Ideas for Eating Healthy at the Airport

Security lines, boredom, stress, deadlines, traveling with kids, missed connections — all of these things can make navigating the airport a nightmare. Especially when it comes to trying to eat healthy. In fact, most of the time It feels like a total junk food wasteland. Some airports are starting to provide healthier options, but unfortunately, they are so buried in the sea of fast food and candy kiosks, it’s hard to find them.

What’s a healthy eater to do? Since the best defense is a good offense, I thought I’d list out a few ideas that you can use to make your next trip through the airport a healthy one.

  • The absolute best option is to bring your own food with you. Pack some unsalted nuts or seeds, apples, bananas, KIND bars or whatever your favorite healthy snacks might be.  Leave the yogurt at home though.  It’s a great idea, but unfortunately liquid-like items are really frowned upon at security.  I’ve had mine thrown away so many times, I’ve stopped trying to bring it through.
  • If you can’t bring your own food from home, don’t despair. There are fresh food kiosks sprinkled around some major airports these days.  For example, there’s Proof of the Pudding in the Atlanta Airport or Au Bon Pain in airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Indianapolis, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC.  Both suppliers have plenty of healthy options to choose from and health information is listed for each menu item.
  • If you’re not in one of the cities listed above, your next best option is to weed through the news stands and self-serve restaurant options. Find things like nuts or beef jerky (watch the sodium though), fresh fruit, cut up veggies or plain yogurt.  If none of these are available, try oatmeal or an English muffin sandwich with a side of fruit at one of the restaurants serving breakfast items.
  • As always, drink water and more water. Stay away from sports drinks, sodas or bottled juices as many contain enough sugar and/or salt to blow your whole eating plan for the day.  And while it’s really tempting to begin your celebration early or celebrate the end of a great trip, try to keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. (Yeah – I know.  I’m no fun at all!)

Lastly, make sure you’re really hungry and not just bored or stressed.  Try a few things to entertain yourself and get your mind off the Cinnabon aroma wafting its way down to your gate.  Bring all those magazines you’ve had stacked up on your desk for weeks.  Take time out for a little meditation and deep breathing.  Play a game of cards with your kids.  You’ll probably forget all about wanting to wolf down that Snickers bar, and I promise you’ll feel better and have a lot more energy when you reach your destination.

Happy travels!

Who Needs a Travel Planner?

With the advent of the Internet and travel tools like TripAdvisor, everyone predicted that days were numbered for travel planners and travel agencies around the world.  As it turns out, this is patently not true.  In fact, travel planners and agencies are seeing a resurgence and are busier than ever before.  Now why is that?  Read on and find out how a travel planner can make a difference for your next journey.

  • Travel Planners save you an enormous amount of time. There are some people reading this article thinking, well that’s just bunk.  I can find great airfare or a quick hotel overnight in less than 10 minutes.  AND, you’d be right.  For bargain flights, hotels or rental cars, the Internet provides instant access to great deals.  However, if you’re planning a longer vacation to a new destination, the amount of time and effort required to find and select transportation, lodging and activities is insane.  I know this, because I did it for my family for years.  Planning a 10-day trip for a family of four takes WEEKS of time – literally.  Who has that to spare?  On top of that, you’re taking a risk that online reviews are always accurate.  (HINT: They’re not.)  Wouldn’t it be great if you could call an expert who already knew all the best places to stay, the best tucked away little restaurants and the exact activities you should take advantage of while there?  Even better, wouldn’t it be lovely if that same person took care of ALL the reservations and details required to make a trip smooth and amazing, and all you have to do is show up and enjoy?  You bet your boots it would.
  • Travel Planners save you money. Did I just hear someone laugh as they read this?  Well, you’d be mistaken my friend.  Travel planners find you deals and know how to take advantage of sales and “freebies” better than you do.  How can that be?  It’s simple really.  Vendors like hotels, cruise lines, airlines and resorts send travel planners information about sales and travel options that you don’t see as a layman traveler.   On top of that, they often get benefits from those vendors because they are treated as VIP’s by the vendor.  Which means, YOU are now a VIP with that vendor.  Things like room upgrades, specialty dining and activity vouchers are now yours for the taking.
  • Travel Planners are experts. If water is pouring out from under your sink, you could try and fix it yourself, but calling a plumber is a much smarter option.  We all know calling an expert is smart, but we don’t always apply it when it comes to travel.  Travel planners have been where you want to go.  They have friends and contacts around the world and have actually tried the fettucine alfredo in that tiny cafe on the square in Tuscany.  Why not take advantage of the advice and planning ability of an expert?
  • Travel Planners provide a safety net while traveling. Have you ever been traveling and missed a connecting flight or had your wallet stolen or discovered at the last minute that you really wanted to see the sunrise from the top of the Eiffel Tower before heading home?  Whatever the situation, chances are something will happen during your journey to put a little bump in your travel plans.  When that happens, what do you do?  Who do you call?  Well, your travel planner of course!  What?  You set up the trip on your own?  Oh dear.  If you had used a travel planner, they could investigate, pull strings, get you a copy of your stolen documents, set up a last minute experience or simply smooth the way so your travel could continue unimpeded.  Don’t learn this the hard way.  Call your travel planner today!

Happy travels!

Free Plane Tickets Anyone?

We all love to travel, but the cost sometimes keeps us home when we’d rather be basking on a beach or taking in beautiful mountain views.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your airplane transportation for free and use all that money towards lodging and activities once you reach your destination?  Well, there are ways to make that happen, and I’ve got a few to share with you.  Check out my best tips for landing gratis airline tickets below.  Give them a whirl and start flying for free!

  • Get Bumped. In order for airlines to fly profitable routes, they must book the planes to capacity whenever possible.  About 80% of flights will be oversold to ensure there are no empty seats on their planes.  This means that sometimes they have to ask for volunteers to agree not to fly on that particular flight because there are simply not enough seats.  In exchange for volunteering, the airline will “bump” you to a later flight and give you a free ticket voucher or money towards your next ticket purchase (sometimes BOTH if they’re really desperate).  You can take advantage of these situations if you’re prepared.  First, book a flight to a busy business destination at the beginning or end of the work week or around holidays.  This will give you the best odds for an oversold flight.  Second, be flexible on your schedule so you’re ready to pounce when the announcement goes out asking for volunteers.  Third, don’t check any bags.  Having only a carry-on bag makes the logistics so much easier and the airline is much happier to deal with you than the lady next to you that has checked luggage.  Lastly, get to gate early and politely ask the gate agent if the flight you’re on is looking for volunteers.  That way you get your name on the volunteer list before anyone else.  Chances are your next flight is on the airline!
  • Get a Companion Ticket Voucher. Many airlines will offer a companion ticket voucher for signing up for their mileage club credit card.  This means that when you buy a ticket for a particular destination, your companion gets to fly with you for free.  As an example, the American Express Delta SkyMiles card offers a free companion flight when you sign up for a gold level card, or you can get one every year with their platinum and higher level cards.  It’s a pretty great deal, and getting a mile for every dollar you spend on the credit card gives you a new way to get free tickets on your favorite airline.
  • Complain. When you’ve had a bad experience with an airline’s employees, it’s definitely worth your while to take a moment to complain to their customer service department.  A politely worded email to customer service will usually get you some kind of discount, coupon or a voucher for a free ticket if the issue was dreadful enough.  Bad weather or air traffic control problems don’t count unfortunately.  However, if an employee was very unhelpful during a delay, get typing.  When you write, be sure to include the date, the time and the name(s) of the personnel involved.  Most importantly, keep it short and to the point, and leave personal details out.  The people reading these are getting A LOT of emails every day, and the ones that get a good response are reasonable, professional and specific.  Including something about your loyalty to the airline is also a good way to get yourself a great “thanks for letting us know” reward.


Happy travels!

My Favorite Destination Spas in America

You only have to whisper the words “Spa Vacation”, and you’ll hear a collective sigh run through the room. There’s nothing quite like it.  If you’ve never been to a destination spa retreat, you’ve missed out on one of life’s most delightful experiences.  Think of it.  An entire week of planning your own schedule that can include pampering, healthy eating, relaxing, exercising or taking classes all in beautiful surroundings with a staff that can’t do enough for you.  If that doesn’t sound like a slice of heaven, consider the rest of this article research for someone you love.  Regardless of who you’re researching for (and hopefully it’s for yourself), here’s a list of my favorite destination spas in the United States.

Spa at Bernardus Lodge (Carmel Valley, California)  If you like relaxing in wine country (and who doesn’t?), this is the spa for you.  Situated near Monterey, California, the spa is surrounded by 28 acres of stunning vineyards, orchards and oak forests. Spend your days around the enormous pool, breath in the fresh air on a hike around the grounds, relax in the eucalyptus steam room after a soothing massage or get a workout in at state-of-the-art, 24-hour fitness center.  Your schedule is your own. Bernardus Lodge has a strict “garden-to-treatment” philosophy — which sources ingredients from the lodge’s own organic garden – making the treatments truly fabulous. Everything from facials to pedicures are infused with homegrown lavender, mint, rosemary and Chardonnay grapes from the lodge’s own vineyards.  You can even soak in a Chardonnay-infused bubble bath.  Does it get any better than that?

The Spa at Canyon Ranch (Tucson, Arizona)  If you’re after a vacation where you will come home looking and feeling better than you have in years, Canyon Ranch is the spot for you.  Located on a 150-acre ranch in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Canyon Ranch brings state of the art health and fitness to a new level.  In fact, when you first arrive you are encouraged to meet with a medical professional to develop a customized fitness and dietary program for your stay. Plus, they have a sleep lab where your sleep patterns can be tracked and analyzed to help pinpoint any sleep issues you may be experiencing.  Don’t be alarmed though, there’s plenty of pampering going on in between all the health and fitness. 😊

Mohonk Mountain Spa (New Paltz, New York)  Located about 90 miles north of New York City, Mohonk Mountain Spa is a historic resort and destination spa nestled in the beautiful Hudson Valley.  The staff is phenomenal and the treatment rooms are first class.  Outside, you can cross-country ski, horseback ride or hike on 85 miles of trails. Relax at the end of your day in the heated outdoor mineral pool.  Consistently listed in Conde Nast Traveler as a top-rated spa destination, Mohonk Mountain Spa is not to be missed.

Miraval (Catalina, Arizona)  Set on 135 acres at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Miraval has 106 adobe-style casitas, most with private patios and great views. You can feel yourself relaxing the second you enter the grounds where the fabulous staff treats you like visiting royalty.  Wellness is a prime focus at Miraval, and the gourmet spa cuisine is second-to-none.  The list of treatments is extensive with over 120 to choose from, but one of the most interesting programs is the “Equine Experience,” where working with a horse gives you insight into how you deal with people — and life.  Suffice to say, Miraval is amazing.

Lake Austin Spa Resort (Austin, Texas) I saved my absolute favorite for last.  Lake Austin Spa Resort is small compared with others on this list with only 40 rooms, but the spa and treatment rooms are big and lavish with outdoor treatment spaces in screened porches, garden tents, poolside cabanas and a private couple’s suite.  It’s hard to describe the staff except to say that they make you feel like a long lost friend that’s finally come for a visit.  They just can’t do enough for you. On top of that, the food is so good you’ll have a hard time believing the calorie counts on the menu.  With more than 100 treatments available, multiple swimming pools and beautiful grounds right on Lake Austin, this spa is an oasis of wellness and relaxation.

Happy Travels!


Finding That Next Great Travel Destination

Are you the travel planner in your family or circle of friends?  Does everyone look to you for the next destination?  “That was great Mom!  Where are we going next?”; “Awesome trip Dad!  Where are we going this summer?”; “That trip was fabulous sweetie!  Can’t wait to see what you cook up next!”; “It’s so great to spend time with our special group of friends in these cool places!  Where are we going next year?”  Any of this sound familiar?

I spent years formulating new adventures for my family and friends.  I loved researching to find just the right combination of activities, downtime and beautiful surroundings, and then planning every detail of the trip down to the color of the car rental.  In fact, I loved it so much, I decided to do it for a living.  I’ll admit though, there were times I wished I had a travel genie that would magically produce the perfect spot for that next amazing journey.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution, but I do have a pretty good method to help you come up with your best vacation ever.  Download my Travel Inspiration Sheet (TIS) and print it off.  Now, grab a pen and in less than 15 minutes, we’ll be on our way to finding that place in the world that’s just been waiting for you to experience it.

  1. Make a list of things you love to do.  First things first.  Take 5 minutes and jot down things you really love to do.  Need some inspiration?  How about cooking or hiking or viewing art or sitting on the beach with margarita in hand?  There are no rules, other than you have to write them down.
  2. Have anyone going with you make a list of things they love to do as well.  If you are including children in your travel plans, this is an awesome exercise to do together.  Your kids will feel like they’re participating in the vacation planning, and you just might learn something you didn’t know about them.
  3. Make a list of things you do NOT want to experience on your vacation.  This can be a tricky one.   Maybe you don’t feel comfortable traveling where the people don’t speak your language very well.  Maybe you don’t want to go when the weather is too hot or too cold.  Maybe you don’t like lots of crowds.  You get the idea.  Knowing what you don’t want is an important factor in finding the perfect spot.
  4. Think about your favorite vacation ever.  Have it in your mind?  What was it about that one vacation that separates it from the rest?  OK, quick!  Write down why it was your favorite.
  5. Set your budget.  Most of the time when I ask people for this, they think I only mean the money they want to spend.  The monetary budget is certainly a factor, but actually, the amount of time they have to spend is a more precious commodity these days.  Write down your time and money budget.
  6. Set the timeframe.  Are you constrained by school calendars or seasonal work issues?  Do you want to travel to a festival or celebration of some kind?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, write down the details.
  7. Pull out that dream destination list.  Most people have one, but many just put it away in the back of their mind thinking they’ll get to it someday.  Well, today’s the day.  Let’s get that list out, dust it off and write it down.
  8. Ask for expert advice.  Now that you’ve got your Travel Inspiration Sheet (TIS) done, you have two choices.  You can take the sheet and research your dream destinations to see which one matches the things you love to do and the things you don’t want to experience that’s within your budget in the right timeframe, OR you can hand that TIS to a travel expert and ask for help finding the perfect destination.  Guess which one I think you should choose?  😊  In all seriousness, a travel expert will save you time and energy AND they have access to information that’s not readily available to non-travel personnel.  Usually, they will have recommendations right off the bat (and many times first-hand experience) about places and activities that will fit that perfect journey you outlined in your TIS.  Think of them as a treasure map to your best vacation ever!

Happy Travels!

Travel Hacks that Really Work

Over the years, I’ve traveled a lot of miles.  During my travel-for-business phase, there wasn’t really time to be creative about handy items to help make travel easier.  I basically crammed everything into a roller carry-on bag and ran out the door to catch my flight.

Lucky for me, I’ve slowed down in the last few years and been able to cover a lot of ground just for the pleasure of traveling.  Each trip I try out a few new ideas I’ve heard about from various sources.  If they work, I keep them on as a regular part of the traveling ritual.  If they don’t, I just discard them and move on.  Honestly, there’s more things in the discard pile than the save pile, but you have to try things before you know they don’t work – right?

This week, I thought I’d share some handy travel hacks I found that actually live up to their claims of saving you time, money, space or sanity.

  • Use Google Maps Offline – So you’re staying in a foreign city and you’ve decided you want to explore a bit on your own.  You don’t want to use the map on your smartphone to find your way because you’ll be charged a fortune in roaming data fees.  What to do?  Download the Google Maps app to your phone before you leave home.  Open the app while connected to WIFI and find the area of town you want to explore.  Once you have it displayed on your phone, touch the menu option (top left of screen) and select Offline Areas.  You can download that area map to your phone so you can use it without any roaming data or WIFI required.  WARNING: You will need between 70MB and 300MB of space on your phone to do this download.
  • Make it easy to get a new passport or driver’s license if you need to – I personally keep my passport strapped to my body when I travel abroad because I have a paranoia about losing it.  I haven’t lost it yet, so maybe this is a good method.  As a backup though, I scanned my passport and driver’s license and emailed the documents to myself so I can access them from anywhere.  This will make it much easier to replace them if they are lost or stolen.
  • Put a dryer sheet in your suitcase – This is a simple and easy method to keep your clothes smelling fresh in your suitcase (even on long trips) with the added benefit of reducing static electricity.
  • Leave your jewelry box at home – In the spirit of packing light, bring jewelry that will go with more than one outfit and use a 7-day pill organizer to store it.  You’ll be able to fit several pieces into the nice, flat container AND you can find those earrings you love really quickly.
  • Wear Flight Compression Socks – So these are not the most fashionable items in the world, but they are clinically proven to help blood circulation in the legs and thighs.  On long flights, suck it up and put on your compression socks.  You can get a pair on Amazon for less than $20.  It really helps reduce the risk of blood clots and they are nice and warm as well.
  • Use ATM Machines for the Best Exchange Rates – I have tested this out, and when you get local currency from an ATM, you’re getting the best exchange rate available.  This is because your bank has negotiated exchange rates for bulk transactions and even though you’re just getting 20 Euro at a time, you get the same rate as your bank does.  WARNING: Be sure to check with your bank before leaving on your trip to see if there are fees associated with using your card overseas.  This will help you plan how often you use your card at an ATM or with local merchants.

Happy travels!

You Know What They Say About a Picture…

Right, right.  It’s worth 1000 words.  We’ve all heard it, but like most old sayings, it’s absolutely true.  It’s never more true than when you’re talking about travel.  The sights and sounds from your latest trip are so vivid and easily recalled the first few weeks after you get home.  However, put a few months between you and that stroll along the Seine or that incredible scuba diving moment on the reef at Belize, and it all becomes a bit foggy.  “Where did we eat that amazing croissant?”  “What was the name of that town with the incredible harbor and the music festival?” Try as you might, the details just slip away.   That’s why it’s so important to come home from an amazing journey with equally amazing photos.

So what do you do with all these great photos you’ve gathered? Do what I do.  Create a photo book that displays the images and captures the feelings you experienced while on vacation.  The best part is, you don’t have to be an arts and crafts kind of person to get a great end result.  The “memory” companies on the Web make it so easy, anyone can create a really professional looking book.  Just type in ‘Photo Books’ in your Search bar on the Web and several companies come up.  (Personally, I use, but I have friends who have gotten nice results from other companies.)

Here are a few tips for creating a great photo book you can share with family and friends for years to come.

  • Take a variety of pictures. It’s easy to get in a photo rut, taking pictures of the same kinds of things as you progress through your vacation.  Maybe you really like landscapes and scenery photos.  That’s great, but you definitely want to have some with the people you’re traveling with, and equally important, you want to capture a few photos of the signs, logos and descriptions of things you’re seeing and places you eat and sleep.  These photos will give you anchors to build your book around, and are a great way to remember the name of that awesome boutique hotel you stayed in on the third night of your trip.
  • Write in a journal while on your trip. Ok – this one might seem like it’s not such a good idea.  Maybe you just don’t like writing, or you think it takes too much time.  Regardless, I’m still recommending it.  That journal will give you a flavor of your trip that your photos will enhance, but can’t replace.  Many times when I get home, I take photos of particular pages and include them in the photo book.  I also take quotes out of the journal and type them right on the photo pages themselves.  It makes your book very personal and will remind you of things you have completely forgotten over time.
  • Use some imperfect photos. Give your book some character and include some photos that capture the essence of the moment even if they’re not in perfect focus, or some crazy guy from the pub photo bombed the shot.  It will be these photos that create conversation and a lot of laughs when you look at the book later.
  • Use themes to bring your journey to life. The photo book sites like Shutterfly have fantastic themes you can choose from to produce a “look” that’s consistent with your trip.  Pick one and put some photos in it, and if it’s not working, you can easily change to a different theme. Most of these memory applications also have something like clipart that they call ‘stickers’ or ‘icons’.  You can use these embellishments to give your book a finished look.
  • Make your book as soon as you can after your trip. This is a hard one.  Invariably, there are a lot of things that needed your attention while you were away, and it’s hard to allocate time to a photo book project in lieu of getting resolution on those items.  My trick is to take a half hour each day to look at the photos from one area I visited and pick out my favorites.  By the end of a week, I have a good collection of photos to work with.  Plus, I still have the sights, tastes and sounds of my trip firmly in my mind which will help create a book that truly represents the journey.

Happy travels!

To Insure or Not to Insure…

You’ve planned for months, sometimes years to go on the adventure of a lifetime.  You want it to be perfect and live up to every one of your expectations.  The last thing you’re thinking about while you’re dreaming of crystal clear water or breathtaking vistas is what happens if a hurricane blows up or the guide service you’re using goes out of business, or heaven forbid, you trip on all those empty margarita glasses next to your chair and break something.  This is where travel insurance comes in.

Travel insurance is a tricky subject to talk about because there are so many different types of policies, and the options they cover can be complicated.  So, let me start out by stating very clearly that I am not a travel insurance expert, nor am I a travel insurance agent of any kind.  That said, I feel qualified to list out a few helpful tips from a travel planner’s perspective on how and when trip insurance could be useful to you in your travels.

Let’s start with a generalized checklist for deciding whether to purchase travel insurance or not:

  • Is the non-refundable cost of your trip more than you’re willing to lose?
  • Is it likely you or someone in your family could have medical issues prior to or during your trip?
  • Would you want to seek medical help in the country/area you’re visiting?
  • Will you be taking baggage that you can’t afford to replace if it’s lost or stolen?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, buying some type of travel insurance policy is worth the investment for you.

Now that we’ve established that, here’s a list of things to do to help you make the best purchase decision:

  • Always check to see what (if any) insurance is offered free from your credit card company when you use their card to pay for your travel. Depending on the type of trip you’re going on, this could remove the need for travel insurance altogether or reduce the amount and type of insurance you need to purchase.
  • Always check with your health insurance provider to see if any medical expenditures in the country/area you’re visiting would be covered under your existing plan. Be sure to ask them whether they will cover the costs of medical evacuation back to your home country if that’s necessary.
  • Always buy from a travel insurer that is independent from the travel provider. Typically, rates are better, and you have more options on the types of insurance available than you would with a particular cruise line, airline or tour company.
  • If you are an active or thrill-seeking traveler, be sure to understand the details about what type activities are covered on your trip. In some plans, if you get hurt doing things like skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing or bungee jumping your medical expenditures won’t be covered.

Bottom line?  In most cases, purchasing travel insurance is the right call.  Just be sure to work with your travel planner and a travel insurance expert to find the best policy for you.

Happy travels!

Capturing the Illusive Great Airfare

Getting a great airfare is like getting a big high five from the universe – don’t you think? It also makes me feel like I’ve hoodwinked the airlines somehow, which is, of course, ridiculous since they were the ones that posted the fare in the first place. However, as long as the airlines make a big game out of the bargain hunt, I’ll be happy to oblige with a delightfully devilish feeling when I strike gold.

How can you find the fares that will have you doing a gleeful little dance? Just follow these tips for capturing that illusive bargain fare.

  • Always compare airlines.  I really mean ALWAYS.  Even if you have a favorite airline, or you got a great deal from Southwest on your last trip or your friend told you that Allegiant is absolutely the way to go, always compare.  This way you’re sure to get the best fare available.  Need some places to do comparison shopping? Try, or
  • Set up airfare alerts.  Many search engines will allow you to set up airfare alerts for a particular route.  Then they’ll send you an email letting you know that airfare has been reduced on the route you’re interested in.  If you get one of these, ACT FAST!  Everyone else on the email list has gotten one too, and there are usually very few bargain seats available.  You can also set this up with your travel planner (like yours truly 🙂 ).  Pick any destinations you’re interested in, and I’ll keep you up to date on special airfare and trip package sales released by the airlines and travel companies.
  • Try to fly on certain days of the week.  Statistically speaking, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday have the lowest fares.  The obvious reason?  Fewer people fly then.  Take advantage of this by planning your trips around these “bargain” days.
  • Try to fly the cheapest times during the day.  Just like the above days of the week, you’ll find the best fares on flight times when fewer people want to fly.  Look for itineraries with an overnight flight (AKA the “red-eye”) or during meal times like noon and 7pm.
  • Buy tickets at the best times.  Believe it or not, there is a best day and time to buy plane tickets.  Tuesdays at 3:00 pm.  Seriously, that’s the day of the week and the time that’s been shown to have the largest number of great fares available.  This is because one airline will release it’s special fares late in the evening on Monday. Then it takes a little while for the other airlines to adjust and match those fares, but by about 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon, everyone’s got their best stuff online so take advantage of it.  In addition, since I’m always asked how far ahead of your trip you should buy your tickets to get the best deals, here’s the answer:
    • US Domestic Travel – 3 months to 30 days out from departure
    • International – 5 1/2 months to 45 days out from departure
    • During peak travel season (June, July, Aug and December): 60 days out from departure

Happy travels!

How to Reduce Airport Security Hassles

I’d hate to count how many times I’ve flown in and out of the Atlanta Airport, but let’s just say I know it pretty well.   Even though I’m an experienced traveler, I used to just dread going through security.  I would invariably set the scanner off somehow and they would “wand me down” to within an inch of my life.  One time I took off so many pieces of clothing, I joked with the agent that I should streamline the process by just showing up naked for my next flight.  She didn’t think that was funny at all.  Hmmm.

In any case, since 911 getting through security is a universal problem, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or only take the occasional flight.  Below, I’ve listed a few methods to at least speed up the process, and many times these tips help you breeze right through with almost no delay at all.

  • TSA Precheck/Global Entry – Almost everyone these days knows about the benefits of having TSA Pre-check printed on their boarding pass.  For newcomers, TSA Precheck gives you shorter lines in most airports, and you don’t have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets.  It doesn’t take long to apply and it costs $85 for a five-year membership.  You can go to to learn more about the application process.  However, if you fly outside the United States at all, you should apply for Global Entry status, which also gives you TSA Precheck membership.  In many airports around the world, Global Entry allows you to by-pass the huge immigration lines greeting you when you get off your 9 hour overnight flight.  Look for special kiosks marked Global Entry when you get to immigration.  It costs $100 for five years.  Go to for more information on applying for Global Entry status.
  • Don’t fly on Monday Mornings – The security lines in major airports on Monday mornings will produce immediate flop sweat for you and your travel companions if you are not prepared for the sea of humanity trying to fly out.  Airports report that security lines can be up to four times normal size on Monday mornings.  This is because every corporate worker out there wanted to stay at home on Sunday instead of spending Sunday night in a hotel.  Corporate budget cuts and telecommuting are starting to help this security line grid-lock, but it hasn’t solved the problem yet.  The lines clear by about 11:00 most places, so if you need to fly on a Monday, book your flight for noon or after.
  • Don’t wear a belt – Being careful about what you wear to the airport can really save you time in security.  Anything with metal is going to set the scanner off when you walk through – even if you are TSA Precheck. Once this happens, TSA is going to make you go back, take off anything that looks like it’s causing the problem including belts, watches, jewelry, shoes, etc.  My rule of thumb is to put all accessories I want to wear while traveling in my carry-on before I leave home.  Then I put them on once I’m through security.  I also select traveling shoes with no metal on the outside or in the heels.  This method has saved me loads of time and aggravation.
  • Have your documents in order – I know this is a basic thing, but since I’ve seen many delays due to not having the right documents, it’s probably good to review it.  To get through security you need your boarding document and a picture ID. (Usually, this is your driver’s license or passport. For a complete list of acceptable picture ID’s, go to  Without those two documents, you can’t make it through security to your gate.  It’s best to have both out and ready to hand to the TSA agent for inspection, as opposed to waiting until the agent asks you for them and then trying to find your picture ID somewhere in your carry-on.  Once you’re past the TSA agent, take just a moment to put your documents away in a safe place.

Happy travels!