Long TSA lines, unhealthy and overpriced food, running late, and dealing with checked luggage are just a few things that can cause stress when you are flying. Anyone who’s had a bad flight knows that it can leave you feeling tired and disheveled at the beginning or end of a vacation, and that’s never a good way to start. So what are the best tips for flying?
Whether you are flying home for the holidays or halfway across the world for an epic adventure, being prepared and organized are key to a good flight. In this guide, I share 10 travel tips for flying that will help you move smoothly through the airport, stay comfortable on your flight, and get you to your destination in one happy piece.
Take the stress out of long travel days with these 10 best tips for flying
1. Invest in CLEAR or TSA PreCheck
My #1 tip for flying is if you fly at least 2-3 times per year, it is worth signing up for CLEAR or TSA PreCheck to save yourself some serious time. I got TSA PreCheck years ago, and I can’t believe how much more enjoyable flying is. You breeze through the security line, and you don’t have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or sweaters. CLEAR is an annual membership while TSA PreCheck is good for 5 years once you are approved.
2. Pack Healthy Snacks
Almonds, apple slices, dried fruit, carrot sticks, and protein bars are just a few good examples of great snacks to hold you over when flying. Be sure to load up on protein and healthy fats since these will help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Packing snacks will also make it less likely that you will splurge on airport food, which is often unhealthy and overpriced. Plus, you won’t arrive at your destination starving.
Check out some of our favorite lightweight backpacking snacks that are plant-based and easy to throw in your carry-on for when you are feeling hangry mid-flight.
3. Bring a Sleep Kit
Landing at your destination well rested will help set your trip off to a great start. Whether you’re stuck in a middle seat, leaning against the cold hard window, or winging it on the aisle, bringing a few small items with you will make your flight much more comfortable. Invest in a comfy travel pillow or better yet, use a lightweight, packable backpacking pillow for flying.
While you’re at it, carry an eye mask and earplugs too – both are small, easy to carry, and may come in handy, especially if you are changing time zones or end up sitting next to a screaming baby. If you need something to drown out all noise, noise-canceling headphones or noise-canceling earbuds work great. They’re pricey, but worth it if you travel a lot.
4. Organize Your Backpack
Take time to organize your backpack, purse, or other carry-on before you leave home so you aren’t scrambling at the airport and lugging around more than you need to. Have a special compartment for important documents such as your boarding pass and ID so you’ll know exactly where to find them when you get to the front of the TSA line. Fanny packs are a great option for airport travel because they free your hands up and there’s no worry of forgetting your bag at the boarding gate if you keep the fanny pack secured around your waist.
Also take time to stock up on flying essentials like a book, your favorite magazine, snacks, and your sleeping kit BEFORE getting to the airport.
5. Download E-books, Music & Movies
WiFi onboard can be expensive and slow and not all routes offer in-flight entertainment. If you have a favorite tv show or a movie you’ve been wanting to watch, download it before boarding so you can watch it during your flight. Same goes for E-books and podcasts. If you have Netflix, you can download movies and shows on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop for offline viewing.
If you frequently travel with a friend, your partner or kids, you may want to consider getting a headphone splitter so you can watch together. I also have Spotify Premium which allows you to listen to your playlists when you are traveling and download them for offline use.
6. Charge Up your Devices before your Flight
Make sure to have everything charged before heading to the airport. This may include your phone, laptop, camera, and any other electronics you travel with. You never know if you’ll be able to find an open outlet or if security might take longer than usual leaving no time to charge up.
You may even want to consider carrying a small backup battery for your phone or other devices you use heavily when traveling. I also always bring a travel adapter that allows you to charge several devices and comes with worldwide adapters for those of you traveling abroad.
7. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle
You can’t take water through the security checkpoint, but you can take an empty reusable water bottle. Most airports have water fill-up stations so you can fill a bottle post-security. Drinking lots of water is an important tip for flying because the added elevation and recycled air can result in dehydration.
Having a refillable water bottle on your trip will also help you save money (and help the planet) by not having to purchase plastic water bottles every time you’re thirsty.
8. Take an Immune Supplement
When you fly, you are sharing oxygen with 100+ people, who have recently shared air with another 100+ people. Get the idea? Plus you touch items that a high volume of other people touch such as security bins, seatbelts, tray tables, and door handles. Give your body a boost to fight off the germs with an immune supplement. Nuun makes handy vitamin tablets with immune boosting properties that you can toss into your reusable water bottle. While you’re at it, pack some hand sanitizer too.
9. Dress in Layers
Plane temperatures can range from unbearably stuffy and hot to practically Arctic cold. Be prepared for both. Dress in a base layer that you’ll be comfortable hanging out in for the duration of your flight and bring an extra layer or two to wear on top.
I like to wear a tank-top as my bottom layer just in case there’s a tarmac delay without air circulation. A warm packable jacket, good socks, and a beanie are always helpful to pack in case your flight does end up being surprisingly cold, especially on those early morning flights.
10. Move on Your Layovers
Layovers are a great time to stretch, walk around, and do anything but sit to counteract all those hours on the plane. Be sure to locate your next gate and check to confirm your flight is on time before you take a stroll. You can keep an eye on your flight status on monitors located throughout the airport as you walk around. Believe it or not, some airports have indoor gardens, art displays, massage chairs, yoga rooms, and even movie theaters. Explore the airport to get your steps in. Your body will thank you later.