Happy New Year! Today is the day. It is the day of resolutions. It is the day of new beginnings. It is the day where dreams seem possible. And as my dreams always involve travel and adventure, I thought today was the absolute perfect day to share with you a few great travel questions I have been asked to start your new year on the right foot.

1. What is the best day to book airfare?

According to several sources including SmarterTravel, Tuesday is the magical day in airline industry. Because airlines typically release sales on Mondays, competing airlines follow suit making Tuesday the most common day for a deal. Like any business with perishable inventory (hotels, airlines, restaurants, ect) reserving your bed/seat further out typically  leads to the least expensive results. However, if you have the gambling spirit or are looking for an impromptu getaway booking last minute can also lead to major price cuts as these industries are doing anything to get heads in beds and buts in seats. And from personal experience, holidays often serve as a prime discount day in the airline industry. Just this year on Cyber Monday (the Monday directly following Thanksgiving) I was able to score a majorly discounted flight from Southwest and got to take an unplanned trip home for the holidays.

2. How can I cut extra expenses while traveling?

This is a pretty open ended question that truly holds so many different answers. However I feel like I’ve recently learned a few tips that have saved me a pretty penny.

  1. Pack food for your travel days. Airports are essentially their own economy. You get in there and you’re locked in there – no bargain shopping centers are to be found. And as we have all experienced, airport food is overpriced and fairly awful tasting. By packing a sandwich, granola bar, ect you can easily save $15-$20 that you would otherwise spend feeding yourself mid travel day. Liquids still aren’t allowed through security, but most airport restaurants will give you a cup of water for free if you ask nicely.
  2. Do not pay for luggage. Southwest allows up to two bags for free. Other airlines often offer at least one free bag if you are a member of their loyalty program.
  3. Which ties in perfectly to my third point – join loyalty programs. If you have a credit card, make sure it’s a credit card that earns you miles. Whatever your preferred airline may be, they all have credit cards now. And if you’re going to charge you may as well earn a little something while you’re at it. Nearly every loyalty program is free to join and they all offer a range of benefits ranging from free flights, complimentary baggage, and complimentary upgrades depending on how often you fly.

3. How can you avoid jetlag?

This past year (Past! I cannot believe 2012 is in the past!) I planned a handful of trips on what I believe was a verge of insanity. I took a quick weekend trip from Chicago – San Francisco to attend one of my good friend’s wedding. I left Friday after work and was back at work Monday morning. I got back from Australia on Monday evening and was at work on Tuesday morning. I flew from California to Chicago on Christmas evening and again was in the office the following morning. And I think I have pretty efficiently tackled the beast that is jetlag by doing the following:

  1. Book late flights when possible. For all the trips I mentioned above, I flew pretty late at night. This allowed me to enjoy nearly the full day before traveling. It also is much easier (according to me) to sleep on a plane at night. The main cabin lights are off, it’s dark outside, and your body is more naturally tired. 
  2. Be one of those travelers that wears an eye mask. You may feel silly at first, but trust me I finally tried it on my trip to Australia and it made all the difference. I have a pair that are scented with lavender, which is supposed to be calming. Whether or not it is, I’m not sure but it worked wonders for me.
  3. For those of you that are the I cannot sleep on a plane type, take drugs. I’m joking. Kind of. I’m a bit of a naturalist and try not to take medicine when I can avoid it. However this year I met melatonin. I have felt groggy and hungover any time I have tried taking sleep aids, but never with melatonin. From what I’ve found it’s the most natural and effective supplement available and it truly helps.
  4. Hydrate yourself. And well. Traveling is tough on the body and the inflight oxygen levels are hard on your skin. Drink lots of water for less of a headache, less dry skin, and a happier system in general.
  5. Force yourself into your normal routine right away. (See working the very next day as proof above). If you land somewhere bright and early after a red eye, stay awake for as long as possible. If you sleep all day on a plane and land somewhere at night, do everything in your power to go to sleep as soon as you reach your bed and wake again at a decent hour.

I hope these tips help. And I hope you are as excited about this upcoming year as I am. 2013, let’s do this! (image via).

if you’re lucky enough to have learned a thing or two about traveling, you’re lucky enough


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