Trip Planning with Ease

Making my first appearance on Seats For Three, I am Kevin. I am the husband of the beautiful founder of the blog, Jacqueline. I have traveled across the United States and went through the United Kingdom/Europe. Travel is in my blood and I hope to help you, as the reader, feel more comfortable with travel and leaving the worry behind.

Travel is a huge part of our lives. It comes up in everyday conversations. We save all year and plan our day-to-day schedules for while we are at our travel destination. There is, however, tons of stress that go into planning a vacation. Money, time, flights, hotels, and parking are just some of the things that may be of stress. It can be overwhelming. I have flown hundreds of commercial flights and been on many types of aircraft. Believe it or not, the type of aircraft you are flying on makes a big difference on how comfortable the flight will be.

Here is my personal list of making the best of your flight:

– Picking your Airline:   

  • Look at your dates. Most airlines have a calendar that as prices on each day.

– What time of day is best?: 

  • The best flights are going to be between 5:30 am and 7:30 am, in my opinion. This is because you can still have that whole day to relax at your travel destination. The cheapest flights are going to be on Tuesdays around 3:00 pm, six weeks before your flight.

– Layovers:

  • Yes, booking a flight with layovers can sometimes be cheaper than flying nonstop. There are two reasons why: Not many people prefer a layover, so they make the non-stop a bit more because of limited space. The other reason is that airlines operate in a hub to hub system. Different airlines make certain cities as their hub. The main thing is to fly from your local airport to a hub. This is cheaper on the airline, which in turn will be cheaper on you. Our home airport is Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Both have a wide variety of airlines. DFW has American and Dallas Love has Southwest. Since these are hub airlines, there is no problem getting a direct flight for cheap. Let’s say I want to fly Delta or United. Delta out of Love Field only flies to Atlanta, but out of DFW, it goes to multiples hubs and non-hub destinations. If I wanted to fly to Los Angeles, I could book direct or I could layover in Salt Lake City for a cheaper price. Reason being is SLC is a hub. United would most likely layover in Houston or Denver.

Pay attention to the aircraft type:

  • Aircraft can be divided into three categories: heavy, narrow body, and regional jets. There is also a super but that belongs to the Airbus 380. Heavy aircraft are going to be the multiple aisle aircraft. Example: Boeing 747, 777, 787, and 767. Airbus has the Super A380, A340, A350, and A330. These have larger cabins and more headroom. Narrow body is going to be the popular Boeing 737, 757, 717, A319, A320, and A321. These have single aisles and are a little more cramped. You may see I did not mention the MD-80. This was my favorite aircraft. It only had two seats on the left side and was perfect for couples. Sadly, they are retiring by the year 2020 because newer aircraft will be replacing them. Regional Jets are the small aircraft that mostly hop around and travel small distances. These never have three seats in a row. The ERJ145  have one seat on the left and two on the right. All of the other CRJs and ERJs have two on the left and two on the right. I cannot say anything about a turboprop Dash8, as I have never flown on them, but I have heard they are just as comfortable and quiet.

Upgrades

  • Upgrades are always nice. Paying for them can be expensive, but it never hurts to ask when you get to your gate or when you board the aircraft. The worst that they can say is no. Your flight may have open seats. I was flying from London to Kyiv, Ukraine in 2014 on a British Airways Airbus A320. The flight was only half full and I noticed there was an empty row after boarding. I asked the flight attendant if I could move up to the emergency exit row and they said yes. Eight hours over Europe and I had the whole row to myself. They told me if a first class was available, I would have gotten it just because I was polite and asked.

FOR AIR TRAVEL, REMEMBER: Dates, Layovers, Types, and Be Polite!

I have always said, “I sleep better in a hotel than I do in my own bed.” It is true, I love hotels. Picking the right hotel can be the most crucial part of your trip. Jacqueline and I learned the hard way last year when we went to Los Angeles. We looked at the prices, photos, and area. They were not accurate when we arrived. Customer service was very unprofessional on the phone and in person. Here are some tips to keep away from an unpleasant stay:

Call the Hotel

  • Be polite. Listen to their tone. Do they sound like they want to help you? Calling the hotel can also get you better prices than online will.

Google maps the area

  • Look at the location around where you are wanting to stay.
  • Doing this will help you to plan better and more efficiently.
  • Street view can show you the best!

Amenities

  • What amenities are you looking for? Some big ones are airport shuttle, breakfast, pool/hot tub, etc. If two of you are staying, a hotel with breakfast can save you between $8-$12 each day. An airport shuttle can save you a cab or Uber/Lyft fare.

Chain Hotels

  • Independently ran hotels can be good, but I try to stick with hotels that are in a corporate chain. Reason being is they have set Standard Operating Procedures. This is a basic “how to” from the corporate level that know the ways that work and what doesn’t work. The brand is also a big reason. They all want the brand to look good. They all do their best to keep everyone happy and keep you coming back. If one location falls, the brand takes a hit.

When it comes to picking the right hotel, there will be a bit of homework involved. Watch the dates for prices and try to negotiate, if at all possible. Like I said, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Vacations do not have to be as stressful as people can make it out to be. Remember these tips and take it one step at a time. Plan ahead, so you can relax later. Have lots of fun, make lots of memories. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or fill out the contact form.

Feel free to also share any travel tips that you have discovered that may be of help to others.

May God be with you your whole trip and forever.

–Kevin–

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