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3-December-2007 : Travel Logistics - Departing Prepared
Let's face it, planning your journey can be more stressful than the actual journey. I know I can spend a week carefully laying out the logistics of a trip that will only last one-to-three days.
When planning your travel for either work or pleasure there can be many factors to look at to ensure everything goes smoothly and as planned. Some basics you should make an outline for are below
1) Know your dates:
This is obvious I know, but you have to start somewhere
2) Decide if your dates are fixed or flexible:
If your dates are flexible you may be able to find less expensive air fares by +/- 5 days. Sometimes leaving a day early can save a few hundred dollars, but then you need to decide if that extra day saves you money working or will you be losing money on an extra night in a hotel.
3) Decide if you are flying to save time or to save money:
Sometimes when we travel we can spare a few hours to save money and sometimes when we travel we need to arrive by a certain time or there is not point to the traveling. With this in mind you need to decide how you want to travel.
For example if you want to fly from Washington's Dulles (IAD) to London's Heathrow (LHR), you can fly it non-stop for $875 (example air fare) and you'd arrive by 6:55am to start your day and shoot a job by mid-day.......... or.............you can fly from IAD to LHR via Toronto's Pearson Airport (YYZ) for $650 and arrive by 9:55am. This three hour difference may affect your ability to shoot your job if you are on a tight schedule or if you have a more flexible schedule you could simply just save $225. Only you know if you want to save time or if you want to save money.
4) Know if you have alternate airports you should look at for routings or cost savings:
Knowing your alternate airports, if there are any, can be a great way to find lower fares or more direct flights. My home airport, New Haven Connecticut (HVN) only has five flights per day and all five flights only fly to Philadelphia (PHL). With such a limiting home airport, I often look to Providence Rhode Island (PVD) or Hartford/Springfield's Bradley Airport (BDL) and at times I expand my search to New York's JFK and Boston Logan for international travel. By primarily looking at three airports and expanding to five airports that I can easily get to, I not only find more direct flights, but I can save hundreds of dollars at times.
A good example of this was a flight I needed to take to Tokyo (NRT). Both BDL and PVD are an hour from my house, so I look at them equally. My flight to NRT was $1,300 from PVD but the same exact routing, except the initial flight with the same departure time, was only $850 from BDL! Identical travel times for me with a $450 savings!
5) If you have defined travel date deadlines know your "escape routes" to get you where you need to go with alternative routings:
If you are on a tight travel schedule having defined escape routes can be very important. An escape route is when you need to leave your destination for another destination (home or another job) and you need to arrive reasonably on time.
If you are flying a red-eye flight on either United Airlines (UA) or American Airlines (AA) from Los Angeles (LAX) to Boston (BOS) via Chicago O'Hare (ORD) and ORD is closed or operating on a five hour delay you need to start exploring your other options.
Who else flies these routes? You'd need to keep on you a list of options, such as United via Denver (DEN) or Washington Dulles (IAD) ; Delta (DL) via Atlanta (ATL) or Cincinnati (CVG); Northwest (NW) via Minneapolis (MSP) or Detroit (DTW). You also need to know some alternatives may not exist, such as Southwest Airlines (WN) does not fly red-eye flights. Knowing your way out can be costly, but it can also save you and a job when on a tight schedule.
6) Know the likely hood of delays for the season you are traveling:
Knowing your travel delay potential can cut down on frustration. If you are flying from Paris (CDG) to San Francisco (SFO) a common routing is through Chicago O'Hare (ORD) on two major U.S. Carriers (UA/AA) and their Star Alliance (*A)and One World (OW) partners. ORD is prone to winter delays and missed connections due to weather. When flying between November and March you might want to look into flying direct or flying through alternate airports, such as New York's JFK, Atlanta (ATL), or even flying down and through Houston (IAH) and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). Looking for better options, before a delay happens can save you some headaches. I am not saying avoid ORD as this post might suggest, it is a great airport that can get you anywhere in the world, I have just been subject to closings and delays one to many times in my travels.
7) If you are traveling internationally know if you need a visa:
Simple....Know If You Need A Visa! You may need a visa to enter a country, find this out wellin advance to same time, money, headache and the risk of being denied entry. Also find out if you need a visa to transit through a country. You cannot transit through China (except Hong Kong, although check the rules for your Nationality & Passport) without a visa, they will not let you change planes in Beijing (PEK), Guangzhou (CAN) or Shanghai (PVG) without a visa. China and other countries do not allow for any visa-upon-entry, you need it before you arrive! Know this....Know this.....Know this about your journey!
8) Find out the carry on restrictions for both the country you are traveling AND any country you may be transiting through:
Forget airline restrictions, not all countries have the same carry on regulations. Some allow more size or weight; some allow one piece of carry on plus a personal item; some allow one piece of carry on and no personal item. You do not want to be caught in this trap!
For example, if you are flying Air New Zealand (NZ) from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) via London Heathrow (LHR)......or the reverse of HKG to LAX via LHR.......you can easily board the flight with one legal carry on bag and an additional personal item. No one will stop you, smooth sailing! Once you get off in LHR to catch the continuing flight the gate staff will tell you you that under UK regulations you are limited to one carry on bag only and that you must either consolidate your bags or check one bag. For photographers that can be a disaster. You'd think it would be easy as you are not even leaving security or the airport, but this happens to anyone flying through the UK. Flying British Airways (BA) from Toronto (YYZ) to Frankfurt (FRA) via LHR, you never even leave Terminal 4, but you will be snagged and forced to check your carry on bag or personal item if you can't shove all the contents into one legal carry on bag.
Flying Emirates(EK) from anywhere to anywhere is the same as flying through the UK. EK allows for one carry on bag only, even if you are flying in first class.
Save the headache, know all this up front!
With this basic information you can plan even the most complex trip easily. The more information you have available to you the smoother the journey, the more relaxed you are to arrive with a clear mind and ready to get to work!
Interested in learning how to travel quickly, effectively and how to handle the the touch choices we make as photographers traveling with tight restrictions? Come fly with me at February 5th to February 8th during the No Jet Lag Intensive Photo Workshop! www.comeflywithfish.com