So far we've given you quite a few tips and tricks for traveling hassle-free and in style. It's all hunky-dory in theory...but I felt that it was time to really put them to the test. And what with the seemingly constant changes in airport and flight regulations, it certainly can't hurt to get an update on the current state of possible travel hassles.
We all know by now that you get better ticket prices when you book your flights a month or more in advance. We also know that it isn't always possible to do so. That was certainly the case for me with my last minute trip to Florida. Luckily, a friend pointed me to an airline called Allegiant Air.
Allegiant Air is a smaller airline that has been around since 1997 (I really couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of it before!). They have surprisingly low ticket prices—I got my round-trip tickets for about $300 whereas tickets from a larger airline were $700 and up. This airline is a great alternative, but there are some things you should know when considering them.
First of all, as a smaller airline, they fly out of fewer airports than the big guys. For example, I had to drive about an hour to the Lexington airport, and my friend in Florida had to drive about 45 minutes to the airport in Punta Gorda. But when you consider that not everyone lives in a city with an airport, you'll probably have to drive a bit to catch your flight anyways.
Second, the ticket prices that you will see on their website are one-way tickets, so you'll need to buy two unless you are staying indefinitely. Make sure that you browse a bit and consider the days that you can travel, as the prices do fluctuate based on days of the week. I found that you are ging to get cheaper tickets if you're able to fly between Tuesday and Thursday.
Third, as it is again a smaller airline, you need to be extra careful about baggage size and weight. Allegiant's sizes are standard compared to most other airlines, but they have to be even more stringent. This brings me to another point. If you fly Allegiant Air, make sure that you specify if you are both carrying on or checking bags. As with pretty much any airline nowadays, you must pay extra for checked and (in some cases) carry on bags. However, if you let them know in advance, Allegiant gives you quite a discount on this fee.
Lastly, unlike most other airlines, Allegiant offers food and beverages for purchase (with a credit card, not cash) only. Their prices are actually quite reasonable, but if you don't want to pay, make sure that you stick a snack or two in your personal item. Of course, when it comes to beverages, you don't have much of a choice other than buying an overpriced beverage once you're through security.
All in all, my experience with Allegiant Air was very pleasant. I will absolutely be checking with them the next time I fly.
With last minute trips, even more so than with trips with a bit of buffer room before traveling, packing well is essential. As is the bag you take with you.
Again, make absolutely sure that you double check the allowed luggage sizes with any airline that you are using. You absolutely do not want to end up having to pay extra fess to check a bag that you were so sure complied with carry-on size.
A sturdy piece of luggage that doesn't measure beyond 22" X 14" X 9" is a great investment. However, if you're like me and a last minute trip also means not having extra money on hand for new luggage, it's worth checking with family and friends to borrow one.
While you may not have a lot of extra time, it still pays off to do a packing dry run or two. You want to make sure that everything you need fits and that you are not exceeding the maximum weight.
If you're having a difficult time getting your suitcase closed, consider what you can swap out. For example, I always use a pouf when I shower at home. But a washcloth fits MUCH better in my carry on suitcase than a pouf does. It also pays to take products as well as clothes that have multiple uses. One of my go-to products is Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. It's a pretty fantastic body wash that rinses totally clean, but it can easily double as a shampoo and even a detergent for clothes. And no matter what you use it for, a little goes a long way.
Speaking of liquids, this is another area to double check while packing, especially if you aren't checking any bags. The 3 oz. rule still applies, and is strictly enforced. Since I did not have the time or money to purchase extra travel bottles, I recycled old facewash bottles that I wasn't using any more. And...bonus! They were all 3 oz. or under. Make sure that you put all of your bottled liquids into a zipping plastic bag, and be sure to place the bag on the very top of your luggage. Some airlines actually require you to take out any liquids in your carry-on during the security check.
Of course I can't leave out what a lifesaver my Traveler jewelry box was...as always. Escpeically when you're taking a short, sudden trip, it's nice to be able to have your favorite accessories with you to add to your outfits.
I took my last trip in early March. Living in Louisville, Kentucky, the weather is still quite cold and extremely unpredictable. Florida is (supposed to be) warm and sunny. So I had a bit of a conundrum dressing for the travel portion of my trip. I opted to wear a heavy coat in the car to the airport, but left it in the car, since I wouldn't be outside too much before I reached my destination.
I seriously considered wearing my Crocs or flip-flops while traveling, but decided against the possibility of my toes getting frost bitten. And besides, my flip flops fit MUCH better in my carry-on than my sneakers did. Unless you are under 3 or over 65, you are required to remove your shoes going through security, I laced my sneakers loosely and wore comfy socks to make them easier to get off and on.
I chose to wear a comfy, long cotton skirt, a cotton tank top, and a cotton pullover with a hood and a pocket. That way I knew I would be warm enough on the plane, but could easily take off layers, especially once I reached my sunny destination. Remember that weather reports are sometimes only suggestions at best.
The best laid plans always fail, right? Especially when you're doing what you can to mix business and leisure. That was certainly the case for me during my last trip. I was fortunate enough to get to stay with and spend time with a friend during my trip. But wouldn't you know, very little went according to plan.
Even the business portion of my trip took some unexpected turns. I definitely have my support system of friends that I can call and vent to at any time, and a recent foray into a site that focuses on the Science of Happiness to thank for my sanity remaining in tact.
It goes a long way if you can keep an open mind and look for the good points in whatever chaos comes your way. I was lucky enough to meet some new, wonderful people during my journey as well as reconnect with some old friends. And if you can remain productive during all of it, you can't lose.
At least 24 hours before you leave somewhere to go home, it's extremely beneficial to do another packing dry run. You've gotten the basics of it down pat on the way there, but you want to make sure that you're not leaving anything behind.
Again, make sure to check the weight of your bags if you've picked up any souvenirs, trinkets, or extra work items along the way. You've most likely used up your budget during your trip, and you don't want to get stuck with baggage fees when you're so close to getting home.
Hopefully you can take these real life tips for last minute travel and apply them the next time that you have to take a sudden trip. Stay tuned for further advice from a longer, halfway planned trip—I leave from Louisville to LA for two weeks, and you had better believe I'll share everything I learn from that!