant and grab something to eat than miss your flight because your still waiting to get through security.  

4. Know the Airport
If you have a short layover, look at a map of the airport before taking off.  Know which gate you come into and which one you take off from and their locations.  If you need to get to the other end of the airport and are worried you may miss your connections, let someone know. Chances are they can phone the gate and let them know you're on your way.

5. Pack Snacks
Lets face it, sometimes it takes all day to travel and airport food is expensive.  Personally I can't spend $9 on a sandwich $5.50 on a bag of trail mix and $4 for a bottle of water.  I have better things to spend money on!  Clothes, shoes, craft supplies, baking supplies...  Pack a snack or meal in your carry on to eat on the plane.  

6. Use a Sponge Pack
If you want to bring refrigerated food, use a sponge pack.  I knew I wouldn't have time to grab something in Orlando, so my aunt gave this to keep my dinner cold.  It worked a lot better than I expected!  The food was in my bag at least six hours before I ate it and it was still cold!  Just dip a sponge in water, place it in a bag, and freeze it.  When you need an ice pack, throw one in and go!  Just make sure to take the whole bag, not just the sponge. :)

7. Bring Empty Water Bottles
Pack an empty water bottle to fill up once you get through security. Airports have plenty of water fountains, usually by the restrooms, and they're free!  Why pay $4 when you can get it for nothing!

8. Bring a Sweater or Scarf
Airports and planes can be a little chilly!  Bring a light jacket or sweater just incase you get cold. 

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