Clark Howard’s 4 Travel Rules You Should Follow Right Now


1. Fly nonstop

Clark says you should book a non-stop flight to your destination. Staying away from a single connection can reduce many potential headaches with so much uncertainty with flight routes right now.

“Normally I would talk about how much money you could save by switching planes instead of going nonstop,” Clark says. “This year, fly nonstop if you can.[y] box.”

“It’s exponential problems when you change planes with the mess of airlines right now. Oh man, don’t,” he adds.

2. Book a flight early

Clark says he’s not an early riser when it comes to travel. Maybe you’re not either, but in today’s travel environment, you have to be.

“What happens is that the delays reverberate throughout the day,” Clark explains. “If you find yourself in a flight situation that is missed in the morning, you have at least a chance of being served the same day, of arriving where you intended to go the same day. On the other hand, if you are on a flight later in the day, you have a much better chance of the crew expiring, the flight being canceled or there being a significant delay. And you could find yourself stranded because you missed any opportunity to be re-booked on any type of subsequent flight.

3. Never check a bag

No matter how long your trip is, do your best to see if you can fit all your stuff in one bag. Clark says now is not the time to overpack.

“Don’t, don’t. Do. Not. Check. A bag. Don’t do it,” Clark says.

“Are you controlling a sack right now? You have to hate yourself for sack-checking because you lose so much flexibility,” he adds.

To illustrate the point, Clark says his brother and sister-in-law recently had their flight canceled and couldn’t be rebooked on another because they didn’t have their bags on the same plane. They ended up waiting nine days to get their bags back.

Moral of the story? Don’t check your bag. “Even for a trip to Europe, I want you to go on,” Clark says. “And there’s a million blogs and videos on Youtube – all sorts of things people have posted — on how to get through a two-week trip with carry-on only. I know it sounds like a crazy thing, but you can do it.”

4. Consider paying to skip the lines

Depending on the frequency of your travels, Clark suggests investing in certain ways to largely avoid long lines at airports. Here are some options.

TSA pre-check

“Right now it’s become such an intense chore to do the airport thing. The security lines, well, they’re not really great. And that’s why if you’re traveling, I’d say three times or more a year, it’s actually worth $85 for five years, $17 a year, for [TSA] Pre-verificationwhich allows you to skip the ultra-long, mind-numbing lines,” says Clark.

TSA PreCheck allows you to pass through security without removing your shoes, belt and other items.

  • Cost: $85
  • Membership period: 5 years
  • Passport required: Nope

Global entry

If you’re traveling much more than that, or if you’re traveling overseas, Clark advises getting Global entry“It’s $100, paid upfront and covers five years, $20 a year,” he says.

Global Entry allows international travelers to quickly clear US customs. It also includes the benefits of PreCheck.

Cost: $100
Membership period: 5 years
Passport required: Yes


“If you travel all the time like me, you can really open your wallet and join CLEAR,” says Clark. “What it does is it puts you in front of the PreCheck line.”

CLEAR is a biometric identification verification program that allows you to bypass general security lines not only at airports, but also at some major sports arenas and other exhibition venues.

Cost: $189
Membership period:
1 year
Passport required
: Nope

Final Thoughts

Traveling right now can be tough on the wallet, body, and mind. Clark’s farewell advice has more to do with the latter.

“You just have to be prepared not to lose your mind when things go wrong,” Clark says. “You just rode with that. If you’re not someone where the water rolls off your back, maybe you shouldn’t go now.

Want to know how Clark saves so much money on his travels? Here’s his #1 rule for cheap travel.

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