I recently went on a family trip, and while it got off to a rocky start (hence my reason for this post), I had an amazing time. We traveled to NYC + Washington D.C. (my first time visiting both) for a few days of sightseeing; I took sooo many pictures and ate yummy food, and while I plan to share some of those things in a later post, I had to share these tips while they were fresh on my mind.
Double and triple check your flight itinerary and hotel reservations.
There’s nothing like showing up to the airport for a 6am flight the Sunday of a holiday weekend and learning that you don’t actually have a ticket to board. Yes, you read that correctly. Half of our family’s flights had been cancelled because of some weird third party scam that’s been happening with travel agencies with ZERO notice to us. My sis-in-law handles everything when she plans our trips and has never had an issue so we were all shocked when we got there-she’d booked all of our flights months priors and had confirmation numbers so there had been no reason for us to do anything differently. Thankfully, she was able to get it all sorted out, but while half of our family arrived in NYC at 1pm that day (and even their flight had been changed with no notice), the rest of us did not get there til around 10pm. We were lucky, but it doesn’t always end that way, so be a crazy person with your flight confirmation. Flights have been known to change/be delayed with no notice as well (a friend just experienced that THIS week) so again, stay on top of everything as much as you possibly can.
Check in for your flight early, and wear shoes you can run in (just in case).
For most airlines, you have to check in anywhere between 45 and 90 minutes before your flight in order to ensure that you can actually board the plane. If you know that you’re slow and push the limit with getting to the airport 2 hours before your flight, go ahead and check in on your phone. I almost missed a flight once because I got to the airport THREE minutes after the cutoff time (I wasn’t driving! lol). Luckily I didn’t need to check a bag and they opened up another security line, but trying to run through the airport with multiple bags in a dress wearing flip flops IS NOT THE BUSINESS. My calf muscles were on fire because I was trying to keep my shoes on and not fall but get to the gate quickly. Even with the rescheduling of this trip’s flight, we had a mishap on our way back to the airport and I literally had 2 minutes to check in on the kiosk (their mobile site wouldn’t work!) or we risked having to go through a long line and missing the flight. Save yourself this drama and get yourself checked in early if you can!
Budget a little extra on your cards for Ubers + Lyfts.
Grabbing an Uber or Lyft if you don’t plan on renting a car is by far the easiest (and usually most cost effective) thing to do when traveling. Make sure you keep extra room on your debit or credit card for rides, though. Depending on the size of your group, you may have to get multiple vehicles, and while you’re splitting the cost and getting cash back from everyone, if you’re the only other person that’s tech savvy and has the right apps downloaded, you can run your card up so fast without even noticing it. You don’t want to limit where you go or what you do because of this, so just make sure you keep a little extra room on a card specifically for this.
Check to see if your hotel has perks with neighboring businesses or restaurants.
My SIL has some type of card with the Hilton, so not only was she able to get a discount on the rooms (we stayed in Times Square at a GREAT rate) and points, but we received a list of places where we would receive a discount if we shopped or ate there. Seems small at first, but if you’re staying in a popular tourist area, food and products are priced anywhere from 10%-25% higher than what they would normally be, so this helps out.
Don’t freak out just because something goes wrong.
Our NYC plans were thrown off because of our flight mishap, but we made the best of it the next day and explored in and around Time Square. We got to talk and take pictures and eat as we explored, and to be honest, we needed that because we had a busy day planned ahead in DC. We think we need to cram as much as possible into a trip when it’s short, but you can’t really enjoy your surroundings when you do that. Take the day as it comes and have fun no matter what hiccups it may have. Nobody wants to be stressed out on vacation!