by: Alyson Komyanek
After enjoying a recent trip to the Windy City, I’ve vowed to stop letting the cost of flying keep me from amazing experiences. While a plane ticket is certainly a splurge expense, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help you keep the cost of traveling by air more affordable:
1. Don’t check a bag. Check with your airline ahead of time to find out their specific carry-on dimensions. Also, when purchasing your ticket, make sure to indicate if you intend to bring a “carry on” as several airlines will charge extra fees for not doing so. Now, if you attempt to cheat the system and maximize your carry-on space by utilizing a duffle bag, be prepared to kick and shove that bag into a small box to prove it meets sizing requirements. (My Vera Bradley bag took some major abuse, but it made the cut!)
2. Bring snacks from home. Remember when mom used to squeeze a half dozen ziplock bags of popcorn into her purse before taking the family to the movies? At the time, you were probably mortified, but did you enjoy those bags of sweet popcorn halfway through the movie? Yes you did. And your mom saved hundreds of dollars in overpriced confections.
3. Select a smaller airport. Large airports like Philadelphia, JFK and O’Hare may have sleeker designs and more dining options (but we’re packing our snacks anyway). However, with bigger complexes you also end up paying more for features like parking or shuttle busses, which can be avoided at small airports. For my trip, I picked an airport with one terminal, no bathroom, and no coffee station, but parking was free and the security line was quick. Of course, not all airlines fly from smaller airports, but when possible, choose wiselxy.
Now, TSA won’t allow you to bring beverages past security, but so far there’s no rule against snacks. I packed fruit snacks, pretzels and granola bars in my purse to avoid paying for overpriced goodies in the airport terminals or on board.
4. Communicate with your network. It wasn’t until we were boarding our initial flight that I spotted my neighbor boarding the same flight as me. How weird was that? Even weirder—we were on the same flight coming home, too. Had we known, we could have carpooled to save gas money! You never know who may have the same travel plans as you, so ask around—maybe your neighbors are planning a get-a-way weekend in Chicago, too!
Wishing you safe (and affordable) travels!