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Five time-saving tips for your next summer trip

SmarterTravel

Planning carefully can help you avoid losing your cool on your next summer trip. Read our time-saving tips to help you find lower fares, choose a better seat, and get around the airport faster.

Let the best prices come to you

Don’t spend all your time sifting through fares when you could be out enjoying the warm summer sun. Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity all have services that will track fares for you on up to three routes. Each of the sites can tell you when the price on your route has dropped, and help you decide when it’s a good time to buy tickets. Keep in mind that not all fares will be listed; for example, Southwest is not included in any of these searches.

Provider Service Key features
Expedia “Favorite Routes” Receive e-mail updates for up to three routes
Orbitz “Deal Detector” Enter specific travel dates and get notified when fares drop below a certain amount
Travelocity “Fare Watcher” Log in to the Travelocity home page and see fares for your favorite routes

The SmarterTravel.com Fare Index can also help you track when it’s a good time to book tickets. By following the ups and downs of fares on our [% 5189 | advice | Top 20 routes | aBodyTextLink %], and checking our deals of the week, you can determine when it’s the best time to buy.

Pick out the best seat

Cramped, claustrophobic seats are enough to make even the shortest flight seem eternal, and your physical comfort can often make all the difference in your travel experience. At SeatGuru.com, you can find the best possible seat on six airlines. You’ll be able to determine which seats are the widest, have the most leg room, or offer the best windows for a good view, depending on what’s important to you. Then you can call your airline and change your seat in advance, rather than waiting in line before your flight. Remember that exit row seats, which often provide the most leg room in coach, usually cannot be reserved before you arrive at the airport.

If you want additional help in choosing a seat, you can also visit Airline Quality’s website for information about the average seat pitch on multiple airlines, or to read seat reviews from fellow travelers about more than 30 airlines.

Dress for success at security checkpoints

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), one of the advantages of traveling in the summer is that your warm-weather clothing is more “checkpoint-friendly,” because light clothes are less likely to trigger alarms than dress clothes and bulky winter coats.

This summer, it’s also important to know that the TSA has tightened shoe inspection procedures at some airports, according to a New York Times report. You may be asked to remove your shoes, even if they’ve never set off the metal detector before. You may wish to dress accordingly: Wear sandals, or some other lace-free footwear, so you can step out of them and slip them back on quickly. Belts can also set off the detectors, so you’ll save time if you take them off before walking through the screening machines.

Get a map of the airport

There are few things that are more frustrating than arriving in an airport and not knowing where to go, especially if you’re trying to get to a connecting flight. It’s a good idea to print out maps of airports you’ll be visiting, so you’ll be able to move through the terminal without needing to stop for directions.

Your airline will most likely offer information about some of the airports it serves; we’ve found maps and airport information from American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways on their websites.

Don’t go out with a bang

Fireworks go hand-in-hand with July Fourth, but don’t let your patriotism slow you down at the airport. Fireworks are not allowed anywhere on planes, whether in checked or carry-on baggage, so leave the sparklers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles at home. More information about what you can and can’t bring on the plane is available on the TSA’s permitted and prohibited items list. By following these guidelines, you’ll be less likely to be detained at security checkpoints, and more likely to make it to your gate in plenty of time for takeoff.

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