Airplane Flight Travel Tips
Delays, inconvenience, and long lines seem synonymous with air travel. Years ago, it was the hours-long check-in line. Now you can check in online, print your own boarding passes, and even pay for checked bags ahead of time. Today, the long lines are at security checkpoints where new TSA procedures can mean additional delays and hassle. And all of this is just to get into the terminal!
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to pack correctly, minimize your security delays, ensure you stay safe and healthy while traveling by airplane, and make sure you arrive at your destination well rested, clean, and fresh. You just have to do a little bit of research ahead of time, plan, and prepare. The advice I give below works and comes from my experience flying within the United States, multiple trips to Europe, and even a flight to New Zealand
Air Travel Packing Tips
It is possible to travel using only carry on luggage, even if you're taking a week-long trip. It just takes planning and preparation. If you need a checked bag, bringing a change or two of clothes in a carry-on is still a good idea. When I was 14 I took a trip to Chicago with a friend. We checked our bags, went to the gate, and, after hours of delays, the flight was canceled. We were young and stupid - we'd checked everything, including our cash! We had to call my friend's aunt collect to ask for a ride and returned to the airport the next day, wearing the same clothes because our checked back was Un-retrievable.
The basic steps to successfully packing a carry-on and decreasing security checkpoint delays are:
- Plan your outfits.
- Pack correctly.
- Look at carry on restrictions.
- Wear slip-on shoes.
- Take advantage of your 'personal item.'
By planning your outfits to eliminate unnecessary clothing items, packing your items in easy to scan layers, knowing carry-on restrictions, such as limits on liquids, wearing slip-on shoes that are easy to remove at the TSA checkpoint, and taking advantage of a purse, laptop bag, or satchel to maximize the amount you can carry on, it is possible to take even extended trips with only carry-on items. For more in-depth information on packing a carry-on and tips on saving space while packing, please visit my hub on how to travel using only carry-on items.
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- Tips to Get Through Airport Security Hassle Free
One of the most notorious places for panic, disaster, and embarrassment, is at the front of an airport security line. Discover what you can do to prevent yourself from looking ridiculous the next time you decide to travel by plane.
How to Save Time at Airport Security
The biggest delays at airport security checkpoints aren't caused by TSA agents actually apprehending would-be criminals or investigating legitimately suspicious items. Delays are caused by unprepared passengers and difficulty scanning poorly packed bags. By preparing for security you can reduce your time at the checkpoint and help everyone behind you get through more quickly, too.
Empty your pockets while waiting in line. You might also consider removing any watches or jewelry. It is not actually necessary to remove jewelry when going through airport security, but I find it helpful. If you are wearing a lot of jewelry, it can and will set off metal detectors if you have to undergo a wand search. Most US airports use different screening technology today, but metal detectors are still in use in other areas and at non-airport security checkpoints, so, if you wear a lot of jewelry, getting into the habit of removing it at security can save you time and hassle. Consider bringing a small bag, such as a zip-lock bag, to empty your pockets into so you can keep these items easily contained and together.
Have your boarding pass and ID in-hand before approaching the TSA agent at the front of the line. Digging through your purse or wallet once you get to the agent wastes everyone's time.
Remove your shoes after displaying your boarding pass and ID to the appropriate agent. Even you cannot yet place them in a bin for scanning, this means you will be ready as soon as a bin and conveyor space are available.
Organize your items in the provided bins. Make sure to remove your quart bag of liquids, if you have one, and remove all laptops, tablet computers, etc. Do not simply throw everything into a heap. Separate your shoes, electronics, purse or other bag, quart bag of liquids, and any other carry on items. You are not limited to one bin - use as many as you need to ensure your items are easy to scan quickly. If you place too many things in one bin, the TSA agents will make you remove the items and take additional bins, so you might as well do it correctly the first time.
Stay Healthy While Flying
The web is full of advice about germy items to avoid and tips for eating healthily while flying, but the very act of sitting still on a plane for hours on end is potentially deadly. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is caused by a combination of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) and is directly linked to air travel.
- Deep vein thrombosis is when a deep vein is either fully or partially blocked by a clot. This occurs most commonly in the legs.
- A pulmonary embolism can occur when the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs. PE is immediately life-threatening.
The risk of VTE is much higher when flying, when compared to other forms of travel. When taking a flight 4 hours or longer, your risk of VTE is 2 times greater than your non-traveling risk. Frighteningly, the increased risk lingers for up to two months after your flight! The first reported, flight-related cases of VTE date back to the 1950s. Air travel's characteristic complete lack of mobility make it more dangerous than traveling by car, bus, or train.
You can lower your risk of VTE by taking some precautionary measures.
- Pick your seat, if possible, and choose an aisle seat that gives you the option of stretching your legs and getting up to take a walk down the aisle.
- Extensive research reveals that wearing mild (10-20 mm Hg) or moderate (20-30 mm Hg) compression stockings prevents VTE. None of the test subjects wearing compression stockings developed life-threatening VTE, which is a pretty good reason to buy and wear a pair on your next plane trip!
- Taking aspirin is not associated with a lower risk of VTE or DVT and is not recommended. Small studies suggest pre-flight heparin may lower risk of VTE, but results are not conclusive. As a result, pharmaceutical use is not currently recommended for VTE prevention.
How to Stay Clean and Arrive Fresh After a Long Flight
Staying clean while traveling is difficult. After just a few minutes in an airport, my hair smells like exhaust and my skin feels grimy from touching surfaces used by so many others, fast food grease, and who knows what else. However, most of us want to look presentable at flight's end. Staying clean while traveling helps you feel more human after a long flight. Whether you are flying for business and need to look pulled together to meet with a potential client, are meeting friends or family, or just arriving for vacation and want to feel your best, staying clean while traveling helps you feel more like yourself.
- Carry on a change of clothes. Wear something comfortable on the flight and then squeeze into the airplane lavatory, or just wait until you can use the terminal restroom, to change into a fresh set of clothes. Even if you never sweat and have learned how to sit so you don't wrinkle your clothing, you never know when someone else might spill their refreshments on you. This may not be necessary for shorter flights, but can help your self-presentation after long trips.
- Bring flushable wipes. Flushable wipes aren't just for babies! You can use wipes to wash your face, or even take a little 'sponge bath' to clean away some of the travel grime.
- Brush your teeth. Today, you can clean your teeth without even leaving your seat! Many different disposable toothbrush brands exist, but the Colgate Wisp is my favorite. They are available at most airports, but you'll pay a lot less if you stock up ahead of time.
- Get some rest. Years ago, airline pillows and blankets were easy to come by. These days, it's better to bring your own. A travel-style neck pillow helps you sleep, even if you don't have a wall to lean against. If you get cold easily (I do!), consider bringing a small blanket. A pair of earplugs and a sleeping mask complete the sleep gear ensemble to ensure you can catch an in-flight nap. Even if you don't plan on napping, a pair of earplugs can help you enjoy your flight - propeller aircraft can be noisy, and you never know loud your seatmate's earphones might get. For increased comfort, select a brand of earplugs designed for sleep wear. My favorite are called Hearos. They are incredibly soft and have the highest decibel rating of any earplugs I've come across.
- If you wear contacts, bring along a contact case with some solution so you can remove your lenses in-flight. Whether or not you nap, air blasting in your face will dry your contacts and irritate your eyes. Removing your contacts for a few hours can make you look and feel far more refreshed.
By getting some sleep on a long flight, changing out of your travel-worn clothes, and freshening up with a mini-'shower' and teeth brushing, you can arrive looking pulled-together and confident. From family members to business partners, everyone will wonder what your secret is!
- How To Be A Good Airline Passenger - A Funny Guide
We've all flown at one point or another and at some point most of us have been seated next to an unpleasant passenger. Some of us have also been an unpleasant passenger. This funny guide will help you be good airline passenger on your next flight.
Enjoy your Flight!
Nothing is worse than starting a vacation or business trip stressed out. Luckily, by planning ahead, packing correctly, avoiding security delays, and taking care of yourself at the airport and in-flight, you can make your trip a breeze.
Do you have any other flight travel tips? I love traveling and would be happy to hear any additional suggestions you have!