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In my opinion, a good flight is one which goes up and down when and where it’s supposed to – after that, everything is extra. The last decades saw the growth of giant air travel corporations, and big budget airlines.  As air travel has taken a turn from novel and luxury to du jour and economy, those legacy liners still exist but they’re constantly smacking heads against low cost airlines and a hybrid of the two.

Sure, at first glance, many of those ultra low cost carriers (LCCs) look like they’re a bargain deal. The basic price might be less, but what about everything else? Sometimes, that price really is too good to be true, and what your grandmother always told you is true, “You get what you pay for.” Will they really save you more money or do they offer a greater headache than you first believed? While it’s true, the gap between those big airlines and super low cost carriers has narrowed, there’s still more work to be done.

In today’s travel world, we all have choices. In 2017, the budget airlines have pushed the legacy guys to be better.  The option of that no frills flying metal tube still exists, or one you can fly in comfort, with all the bells and whistles. While all airlines are governed by the same bodies and safety is not one of the extras you’re ever paying for, there’s a wide range of what your ticket price includes. If you’re willing to strategically plan your journey to find the best flight deals, pack accordingly, and are interested in knowing exactly what you’re paying for – then those ultra low cost options might be for you. Measure the convenience, what ifs, cost, hassles, and headaches against the extras, and choose wisely.

I got rid of my airline specific credit card and turned towards one that gave me miles applicable to multiple airlines. I signed up for a range of rewards programs so if I happen to accrue points, great, if not, no worries. While I don’t necessarily need those mega corporate guys, nor do I have any specific allegiance to any one carrier, I’m not the biggest fan of the hassles that often accompany the no frills establishments. I’m a ‘meet me in the middle’ kind of traveler. There are times that the corporate giants fit the bill, but for the most part, the hybrid airlines best fit my travel needs. What about yours?

Know Your Preferences

In today’s world, we choose ride-share over standard taxis, and home rentals over traditional hotels, so it makes sense that many might choose boutique airlines over corporate giants. Keep in mind your own needs, fears, as well as which desires might be negotiable and you’ll be able to choose the best airline for your travel adventures.

Identify your preferences by considering the following:

  • Length of travel including layover time (non-stop vs. how many connections are acceptable)
  • Amenities onboard
  • Paying for extras of your choice or all inclusive tickets
  • Cost
  • Loyalty rewards
  • Lounge access
  • Partner alliances
  • Global connectivity

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Did you know that one out of every four weddings is a destination wedding? According to Group Travel, that works out to 350,000 destinations every year.

So where are all these blissful folks getting married?

The Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii. Those spots are the top three locations for destination weddings outside the continental US. Meaning chances are high that you’re going to be flying to your wedding.

So how on earth do you pack a wedding dress on a plane? Or pack a wedding dress in a carry on suitcase?

The short answer: There are a number of options. I’ll show you how.

The Right Way to Pack a Wedding Dress

First off, please — pretty, pretty, pretty please — don’t pack a wedding dress in your checked luggage.

During my research for this article, I read successful accounts of brides doing just that.

But how far would your heart drop if your airline lost your luggage?

SITA reports that 23.1 million bags were lost in 2015. That’s 6.53 bags mishandled (i.e. lost) per thousand passengers.

You really don’t want your checked bag to be one of those 6.53 unfortunate bags wandering some unknown airport’s subterranean dark depths, whimpering your name, seeking with misty eyes a sunny beach and empty white chairs waiting for a bride. A bride hat might come down the aisle in a wonky looking white bed sheet. I’d argue to never check a bag, because when do you want your bag to be lost? Certainly not right before your wedding.

Please. Don’t put your wedding dress in your checked luggage.
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As a serial traveler, I hit the road. A lot. No, my goal isn’t to Eat, Pray, Love my mid-career or star in the next iteration of the Terminal. However, when you travel as much as I do (think one to three multi-day trips monthly), bad gear ends up becoming a bigger pain in the you-know-what than it would for an occasional one-off trip.

If you’re anything like me, you aim to pack smartly, to use high-quality equipment that makes your life easier (you know, like the best travel accessories around), and to look good while doing so. This isn’t your three month jaunt around southeast Asia, where showers are optional and your swimsuit is your daily uniform. This is your life as a business, adventure-seeking, or curious traveler, and you deserve the high quality equipment to match.

Beyond your typical slip-on shoes for security (hint: Toms are our go-to), here’s our round up of the best travel accessories. Period.

Best Travel Accessories for (Actually) Packing

Okay, so this section might seem biased to you, but here’s the thing: Tortuga really does make the best backpacks for urban travel, and the accessories to go in them are the best too. Our bags feature high quality construction, innovative materials, and are designed by real travelers, for their own use. Yes, you can settle for less, but why would you? We all know that investing in good quality gear that lasts, and is a joy to carry and use, is a better choice. We aren’t going to apologize for our greatness, it’s our continual goal

Backpack

First things first, you need to make sure your portable travel vessel is as lightweight, sturdy, and classy as possible. The Outbreaker travel backpack (available in 35 or 45L, priced from $224) checks all three off the list. With ample pockets for internal organization, padded shoulders theand waist strap to lighten the load, and waterproof sailcloth construction, not to mention the front loading, suitcase style access to the main compartment, this bag is, simply, the best backpack for urban travel.

As if it wanted to secure a lifetime placement on any best travel accessories list, the 45 is also exactly the maximum allowable size for a standard carry on. The 35 will meet the requirements of the pickier budget airlines. Be still my heart.

Runner up: The Osprey Porter backpack, 46L. Click to continue…

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