15 flying secrets even the pros don’t know

We’re going to let you in on a secret in this post (well, actually several!) So get ready, hold onto your hats, and prepare to fly better than ever!

1. It’s not just in your head, airlines really are messing with you.

Airlines really do mess with you when you're booking online!
Airlines really do mess with you when you’re booking!

You’re looking for a flight online but the prices just keep on going up and up. It’s not your brain playing tricks on you, it’s the airlines. When you visit a booking site, it’ll likely install a cookie on your computer that tracks your information. If you search for the same flight route/hotel booking/etc. multiple times, the prices will keep going up each time. Though booking sites don’t use cookies exclusively to hike up their prices, clearing your cookies will help somewhat in keeping the prices low.

Related: Get a late checkout, every time!

2. Pretending that you’re alone really works.

If you're not really alone, just pretend!
If you’re not really alone, pretend you are!

When filling seats on a flight, airlines run the risk of leaving a bunch of single seats unfilled. If you’re travelling as a family, it’s always worth looking at booking each person individually to get a cheaper fare. Plus, many websites offer a 24 hour refund period.

3. Watch the flight for 24 hours after booking.

If you do book from a website that offers a 24 hour refund period, make sure to keep an eye on the flight. If the price drops, call the company to cancel your ticket and re-book for the cheaper fare.

4. Trains are the way to go.

Say yes to trains.
Say yes to trains!

Okay, maybe not always true, particularly in North America, but in other places like Asia and Europe, the railway works much better than flying. No long lines at check-in, security, or baggage claim is always a plus, the scenery is always beautiful, and over short distances, a train takes less time than a plane.

5. Regional airlines aren’t quite as safe as larger carriers.

Airplane boarding at gate
Know the difference between regional and national carriers?

But sometimes, you may not have a choice. If you’ve taken a flight on a major carrier, chances are, you’ve been on a regional carrier that the major carrier outsourced its passengers to. The name printed on the plane might be the same, but the airline really isn’t. And the flight crews aren’t required to be as well trained or qualified as those on larger carriers.

6. Say yes to carbs, but no to alcohol.

Dinner of potato slices, salad, nachos, sandwiches, and drinks
Carbs are great, alcohol, not so much!

The research is still out on whether carbs really help jet lag, but I do know one thing: filling up on carbs leaves me stuffed and sleepy. On that same train of thought, avoid alcohol, as it decreases the quality of your sleep, and contributes to dehydration, which is something that you should always avoid in an environment as dehydrating as an airplane.

Related: Get your carbs in Switzerland, the most beautiful place in the world!

7. Hit the airport early.

Passengers walking past an airport gate
Arrive early for your flight, but also make sure that your flight is early in the day!

Crucial if you want to avoid long delays. Delays accumulate throughout the day, which means that the backlog from the morning will carry over to the afternoon, making your journey through the airport progressively slower. From my own personal experience, this tip is completely true.

8. Don’t expect to save too much on flights.

A stack of coins and a clock in the background
Don’t expect to save too much on flights!

Flight fares are generally less discounted than other types of travel services because of the way they operate. If they fill fewer seats on their flights, they’ll just fly fewer trips. Don’t expect too much from their discounts, otherwise you might walk away disappointed.

9. The earlier you book your flight, the more you should consider refundable tickets or travel insurance.

Unfortunate things do happen, and when they do, you’ll want your money back from a flight you couldn’t take. The further away from your departure date, the more likely it is that something unfortunate might happen, so travel insurance or refundable tickets just might come in handy. Take it from my personal experience: an extremely fortunate oversight when booking fares to England led to the accidental purchase of travel insurance, proving useful when I became quite ill and couldn’t take it.

10. You don’t need to pay to select your seat.

Airplane wing in flight over mountains
Seat selection can be free!

Unless you’re very picky about where you want to sit, you can generally choose a seat during check-in. Check in as early as possible to get the widest selection of seats. Many of these will be undesirable seats, but you’re guaranteed a few good ones to choose from.

11. Personalize your checked luggage.

Silhouette of man walking outside with a suitcase
Personalizing your luggage hits two birds with one stone: it shows off your individuality, and makes your stuff easier to spot!

You already know to make sure your luggage is correctly labelled with your name, route, and contact details, but you may not know that it is best practice to include this information inside your suitcase, in case it is lost and the tags on the outside disappear. As well, make sure to rip off any tags from past flights, as sometimes, the wrong barcode gets scanned and your luggage could be sent halfway across the world. In order to avoid mix-ups on the luggage carousel, you should aim for a unique-looking suitcase. Avoid buying suitcases in grey, black, navy, and maroon, because everybody else’s suitcases will look the same as yours, and personalize your existing suitcases with bright ribbons or funky tape. I have a roll of green and pink flamingo patterned duct tape for this purpose.

12. Carry-on dimensions: the bane of your existence

Different carriers will have different requirements (sigh) and to make matters even worse, they won’t tell you straight up what you’re allowed and what you’re not. Sometimes, on particularly Satanic websites, dimensions are listed as a lump sum. So for example, if they list 40 cm as your allowance (yep, I know that’s unreasonably tiny, but I’m willing to bet that in a few years, that will be the allowed carry-on size) , the width plus length plus height of your suitcase must be at most 40 cm. Make sure everything you need fits!

13. Balls are your best friend.

Legs poking out of car window
Give your feet a well-deserved massage!

Not the large squishy kind (I didn’t mean it THAT way!), but the smaller compact ones: golf and tennis balls work particularly well. Give your feet a massage at your seat by rolling the golf balls underneath the soles, or roll out your back and legs at the terminal with the tennis balls.

14. Airplanes: grosser than your toilet seat!

Glass of orange juice, and slices of oranges and lemons
Vitamin C has been debunked, but you know what hasn’t? Zinc!

It’s completely true: airplanes are a hotbed for germs, bacteria, viruses, and grossness. Vitamin C has been debunked as an effective cold remedy, so instead, try zinc supplements, which have been proven to prevent and bring down the severity of your symptoms. Get plenty of fluids (not alcohol!), rest, and fresh and healthy food, and for the germaphobes out there, bring some wipes for your armrests and tray tables.

15. Board later on.

Crowded London Underground station
Stay calm! The plane doesn’t depart for another hour!

Don’t try to be late (unless you want your seat to be given away!), but boarding after the crush increases your (incredibly tiny but still-there) chances of being upgraded. Yes, we know that chance is tiny, but it doesn’t really hurt, does it?

Did you enjoy this post? Make sure to give us a thumbs up, check out some of our wanderlust-inducing travel posters, and we’ll see you soon! Happy travels, wanderers!

secrets.png

What on Earth is a Travel Exercise Bank?

The best (and only) way to have it all.

I’ve recently become quite obsessed with the concept of a Travel Exercise Bank. It’s my new favourite tool to motivate myself, and it’s my way to have it all. So, by now, I bet you’re dying to know what a Travel Exercise Bank and how to start one.

What is it?

Simply put, my TEB is where I translate all of my exercise kilometers to travel kilometers. These exercise kilometers can be achieved through any kind of exercise: walking, jogging, biking, swimming, even prancercise. I usually stick to walking and jogging, because I do that almost every day, but really, anything goes.

How do I calculate it?

Every day, I clock the number of kilometers I exercised in an excel spreadsheet. I re-purposed a mileage reimbursement spreadsheet for this purpose and it works rather well. then, I set the conversion factor. This conversion factor varies between different people. Entire families of ten can work with one exercise kilometer to one travel kilometer, while I prefer to do 1 exercise kilometer to 8 travel kilometers. The greater your conversion factor, the faster you reach your travel goals.

That’s cool and it seems fun, but what’s the catch?

The rule of the TEB is that you must spend your travel kilometers when you go on trips. For example, if I accrue 790 travel kilometers, I am allowed to go on a trip from Toronto to New York, because they are 790 kilometers apart. Again, there are different ways you can calculate distance. I prefer to calculate the distance I am travelling, totalled. For example, if I were to go on a trip from Toronto to New York to Vancouver, I would calculate the 3 in between distances and sum them up.

What about going into debt or reusing travel kilometers?

Going into debt is strictly forbidden. After all, if you knew you could go into debt, wouldn’t you just stop exercising altogether? Reusing travel kilometers is also forbidden. After you spend those kilometers, they’re gone. You’ll just have to accrue more to spend more.

Awww, Chelsea, that doesn’t seem like much fun…

On the contrary! I love being able to exercise towards a goal and actually reaching a milestone adds so much more satisfaction towards being able to take an awesome trip! It doesn’t even have to be hard; you can set the conversion factor to however high you would like! The point is not that the TEB is impossible, the point is that the TEB will get you to exercise and feel motivated doing it.

Happy travels!

Image sourced from http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00979/piggybank_979352b.jpg

Are You a Power Passport Holder?

The little black, red, green, or blue book that can get you anywhere in the world. Well… almost anywhere. Does your passport make the cut? Below are some of the most powerful and weakest passports in the world.

You might expect these two countries to be tied for first place: the United Kingdom and United States of America at 147 visa free countries!

South Korea, France, and Germany are tied for 2nd place, at 145 visa free countries, and in third place, Italy and Sweden provide 144 visa free countries.

Where does my beloved Canada fall? I was surprised to find that we were only at fifth place, tied with Switzerland for 142 countries. I mean, come on! Famous Canadian politeness is getting us nowhere.

 

As you might expect, Western Europe and Southeast Asia are killing this index, raking in 13 of the 15 top ranked passports, and for good reason. Both recently and historically, those two regions have been some of the diplomatically calmer places in the world.

Now for the weakest passports. Drumroll please, as we announce the ultimate losers of this index.

Myanmar, the Solomon Islands, the Palestinian Territories, Sao Tome and Principe, and South Sudan, tied for 80th place, at just 28 visa-free countries.

At 79th place, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Nepal, and Ethiopia, at 38 countries. 78th place goes to Burundi, Haiti, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, and Bhutan with 40 countries. Altogether, not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

Don’t despair if you find that your beloved passport happens to be one of the weakest ones on this list, or even one that isn’t listed in the top three. After all, that’s why visas exist!

Happy travels!

Featured image sourced from http://livewanderfully.com/2016/03/24/space-travel/

The Secret to Best Plane Seats

Great seats at a great price.

Well, I mean, you could always score the best plane seats by paying for first class or buying a private jet, but that would be unrealistic.

So what constitutes a good seat? Exit rows, bulkhead seats, window and aisle seats, and seats near the front of the plane may all be considered good. Maybe you want a first class, business class, or economy premium upgrade. Or maybe you just want a break from the screaming baby and the prodigal recliner.

Here’s how you can get the best seats on a budget.

  1. Use those reward miles to snag an upgrade. If you’re part of a frequent flyer program, stick with it to get those rewards.
  2. Book early. The earlier you book, the more likely your preferred seat will be open.
  3. When booking your ticket, check to see if your airline offers seat selection. Some do for free and some do for an additional fee.
  4. If your flight offers online check-in (which most do), take advantage of the opportunity! Even if you couldn’t choose your seat at booking, you may still be able to select a seat during check-in. Typically, the earlier you check in (max. 24 hours usually), the more choice you have.
  5. Do your research. SeatGuru.com has seat maps for practically every airliner there is, and with a few simple searches, you can scope out the seats that you really want.
  6. Strategize. Everybody hates sitting beside other people. If you’re travelling as a pair, take the window and aisle seat so that others are less likely to choose the middle. If you’re travelling alone, take the middle seat and keep your fingers crossed that your strategic position in the middle deters others from sitting beside you.
  7. Feeling lucky? Wait until the last minute before boarding to ask if you can have an upgrade. Sometimes, there will be upgrades available at a steeply discounted price.
  8. Be nice. This really works in combination with #2 and #5. You’ll be surprised how much you can bend the rules this way.

This is what I’ve found out so far, and this plan has served me pretty well in getting my ideal seat (aisle seat, within 5 rows from an exit). How do you snag your preferred seat?

Happy travels!

-Chelsea

Tips for comfortable flying

I have a deep love-hate relationship with flying. On one hand, I love travelling and the whole process of getting through the airport and onto the plane. I love flying and feeling like I’m on an adventure. I even strangely like airplane food! On the other hand, being in an airport of any kind makes me sad. Airplanes are loud, seats are cramped, security checks make me flustered, and being confined to a seat for more than two hours makes me miserable.

Out of all of the above factors, I think the discomfort of actually flying is the worst. I’ve come up with a good system to keep myself comfortable in the air.

  1. Always always always bring a toothbrush and toothpaste or mouthwash! I don’t know about you but my mouth feels terrible after I eat and then take a nap.
  2. Stay hydrated. We aren’t good at staying hydrated even when we’re on land, but it gets worse at 8-10 km above sea level. Bring a water bottle if you don’t want to constantly irritate the flight attendants and try to stick to water or tea since coffee, alcohol, and juice generally make you feel even more dehydrated.
  3. Bring small snacks if you hate airplane food (never had this problem) or are flying on a plane that doesn’t offer meals (always have this problem). Granola bars and fruits work particularly well for this. Being hangry on a long haul flight is the worst.
  4. Check in early at home, because some airlines let you pick your own seats. I go for aisle seats because it’s much easier to get up and walk around, which I do a lot of.
  5. Hoodies, blankets, and large scarves are a must because airplanes are eternally cold. Like it is never warm in an airplane. You will freeze. Trust me.
  6. The hum of an airplane can drive anybody crazy, and coupled with the sound of wailing babies and oblivious neighbours, you’ll wish you lacked the ability to hear. Earplugs or good headphones usually fix this problem.
  7. The worst part of flying is the stiffness and swollen feet and ankles. I like to bring flip-flops so that my feet can expand without being constricted by sneakers. I also get up every hour or so to stretch my legs. It drives the cabin crew crazy, but deep vein thrombosis is no laughing matter. I also do the exercises shown in the Qantas video below. Finally, after deplaning, I like to lie down and prop my feet up to get the blood drain down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv7enzI7Yq8

I hope I made your next flight slightly less bearable. In the meantime, stay tuned on this website and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

Happy travelling!

-Chelsea