While we all love going on vacation, air travel can be daunting; facing the airport and sometimes long flights ahead can be stressful. Lines upon lines, slow people, fast people, people breaking the rules, people following the rules to a T, delays, cancellations, and extra charges all add up. It is enough to make some people to shy away from travel and stay close. Literally, I know people who do not fly because of the stress and choose to spend their vacation within driving distance of their homes. That is great for them; staycations are great too, but what about those of us who need to getaway? Far away.
I’ve got you covered. After flying domestically and internationally multiple times a year over the past few years, I have discovered a few tricks and tips – air travel hacks, if you will – that have saved me time, headaches, discomfort and dirty looks!
You will notice that half of these travel hacks happen before leaving your house. This means that your planning and preparation will lead to a better travel day. You will be cool, calm and collected, knowing that you are prepared.
Air Travel Hacks Before You Leave Your House:
Put your grooming products at the top of your bag. This way, they are easily accessible when you get to the bag scanners. Suppose you are digging around or unpacking your entire suitcase to place your toiletries in a bin at the security checkpoint. In that case, I will give you a dirty look. I promise. Plus, what if, worst-case scenario, your flight is delayed and you have to sleep on the floor. It would be great to be able to brush your teeth and reapply deodorant, right? In the best-case scenario, you want to touch up your eye make-up in the bathroom before hitting the ground running once you reach your destination. If you pack your toiletries in your carry-on, you will never be too far from those comfort items that make you feel refreshed and clean and ready.
Dress comfortably and always wear slide on/off shoes. I do not care if it’s cold outside, wear shoes that you can take on and off without a shoehorn or lacing up a million times. Again, dirty looks will happen if you are that person holding up the security line because you just had to wear those knee-high boots.
Find the most obnoxious ribbon and tie a big bow on your suitcase. I have black luggage. I am just not a flashy girl, so the idea of buying hot pink bags is not appealing to me. But, my Plain Jane suitcase does have a big red bow on it. There is no mistaking it.
Pack a sweatshirt. Even if your final destination is warm, your sweater or hoodie or fleece or whatever you pack can keep you warm on a cold flight or pull double duty and act as a pillow.
Pack protein bars, trail mix and a few pieces of fruit (if you are flying domestically). There is nothing worse than me getting hungry while stressed. It is not pretty. If you know the meaning of “hungry”, you will be glad you packed some snacks in your bag before you left. So, save yourself the money and calories, and pack yourself some healthy snacks before leaving your house.
Air Travel Hacks At the Airport:
Pull up your boarding pass on your smartphone. Do not waste a piece of paper or risk forgetting your boarding flight on your kitchen counter. Instead, download your air carrier’s app and keep your boarding pass handy. It’s fast and efficient!
Blow up your inflatable neck pillow. If you did not like #5, or you just really love your neck pillow, this one is for you. Invest in an inflatable version. These babies will save room in your bags because you can deflate them upon arrival. However, blow up your pillow while waiting for your flight. Do not wait until you are stupid close to your neighbour, sitting on the plane. I feel like a dirty look is warranted if you sit there huffing and puffing in my ear for ten minutes while you blow up your pillow. Sorry. No, I am not; it’s the truth.
Offer to get bumped. My partner and I have received flight vouchers because we voluntarily give up our seats on our scheduled flight, hang out at the airport for a few hours and take a later flight. And hey, because you have your toiletries with you, who cares if you have to spend a few more hours at the airport? Be cautious when volunteering to give up your seat. It is not always an option, but if it is – take it!
Pay to Get In. If you find yourself at the airport longer because you got bumped and received a voucher, consider paying to get into lounges and clubs in the terminals. Some airlines have lounges for the customers. It is free for those with status. But did you know you can pay a fee to take advantage of these amenities? Also, if you have a long layover or a flight delay, consider paying to be comfortable. Lounges offer bigger and better – softer chairs, better (sometimes free) food and drink, cleaner bathrooms, and even showers (showers!!) in some.
Air Travel Hacks On the Plane:
Ask the flight attendant to fill your reusable bottle with water. I know many people say you should do this at the airport, but water fountains skeeve me out! Am I alone here? Plus, you know how you saved $3 on a bottle of water in the terminal. You’re welcome.
Use baby wipes to sanitise your seat tray. I am seriously not germ-a-phobic. I actually cringe when I see people wiping things down. I think to myself, “Get over it!” They’re germs. But, I like baby wipes because A.)they take off my make-up and keep clean my face and B.) they clean surfaces around me. So, since they are already packed in my carry-on, I live on the wild side and clean my seat tray. And yes, people have given me dirty looks for doing this, but they have also asked to borrow a wipe. So there!
Air Travel Hacks Arriving at Your Destination:
Status does matter when renting a car. If you rent a car, sign up for the company’s preferred, or elite or gold or whatever-they-call-it membership. The perks are worth it. Depending on the company, you can bypass other waiting customers in line for fast check-out services, bypass lines altogether and walk straight up to your rental car and have the keys waiting for you in the car, free roadside help, free car upgrades when available, etc. It makes you feel like a rock star and alleviates waiting in another line when you can walk straight to your rental car and go! It pays to have status sometimes!
What a high status with a rental car company can get you!
There are ways to save time, headaches, money and dirty looks during air journey. Use some of these air travel hacks to relieve those long, sometimes tedious, travel days.