When I decided I wanted to be a traveling photographer, I realistically thought that shooting a wedding every once in a while outside my area would be awesome but I never expected for airports to become my second home. The energy and bustling of the people throughout them energizes me and is always an incredibly inspiring place to exist in.
October 2nd, 2014:
This morning, I woke up early to catch my flight to Texas for this weekends wedding while feeling like a train hit me from yesterdays wedding in Florida. I did my usual routine of checking my phone and noticed a 1-800 number that had called and left a voicemail and passed it off as a politicians support call and went about my morning. I woke my wife up when it was close to being time to leave and noticed her phone had a missed call from the same number… politicians are clearly stepping up their marketing game. I got on the road and of course today is the day that I had to pass through school zones at the worst time and a wreck is backing up traffic preventing me from making it to the airport as early as I would have liked. I remembered the message I had waiting in my voicemail and decided to check it only to find out my flight had been cancelled due to a huge storm rolling in… awesome. I’ve flown around the world several times over the last five years and literally have never had a flight “cancelled”. Delays happen but having a plane no longer flying was a first for me. I immediately tried to get on the phone with American Airlines and the wait was two hours long… awesome twice. I didn’t know whether to go to the airport or to start heading the 12 hours down the interstate but what I did know was that I didn’t have to panic because I had budgeted buffer time.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stranded, not having a flight or the time to drive to a wedding location if I had to. It’s absolutely crucial and something that is NEVER worth risking. The blow your business would take in failing to show up to a wedding would ruin you. Arriving two days early has always been my minimum for travel weddings unless I could drive and still make it way ahead of the wedding schedule. This is not only for a risk free arrival but also for a few other reasons that can be major perks! If you live in Seattle and are shooting a wedding in Miami, I’d probably add on a little bit more than two days just in case something crazy happens. For international flights I always recommend 4+ days of buffer for travel and not only for assurance of arrival but also because you don’t want to shoot a wedding with jet lag. Giving yourself a few days to adjust to a new time zone will only make you more on your game come wedding day.
The number one thing that can be a major perk in traveling is being a flexible flyer. These perks come more often than people realize if you pay attention and they can help you a lot in your business as well as fuel your adventurous soul at the same time! A few years back my wife and I were flying back from Africa through Brussels, Belgium and due to a full flight they needed a few people to stay behind and take a flight the following day. We gladly volunteered as their offer was a $500 voucher for each person staying behind, a more convenient reroute to an airport closer to home so we didn’t have to drive a few hours upon arrival, meal vouchers AND an upgrade to First Class international which usually ran around $4000 for that specific route. On top of all of that we had a full day to take a quick train ride into Belgium and spent the day exploring. This was eye opening and since then, there have been been countless times where we have volunteered and made major perks which resulted in free money, hotels, meals, flight upgrades and airline lounge access! Make buffer in your travel on both ends of your trip. It makes life less stressful and it keeps the integrity of your business strong.
ONE MORE TIP! Sit near the counter in your boarding area. If an airline needs volunteers it most like will only be one or two and the smart and flexible travelers will get there fast. Sit close and watch the crowd when it’s announced, if no one moves, wait. Airlines will up the bargain to a higher voucher and better perks to reel someone in.
If you are shooting somewhere outside your local area, check out a few things to consider before traveling HERE