5 Things to Guarantee a Lousy Trip

You’re all excited and why not – you’re going on vacation! – but did you think of everything? Most of us don’t so take a look at this list of things that could delay you or cost you money – things that will get your trip off to a lousy start. Know what not to do before you head to the airport.

LISTEN: Even travel experts like Rick Seaney sometimes take lousy trips.

5 Things to Guarantee a Lousy Trip

Let’s take them in order.

  1. Drive yourself to the airport

Do you know how much parking at the airport costs? At Los Angeles International, the far-away lots go for $12 a day and the terminal-close garages are $30 a day. Let’s keep the math simple and say you’re on a ten day trip. Is paying $300 a better deal than Uber, Lyft, a cab or a shuttle? And let’s not forget friends and relatives (you take me to the airport now, I’ll take you later).

  1. Get to the airport an hour ahead of time

Normally, arriving at the airport an hour before departure is perfectly okay but have you flown lately? All the airlines are issuing dire warning about long TSA lines now and in summer and warning passengers to get to the airport two or even three hours in advance. My advice: Join PreCheck, or if you fly internationally join Global Entry which includes PreCheck. Even that may not be as fast as it used to be but I guarantee you it’s a whole lot faster than the alternative.

  1. That bottle of wine, that jar of jam

We all forget about the TSA’s liquid rule – yes, you can bring liquids but only if they’re in containers that can hold 3.4 ounces or less –  but usually we forget when it comes to cheap stuff like a bottle of water and no one cares (much) about having to toss that. Now imagine how you’d feel tossing that hostess gift of a $50 bottle of Cointreau Noir? Or an even more expensive wine? Or that homemade jelly or jam? This stuff must go in a checked-bag but since bottles break, I say buy such things once you arrive and you can always ship the jam.

  1. Powerless devices

Phones die. Tablets have breakdowns. Laptops lose it. I’m speaking of power of course: there’ll be no binge-watching for you at 35,000 feet if you don’t get to the airport with all devices powered up with charger at hand. By at hand, I mean in a pocket, in a purse or in a carry-on. One last thing: Don’t rely on the boarding pass on your phone; grab a paper copy from the airport kiosk or print one at home just to be on the safe side.

  1. Obese carry-ons

More and more airlines limit the size and even weight of carry-on bags; and because overhead bin space is at such a premium, they actively look for violators. Don’t lose your bag to the cargo hold (and maybe get dinged for the checked-baggage fee), look it up: Frontier, for example, limits carry-ons to 35 lbs. while Virgin America sets the limit at 30 lbs. As for size, legacy carriers like American, Delta and United set carry-on dimensions at a total of 45 inches (height + width + length) while Spirit allows a little more. If Southwest says your bag is too big, relax since they don’t charge a checked-bag fee. On the other hand, who wants to hang around the baggage carousel when you could be starting vacation?

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Updated: April 28, 2016