I travel often, mostly by air. I’ve taken a few cross country road trips that lasted way too long, so I prefer to get there quickly. Here are a few tips I’ve learned through my travels to make your next flight go smoother.
TSA PreCheck and Clear
If you travel often, having the Pre is a must! For just $85 for 5 years, it has saved me hours of standing in line and TSA hassles. You don’t have to take off your shoes, you go through the fast lanes at most airports (except when they are closed) and you don’t have to take out your laptops.
I can usually get through security in just a few minutes with my PreCheck which is just a code you enter when booking your flight, so it is already on your boarding pass.
I also have Clear now and it works together with Pre to skip ahead in the TSA lines because you have already been cleared to go through. For me, it is worth the $15 monthly fee to skip the sometimes long lines in the security area and head to my flight.
Give yourself plenty of time
Sure, you are all packed and ready to go, but gates change, airports are all different, and when you aren’t prepared the unexpected always happens.
On two separate flights I arrived at the airport, got through security, and headed to my gate to find out that either I was at the wrong end of the airport and had to go back through security or my gate was at the other side of the airport and I had to walk around outside (Phoenix) for 15 minutes before I found the right area.
Give yourself enough time to get to your gate, go to the bathroom, get settled at the gate and make sure you are at the right gate.
Don’t count on always finding a charging port in the airport. Many times those seats are coveted by the frequent flyers who know to get there early and camp out in front of the charging stations. So bring a battery charger or charge all of your phones and electronics before heading to the airport.
You can also charge your phone from your laptop with the USB cables if needed. Putting your phone in Airplane mode once you board will keep your battery from dying while allowing you to play games or read emails already downloaded.
Treat Yourself Nice
Once I’ve found my seat, tucked my carryon overhead and my backback with all my essentials is at my feet, I pull out my fuzzy socks and slip off my shoes. I like to bring the sample lotions from hotels. Then I give my feet a nice lotion rub before slipping on my fuzzy socks. This is something I rarely have time to do at home. So giving my feet a rest for a few hours is a nice treat.
But wear your shoes to the restroom. Not everyone has good aim on bumpy flights.
Think about packing things for yourself that make sitting in one place a relaxing event instead of a miserable experience. Bring along that nice expensive chocolate you’ve been passing by, enjoy the cool cucumber eye mask from the makeup store, and don’t forget to bring your own wide scarf or blanket for wrapping up in when it gets a little chilly.
Disinfectants are a must
Those tray tables and armrests are rarely wiped, only if they look really nasty. So bring along your own disinfectant wipes and do a quick swipe while waiting for take-off. Don’t use the airline blankets or pillows, they aren’t sanitized.
Also, bring your own travel size pack of tissues. Sometimes the change in altitude can give you a drippy nose. You don’t want to be searching for a tissue and come up empty.
Stow your bags with thought
I’ve seen it over and over, people don’t think about where their bags will go in the overheads and end up stowing them several rows behind their seats. Then when it’s time to leave they are trying to swim upstream to get their bags. Don’t be THAT GUY.
Speaking of bags, ladies use a travel purse or wallet. Everything is kept in perfect order, a place for your passports, money, and added RFID protection. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Baggalini bags after hearing the story about how two flight attendants came up with them. They are small, water-resistant, and I've had one of my bags for 10 years and it looks brand new.
Know what seat you are going to be in, and toss your bag as close to your seat as possible. Also keep everything you might need while on the flight at your feet either in a small backpack or in a plastic bag. This keeps you from having to go look through the overheads for your gum, earbuds, book, or tissues.
Distractions make the flight
Flying with other people means you might have to deal with crying babies, talkative neighbors, or the dreaded chewing sounds of gum chewing that make my skin crawl. Bring along noise-canceling headphones or even a good pair of earbuds and play some relaxing music. The noise distraction will relax you and keep you from hearing the annoying sounds and put you in a happy mood.
Wear the right clothes
Plan ahead for what to wear to the airport. Check the weather at your destination before you dress. Plan to wear layers so you have the ability to be dressed for whatever weather you are going to find at your destination. A scarf, hoodie, or shawl are great for not only keeping warm on cold flights, but also are great for using as pillows or covering your head when you nap.
Wear something that will give you stretch and be more comfortable for a long flight. Pair a wrinkle-free shirt with a pair of Lycra pants for an outfit that is both comfortable and looks nice at the end of the day.
It might be hard to ignore some of the sounds of the plane, causing you to be in a sour mood. But being nice to the attendants is the best rule you can remember. They are the ones who can make or break your flight.
Tell them if you are anxious, cold, or feeling sick. They will be able to handle your needs. If you need water, headphones, or something for nausea, having a good relationship with your attendants will help you when you need them to help you.
Pack your own food
While some flights have food you can buy on board. Most food isn’t very good. Always choose the vegetarian option for the freshest items that aren’t terrible for you. But when you are flying on a flight that doesn’t have food, it’s best to bring along a sandwich, snacks, and a reusable empty travel cup with a lid. You can get drinks inflight but keeping them from spilling is easier when you have a lid.
With some preplanning and taking time to relax, flying is easy. Remember to take time for yourself. Try to get a nap. This be your moment to recharge before you hit the ground and you are off for your next adventure.