PHOTO: Time-saving tips can help you get to the gate with ease. (Photo via Flickr/frankieleon)
Traveling can take a lot of time, whether you’re flying or driving. Time-saving tips can help you to save minutes here and there, which add up to more time enjoying your trip. We asked well-traveled agents to provide their best time-saving travel tips:
“When you check-in for your flight up to 24 hours before it leaves, pay for bags at that time,” said Margie Lenau. “Some airports let you skip the line and give them your bags directly. Even better, take only carry-on baggage. You will not lose your bag and you will not have to wait at the baggage claim area for your baggage either.”
“The Global Entry program can make getting through airport screening a breeze,” said Lenau. “You will need to go through the screening and interview process, but this can save you time, especially if you travel often. You will spend much less time waiting in lines for TSA screening and in customs."
Anthony Tucker, All Inclusive Outlet, also suggest signing up for TSA Precheck and the Mobile Passport app. “TSA Precheck advertises that 97% of TSA Precheck passengers wait less than 5 minutes to be screened,” he said.
“You can clear security without removing shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. The Mobile Passport app is only available at certain airports but can save considerable time when coming back into the U.S. From your phone you can fill out and submit your U.S. Customs form. Once reviewed, you will receive a barcode that can be scanned at a Mobile Passport station to bypass long lines at Customs.”
“When I am traveling for leisure, I want every moment that’s possible,” said Judith White, of White Sand Travel. “I want to get to the destination and start the fun. I always do pre-check in for my flights, print my boarding pass and check my bags 24 hours before. To avoid spending time in airport parking, I have someone take me to the airport. With Uber, you can get picked up at your home and taken to the airport and still avoid a $12.00 per day parking charge and the time it takes to park and get to the terminal.”
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“Have your rental car ready with National's Car Premium Program,” said Lenau. “Check in online and skip the rental car desk. Choose your vehicle from a special lot, and there is no charge for a second driver. Damage and liability coverage is included with no deductible. Get bonus miles for the rental, too.”
“Be prepared for everything before leaving your house,” said Anthony Tucker, All Inclusive Outlet. “Have a carry-on with everything you’ll need on board the plane, as well as a folder filled with any paperwork you need to have on hand (like hotel reservation confirmations and boarding passes). The last thing you want is to have to dig through your luggage to find something you’ll need prior to unpacking on the other side.”
“Save yourself from wasting time and money on shopping for essentials at your destination,” said Tucker. “Come stocked with sunscreen, bug spray, aspirin, bandages and anything else you can imagine needing throughout your stay. Not only are these items often much more expensive in popular tourist destinations, but chances are you don’t want to spend valuable vacation time waiting in line at a local convenience store.”
Do your research
“If you plan on taking in a local excursion, be sure to do your research in advance,” said Tucker. “Aim to have your onsite activities booked and ready for your arrival; otherwise, you may find yourself spending your time figuring out what you want to do while there. Plus, you may find out that dream excursion you hoped for is fully booked already.”
Use an agent
“Not only can travel agents save you money, but they can also save you a significant chunk of time,” said Mark Noennig, executive vice president at The Mark Travel Corporation. “Travel agents have a tremendous amount of experience booking vacation packages and can expedite the process while ensuring their clients get the vacation they have been dreaming of.”
Greg Antonelle, Managing Director of MickeyTravels, LLC agrees. “We like to call it More Magic, Less Stress,” he said. “Travel agents often spend countless hours on the phone booking Advanced Dining Reservations for their clients. Experienced travel agents understand how to handle the intricacies of each client’s vacation thus saving the traveler from doing hours of research, booking dining reservations, offshore excursions or other trip related items. We typically save our clients dozens of hours handling these types of items. It allows them to take care of other items, while the travel agent handles all the little details.”
Have a plan B
“If you miss your train, then what? If it rains, then what,” said Becky Lukovic, an affiliate of Travel Experts, Bella Travel Planning. “If the hubby is tired of seeing churches, then what? If you scheduled a down day, but then find yourself bored, then what? What plan are you keeping in your back pocket? Have an attitude of flexibility. You are on vacation, not presenting your travel thesis for review. Be flexible.”
Use private transfers
“Destinations like Jamaica now have a fast track service that helps you skip the long lines at Immigration and Customs,” said White. “It is worth the extra cost to avoid those lines. One of my favorite tips: private transfers. I do not enjoy getting on the bus at the airport and hope my hotel is the first stop on the way. If you have private transfers, you avoid all those stops along the way and you get to start your vacation earlier.”
Pack a swimsuit
“Pack your swimsuit in your carry-on bag so that if your room is not ready when you check-in at the resort, you can still start your vacation and not worry about when you can get your keys,” said White.