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10 Ways to Avoid Baggage Fees

By Jeanette Zinno
updated September 29, 2021
Overhead Baggage
© Rafael Ben Ari | Dreamstime.com
Airline fees can quickly add up. Here's some tips and tricks for avoiding the pesky charges most airlines apply.

Baggage fees are never welcomed and most of the time unexpected. Airline fees like these can quickly add up and derail the work you put in to find the most cost-conscious flight.

Here are some tips and tricks for avoiding pesky fees, because most airlines charge for checked luggage. In fact, Southwest is the only major airline in the United States to not charge fees to check up to two bags per passenger.

Pack Light

This should be obvious; alas packing less is not as easy as it sounds. We want to feel secure when we’re traveling and be prepared for any situation. So, unless you’re going to the tundra, opt for light clothes. Consider cotton and other lightweight options instead of denim. Look for brands that cater to traveler – Arc’teryx is one apparel brand for men and women designed for travelers and is super lightweight.

Enroll in an Airline Credit Card

One great airline credit card perk is they waive baggage fees if you book your flight with that card. Bonus: if you book your companion’s travel, the airline will usually waive that luggage fee as well. But look into that before booking, since all credit cards have different restrictions in the fine print. There are many airline credit cards available and they all have perks, so it’s important to do your research to find what makes sense for your travel agenda (free bags or more miles?).

Get a Lightweight Suitcase

Your suitcase is added into the final weight of your luggage, something easy to forget. If you’re allowed 50 pounds weight in a checked bag and the bag is already 10 pounds, (no this isn’t a math problem) you will only have 40 pounds left. That’s 20 percent of your luggage allotment already gone! So do your research if you’re in the market to buy a new suitcase. Osprey and Rimowa are two brands boasting lightweight travel baggage.

Multi-Use Items

Why not bring a dress that turns into a beach cover up, that turns into a nightgown? It can be done. Bring a simple black shift dress (or other solid neutral color) or a button-down shirt you can dress up or down – they will appear to be several different outfits but will only take up a small amount of space. There are also many reversible shorts, pants and shirts on the market for travelers. Get creative!

Do Laundry

Doing laundry is a simple solution to having to pack seven of everything for a weeklong trip. While fees for laundry service at a hotel can be high, you can always make a trip to the local laundromat. Hey, you may even meet a local doing their laundry and get some travel tips for the area, like where to get the best tacos. The other option is to stay in a rental or hostel offering washing machines and dryers for guests.

Carry-On Ideas

You may have to pay for your luggage carry-on item on some flights these days, but you still can fly with a backpack, messenger bag or carryall bag at no extra cost. There are restrictions to sizing on some planes and it does have to fit under the seat in front of you. But you’d be surprised at what you can fit into a bag, especially when you’re at the baggage check counter and you need to deduct five pounds from your suitcase. Think about your big-ticket items, like a book, toiletries kit (as long as everything is under 3.4 ounces), or footwear.

Wear Your Heaviest Items on the Plane

When you’re flying from a cold or warm destination to the opposite climate, wear your heaviest items on the plane. You won’t be weighed, so you’ve got that going for you. This means your heaviest shoes (hiking boots and chunky wedges come to mind), parkas or huge winter coats, heavy jewelry and so on. Also, layering your outfit is a good idea – wear your thickest sweater under your jacket, a scarf, you get the idea. Planes are usually cold anyway, so you’ll be warm. Just stuff your coats and layers in the overhead bin.

Buy After You Fly

This is one of my travel commandments for stressing about forgetting something when I’m traveling. Just buy it when you arrive at your destination. But it also makes sense as a way to avoid baggage fees. I’m not saying you should buy your winter coat when you arrive or anything hard to purchase. Things like liquids are one of the heaviest items in luggage and most of the time they’re the easiest things you can find to buy.

Take Time to Pack

Don’t pack at the last minute because you won’t have time to plan your outfits. Give yourself time to pack. Make a packing list you can use every time you travel. Or open your suitcase a week before your flight date and begin throwing things in when you think of them. Dinner, dancing, hiking and swimming? Plan, plan, plan! If you do, there’s no way you can over-pack and get hit with those sneaky baggage fees. Also, consider getting a home luggage scale if you’re a constant over-packer.

Ship It

If you have a few heavy bags, shipping your luggage pre-travel may be a good option for saving money on extra baggage fees. Delivery services like DHL, FedEx and UPS are all options when shipping luggage or larger items. This decision may take a little more effort but in the end, it may be the most economical choice when traveling with a lot of gear or a large family.

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Travel Tips

A Practical Guide to Traveling Sustainably on a Budget

In the wake of climate change and overtourism, travelers are more concerned than ever about their footprint when they hit the road (or sky). Traveling sustainably has become a buzz phrase, but it can be a nebulous concept; how do you reduce your impact on a destination, and how can you do it without spending big on luxury ecolodges or expensive gear? Minimize waste while traveling Perhaps the most obvious way to begin shifting your travel habits is to invest in travel gear that reduces the amount of trash you produce. These purchases don’t have to break the bank, and they can be used on multiple trips. Drinking clean If you’re traveling where water isn’t potable, avoid plastic bottle waste by investing in a personal water filter; Lifestraw makes products for varying budgets, and all keep your water bacteria- and chemical-free. Bye-bye airline minis If you’re committed to that carry-on-only life and regularly buy tiny airplane toiletry bottles, replace them with solid soaps and shampoos that last multiple washes and are easily stored in tins. The same goes for toothpaste – opt for toothpaste tablets instead of tubes for clean teeth on the go. Concerned about price? Airplane minis are generally more expensive per ounce than full size options anyway, so going sustainable will save you money in the long run. Companies like Lush and GoodFill are good places to start looking for eco-friendly travel toiletries. Plastic forks no more Eating on the go also produces its own fair share of waste, particularly when you’re looking for something quick and portable. Replace ubiquitous plastic cutlery with the bamboo version, which generally will only set you back the price of a fancy cocktail. Shop smart When buying travel gear, cheap items on Amazon are often tempting, but quality can range wildly. Instead, buy from brands offering lifelong warranties or free or low-cost repair on their items; these products may seem more expensive at first, but they are ultimately budget-friendly, since you won’t have to replace them every few trips (and hooray for less waste!). Brands like Osprey, Patagonia and Cotopaxi all have great warranty and repair policies. Be conscious about voluntourism While “travelling sustainably” often evokes conversations about the environment, it also has a cultural element to it – traveling sustainably means minimizing our negative impacts on people’s daily lives in the destinations we are visiting and refraining from playing into exploitative situations that wear the guise of charitable causes. Some main pointers: Only volunteer for positions for which you are uniquely qualified; teaching English when one is not certified to do so, for example, is probably not the best way to make a positive impact. Avoid short-term volunteering with children, as it has been proven to be harmful to their development, and some “orphanages” are run to attract tourists and turn a profit at the children’s expense. Instead, opt for participating in a local beach clean-up or tree-planting initiative to help keep your destination looking (and feeling) its best. Travel during off season Want to avoid contributing to overtourism and save some cash? Research visiting destinations outside of their peak seasons for a less-crowded, more affordable vacation. While some low seasons are low for a reason (looking at you, rainforest rainy seasons), even booking during shoulder season will benefit the destination and travelers alike; prices on airfare and lodging generally drop significantly, and you’ll be bringing in travel dollars during a time when it is needed. Be thoughtful about transport Planes, trains and automobiles As we start to be more mindful of our environmental impacts, the biggest question has to do with our methods of travel. Which is worst? How can we still travel and keep the world’s climate intact? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer – environmental impact is measured by a number of factors including distance, length of stay and a vehicle’s fuel type and carrying capacity. The overall score can be affected by how many people you have in your car and which seat you have in a plane. For example, business class seats have a higher emission footprint than coach seats, as they take up more space on a plane, and a sparsely populated flight has more of a negative environmental impact than a full one. Similarly, driving long distances in a car alone (especially in traffic) has a much more significant carbon footprint than if you were to make the trip along with three friends or if you were going a short distance. Luckily for the budget conscious, flying coach and carpooling is also better for your wallet – all the more incentive to take part. In most studies, trains come out on top as the most environmentally friendly mode of transport per passenger; in areas with good train infrastructure, this can also be a solid budget option. To cruise or not to cruise? Cruising is an immensely popular mode of travel around the world, with cruise lines building bigger and bigger vessels every year. However, these megaships are notorious for their pollution output, and many big-name brands have faced criminal charges for dumping fuel waste, sewage and other pollutants into the water. From a socially sustainable standpoint, cruises can exacerbate problems with overtourism at port cities, with tourist dollars largely going to the cruise companies rather than local businesses. Sustainable-minded folks should probably avoid large cruise ships with long itineraries in favor of small, regional boats. These do not create (or expel) as much waste and, they support local businesses at their ports of call. Check out these scores before booking your cruise vacation. Stay close The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to explore areas nearby; instead of traveling across the country to that big national park, check out your nearby state parks. Try your hand at cycling routes or multi-day hikes instead of expansive road trips. Traveling slow and local can also reduce the bills flying out of your pocket thanks to reduced fuel and lodging costs. Resist the call of the all-inclusive All-inclusive hotels are popular, valued for making vacation planning easier and presumably being a more budget-friendly way to travel. While package deals undoubtedly can offer appealing prices, the negative social impact of these large resorts can be significant. Some questions to ask before booking: is this hotel locally owned? Do they pay their employees a fair wage? Are there nearby local communities I could be supporting with my business instead? Opt for smaller, locally owned hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or hostels – where there might be an increase in room rate, compensate by self-catering from farmers markets, trying budget-friendly restaurants and/or sampling street food options.

Travel Tips

Everything You'll Need for a Comfortable, First-time Camping Trip

Insert linkCamping will open up your world to a new side of adventure travel. Forget your worries, pitch a tent and enjoy nature. Here’s a guide to the gear you’ll need for your first camping trip and a few camping hot spots around the country. You may have to alter this packing list depending on whether you’re camping at a campsite, “glamping” or going totally off the grid in the middle of the woods. Campsite & Sleeping Preparing your campsite and sleeping arrangements is the most important part of planning for your camping trip. It’s how you’ll be protected from the elements, mosquitos and any other wildlife. This Dagger Tent is a good option for novice campers; it dries quickly, has two doors, and can fit up to three people. You’ll also want to think about what kind of sleeping bag you’ll need for the temperature you’re camping in (Alaska vs. Florida have drastic differences in temperature). You can find this information on the label when you’re shopping. Sleeping pads that go under your sleeping bag will keep you comfortable and ensure a good night’s sleep. Pillows and blankets are also optional items. Or maybe just a poncho that doubles as a blanket, like this one? Consider bringing a camping chair since you’ll be on your feet all day. Find a chair made out of a lightweight material for quick drying. Also, bring a simple tarp and rope are a great way to create an enclosure for cooking in case it rains. You can buy a tarp that keeps the sun, rain and bugs away too. Gear & Gadgets When you’re camping you can run into basically any scenario. That’s why the boy scout motto is about always being prepared. The gear you bring on your first camping trip is what’s going to make your trip go smoothly. While you don’t have to pack the kitchen sink, here are some basics you’re going to want to pack on your first camping trip. The Osprey backpack is lightweight and has a compartment for all of your gear. For lighting, using a headlamp can be convenient or the myCharge Power Lumens is a portable charger that doubles as a bright LED light. They also have a solar charger for when you need to recharge, but are nowhere near an electrical outlet. A simple knife is always handy or you can go all out and bring a Leatherman tool that encompasses a firestarter, hammer, one-handed blade and an emergency whistle. Shoes & Apparel Your clothing and shoes should go along with the idea of being prepared for anything. Blundstone has hiking boots that will last you for years, taking you up mountains and through creeks. While Keen and Bogs also have awesome footwear for camping, like work boots and water shoes that you can wear in rocky waters or beaches. United by Blue is an apparel brand that was specifically made for camping with clothing to keep you warm in the winter with flannels and cool in the summer with lightweight garb. For every product purchased, the brand removes one pound of trash, making it a brand you want to support. Another tip is to take care of your feet and bring extra socks; Smartwool has socks that are made for hiking in all seasons. Cooking, Eating, and Hygiene On your first camping trip, you’ll want to bring a lightweight stove to cook a hot meal. Unless you plan on cooking a classic hot dog dinner followed by s’mores over the campfire. In that case you’ll need to bring matches and a hand ax or saw to gather firewood. But if not, pick a stove that can accommodate what you’re cooking and the type of fuel you prefer (coal or fuel). Or try out this camp stove that turns fire into electricity. It can cook your meals and charge your gear, all at the same time. Pretty amazing, huh? Depending on what you’re cooking up you’ll need a cooler for perishables, cookware, a coffee pot (a warm cup of joe in the morning is worth carrying the extra weight) and a water bottle. This kit can be used as a food container, bowl and vessel to heat food up in. If your campsite has water you don’t need to worry about bringing a water jug or purifier, but if you’re camping more “Naked and Afraid” style, than think about where you’ll be getting your water supply. Also, if you’re going to bear country you should confirm if your campsite has a lockbox for food items or bring a secure container to keep the bears away! They are a lot of prepared food for campers, so if you want to keep it simple, this may be a good choice for you. Good To Go offers meal options cooked up by a chef. Kale and white bean stew anyone? While Taos Bakes and OHi Bar have energy bars when you need an emergency snack. Hey, camping can be exhausting. Most campsites have showers and bathrooms, but definitely check this out first. Then you plan for what you’ll need to bring. Some basics to bring either way include a quick drying camp towel, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and a first aid kit, . Destinations Now that you have a list of equipment, here comes the fun part. Planning where you’re going to camp! While you can’t go wrong with any of the National Parks across the US, consider these lesser known campsites for your first journey. Hither Hills State Park; Montauk New York Hither Hills State Park has 1,700 acres set in the hills of the Hamptons, offering visitors breath-taking views of the beach from the campground (sounds chic?). Allowing campers to go fishing (saltwater and freshwater), swimming and you can even try your hand at surfing at Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk. While hiking the "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor on the eastern boundary of the park is another popular activity in the area. Be careful to stay on the trails because the ticks thrive in this area. The campsite offers space for 168 tents and trailers and has showers, a store, playground and horseshoes. The fee starts at $35 a night per tent and $70 if you’re not a New York resident. Castle Rock State Park; Almo Idaho The challenging landscape of Castle Rocks State Park attracts rock climbers from around the world. There is also excellent hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding against a dramatic backdrop that dates back 2.5 million years. Enjoy a stay at the park’s campgrounds, yurts or the century-old ranch house. Camping is year round and a standard campsite costs about $20-$27. The weather gets up to the low-90s in summer; cooling to the 50s at night and high-30s in the winter and teens at night, so prepare your sleeping bag arrangements accordingly! Garner State Park; Concan, Texas There are few places as beautiful as Garner State Park AKA the Texas Hill Country River Region for a family looking to go on their first camping trip. The park is open year round and offers just about every outdoor activity you can imagine from hiking and biking to boating and fishing. At night, campers can sleep under the stars in one of the only places in the United States where you can still see the Milky Way! Overnight visitors can stay in screened shelters, cabins or campsites for $15-$35 per night. Among the basic amenities, you can expect to find concessions, a seasonal grocery store, hot showers and restrooms. Camping Deals: For great camping deals be sure to check out our partner Campspot. Campspot is the only online booking platform that lets you research, discover, and instantly reserve the best camping stays at the lowest prices from premiere campgrounds across North America. They give campers more control of their trips by offering more options to choose from and an easier way to book. They are experts in the outdoor industry, so they know what campers and campgrounds care about and use technology to better serve them both.

Travel Tips

The Best Credit Cards for Any Kind of Traveler

It seems like every day more credit-card offers pile up in our mailboxes and inboxes. All these benefits and bonus points may feel too good to be true, but as airlines keep adjusting their loyalty programs and finding new ways to skimp on travelers’ miles, the right travel-rewards card can help pick up the slack – and even deliver perks you’d never earn through miles flown alone. Travel Credit Card Basics Among the standard benefits to look for in a credit card (like decent interest rates, late fees, annual fees, etc.), there are a few basics that can make a travel-centric card right for you. For example, when opening a new account, go with a card that will grant you hefty bonus points – just look closely at the spending threshold to secure those points. Another bonus, if you don’t already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, is a card that will credit you for the cost of enrolling in one of those secure-traveler programs. (If you take more than three international flights per year, go with Global Entry.) There also can be key differences in benefits between an airline-branded credit card vs. a bank-issued card, like airport-lounge access, free checked baggage, and priority boarding. Plus, some cards may offer free airline companion tickets, though often that comes after the card’s renewal and annual-fee payment. Even the most seasoned globetrotters and points earners get confused by all the deals and details floating around. Here’s a rundown of a few of the best cards for different sorts of travelers. Frequent Flyers If you book plane tickets at least five times a year, versatile rewards may be the way to go. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a favorite, because it earns three times the points (points = dollars spent) on travel and dining worldwide. Granted, the card comes with a $450 annual fee, but you’ll automatically receive $300 in credits toward any travel purchases, which is a low figure for frequent travelers. This card also comes with free access to Priority Pass Select lounges in more than 1,000 airports around the world. Here’s the full deal: $450 annual fee50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening $300 annual travel credit $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck 3X the points on dining and travel worldwide (for non-travel purchases, earn 1 point for every dollar spent) Complimentary access to 1,000+ airport lounges No foreign transaction fees Enhanced travel protection benefits Booking travel through Chase Rewards and affiliate sites bring greater redemption rewards 1 Reserve Card point transfers as 1 point to select airline and hotel loyalty programs Regular-Route Commuters Let’s say visit your family regularly, and there’s only one airline with a direct route between your home city and theirs. Consider getting a credit card devoted to that airline, so every dollar charged becomes a mile banked for a future flight. Many cards even come with a multiplier to earn extra points (or miles) for every dollar spent on their airline’s tickets, upgrades, and in-flight purchases. Because of Delta Airlines’ extensive network of direct routes, it’s a favorite for many U.S. travelers who can rack up SkyMiles through spending, then buy flights with those miles. (Plus redemption is easy thanks to Delta’s excellent website and smartphone app.) The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card by American Express is a smart way to go, and will survive some of the lost benefits that 2020 will introduce to the Gold Delta card – which involves changes to how “Medallion Qualification” miles and dollars (MQMs and MQDs) are earned. The Platinum card’s annual fee is rising to $250, but the sign-up bonus softens the blow, and upon renewal you’ll get a free companion ticket; and this card can lead you to elite “status” perks sooner. Here are other benefits: $250 annual fee75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening $100 statement credit and 5,000 MQMs after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within the first three months Earn two miles per dollar on Delta purchases; earn one mile per eligible dollar spent on non-Delta purchases Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate upon renewal of your Card First checked bag free on Delta flights Main Cabin 1 priority boarding on Delta flights 20 percent in-flight savings No foreign transaction fees $39 per-person Delta Sky Club access for you and up to 2 guests when traveling on a Delta flight Occasional Travelers Maybe you love travel but can only sneak away a few precious times each year. A flexible card like Venture Rewards from Capital One could be right for you, since you’ll get a big welcome bonus, earn two times the miles on every purchase, and as long as you keep the card, your miles never expire. Better still, Venture card purchases come with added benefits like travel-accident insurance, car-rental coverage, 24-hour travel assistance, and extended warranties on some products. You can redeem your earned miles for travel rewards booked through Capital One’s website, or for cash back or statement credits. Here are the perks to expect: $0 intro annual fee for the first year; then $95/yearOne-time welcome bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening (equal to $500 in travel) Earn 2X the miles on every purchase No foreign transaction fees Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus you can transfer your miles to more than a dozen leading travel loyalty programs. Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn Weekend Warriors If shorter getaways are just the ticket for your travel style, there are good options to save money with the right credit card. Train trips are perfect for mini-breaks from many big U.S. cities, so you may consider two Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercards (one with no annual fee, one with a $79/year fee) that will earn you bonus points, rebates, upgrades, free companion coupons, and “tier status” for even more perks. If you prefer road trips, consider the no-fee Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, which can rack up points for gas buying. The card lets you choose a category to earn three percent cash back—including gas at any station, or travel, dining, etc. Plus you’ll earn two percent at grocery and wholesale stores, and one percent on all other purchases. (You can redeem your cash rewards with statement credits or BOA account deposits.) The card also comes with a cash-reward welcome bonus, and zero interest for the first 15 months on purchases or balance transfers (just beware the three percent fee for that transfer). No matter your travel style, paying with plastic can serve up cash back, free flights, comped hotel rooms, upgrades, and all sorts of other perks. Just remember to read the fine print, and once your card has arrived, adhere to the rules to maximize rewards on every dollar spent.

Travel Tips

The Best U.S. Airports for Long Layovers

Delay-inducing factors hit hard during the holidays. More travelers means slow-going through lines and security checkpoints, and icy winter weather can pile on wait times and cancellations. All that adds up to unplanned hours in unfamiliar airports. If you’re going to encounter a long layover this travel season, where are the best places to get stuck? We looked at airport amenities from coast to coast to find the best U.S. airports for layovers. Austin-Bergstrom International Austin counts some 2,000 bands and performers who make their homes in this musical city. Each week, 27 acts play the Austin airport – it may not be a glamorous gig for the musicians, but it’s certainly a boon to passengers. You can see free live music several times a week at Saxon Pub, Annie’s Café and Bar, Tacodeli, Haymaker, and Hut’s while waiting for your flight. Chicago O’Hare Chicago O’Hare has more than three times the delays as Midway, across town. So this airport’s amenities really come in handy. ORD is well known for an extensive public art collection, which offers visual appeal for airport wanderers. Head to Terminal 1, Concourse B to see a model of a Brachiosaurus skeleton, and don’t miss ‘The Sky’s the Limit,’ a 745-foot-long kinetic light sculpture, in Terminal 1 between Concourses B and C. When traveling, it can be difficult to know whether to leave the airport or get comfortable for a long wait. With the first aeroponic garden at any airport in the world, passengers can at least feel like they’re outside. Head to the mezzanine level of the O’Hare Rotunda Building to see the greenery, get a little fresh air, and enjoy a meal. O’Hare’s restaurants use some of the vegetables and herbs grown in the garden, so your meal may even count as farm-to-table dining. Dallas Fort/Worth International Airport Dallas has all the standard amenities of larger airports – a yoga studio and showers, for example – but you don’t have to head to the in-airport-hotel to catch a rest. Travelers can rent sleeping suites by the hour. Budget-minded travelers can head to free relaxation zones to enjoy ambient lighting, lounge seating, and charging stations. But passengers can also get a gaming-induced adrenaline high at two Gameway entertainment lounges. Each lounge has 36 gaming stations complete with a leather chair, an Xbox One loaded with games, a 43-inch TV, and noise cancelling headphones. Denver International Airport This Rocky Mountain city makes sure passengers love the winter, even when it’s causing them travel delays. The airport installs a free ice-skating rink between the terminal and the Westin hotel each winter; the ice rink is up from roughly the end of November though late January. In other seasons, this plaza has hosted a pop-up park filled with trees native to Colorado, and a beer garden. The Denver airport also has a unique twist to its therapy dog squad: It includes a hundred dogs and one cat, all of which are led around the terminal to ease travelers’ tension. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport In this snowy part of the country, weather delays are inevitable. The Detroit airport has free WiFi, 24-hour restaurants, and a reflection room to ease frazzled passengers’ stress. It’s also a good place to take a stroll: A 700-foot tunnel connects Concourse B/C with Concourse A and the McNamara Terminal. It’s home to an LED light display that feels like you’re living in a kaleidoscope. San Francisco International Airport San Francisco’s airport has so many traveler amenities, it almost feels like a hotel: free WiFi, luggage storage, (paid) showers, plenty of charging stations, a yoga studio with loaner mats, and a 24-hour children’s play area. To entertain the kiddos, there’s an aviation museum within the airport, and a self-guided educational tour. The friendly canine “Wag Brigade” roams the airport bringing cheer to passengers, but LiLou, the therapy pig, seriously ups the adorable ante. Minneapolis St. Paul Airport At MSP airport travelers can get in their steps with a 1.5-mile walking path around the airport’s perimeter. If travelers want to get out of the airport for a while, Minneapolis’s Mall of America is just a three-stop ride on light-rail transit from the airport. Hundreds of stores, a movie theater, and the Nickelodeon Theme Park are all just 12 minutes away. Pittsburgh International Airport This airport overflows with artwork from local, regional, national, and international artists. Changing exhibitions keep the visuals fresh, so travelers might see new works each time they fly out or return home. Pittsburgh also joined San Diego and Tampa International Airports by hosting a National Endowment for the Arts–funded artist in residence program. If travelers want to get in on the action, they can head to Paint Monkey, a do-it-yourself paint studio, where they can paint a canvas bag to tuck inside their carry on before their flight.