6 tips for first-time travelers

I remember my first flight. I was 15 and my mom and I had a charter flight to Rome. For reasons I can’t remember, all of the passengers on that flight were allowed to go through security at the last moment, and at one point I was sure I wasn’t going to see Italy this was there. Luckily we got on board successfully, and since seeing clouds from above on my way to art wonders, pizzas, and streets full of Vespas, I have loved flying with all my strength. heart.

If you were eager to start flying before the pandemic struck, you can start getting excited again. As more people get vaccinated, travel becomes safer and more people get vaccinated. CDC advises fully vaccinated people to travel without worrying about self-quarantines or COVID-19 testing.

Still, you may worry about how it will turn out, especially if you are traveling overseas or with multiple stopovers.

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six tips for first-time travelers like you that can help you plan a smooth trip from start to finish.

Tips for first-time travelers

  1. Plan your luggage and make cuts where you can
  2. Sign up for a rewards program
  3. Plan transportation to and from the airport
  4. Bundle up to stay warm
  5. Submit a TSA preclearance request
  6. Check your cards before you go

1. Plan your luggage and make cuts where you can

First, write down everything you want to take with you. Then go through the list and try to cross out about half of it. Do you need a new outfit for each day of your trip? Large format shampoo and conditioner? If you are staying at a hotel, they most likely have travel-sized toiletries that can help you through your stay. Reading on the beach with you? Consider leaving the book at home and bringing your e-reader (although I may or may not listen to my own advice here).

Bonus tip: weigh your luggage before your flight to make sure it doesn’t exceed the weight limit. You can purchase digital luggage scales small enough to slip into your bag so you can weigh your luggage on the way home (in case you buy some souvenirs that might add to your weight). Also, check what you can and cannot have in your luggage and hand luggage, it may differ depending on the destination if you are traveling abroad.

Keep in mind that if you check your baggage, you usually have to pay a fee. For example, the first piece of baggage on domestic flights typically costs $ 30. Heavy bags will require a higher fee, as will your second and third bag.

However, some credit cards will allow you to avoid these charges. the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offer checked baggage waivers. JetBlue Plus Card holders receive a free bag each time they travel with JetBlue. Chase United Airlines Co-Branded Credit Cards also allow checked baggage free of charge.

Finally, you can travel light with hand luggage. I admit that I do this wherever I go and no matter how long the trip is. It’s not just a matter of costs — for me, it’s just more convenient. I learned the hard way on my return from a trip overseas and couldn’t get my luggage from the carousel as it weighed almost as much as I did. It was embarrassing and it wasn’t worth stressing, since I hadn’t even used half of the things I had brought.

2. Sign up for a rewards program

Almost all airlines have a rewards program that allows you to earn air miles you can then redeem for great stuff like plane tickets, seat upgrades and more.

When you first fly on a plane, whether it’s because you don’t fly often or just starting your trip as a travel junkie, you probably don’t have an airline you’re planning on. to remain faithful. This is absolutely fine. For those who travel regularly, airline loyalty may pay off, while others (like me) are only loyal to the best deal.

No matter what type of traveler you are, there is no reason not to sign up for a rewards program offered by the airline you are traveling with. If you fly with them again, you will continue to earn miles, and if not, you may be able to use them to book a flight with a partner airline. Registration is free, so one way or another you don’t lose anything.

Later when you are ready for a travel credit card, you can transfer your rewards to an airline loyalty program (if the fare is right), and you will have a little extra to reserve your ticket with miles.

For example, I have the American Express® Gold Card, which has JetBlue on its list of transfer partners. I would like to go to California for a few days in May to see my friends. Let’s say I have 6000 points on my Amex card and 5000 points on my JetBlue account that I have earned on some previous flights. When you transfer Amex Membership Rewards at JetBlue, 1.25 Amex points earn you 1 JetBlue TrueBlue point.

My 6,000 Amex points then turn into 4,800 JetBlue points, and I now have 9,800 points in my JetBlue account in total, exactly what I need to purchase my tickets. Currently, return tickets from Austin to LA in May can be found for $ 163.98, but if I pay with my points I will only have to pay a $ 11.20 fee. Pleasant!

3. Plan transportation to and from the airport

Plan to get to the airport in advance – you never know how long it will take to get through security. I usually arrive two to three hours before the flight, and I especially like to give myself a little extra cushion when I fly abroad. Additionally, I recommend that you check in online so that you don’t have to queue for check-in.

You also need to know how you are going to get to and from the airport. I normally take an Uber since the Amex Gold offers up to $ 100 in Uber Cash per year ($ 10 per month). there are others ideal cards for carpooling, too much.

Alternatively, you can hire a car at your destination airport so that you can use it to get around during the trip. If so, check if your credit card offers primary car rental insurance, which offers protection if you are involved in an accident or if your rental car is stolen or damaged. Examples of cards that come with this benefit include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

4. Bundle up to stay warm

Airports and planes are noticeably cold, so bring something comfortable to wear on your trip.

A light and compact jacket is a great choice, as you can easily put it on and take it off and put it away when moving around different temperature zones. Treat yourself to a new jacket or shawl before your trip and put it on your credit card with cash back. the Citi® Double Cash Card would be a great choice: you get 1% money back when you buy it and an extra 1% money back when you pay it off.

5. Make a TSA preclearance request

Going through security at an airport is no fun, even if the lines are short. To avoid having to deal with the hassle of it all, apply for TSA preclearance. TSA Precheck speeds up your time in the safe zone because you can use the dedicated TSA Precheck lane. You also don’t have to remove your shoes or liquids and gels from your bag.

If you have planned a lot of trips involving flights and therefore feared airport security concerns, there are credit cards that offer reimbursement of TSA Precheck or Global Entry (which will speed up your immigration readmission process if you have traveled outside of the United States). For example, the Chase Sapphire reserve and The American Express Platinum Card® offer TSA Precheck / Global Entry fee statement credits once every four years.

6. Check your cards before you go

If you are traveling abroad it is a good idea to take a card without transaction fees abroad it is likely to be accepted everywhere. the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card may be a good choice, as it can be a Visa or Mastercard (both widely accepted) and earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase. If you are ready for a travel credit card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can be a nice starter card that will earn you 2X miles on every purchase.

Explore credit cards also does not charge a transaction fee, but you may have an issue with your Discover card that will not be accepted. For example, I like my Discover it® Cash Back deeply for its lucrative rotating categories, but I know that if I’m going to visit my family in Russia, I probably won’t be able to use it just about anywhere.

Relax and enjoy your flight

A first flight can be a snap if you follow these tips. And when you’re ready to travel more, check it out CardMatch for Travel Cards to pay for tickets, luggage and that relaxing drink before the flight while earning rewards to help make your next trip even better and cheaper.

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