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Photo courtesy of Wynand van Niekirk

We are flying out on a red-eye to the big apple tonight! It happens to be my husband’s 10 year college reunion, so we have taken off a little less than a week to attend events and catch up with friends. Manhattan is always going to be a place that we both love going to for vacation, not for living. The living costs there are even higher than Los Angeles! There is absolutely no hope of ever buying your own home unless you happen to be filthy rich!

Airplane travel can be one of the most expensive and exhausting ways to travel for sure. Not only are airline tickets expensive, everything you buy at the airport is overpriced. The TSA can be extremely rude and have implemented so many ways to “keep us safe.” Those methods though, also can cause a huge hassle when trying to get through security. There are ways to keep your costs down when traveling, and to get through the whole experience as painlessly as possible.

Packing lightly

Since we are only going for five days, we both plan to just bring carry-on baggage only. A majority of passengers also do this to save on baggage fees. I believe Southwest is the only airline that still does not charge fees for checking-in luggage. Make sure your baggage is within the size restrictions, I have seen many passengers with bags much too large to fit in the overhead bin. They try to fit their bags up there by force, crushing other people’s bags in the process. In the end they have to gate check it, which is free, but is an extra inconvenience. Of course having fewer things mean you have to lug less around too!

Bring some snacks and a water bottle, a meal if traveling during food times

I always bring some snacks and a reusable water bottle. Everything at the airport is overpriced and if you find yourself hungry, well you are going to be shelling out a lot more. A bottle of water costs a few dollars at the airport! Save some money by just filling up a reusable water bottle at a fountain. Sometimes the water tastes like tap, but that could save you $3 or more. Do not be afraid to pack a meal if you are flying during lunch or dinner. Airlines do not even have real meals to offer anymore. All I have seen are sandwiches and snack packs. Might as well pack something yourself and bring it. Just make sure its not too smelly for the people around you. Good suggestions are a sandwich and some veggies and dip. Anything that does not need to be microwaved.

Keep your liquids separate in a clear quart size bag and less than 3.4 oz

Every airport is different in how they treat liquids. Smaller airports will be more lax on the rules, while larger airports can stick to it word for word. The safest thing to do when going through security is to make sure all liquids are less than 3.4 oz. The container itself needs to be that size or smaller, not the amount of liquids inside. I save any containers that are travel sized to reuse instead of buying new bottles. Each person can carry enough liquids to fit into a quart size bag. I usually keep mine in the most accessible location so I can easily pull it out at security. One exception to that rule is contact solution! Anything medical or baby related I believe is exempt. Double check that before you bring it though! Contact solution is definitely okay in larger sizes. I just make sure to put it in a bin so they can see it.

Radiation or a pat down?

Airports now have that super mega crazy machine where they scan people for dangerous objects. While it may be the “norm” and relatively quick, there are concerns about radiation. If you do not want to risk it, you can ask for a manual inspection. Be aware though that this is basically a full police pat down. Before, the pat down was much less invasive. Now, they will literally touch you everywhere. When I say everywhere I do mean almost everywhere. For women, they will even skim the underside of your chest. They will also do this in front of everyone else. Some TSA agents do not give you any warnings before doing a pat down, some will be nicer and tell you exactly what they are going to do. Plus, if you are a woman, you will get a woman TSA agent. It is a hard decision as both methods are not fun at all. Both are invasive, but the scan does take much less time. After going through the pat down once, I generally go through the body scan.

Bring something to kill time

One of the worst things you could do is not bring anything to kill time with. Instead, you end up at the stores shopping, or buying a book or magazine or two or three. My husband likes to bring the nook to read, while I bring a book or my Nintendo DS. Either way, just bring something to occupy your mind or else you will end up being something unneeded!

What do you do to save money while flying? Do you have any tips to make flying less of a hassle?


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