We’re lucky to live in a country that most travellers would love a one-way ticket to, but traveling away from our home country is an adventure in itself given the distance from Australia to the rest of the world. When you’ve been traveling for 24+ hours, small luxuries like a shower and an amenity kit can make the world of difference in comfort.
Budget airlines and daily deals can take you to the other side of the world on a budget, but seat upgrades, airport lounge access and a great meal will make getting there a lot more enjoyable. You don’t have to fly business or first class to reap the benefits of a frequent flyer. Read on for tips on how to travel smarter.
1. Find multiple ways to access airport lounges
Nothing beats exclusive access into a spotless airport lounge during a 10+ hour layover. A hot shower, food that is made to order, a dessert bar and an endless supply of magazines will keep you refreshed and occupied for hours. If you’re yet to reach an elite status in your frequent flyer program, you can still find a way into airport lounges. Qantas affiliated credit cards give cardholders two complimentary passes each year, so you can travel like a frequent flyer at least twice a year with no additional costs.
Inside Scoop: you can only use the Qantas lounge passes if you are flying with Qantas. Present your boarding pass along with the complimentary lounge passes at the door.
2. Travel with American dollars…regardless of your destination
Not traveling to the US? You should still carry at least $50-$100 US dollars (per person) anyway. The American dollar is accepted at most airports. If you have a stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore for example, you’ll have cash for a hot meal, snacks or a quick massage. It’ll save you the credit card conversion fees and the hassle of tracking down a currency exchange kiosk.
Inside Scoop: carry small notes if you can. Restaurants will give you change in their local currency – you want to minimise accumulating small change in a currency you probably won’t have use for.
3. Look for ways to upgrade
There’s a reason why people pay top dollar for first class or business class tickets. Gourmet meals, luxury amenity kits, reclining beds and top notch service come at a hefty price. If you don’t want to shell out the cash, you can still work your way to an upgrade if your are lucky, here’s how:
- Don’t check in online. Arrive at the airport early to check in instead. If no-one has pre-selected the seats with extra leg room or if the airline has overbooked, they might be able to bump you up to business or first class. Although results will vary and are largely dependent on the flight and its demand. There’s every chance you might end up near the toilets anyway but hey, its worth a shot right?
- Dress smart. If your flight isn’t full of frequent flyers, a seat in business class or first class may just be available for you. It helps to look like you belong there so dress up, be courteous and politely ask if an upgrade is available.
- If you are part of a frequent flyer program but haven’t earned enough miles for free upgrades, some airlines can give you an upgrade at a small price. Check the fine print for details.
4. Pack a carry on even if you have luggage allowance
There are many perks of traveling light. You can whiz through long lines at check in and skip the waiting game at the baggage claim. Traveling light is definitely recommended if you have a short layover between flights. I’ve witnessed many disgruntled travelers who have missed their connecting flight because they had to collect their baggage and check them in again.
If you are concerned that your limited luggage space won’t carry all your new purchases, pack a foldable tote. They are easy to pack and light to carry – perfect for duty free shopping.
5. Choose your transit points wisely
Some airports are just better than others. If you are making a stopover, pick one with outdoor access, airport lounges, a spa and plenty of restaurants to choose from. The Changi Airport in Singapore has several outdoor gardens (which are a popular spot amongst smokers but still refreshing if you’ve just landed from a 14+ flight), a plethora of cafes and restaurants and plenty of shopping. The airport also has a transit lounge available to all travelers for $40 SGD.
6. Form alliances with airlines
It may save you $20-$30 dollars to book a domestic flight with a budget airline but it pays to stick with the same airline providers in the long run. Each flight goes towards your member status and if you combine them with the miles you earn from your credit card, you could easily work your way up to another tier in the frequent flyer program.
7. Pack smarter
Investing in time to pack will save you time when you are in transit. Our best packing tips:
- Roll your clothes to save luggage space (they’re also less likely to wrinkle if you roll them).
- Buy a TSA lock especially if you are traveling to the US.
- Pack a universal adaptor, especially if you are traveling to multiple countries.
- Put your liquids in a clear plastic bag or cosmetic bag to save your time at security check points.
- Carry a travel wallet with multiple compartments to separate different currencies.
Traveling may not be as glamorous as it seems, but a few tips and tricks can turn a good trip into a great one. If you found these tips to be useful, share this article with your friends.