Travel Tips for First-Timers - Quicken Loans Zing BlogWith the many times I’ve been on an airplane, I thought I knew the difference between what was allowed in a carry-on bag and what items needed to be checked. Earlier this summer, I found out I wasn’t as smart as I thought. After passing through the metal detector, I was informed by a security guard that my bag was going to be searched. I knew there was nothing in my carry-on that I hadn’t brought on previous trips.

After my bag was searched, it was determined that my bottle of cologne was too big to go in a carry-on bag. For one, I was slightly embarrassed, because I argued with one of the security guards about how it wasn’t my first time flying and I knew what I could and couldn’t bring in a carry-on. Secondly, I was upset because it was a new bottle of cologne that I knew I’d never see again.

A few months later, I went on another trip and ran into more problems. Using the same bag I had for many of my previous trips, I was told the bag was too big for a carry-on and that I needed to pay to have it checked.

After my second airport debacle in as many trips, I decided it was time to do a little research about what I’m allowed to bring in a carry-on bag, what I need to check, and how big of a bag I can use for my carry-on. Flying is only as much of a hassle as you make it out to be. If you check out these travel tips for first-timers, you won’t encounter the same traveling problems as me.

When it comes to packing, I follow the general rule of less is more. The first time I traveled alone, I brought enough clothes to stay on vacation for a month. I didn’t wear the majority of the clothes I brought. The less you bring, the more money you’ll save because you’ll have fewer checked bags.

Depending on where I’m going and how long I’m going to be away, there are times I can fit everything in my carry-on bag without having to pay for a checked bag. If you can do the same, it’ll save you at least $25 at the airport.

Just because you can’t pack a full bottle of cologne in your carry-on doesn’t mean you can’t smell good throughout your trip. You’re allowed to bring liquids in bottles 3 oz. or smaller. That also goes for other items, such as shampoo and body wash. Many stores sell items such as shampoo and cologne in travel sizes, making it simple for travelers.

Another reason I tend to use carry-ons more than checked bags is that you’ll never have to worry about losing your luggage. Fortunately, an airline has never lost my luggage (knock on wood), although it happens on a regular basis. Be sure to carry important items such as your laptop and purse/wallet on the plan.

The last thing you want to do is miss your flight. It’s never happened to me, although I was close on one occasion. I can’t imagine how disappointed I’d be to get geared up for a vacation and then show up to the airport late and miss my flight. To avoid this situation, your safest bet is to arrive two hours prior to your scheduled departure for domestic flights. This should give you plenty of time to check your bags and get through security. Arrive at least three hours early for international flights.

Unless you’re traveling alone, you’ll probably want to pick out where you sit to ensure you sit with whomever you’re with. You’re allowed to check-in anytime within 24 hours of your departure. You can do this online or at the airport. The earlier you check-in, the better the chance you’ll get the seat of your choice.

Eat beforehand
Eating out on a regular basis is expensive enough as it is. Eating in an airport is even more expensive. A typical meal costing $5 at a regular McDonalds will cost you nearly double at an airport. If you’re looking to kill time at the bar, drinks are also a lot more expensive. If you’re looking to save money, don’t wait until you get to the airport to eat.

The holiday season is just around the corner. It’s the time of year when people will be flying to be with their families and college kids will be coming home for the holidays. Others will take the opportunity to go on a vacation to escape the winter cold. Whatever the reason, the amount of people traveling will soon pick up. If you’re a part of that group, be sure to follow some of my tips to not only get you through the airport fast and efficiently, but to save money, too!

Do you have any additional travel tips for first-timers? Let us know in the comments section below!


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