Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What I'm Looking Forward to This Week: Budget Travel Edition

Later this week I will be traveling to Arizona to visit my pops, fur brother, and my new niece (who, by the way, has major baby swag). Since I'm going to be spending a majority of my week planning and packing for my trip, I thought I would give you guys a look into my preparations. For those of you who have yet to take your summer holidays or who, like me, are flying a budget airline, this post might prove to be helpful.

Flying the Cut-Rate Skies
If you know your flight will be a short one, it's not a bad idea to buy a ticket with a budget airline like Allegiant, Southwest, or Virgin America.  There airlines are true to the “no frills” moniker and frequently have seats that don’t recline and surcharges for carryon baggage, seat selection, priority boarding, and snacks. 

At first blush, non-reclining seats sound like yet another draconian airline strategy to get more passengers in a plane.  While this is certainly true, more passengers in a plane means that the airline can keep a ticket’s base cost down.  Really, when you can’t expect the avian Ritz-Carleton when you’ve paid for a $50 ticket to Mesa, you know?

Packing Light
It goes without saying that you want to pack as light as possible when preparing for your city break.  The best way to keep your suitcase within an airline’s weight requirements is to look for multi-tasking wardrobe staples (e.g., a madras shirt, smart Bermuda shorts) and garments that can be worn more than once without showing wear. 

When I pack for a city break, I choose two pairs of neutral shorts and a coordinating top that matches either pair for each day I am away from home; additionally, I pack a pair of pajamas, under things, light socks for each day I am away, a pair of sandals, a bathing suit, and an outfit appropriate for outdoor activities.  I always plan to wear my “heaviest” outfit (a zip-up hoodie, jeans, and sneakers) to the airport because planes tend to be cold.

Remember that budget airlines make a bulk of their money by up-selling their customers and charging fees for everything—including baggage.  As such, I recommend paying for your baggage at the time you book your ticket; if you wait to pay for your luggage at the ticketing counter you could pay twice as much.

Low cost carriers are pretty stringent about carry-on baggage, so you could make sure to weigh your bags before leaving the house to make sure they conform to the airline’s limits.  The best way to do this is to weigh yourself on your bathroom scale then weigh yourself again while holding your bag.  Make sure to weigh yourself just moments before you weigh yourself with the bag so you are able to get an accurate measurement. 

Limit Your Liquids
If you’re going to Toledo for a week, you don’t need to pack an industrial sized bottle of Head and Shoulders.  Take your hair care, skin care, and makeup routine back to basics and only pack as many liquid products as you can fit into a quart sized bag.  Make sure you select items that can multi-task whenever possible (e.g., a shampoo that can double as a body wash, a moisturizer that can be used on your face and body).  If it can’t fit in your liquids bag, it either isn’t necessary or is something you can probably pick up when you reach your destination. 

What are your top tips for low-cost travel?

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