Summer is peak travel time, which can mean vacations and fun trips. It can also mean waiting in lines, travel delays, and impatient, exhausted kids. But there’s help and hope. This week’s guest blogger, John Cloonan, travels almost weekly through the U.S. These are some of his tried-and-true ways on how to travel like a pro.
It’s invaluable! At a cost of about $16 per year, the ROI on your time is high, even if you only fly a couple times per year. TSA Precheck lets you enjoy expedited security screening – keep your shoes on, leave your 3-1-1 liquids in your bag, and more. Nice!
Southwest Rapid Rewards:
I fly exclusively on Southwest, and I’m in the A boarding group because of status. Getting on the plane first lets me choose the seat I want. For me, that means getting off the plane first. You might aim for a different goal, like an exit row or bulkhead seat. No matter what, it’s easy for you to get in Southwest’s A group, too. $12.50 per flight gets you early check in, putting you in A. Or if you’re willing to pay a little more, you can book a Business Select seat, which puts you in A1-A15. Sometimes you can buy an upgrade at the gate for as little as $32.
I also prefer to check my bag, and my carry on is small enough for underseat stowage. This allows me to pack everything I need, and makes moving through the airport easier. It also allows me to get off the plane faster and more easily. This is also another reason I fly Southwest – no fee for one bag.
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– National Car Rental and Hertz offer “grab and go” rental car service. All you have to do is sign up and reserve a mid-sized car. National’s app allows you to choose your date and location and reserve in one click. (Hertz may offer the same, I don’t know.) National also has Drop and Go, where you just park the car and leave the keys and they email you the receipt.
– Marriott Hotels‘s app allows you to check in ahead of schedule. You walk in to the hotel, the desk hands you a key, and you’re in. You can also check out via the app in one click.
– I carry a number of electronic devices that use a microUSB connection to charge. Rather than carry a bunch of individual chargers, I purchased a 6 outlet USB smart charger and 6 short microUSB cables for about $30.
– In my backpack I use a Grid-It organizer to control cables and small items.
So what does all this do? Picture my recent trip from Atlanta to Minneapolis.
– I bypassed the long bag check line because of my Southwest A-list status, which you could do by buying a Business Select ticket.
– I skipped a 40 minute wait in security by using TSA PreCheck, and I got to keep my shoes on and laptop and liquids in my bag.
– I was one of the first 10 people on the plane, so I got an aisle seat near the front.
– I got off the plane quickly because I was near the front and didn’t have to get a carryon from the overhead bin.
– I grabbed my bag, grabbed a car, and drove to my hotel.
– I walked in, told the desk my name, and they gave me my room key.
– On my return, I checked out of my hotel with one click. I drove to the airport, parked the car with the keys in it, dropped my bag, and sped through TSA.
I had enough time to have breakfast and write this post before boarding! Easy, convenient, and seamless. And even though I was flying alone, imagine how much easier these steps would make traveling with kids in tow.
What do you think of John’s suggestions on how to travel like a pro? Share in the comments!