Travel Tips from the Pros

12 November 2008

When you finally get to take some time off, don’t let travel hassles spoil your vacation. Tim Davey, president of Global Marine Travel (GMT), which specializes in serving the yachting industry, offers tips on how to arrive rested and ready to have fun.

#1 – Travel Light
Try your best to travel with hand baggage only—although current prohibitions against liquids might mean leaving the cologne at home. If you have to check a bag (particularly a black one), attach something distinctive to it that makes it easy to identify. Wear slip-on shoes so you can slide them off easily when going through security.

#2 – Try for Business Class
“Don’t be shy about asking if there’s any chance of an upgrade when you check in,” Davey recommends. “Sometimes, the answer will be no; but sometimes they are looking for volunteers.” If that’s the case, your travel plans will need to be flexible as the upgrade may be on a flight that leaves the following day.

Some airlines require that you pay a fee to upgrade to business class if there’s space available. If you want to cash in frequent flyer miles for an upgrade instead, be sure to book well in advance as flyer miles are getting harder to redeem. “The airlines are looking for every bit of revenue these days,” he cautions.

#3 – Be Queen for a Day
An airline club membership usually is only cost-effective if you’re a frequent traveller. But if you have a three- or four-hour layover at a major hub, buying a day pass to one of the clubs is well worth the price – usually about US $50 – for the free food, drink and wireless Internet. Some even have showers.

#4 – Sit in the Front of the Bus
Book your seat as far forward in the aircraft as possible––being on the plane first means you get the overhead space, and being off first lets you avoid the rush to immigration. Bulkhead seats sometimes offer more legroom, but beware: Many of them don’t recline. Check with the airline in advance.

#5 – Stay on the Wagon
While this may sound like crazy advice to yacht crew, particularly those embarking on an international flight with free booze, don’t drink alcohol en route as it will dehydrate you. “It just makes matters worse, especially if you’re going to a hot climate,” Davey says. Drink lots of water instead.

#6 – Fly Direct
It’s tempting to hop, skip and jump across the country if it will reduce your fare, but every time you add a connection, you also add the possibility of delay, missed flights and lost luggage. In most cases, paying that extra $200 for a direct flight is worth it in the end.

Better yet, if your travel plans are prone to change, spring for a refundable ticket. Yacht crew are eligible for a refundable, changeable, one-way “seaman’s fare,” which anticipates the many sea changes that can occur a yachtie’s life.

#7 – Use a Travel Agent
If you like the music airlines play on hold, by all means call them direct. Otherwise, you’ll get better service from a travel agency, particularly one that is open 24 hours a day to help you shop fares and optimize your vacation plans .

Evian water spray? Yoga at 30,000 feet? How do you make it through an overseas flight? Share your tips with fellow sufferers.