In Chapter 10 of Patrick McIvor’s series “Have Shears Will Travel, Patrick gives sage advice on the importance of being flexible. Like most of us in the beauty industry, spending time on flights, sleeping in various hotels and living out of a suitcase is second nature. He shares some insight on how being flexible can save us all some time, money, and more importantly, our sanity.
I was in the salon the other day caring for one of my favorite guests, and while I was doing her hair, she shared with me that she had read my blog on Industrie! I was excited and even honored when she said she likes the blogs because my guest is Michelle Tymon, and she specializes in small experiential travel.
I always have fun when she comes in because she has been to some pretty cool places and always knows about some hidden gem. Plus, as a travel professional she knows the game and what opportunities being flexible can offer to a traveler.
So I asked Michelle, “What can being flexible do for the traveler?”
She had a lot to say:
Be Flexible With Dates, Times & Locations
“By traveling mid-week, or even on Saturdays, it could mean lower airfares and fewer crowds at the airport,” shared Michelle. “Even if you are blocked into a set of dates, it is always worth comparing a few days prior or after to see what the best savings will be.”
She likes this website, to look for best dates for airfare. For me, another thing is to be flexible with airports. Don’t only check for other options for your outbound flight. I fly out of six airports domestically and four internationally depending on convenience and cost.
From calculating parking costs, drive times, tolls and even departure taxes, we were able to save over 25% on a family trip to Europe. The savings on the exit tax alone from Amsterdam over London or Dusseldorf was hundreds of dollars.
Be Flexible Travel Low Season or Shoulder Season
“Most people are aware that ‘peak travel season’ is during the summer, any major holiday, or when the kids are out of school,” she added. “You can score some great rates if you go off peak. For example, if you want to do a museum tour of London and Paris, go from January to March as the rates for air and hotel will be so much less than if you traveled during the summer. ‘Shoulder Season’ is the time between peak and low season. “Europe normally sees moderate prices fares in April and October.”
Doing exactly this is something I have done all my life. I have been in Europe more than a dozen times for Thanksgiving, and I love it because we are one of the very few Americans that are there then, so we don’t bump into as many people from home when we’re away too. On the warmer side, my wife and I, before we had children, would always go to Jamaica anywhere from late August to early October. A hurricane never hit us, but we were hit with great deals.
Pack Light, Leave Options
Michelle also recommended, “Try to go with a carry-on only. Unexpected things happen that can affect even the best-mapped plans. Flight delays due to weather or mechanical issues, even government strikes or political protest happen, and when it does it is always easier to be traveling with a carry-on rather than having your bag miss your tight connections or worse yet, get lost.”
This also significantly reduces cost and increases options for the traveler. By traveling carry-on with one Ikea Rolling Backpack each and one personal backpack, our family was able to go carry-on or checked for free in cars, trains or planes, so we always had the options we wanted.
I have seen many American travelers get to Europe with their families and rent the largest vehicles offered by rental companies and realize that their two bags each for four people fits back home but limits options and quickly increases cost abroad.
Go With The Flow
When stuff happens, be flexible. “We all know the cliché ‘you catch more bees with honey than vinegar’ saying so don’t become the ugly traveler who yells and has a temper tantrum when flights are delayed or canceled due to weather,” she added. “The airline customer service agent is working to change everyone’s flights as best as they can.
While you are standing in that long line, call the airline and speak to a reservation agent. They may be able to have you rerouted on the next available departure, and when you reach the customer service agent, all they will need to do is reissue you a new ticket.”
For me as a loyal Delta flyer for the past many years, I, like many seasoned travelers, use my apps to do what Michelle has recommended. Many times when I have missed a connection, I have spoken to customer service and have been rebooked before even stepping off my first flight. As Michelle said, the airline is trying to get everyone home as best they can and today with apps we have today on a smartphone or even a smartwatch, as long as you stay flexible, they will get us home. I always feel bad for the angry passengers who are yelling at the customer service people.
Now, I have met some of these airline workers too, and it does seem like doing their hair between customers is more important than getting me home sometimes. But even if the travel was because of a family death or the biggest business pitch of their lives and the flight has been canceled, the customer service rep they are yelling at didn’t cause the problem personally.
Sometimes the answer is that this was the last flight and you are not going to make it, period. At that point, instead of yelling, I’ve learned to be flexible. Sometimes I go back home and try again tomorrow or ask for a refund if it is the airline’s fault, or if I am in transit, I make sure I get a room at a hotel, asap, and food vouchers to get some food.
The thing about travel is some people make it too personal, with thinking like, “I can only travel THIS day, I have to fly into THIS airport,” or when things go wrong thoughts like, “Why is the airline doing this to me or canceling my flight?!”
The truth is the only person taking it personally is me, and the sooner I learned to be flexible when traveling the better it got, and the more time and money I saved. My wife has learned that when she asks me when I’ll be home from a delayed flight, the only answer I can give is I’ll know when I get there.
At least until then, I have noise canceling headphones, an iPad full of movies, TED Talks, and a few games and apps so I can even write another blog, making good things happen with a little flexibility.
I’ll be back next month with Chapter 11 titled “Have Fun.
As Michelle says, “When booking travel, you can’t VIP yourself.”
To learn how Michelle can make your next trip even more amazing contact her here at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo Courtesy: Patrick McIvor via Instagram @patrickmcivor
Need to catch up? Check out Patrick’s previous chapters:
Chapter 1: Remember, You Are Going Someplace
Chapter 2: Packing Better
Chapter 3: Playing Games
Chapter 4: Reality Wins
Chapter 5: Collaborative Travel
Chapter 6: Importance of Ratings
Chapter 7: Plan Ahead
Chapter 8: Living Locally
Chapter 9: Money Votes