Seven ways to travel smarter this summer

Seven ways to travel smarter this summer

Summer travel is just around the corner and if you’re planning to travel, there are a few things you should know.

With predictions of a record-breaking travel season this year and more people making up for cancelled plans during the first year or two of the pandemic, foot traffic at the airport is expected to increase this summer.

Here are a few ways to ensure you make your trip, with fewer incidents.

Get the tech

Lots of major airports, including Charlotte-Douglas International, have specialty apps and other technology designed to help make your travel experience more enjoyable. Like ParkCLT, the airport’s official website, to plan and pay ahead for parking. This guarantees you a parking spot and helps avoid that panic feeling when all the lots are full. Charlotte-Douglas also keeps track of security line wait times. Avoid going to a checkpoint with a longer wait by checking the site and knowing your options.

Screenshot from CLT Airport’s website; security wait times page.

On the other hand, airlines have lots of tech options that make travel more simple. If you have a smartphone, you can skip printing your boarding pass by loading it onto your phone; this also prevents it from becoming lost.

More and more airlines are adopting from-app entertainment during flight, too. By downloading the airline’s app, passengers can sometimes access free entertainment like movies, tv shows and other options during their flight. This is a great option on a flight that doesn’t have in-seat entertainment or monitors in the seat.

Pack your carry-on wisely 

Imagine landing in your dream destination only to find that your luggage has been left behind at the airport, or worse, on its way to a different place. One way to ensure a little peace of mind when traveling is to be intentional about what goes in your carry-on. 

Man stands with luggage. (QCity Metro)

Sometimes, when luggage is delayed, it arrives a few hours later. Depending on the circumstance and destination, delayed bags could even arrive the following day or two. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported more than two million bags were “mishandled” — lost, delayed, or damaged — by U.S. airlines in 2022

Best packing practices for a good carry-on item include a change of clothes, chargers for all of your devices, and any immediate needs like medication, travel documents and your wallet.

Or travel light, carry-on only

Fewer things are worse than delayed bags on vacation, but a lost bag tops the list. In 2022, Travel and Leisure reported that of all U.S. airlines, American Airlines — who operate the most flights from Charlotte Douglas — reported the highest average of lost luggage. 

To combat this, you can elect to skip checking a bag and travel with only a carry-on. Lots of companies offer universally sized carry-on bags that, when packed intentionally, can hold a week’s worth — or more — of clothes and personal items.

Check out a lounge

If you’re wanting to add a little more relaxation or a dash of luxury to any trip, adding a lounge visit is an easy, and cost-effective way to do it. Lounges often have complimentary food and drinks and provide a separate area to wait and kick back before your flight. 

Inside The Club CLT at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. (QCity Metro)

Other lounge amenities can include free wifi, meeting areas, luggage storage, and even showers or hotel-like rooms to rest.

While some lounges , like the American Express Platinum Lounge at CLT, are exclusively for members, while others like the The Club CLT offer day passes for a fee.

Get a ride

Parking at the airport can be time-consuming and costly, depending on the length of your trip. Instead of parking and then taking a shuttle to the airport’s entrance, one way to get a smoother start to a trip is by coordinating a ride ahead of time. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft allow passengers to schedule rides to the airport in advance. Rideshare costs vary by day and time of day. 

You could also ask a family or friend in advance to give you a lift.

Follow TSA’s rules

One easy way to help ensure smooth travel this summer is to know and abide by  Transportation Security Association (TSA) guidelines.

TSA helps to keep travelers safe and protect the airport environment. They also check each passenger for contraband or other no-fly items that comes to the airport before boarding a flight.

And there are some pretty specific guidelines to know before flying to avoid an extended search or delay in your processing. For example, can you bring a gun onto a plane? Can you bring food? Yes. Can you bring breastmilk? Yes, if it’s frozen. Can you bring peanut butter? No. Can you bring a bottle of water? Only if it’s empty or under three ounces.

People have been arrested, banned from the airport and even placed on the no-fly list for breaking TSA’s rules. Know the rules and what you can bring before traveling.

Plan ahead and have a backup

The best way to ensure peace of mind before your summer travels is to plan ahead. Whether you’re taking taking off from Charlotte-Douglas and landing in Dubai or taking short flight to Raleigh or Atlanta, it’s important to have a plan.

Know how you’ll be getting to and from the airport and what it could cost you, and research your options in the area. If you’re traveling within the United States, there will be a rideshare option for transportation, but international destinations might not have the options. 

Research where you’re going and use resources like TripAdvisor, YouTube, and social media apps to check out other people’s experiences — and how to make the best of yours.

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