Stephanie Spitler
October 16, 2012 8:00 am

Okay, so maybe “top-secret” is a bit of an exaggeration, but whether you’re taking a few days off to relax or a few months off to travel the world, here are some (more) tips and tricks I’ve learned through the years as a road warrior. So pack that (carry-on) bag and start googling fun things to do at your destination, because your trip is as good as booked. You’re welcome.

Sign up for fare watch alerts. If you have a specific destination in mind, you can sign up for fare alerts on websites that will monitor all the airlines and send you an email when the price has gone down. I love the idea of having someone else do the hard work for me; I don’t want to constantly be checking a million different sites to see if a flight to Vegas has gone down by a few dollars.

Sign up with airlines to get their “deal” emails. Airlines usually have weekly fare deals, and while you usually don’t have to be a member to get those fares, it can be a pain to remember which airline posts their deals on what day. It’s a better idea to sign up for their weekly emails, so the fares get sent directly to you and you don’t miss out on any awesome deals because you forgot to check their site.

Check flights from smaller airports. Sometimes the large international airport closest to you isn’t the cheapest. Depending on where you want to go, you might actually find a better deal flying out of a smaller regional airport. Make sure to check all airports within a (reasonable) driving distance; you could save yourself a few hundred bucks, or find a flight at a better time for you.

Don’t check a bag. I’m a huge proponent of avoiding checked bags. Every passenger gets one carry-on bag and one “personal item” like a purse. With the size of some of my purses, that really is like two carry-on bags. You’ll save time and money by not checking bags, and if you’re the kind of gal who needs to bring 10 pairs of shoes on a one-week trip, then consider shipping your suitcase to your destination. Depending on the weight, it might be cheaper than checking, and there’s no waiting at the baggage carousel. I do have one caveat here; don’t be that person who insists that their giant suitcase is carry-on size, or who tries to bring 3 or 4 pieces of luggage with them on the plane. Follow the rules like everyone else. Because nothing is worse than boarding with your regulation-size carry-on and being told that you have to gate check it because Carrie Can’t-Pack’s giant bag is taking up the entire overhead bin.

Refillable toiletry bottles: buy them.  Friends have told me that one of the reasons they feel like they have to check a bag is because they can’t live without their shampoo/conditioner/facial cleanser, and said item comes in a larger-than-3-ounce-bottle. Well, get yourself some nifty refillable bottles and a sharpie (so you don’t mix up the bottles and end up washing your face with shampoo). Problem solved, bad-hair-day crisis averted.

What are your favorite travel tips or tricks?

Image via Shutterstock

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