Hand in window
Wrong days Wrong destinations Baggage Mental lapses Back-up plan

With luck, you’ll never run into a screw-up but it happens to the savviest of travelers. The trick is finding a quick fix and moving on.

5 Ways to Screw Up a Trip

#1 – Failure to fly the right days

If you only fly in July or at Thanksgiving, you are paying premium prices. These general guidelines will help you find cheaper flights.

  • Cheapest days to fly: Domestically, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. In other parts of the world, weekdays are often cheaper than Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Cheapest season to fly: The period from November to mid-March is cheapest in many parts of the world (including the U.S.) and January is often very cheap around the world. Good rule of thumb: When children are out of school, prices are usually higher. Major holidays are also expensive times to fly in countries that celebrate them (such as Christmas in the United Kingdom, Thanksgiving in the U.S., Tet in Vietnam).

#2 – Fly to ‘wrong’ destinations

If you can only fly to one particular airport to get to your vacation spot, we get it; go and have a good time. However, if you have a choice, fly to a cheaper airport; sure it could mean a longer drive but the money you save may be well worth the inconvenience. Examples: If flying to Los Angeles, check prices for Burbank, Long Beach and LAX; if flying to Washington, D.C., see if Baltimore is cheaper, and if flying to south Florida, price flights to both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale to see if one is a better deal.

#3 – Pack like an amateur

You can pack for a two-week trip with just a carry-on; in fact it’s fairly easy in summer. For winter, wear the coat you’ll bring along with heaviest sweater and shoes/boots to make the most of limited bag space. In most cases, a carry-on will save you a bag fee, but even if it doesn’t it still worth it because airlines can’t lose a bag that travels by your side. See easy ways to pack big suitcases and small bags in our sit & zip packing video.

#4 – Failure to pay attention

Not long ago, an employee of mine was waiting for out-of-town relatives to arrive when she got a phone call from them saying they slept through the boarding announcement and missed their flight! There were no planes with any empty seats until the following day. Sure, stuff happens but it’s far less likely if you are paying attention.

#5 – No back-up plan

Do just a little homework before you head to the airport, just in case something goes wrong. This takes no time at all, promise:

  • Put the airline’s contact number in your device and be sure you’ve loaded the app.
  • Follow the airline on Twitter (often the fastest way to get a response when problems arise).
  • Make sure the airline has your contact info in case they must reach you.
  • Check your reservations the day of travel (emails about schedule changes are easy to miss).
  • Print out the boarding pass even if it’s already on your phone; phones can die.
  • Know what the TSA does and does not allow through security. Don’t be forced to dump that nice bottle of wine or that expensive shampoo.

Ready for summer? Great. Safe travels.