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How To Be A Savvy Traveler

AP Images/Matt Houston

Traveling, everyone’s nightmare. Why is the security line so long? Am I going to miss my flight? Relax. Take a deep breath and read along. With this how to guide, you’ll be able to book the cheapest deals, spot any scams, and survive in just about every airport.

Be Able to Spot the Deals
Don’t be the traveler who throws down $500 for the first flight you see. Find a good deal.

Travel columnist and founding editor of the travel publication, Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Ed Perkins, swears by web sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Kayak.

“Make sure you don’t miss any sales. Sign up for email bulletins from online travel agencies to alert you. Know what’s going on in the marketplace. If you see a good deal, act on it. Don’t worry that there may be a better deal next week,” he advises.

“You also have to know what you are not finding,” says Perkins. Southwest, for example, does not allow online travel sites to post its flight information. So it is still a good idea to check an airline’s own website for other deals.

Get a Suitcase You Can Depend On
A suitcase can make or break a vacation. Don’t be the traveler who’s stuck lugging around your grandma’s dufflebag from 1983. If it’s time to upgrade, check out these popular medium-sized suitcases at Macy’s on Michigan Avenue. Sales associate Eric Chapell noted the three most frequently purchased.

  1. Samsonite Silhouette 12 Series– With a ten-year warranty and lightweight frame (13 lbs), you’ll be able to travel through the airport easily.
  2. Travelpro Crew 8 Series– This 9.4 pound suitcase has an adjustable handle length for any size traveler, stain and abrasion resistant nylon to protect against wear and tear, and a lifetime warranty to put you at ease.
  3. Victorinox NXT Series–  This has an adjustable handle, is moisture abrasion resistant, and weighs only 11 pounds. Make this purchase and you’ll be able to weather any sort of situation.

Bypass Baggage Fees
Don’t be the traveler who goes on a week-long vacation with only two outfits because that’s all you could fit in your carry-on. Know which airlines charge for bags and which ones don’t.

Airlines such as Delta, American, US Airways, Continental, United, Airtran, Alaska, Spirit, and Frontier all charge extra for checked bags. $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag are the typical fees.

These airlines all allow for a free carry-on bag, except Spirit, who charges $30.

In order to bypass these fees, book with a different airline if possible. Southwest allows for two free checked bags, as well as two carry-ons. On JetBlue, your first bag flies free.

Beware of Other Fees and Deceptive Ads
Don’t be the traveler who resorts to jogging sneakers and sweat bands so you don’t miss your flight and have to pay extra. Last year, airlines in the United States collected $2,297,377 in  flight cancellation and change fees.

Ed Perkins notes, “Allegiant and Spirit, add a booking fee which they say is optional. Only if you go directly to the airport and book a flight this will be waived. However, people who go online to buy a ticket with a credit card will be forced to pay the fee.”

Change fees, too, can really cost you. Delta, American, United, US Airways, and Continental all charge a base fee of $150 to change a flight. Passengers also must pay any difference between their old and new flights.

“But starting January 24th of this year, airlines will be subjected to include all fees in their posted prices,” says Perkins.

Top 5 Best U.S. Airports
Don’t be the traveler who picks the wrong airport time and time again. Check out this photo slideshow and familiarize yourself on the best airports in America. These findings are from J.D. Power’s 2010 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.