Travel Agent Tells Us How To Plan The Shortest Travel Day Without Missing A Layover

The opportunity to explore a new location can get a traveler's heart racing. It's exciting to book a flight to a far-flung destination you're excited to experience. And with so many online travel agencies at your fingertips, it can be tempting to click the quickest and cheapest flight plan as soon as it crosses your device's screen. While the arrival is bound to be breathtaking, before you book your trip and head out, you might want to put some serious thought into the length of any layovers included. Planning your short-as-possible flight route in a way that allows you to travel without missing connections can be a tricky task. In an exclusive interview, Explore spoke with travel agent Victoria Fricke from Vic's Vacations about how exactly travelers can enjoy the shortest travel day possible without missing a layover.

Many discounted flights that travelers access online run along high-frequency routes. The team at SimpleFlying points out that these flights are the least likely of all to be held for passengers who don't have enough time to make connections. Unless it's a large group travel situation, the airline will simply assume there are options for you to hop on a later flight and be on their way. Landing at one airport, only to find your next flight is going to depart before you have a chance to board, is a stressful scenario. It's one that Fricke believes you can typically avoid with some strategic planning.

Layover timing fluctuates with your flight type

If you've ever missed a layover because you've inadvertently booked too short of a connection, you'll find yourself in good company. "An error in booking flights that someone not using a travel agent for guidance and support might make is not paying attention to layover times," Fricke explains. "The gut reaction of any traveler is to have the shortest travel day. As a seasoned traveler myself, the goal is the same. But not only do I want the shortest travel day, but I want the one least likely to cause a missed flight."

It can be easy for travelers to overlook the fact that the chances of missing a layover fluctuate with the type of flight booked. There are different parameters to consider when you fly domestically as compared to those times when you travel internationally. Overall, travelers are seeing daily flight delays on the rise in 2023, which makes paying attention to those specific layover times more important than ever. According to a recent Forbes article, FlightAware data reports around 30,000 delayed flights across the globe every day and no less than 7,000 to 9,000 of those delays affect U.S. domestic flights. 

"The rule of thumb I tell all clients is domestic travel needs an hour minimum each layover," Fricke says. "International travel (especially on the return from another country back to the US) needs two and a half to three hours."

Don't overlook customs and luggage logistics

When your initial journey to your international destination is a complete success, you still don't want to overlook the potential layover hurdles that you could face on the return trip. Booking a cross-border voyage requires careful consideration of all legs of the flight in both directions. 

"People don't take into account the return process back to the United States which means going through customs, getting luggage, re-checking bags, and then going back through TSA as if you just arrived at the airport," explains Fricke, who also offers travel tips on her Instagram page. "Not thinking about this string of events and simply booking an hour layover means more time than not missing your connection home and spending the night in the airport or the unexpected cost of a nearby hotel."

While it can certainly be tempting to book a travel day based on price alone, not accounting for layover times can cause massive delays along the way. Overlooking the time it will take to get through customs and dealing with luggage can cost you more in accommodations than you originally counted on. The added stress is also something worth working hard to avoid. Putting Fricke's layover timing advice into action is a simple way to make your next travel day smooth from departure through landing back home again.