The Best Laid Plans

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Some of us really love to plan our travel down to the last minute. It allows us to feel in control and it helps us enjoy the perfect trip. However in the real world, even with the best laid plans in place you can still find flight delays or cancellations and many more hiccups along the way. There’s not much we can do about this but go with the flow.

If you are an A-type like me however and do like to spend a lot of time prepping your trip, here are some tips on what times you should travel to what destinations and why. Trust me this all makes a huge difference.

Flying from the US into Europe

We sometimes don’t think about this strategically and we we just grab the first flight that pops up. But that’s a mistake, planning the RIGHT time to travel is critical. If you’re not in a major US east coast hub city like New York or Philly the strategy is to plan the transatlantic flight which will give you the maximum time to sleep.

Here’s an example.

If you’re leaving JFK to London and your flight is at 5 PM you simply cannot get a good night’s sleep. Think about it- by the time you arrive to London Heathrow at 5 AM, it is almost midnight local time in New York. So you’ve lost an entire night sleep.

Instead, you should take this option. Fly JFK to London with British Airways leaving at 11 PM and arriving at 9 AM local time in the UK. This flight gives you ample time to rest if you’re in business or first class and it doesn’t require re-training your body clock.

Minneapolis has a Delta flight leaving direct at 10 PM arriving into Heathrow at noon. This is simple the best connection you can get with maximum sleep.

The problem with leaving from North America to London is that from the east coast the flight times are quite short. Yep I said it. The flights are too fast. So try to avoid JFK or Boston into London Heathrow. If you’re in business or first class by the time you get on and have a meal you’re almost ready to land. I’ve had flights from Boston Logan that are only 5 1/2 hours long. Now if you’re in economy that’s a gift but in biz or first it’s just to short to properly sleep.

On the reverse, coming into North America try to pick JFK or Boston as they have the quickest flight times, then make your connection to your final destination within North America.

Virgin has a few late flights from London Heathrow into Newark or JFK. By the time you land at 9 o’clock in the evening your body is pretty out of sync from the 3 a.m. local London time. It just makes no sense.

Think about Departure Times

One mistake we make all the time is to try to take an early flight so that we can maximize our time in the destination. This is great if the flight departs about 9 AM but if the departing flight is at 6 AM or 7 AM flight this can be an issue. It all sounds good on paper but when you think about wake up times, it’s not very smart.

For most people, taking a 6 AM flight will mean a 3 AM wake up call. All that’s going to do is to make you feel tired and want to get into bed the minute you get to your destination. So when you plan an early flight make sure you think through what time you’ll actually need to be up in order to catch it. If you’re a freakishly early riser then it may be perfect as these flights are often a little cheaper than later ones.

Coming home

When you’re traveling home on a late evening flight from Asia back into Europe or even domestically within Europe or the United States a good strategy is to get to the airport very early, check your bags and get your boarding pass, and then head out to see some local attractions baggage free. It’s a nice way to do some sightseeing and have a little exercise before your flight. This way you’ll board the aircraft naturally tired and ready for some rest. It beats just sitting in an airport lounge drinking. Not that I have any issue with sitting in an airport lounge and drinking. I’m pretty good at that.

The one thing you have to be careful here is check in counter opening times as some will only allow you to check in 4 hours prior to the flight. If your airline of choice is one of the Hubs in the city you’re traveling home from, you can usually check in at any time.  For instance Cathay Pacific check-in at Hong Kong will be open 24-7 whereas the flights leaving from Los Angeles to Hong Kong will only be open a few hours before the flight departure.

Flying from the US and Europe to Asia

When traveling to Asia from the USA or Europe, you may want to take the latest flight in the evening. There is nothing worse than arriving in a city at 6am and fighting to stay up all day. LHR-BKK on TG which departs at noon arrives at 6am. All you want to do is sleep the day away. Now a much better option is the 7.30pm flight which arrives around 4pm. That’s the perfect time to get to the hotel, freshen up, have a wonderful dinner and then hit the sack.

Lastly the budget airlines

On all accounts get the first flight of the day traveling out and inbound when you’re on a budget airline

The reason is they stack up the delays by the end of the day as they normally use the aircraft back and forward to that destination all day long. They have very tight turnarounds, so they don’t pay huge airport fees and this tends to cause backups which mount up through the day. So here early out makes sense.

Daniel - Living GreenDaniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.

To contact Daniel or learn more visit www.themodelcook.com or follow on Twitter @themodelcook.

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