Monday, June 20, 2016

7 Tips for Stress-Free Air Travel

I'm from Michigan but I go to college in Florida, so you can bet I fly quite a lot. This past school year alone, I flew between home and school 9 different times. (It was a lot.) In addition, I've traveled to England twice, to Alaska, and to the Dominican Republic, all of which required quite a bit of flying. I've certainly learned a few key things about air travel over these past few years of frequent flying. While it certainly can be stressful and difficult, it doesn't have to be!

Here are 7 tips from a seasoned flyer that will make your air travel experience easy and stress-free.

1. Obtain your boarding pass ahead of time.
If possible, get your boarding pass in advance either by printing it off, or loading a mobile boarding pass on your phone. Then when you get to the airport, you won't have to worry about printing your pass at an airport kiosk. However, if neither of these options are available to you and you have to use a kiosk, get to the airport a little earlier to make sure you have time to do so.

2. Get to the airport well in advance.
Arrive at the airport no less than 1 hour before your flight leaves. This should give you just enough time to get through security and to your gate. But if you can, I'd recommend arriving 1.5 to 2 hours ahead of time to give yourself some wiggle room. You never know what hiccups you might run into, such as the security line being ridiculously long or TSA having to go through your carry-on bag ~ so honestly the more time you have, the better.

Because believe me, you do not want to be cutting it so close that you have to run (literally) from security to your gate as someone announces overhead that the doors are closing in 1 minute. (Yes, this has happened to me before.) It's better to have a little extra time on your hands before your flight (even if it's boring) than to be rushing through the airport in a panic!

3. Have your documents handy.
You'll need to present your ID (driver's license or passport) and your boarding pass when you enter security, so make sure you have them handy. Put them in a spot where you'll have easy access to them, and get them out while you wait in line. You don't want to be scrambling to find them when you're the next person in line!

4. Pack smart.
If you're bringing liquids in your carry-on, make sure they're in bottles or containers that are no larger than 3.4 oz. If you're checking a bag, make sure its weight doesn't exceed 50 pounds. Pack your important items, such as your laptop, all chargers, camera, and other important things in either your carry-on or your personal item, because there is always a chance of checked luggage getting lost or stolen. It's also smart to pack some toiletries, underwear, etc. in your carry-on or personal item for that same reason.

For some more packing tips and hacks, read this post: 8 Packing Hacks to Help You Pack Smarter

5. Dress comfortably.
Since you're going to be stuck sitting on a plane for several hours, you might as well wear something comfortable! Wear something that's nice, but not too nice, and comfortable, but not slobby ~ you want to be comfortable, but also presentable. Leggings, a sweater, a nice tee, and things like that will make for a perfect flying outfit. As far as shoes go, wear a pair that is easy to get on and off so you have an easier time at security.

6. Bring snacks.
You can't bring water through security, but you can bring food! I recommend bringing some snacks in your personal item so you don't have to buy food in the airport if you get hungry. The prices are jacked up in airport restaurants and coffee shops, so if you can avoid buying food there, you'll save yourself some money. As far as water goes though, since you can't bring it with you, it's not a bad idea to buy a water bottle in the airport to keep you hydrated. (Staying hydrated on a flight is important, because flying tends to dry you out.)

7. BYO in-flight entertainment.
You'll have several hours to kill on your flight, so you might as well make it fun (or productive)! Some suggestions for what to bring:
  • earbuds
  • your phone or iPod for listening to music
  • your laptop for watching movies or writing
  • a book or two
  • a journal or notebook (don't forget a pen)
  • games, like sudoku or crossword puzzles
  • homework or work, if you want to be productive
Of course, many planes now have their own in-flight entertainment, so you can always watch a movie or TV show using that. As a student, I often use my time on planes (usually flying between school and home) to work on a paper or do reading for class. Flights can be a great time to do lots of reading, to listen to music and write, or to get some work done, so make sure you take advantage of your time in the air!

Do you fly often? Do you have any tips for making air travel easier?


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