Holiday Travel Tips

Seasons Greetings from Outer Space A!

With the holidays upon us, it’s time for a few tips for Cat 6 travel for those among us intrepid enough to attempt it during the busiest season of the year. While retiree travel is not recommended, as a rule, during periods like the holidays, it may be possible, with certain “restrictions”.

For overseas travel (European Christmas markets are in full swing!) from CONUS:

  • Plan to have your round trip completed by the middle of December. After that, higher category travelers will be pulling children out of school early for holiday vacation, and seats for Cat 6 will quickly evaporate.
  • Be prepared to be extra flexible with alternate departure and arrival destinations and routing. For instance, you could end up flying from Dover to Ramstein, and returning from Spangdahlem to Andrews, or Charleston. Or, travel from Travis to Kadena, and return via Yokota to McChord. 
  • Make sure you have ground transportation options in place, and figure your ground costs into your budget. Car rental, taxis, shuttles, trains, and accommodations add up!
  • Hopefully, you have signed up sufficiently in advance to be traveling around day 50-55, both outbound and returning, to have the best chances within category for a flight. If you’re just signing up to travel now, you chances are considerably diminished.
  • Be on the look out for last minute seats during the holidays. SOMETIMES, it’s possible to travel the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Many of the families that pulled children out early for travel will also return late, so there may be seats available for a quick getaway – if you’re ready to grab them.
  • After the holidays are over, plan for flights to continue to be full through the middle of January.

For travel within CONUS, prosects are generally better. While there may be fewer flights available overall, Cat 2, 4 (EML), and 5 travel eligibility ends upon reaching CONUS, so competition for seats is not as greatly impacted. For the past several years, Lady Cat 6 and sponsor have been able to travel fairly easily cross country to spend Christmas with our families, and return. Flexibility, as always, is key to success! Have a several-day window for travel each way, be willing to go where the flights are. 

Remember to be kind to your terminal personnel and flight crews! They are doing the best they can to accommodate as many travelers as possible during this extremely busy season – and they have families, too. Don’t be the grinch in the terminal ;).

Holiday space a travel for Cat 6 requires extra-triple doses of patience, and flexibility, and a few small miracles along the way.  If you want to try to beat the odds, figure out your options, cross your fingers, and be sure to pack your holiday cheer and good will with you. If you see a harried individual or family struggling in the terminal, getting to or from the plane, or on the flight, help them out! As the saying goes: there are plenty of good people in the world – if you can’t find one, be one! Your patience, kindness, and willingness to share your experience are wonderful gifts to give, so be generous with them!

Wishing you all the happiest and most blessed of holidays, wherever, however, and whether or not you are traveling!

 

 

 

Aspetta!

As is so common in the universe of space a travel, yesterday’s “Let’s go!” has turned into today’s “Wait!”.  Yesterday’s “Oh, goodie! We lucked into an earlier option!” Turned into the earlier option slipping 24 hours and original option getting canceled outright. And thus, we spend a rainy day lounging in lodging, awaiting our next leg of travel. Hopefully, later this afternoon. In which case, we would still make our next connection. All fingers crossed. In the name of preparedness, however, we are checking the alignments of stars and planets in outer space a, and developing alternative trajectories and contingencies. In the meantime, there is another steaming cup of coffee to sip, and lunch at Pudgy’s to look forward to! It’s all part of the adventure…

Looking back; Planning ahead

As 2016 takes flight, Lady Cat 6 is taking a few moments to recall space a journeys from the year just past. It was a good one – 7 trips in all!

My sponsor and I wasted no time getting started in 2015, making our first trip of the year to Hawaii, in January.

March found us winging our way to Singapore, with a roundabout routing  for the journey home that began at Yokota, continued to Kadena, and then on to Hawaii, where we ended up getting “stuck” for several days before finally catching a hop through Travis home to McChord.

May was a busy month, beginning with space a to Alaska (commercial home), and ending with a visit to North Carolina (via Dover) including another extended tour – this time of the eastern seaboard – to get home.  We began our homeward journey by dropping our car at Pope, hopping to Charleston, hopping to Andrews (when their flight to McChord was canceled), and finally hopping to Norfolk for an overnight before at last catching a C 40 back to Whidbey.

In July, we flew to Oceana to visit east coast family for several weeks (commercial home).

August was our space a highlight of the year, with a FABulous flight to Hawaii with our son at the controls of a C 17 (commercial home)!

Our second overseas trip, a tour of Paris, Normandy, Brittany, the Loire Valley and Strasbourg began in September. On the return we enjoyed another visit with family before scoring cheap commercial tickets home, well into October.

Finally, to cap off the year, we flew commercial back to the east coast to spend the holidays with family, and are planning to inaugurate the New Year with a space a hop home to the beautiful Pacific Northwest sometime next week – we’re flexible about when and where from.

Whew!

Already looking forward to Hawaii in February, Italy in March or April, and additional family time throughout the coming year. Maybe we’ll squeeze in visits to San Diego or Guam in there somewhere, too!

2015 was a busy space a year, and I’m anticipating lots of exciting adventures in 2016! Hope to see you somewhere in outer space a!

Happy Hybrid Holidays!

Seasons Greetings from Outer Space A!

Lady Cat 6 is once again immersed in packing, this time for our Christmas/New Years visits with family in the east. From North Carolina to Cleveland, Ohio, our holiday driving route is set. The question? How do we get east?

After careful research of space a histories and airline prices, we made the decision to purchase commercial tickets to North Carolina, and use space a to return to our Pacific Northwest home. A hybrid option, if you will.

We need to be at a certain condo by a certain date. The choices were to wait and hope for a flight on the 21st, or perhaps go several days early and incur additional lodging/dining/driving costs, or buy a commercial ticket. This time around, buying the one-way ticket was the way to go.

On the other hand, we have no particular date by which we need to be home, so the space a option makes sense. We can hang with family in Cleveland and Pittsburgh until the space a gods are smiling upon Andrews, Dover, or McGuire., or even Norfolk or Oceana. When they do, we’ll rent another car and head to the terminal. If being away from the dark clouds and rain gets to be too much for us, we can always buy tickets to come home. That’s our back up plan.

Based on the flight forecasts from our preferred terminals through the date we need to be at our North Carolina Air BnB condo, the tickets were the right call. Having options in play for our return gives us the confidence to go, relax, and enjoy the holidays with our families. It will all be great!

Wishing all my Cat 6 friends and followers a very Merry Christmas, and all the best space a fortune in the coming New Year! See you in the terminal – I’ll have my yellow tags on!

Happy Holidays…

 

Holiday Travel

Yes, yes, I know this post was supposed to be France…I am exercising my Lady’s prerogative. I was making Christmas lodging arrangements for visiting east coast family this morning, so holiday travel is on my changing mind.

In general, it is not recommended that Cat 6 travelers attempt catching a hop during any school holiday period, Christmas included. True enough, in general. But there are opportunities to be had if traveling domestically, or even internationally, if able to employ the dreaded “F” word – flexibility.

The possibility with the most reasonable odds is traveling domestically.  Since most Cat 2 and 4 travelers’ eligibility ends when their plane reaches the Continental US (CONUS) and most Cat 5 eligibility starts and ends at one of the coasts, Cat 6 travel within CONUS is generally easier to accomplish. 

Lady Cat 6 and sponsor have enjoyed very good luck over the past few years using space a to travel from the great Pacific Northwest to the eastern seaboard and back. We shoot for a middle-ish of December departure, and wait until after the New Year to return. We’ve been able to fly within two to three days of our target window each time. That’s plan “A” again for this year.

Besides being flexible about timing, we are also anticipating needing to flexible regarding our flight destination. We know where we would like to fly, but we also know all the possible terminals we could fly to and still make our holiday work.

Keep in mind that as Christmas gets closer, the number of flights tends to decrease. Air crew have families too. The closer to December 25 you try to fly, the less options you will have.

International travel is more difficult, but may be accomplished under certain circumstances. One thing in Cat 6′ favor is we are generally flying in the opposite direction from most space a travelers during this time. They are trying to come home for the holidays, while we are more interested in going out. If you are able to depart by the middle of December and can wait until several days after the New Year to return, you stand a decent chance of getting a hop.

Another international option to consider is travel between Christmas and New Year’s. Most Cat 2, 3, 4, and 5 travelers want to be at their destination for Christmas and return by New Year’s in order to start school on time, so the missions (remember, there are fewer of them) during the week between tend to have more seats available. European Christmas markets run until around January 6, so you could still enjoy them if you’re interested in a quick holiday turnaround.

As mentioned earlier, I have taken care of our lodging arrangements at our final destination already. We will reserve a car at our hoped-for destination terminal in another week or so, knowing we can slip the dates and sometimes even the pick-up location if needed once the reservation is made. On base lodging is a good possibility upon landing, since there is not a lot of activity going on during the holidays. And, finally, we are prepared to either purchase expensive tickets or even not go at all if there really are no space a flights available. 

Holiday travel presents significant challenges for Cat 6 travelers, but with flexibility in planning and expectations, Outer Space A is a very Merry place to be!

NEXT Time: France