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5 tips for your summer travel so the crowds don't ruin it

Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Foundation Award Finalist in Journalism and an award-winning travel writer. She is the author and owner of PratesiLiving.com with her husband, coauthor of Southern Heat with Chef Anthony Lamas, and co-owner ...

Survive the summer travel crowds with these no-fuss tips

It is exciting to jet around the world and visit beautiful destinations, but it can also be stressful — particularly before your flight. No matter how much you travel, there's always something new to discover to make your life easier. Here are some travel tips I've learned that will help make your upcoming summer travels go off without a hitch.

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1. Arrive earlier than you think you need to

We all know about those long security lines at the airport and restrictions on what we can bring on board the plane. To de-stress the process, arrive far in advance of your flight. There's nothing worse than starting a trip by feeling the pressure of potentially missing a flight. Most major hubs have excellent restaurants and upscale shopping, so minimize the chances of mishaps by arriving ahead of schedule and enjoy a meal, read a book or have a cocktail (or two) to smooth those pre-flight jitters.

2. Look online for cheaper checked bag fees

Weight and size restrictions are not just for checked baggage. Some airlines have similar restrictions for carry-on luggage and personal items, especially on International flights. Check with your airline before you arrive at the airport rather than get there and discover your carry-on or checked bags are too large or overweight and you get fined hefty fees.

If you have extra bags to check, go to your airline's website and see if purchasing online is cheaper than at the gate. Avoid the surprise of twice the price upon check-in, which can be hundreds of dollars.

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3. Use packets for personal items

With weight and liquid restrictions limited to one quart-size bag filled with three-ounce containers, what's a girl to do when bringing along her cosmetic, skincare and personal items? Packets are the answer. While not everything is available in a tiny square package, many things are, including most makeup and skincare on the market. They are convenient, don't weigh much and, best of all, don't count toward your limit of carry-on liquids. Visit your cosmetic counter and ask for samples and then purchase whatever else you can in packets, reserving favorite items that only come in larger packages for the three-ounce containers.

4. Buy spinner luggage

Spinner luggage has four wheels instead of the standard two. Even if there's nothing wrong with your older luggage, lightweight luggage with four spinning wheels is an ingenious invention, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time wheeling luggage through long corridors at the airport. Gone are the days when you have to drag your luggage behind you while juggling two or three other items. These bags wheel right alongside of you without weighing you down.

5. Invest in travel gadgets

There are several items every serious traveler will find invaluable. Most of these items are small, don't weigh much and are easy to pack, so invest in a few:

  • A portable charger, so your smartphone doesn't run out of juice when it's also your camera
  • Noise-canceling headphones, for the occasional screaming child or two
  • A digital luggage scale to weigh luggage at home
  • If you want to spring for one of the newest techie gizmos, order a LugLoc. This is the first luggage locator in the world and can locate your luggage even when the airlines can't with a simple app downloaded on your iPhone or Android.

There are many other tips and tricks to save time, relieve stress and make packing a breeze when traveling. These are just a few to get you started on your summer travels.

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