Howdy! It’s Thomas again, back for another Travel Tuesday series addition. As you know, Julia and I spend a considerable amount of time traveling by plane. Which makes it especially important to us to optimize our time at our final destination. The best way we’ve found to do this is by strategically selecting our flight time. More often than not we are on either the first or last flight of the day. For outbound, 6am or 7am flights are our favorite, and for coming home, flights after 8pm work best. To some, just the thought of a 6am flight makes them cringe. But hear me out when I say the benefits definitely outweigh the slight inconvenience of having to get up early. Here are some tips you can follow to make these early morning departure times work for you. See you on the next 6am flight!
Reason #1- Sleep Extra Nights In Your Own Bed – Our desire to travel hasn’t changed much over the years, but the older we get the more we cherish being home and sleeping in our own bed. For the budget minded,the extra nights in your own bed means less nights that you’ll have to pay for a hotel room.
Reason #2- Have More Time To Spend Exploring Your New Destination – Flights in the middle of day annoy me because they break-up the day making it very difficult to have enough time to get anything done before or after your flight. A reasonable arrival time after an early morning flight leaves time to unpack, rest, and explore.
Reason #3- Quieter, Less Stressful, Easier Going Travel Experience – Airplane travel can bring out the worst in people. Even I get antsy when worrying about boarding. One thing I’ve noticed about early morning flights is that people are tired from getting up early, so they are a little less on edge, quieter, and tend to just sleep on the plane, which makes the whole process a whole lot easier. Airports are generally less busy as well, making it easier to get around.
Reason #4 Lower Risk Of Delays – Early morning flights are known for being on time much more often because they aren’t delayed by late flights coming in. That means more connections made on time. When returning on the last flight of the day, you may experience a delay, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting home, as long as the flight isn’t cancelled.
Reason #5- Generally Less Expensive – I’ve noticed that the first flight of the day is almost always the cheapest option. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Additionally, for those that have membership status with airlines, you’re more likely to get upgraded to a higher class.
Extra Tips To Maximize Your Flight
Have I convinced you yet? If you’re already setting your alarm clock, here are my top tips to make an early morning flight go off without a hitch:
Tip #1- Pack The Night Before – A lot of planning takes place leading up to a flight. No matter how much you decide to procrastinate packing, I’d highly advise that you pack everything the night before. It’s happened before where time slips away and it’s 9pm the night before a trip and we haven’t even packed. It would be easy to decide to head off to bed and wake up extra early to do the packing first thing, but this typically backfires. I’ve forgotten enough pairs of underwear and other trip essentials to have learned this lesson the hard way.
Tip #2- Setup Your Alarm Somewhere That Forces You To Physically Get Out Of Bed To Turn It Off – Waking up at 3 or 4 am is not easy and many times your body can run on autopilot that early in the morning. We’ve turned off enough alarms and rolled back to sleep because our bodies resisted the change in our routine. The only trick I’ve found to help is to set-up my alarm on a table at the other end of the room. It forces me to stand on my feet, walk over and turn it off, making it less likely that I’ll fall back asleep.
Tip #3- Get The Most Accurate Drive Time Estimate – Especially when you take a later flight, you may run the risk of hitting rush hour traffic. I’ll use Waze or Google Maps and their “Arrive By” feature to figure out the absolute latest we should leave. What’s very helpful is having Waze notify you when it’s time to leave.
Tip #4- Bring Your Own Entertainment – This is a tip for all flights in general. Since Netflix has added the ability to download to a device, it’s been so helpful. I bring our iPad on every trip and it comes in handy when our flights don’t have seat back entertainment. If you are going to download from Netflix to your device, just make sure you renew any downloads that have expired before each flight.
Tip #5- Skip The Caffeine – You woke up at 3 or 4 am and while it’s tempting to want a caffeine kickstart, try skipping it at the airport so that you can catch some ZZZs once you board the plane. When I decide to skip my morning cup before a 6am flight, I fall asleep as soon as we get in the air.
Tip #6- Communicate With Your Hotel In Advance- With these flight, you’ll typically be arriving to your hotel well before check-in or departing beyond check-out. While the hotel doesn’t always have to accommodate you, there’s no harm in trying to ask, and you’re more likely to get a positive response if you ask in advance. I like to call the hotel to notify them of our arrival to try to get us in a room quicker. Of course, you could always get the American Express Platinum card, which gives you access to Fine Hotels & Resorts which has 4pm late checkout guaranteed and noon check in, when available- a perk that we used often.