So my game badge has been purchased. My room at the hotel has been reserved. All that remains is transportation. For the first three cons, I had the option of driving in my reliable Nissan Maxima. But now that I live halfway across the country, a 1998 vehicle with over 225,000 miles on it isn't an option. That leaves air travel as my preferred mode of transportation.
As I mentioned way back at the beginning of this thing, part of going to a con is the pre-travel prep work. Making sure you have all your gaming books, that you may need to bring your own pillows, that you are properly dressed for the always unpredictable Midwestern late winter/early spring, etc. But when it comes to air travel, there are a few other bits of advice I have to give.
If you can use a smaller airport, do so.
I love small airports. The ones with little puddle-jumper planes and maybe six terminals at best. The fact that they are small also means that they don't get as crowded as larger ones do. Granted some big airports like the one in Detroit have a nice shopping mall vibe to them once you're inside. But waiting to get in at a crowded airport is a pain in the ass. With the smaller ones, you can check your bags, go through TSA and find a seat to wait for your boarding time without feeling rushed or pushed. Air travel may have made cross-country travel convenient, but it's the smaller airports that make air travel convenient.
Be realistic about your carry-on.
Every time I get on a plane there is some yahoo with a huge roller suitcase that clearly is bigger than the carry-on requirements trying to shove it into the already crowded overhead bin. It has gotten to the point that I pay the stupid bag check fee simply to avoid having my belongings crushed by some asshole that thinks he's entitled to the entire overhead compartment. Your ticket entitles you to one piece of carry-on luggage, it does not entitle you to delay everyone getting off the plane because you have crammed a over-sized bag into an already undersized hole. I realize baggage check fees are ridiculous. But there's saving money, and then there's being cheap. What would you rather be?
If you have a layover, be prepared.
No, I did not finish Thunderball over Christmas vacation. That means I'll have something to read while laid-over in Detroit when I travel. Seriously, look at your travel itinerary and make sure you know what you will be doing in the time between flights. Grab a snack, call your mom, read a book, whatever. If you know you'll have more than two hours to kill, be ready to kill two hours without being that person that just sits there bored out of his skull and staring at everyone else.
Make sure you know who's picking you up.
In some cases, you'll arrive at the airport and need a ride to the hotel. In some cases you can make use of the various gaming forums to hitch a ride with someone. This should go without saying, but make sure that you know who it is you are riding with. Have they given rides to people in the past? Will they require you to chip in for gas (you should as a rule), and how much? What kind of driver are they? And will they be able to pick you up on time or will you have to wait a while? Get this figured out soon, because your car ride to the hotel shouldn't be more of a hassle than getting on the plane.
Tomorrow, we wrap up GaryCon III.