By Noah Henry • August 29, 2013
The glory days of traveling seem to be over—long lines, cramped planes, tedious measures to procure a rental car, ghastly hotel rates. No longer does one envision the novelty of flying in a positive light. That doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to merely tolerating the ordeal that is traveling. There are many ways to improve your experience, beyond the obese snorer and sticky child sitting next to you. Let’s explore some of the ways to make getting from point A to point B not so bad after all…
Renting a Car 101
Car rental companies are in the game for one reason: to make money. Acting like a deer in the headlights will cause them to treat you like one, and take advantage of your naivety to the nth degree. The following tips will help you navigate the confusing world of renting a car:
Top off your gas. You should always fill your gas tank to the brim or else they’ll tack on a ridiculous fee. If you think they’ll merely match the market price for the gas you owe, well, you’re dead wrong.
Decline insurance. Many car rental clerks are actually trained to create a ton of anxiety for customers in order to sell insurance. It is a main source of car rental companies’ profits. It’s also very likely your auto insurance at home covers it.
Be punctual. Rental companies sometimes tack on a full day if you’re late with your rental car. Mean, I know. If this is the case, call when you’re late and explain your situation. If they insist on still charging you a full day, then … mean.
Prepay. Opting to pay ahead of time can save you as much as 20 percent. Renters should never cancel afterward because this could lead to heavy cancellation fees.
Deal yourself a deal. Hertz, Thrifty Car Rental, and Payless are all offering grand discounts at the moment; 20 percent, 15 percent, and 10 percent off, respectively.
Noise-Cancelling Headphones: A Frequent Flyer’s Best Friend
The terrible engine noise, the screaming babies, the dude guffawing at the airline flick. Frequent flyers know that noise-cancelling headphones make flying a lot more pleasant. Budget Travel recommends the Bose QC15 headphones, which are currently offered with free shipping and 10 percent off. More style-oriented travelers can find exciting flavors of headphones at SkullCandy, where you can get a free T-shirt with code FREETSHIRT for orders over $20.
On Packing Lightly
Travelers have to deal with the scrutiny of carrying on large bags that barely fit into the overhead compartment. When that doesn’t work, they’ll be hard-pressed to get it beneath the seat in front of them. Luckily, sites like Minimus are in the business of making things smaller. Minimus carries travel-sized versions of everything—food, personal care, pharmaceutical goods, hand sanitizers, and other travel accessories. The way to a more convenient flight and an easier journey through the airport terminal starts with minimal belongings.
Conquering Jet Lag
Staying hydrated is one of the more popular ways to avoid jet lag. Also, if you’re skilled at it, you can squelch the effects of jet lag by sleeping on the plane. Researchers say that light exposure and melatonin reduce the symptoms of jetlag after arriving to your destination, but if you don’t have the patience for that, Drugstore.com has the answers to your messed up circadian rhythms:
JetZone Homeopathic Jet Lag Prevention - $8.75
No Jet Lag - $10.99
Print Boarding Passes at Home
The longest lines are at check-in, not security. Printing your boarding pass within the 24-hour period before your flight can save you from waiting it massive lines. This especially applies to airlines like Southwest, where those who check in early can board first and get their choice of seating. If you’re checking bags, this tip may or may not help.
Airport Security 101
1. Place liquid and gels in a quart-sized Ziploc; wear slip-on shoes, not sandals—unless you want dirty feet.
2. In the security line, remove everything except for your ID and boarding pass.
3. Take off your shoes, jacket, and remove your laptop when you’re three people away from the front of the line.
Occupying Your Flight
Sylvania SDVD1030 10 Portable DVD Player
The drudgery that is flying unoccupied can be avoided by picking up certain items for your pleasure. You could always play “I’d Rather Have” with your SkyMall mag, but that could get boring quickly. Portable DVD players are available for less than $50 at Walmart, which can help pass the time on-board. Books from airport boutiques can be expensive—a simple stop at Half.com or Amazon.com can remedy that. Many airlines have in-flight WiFi; Southwest Airlines offers WiFi service for $8, and Alaska Airlines runs a flexible pricing plan ($1.95 to $39.95).
Always Scrounge for Deals on Hotels
Travelocity - $50 off hotels off $300 or more; code SUN50
Expedia - $100 off orders of $1,000 or more with a 4-night stay; code EXP10
- 12% off stays; code 12FOR12
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!