There are many types of transportation offered in this futuristic world that we live in today and one that most people know very well, is airplane travel. The whole process can be one of stress, frustration, fatigue and really pushing our bodies to the limit. Nevertheless, if there were small things that you can do ahead of time to make your upcoming trip a little bit smoother, would you do it? From my experiences of airplane travel, I have composed a small list of not your average airplane travel tips that you might want to consider before breaking out of your comfort zone.
If you have the option to pass on a layover while booking your ticket, I would recommend you do so if the cost involved is not much higher than the cost with a layover. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about experiencing all that an airport has to offer, two or three times during your trip and you decrease your risk of checked baggage being lost during transit. Of course, this can’t always be avoided and sooner or later you will have a layover, in some random city before reaching your final destination.
One thing I recommend while booking your ticket is consider the layover times between your trips. You might think an hour will be enough time because you don’t want to be sitting around the airport wasting minutes until your next flight takes off. Yet, that is only if the plane isn’t late, the lines at border control and your second security check are small, you don’t have to recheck your bags, your gate for next flight is in the same terminal and many other things that play into factor here. Most of this has to do with international flights, but even when flying domestically, only an hour, sometimes even two, can be pretty stressful.
On the contrary, long delays up to 8 hours or more, can be just as bad. You might not be stressed out, but you will be bored out of your mind waiting for your next flight and you can never really get “good peaceful sleep” in an airport. I know sometimes by doing so, you can save hundreds of dollars by spending the night in the airport, which I am all for, however if it’s for only $50 more, why not just pay the money and have a direct flight or shortened layover time. You could pay that much money just in food and drinks in the airport while waiting for you next flight.
So if you can, try to keep your layovers as short as possible but always giving yourself enough time to arrive at your next departure gate stress free.
Pick Seats near the Back
On my last six airplane rides, every time that I picked a seat near the back, I just happen to have an extra empty seat next to me. On a few of the trips, I had a whole row to myself and was able to lay down, which is wonderful if you have a long flight. I know a lot of people don’t like to sit in the back because it takes longer to get off the plane when it lands, and this is exactly why there are almost always extra seats leftover. Now of course this doesn’t always happen and it really depends on the city that you’re traveling to, but it’s always a chance that I like to take.
Some of the other perks of sitting in the back are, the flight attendants are much closer if you need anything, the bathrooms are closer, sometimes extra overhead storage space which can free up your leg room and if you have an extra seat it means extra blankets and pillows.
On the contrary, some of the disadvantages of having a seat in the back are since the bathrooms are closer, sometimes you can be bothered by a small line that starts to appear. Also, during their drink and meal service, you have to wait a little bit longer to be served and sometimes they run out of one of the choices that might be available when it comes to the meals.
It’s not really any faster to sit closer to the front and what are a few more minutes of delay or hunger when you get to spend several hours of your plane ride in a comfortable state.
Airport security is probably one of the worst, if not the worst experience one must have to go through before being allowed to access the passenger terminals. They touch you, strip you of your privacy, sometimes humiliate you and really dehumanize you in a lot of ways. Although unfortunately if you want to travel by plane, there really is no way around it and we all have to go through it to some degree.
Something that I have noticed during my past experiences, is if you have a lot of electrical equipment in your carry-on luggage, such as cameras, phones, laptops, tablets, etc. it could possibly delay you while going through airport security. You always have to pull laptops out of your bag and put them in a separate bin, easy enough and most people know this already.
However, some airports make you pull out all of your electrical equipment and place them in a separate bin. I have even seen them go as far as pulling out all chargers, power cords, AV cords and basically anything that needs power to operate. So if have a lot of electrical equipment this can be quite time consuming because after you drag it all out, remember you have to put it all back again once you pass through.
If you can, try to limit your electrical equipment and prioritize things that you might actually need. I know it can be quite hard sometimes because of the risk of being stolen out of your checked luggage, but if it can be put into your checked luggage, I would recommend that you do so. You can consider putting the small inexpensive things mentioned before, in your checked luggage if you don’t plan on using them throughout your flight. Who really wants to steal a power cord anyway?
Note: If you plan on packing an electrical converter, I recommend that you put it in the suitcase you are going to check and not your carry-on. Sometimes airport security will delay you because it shows up on the scanner and they want to go through your bag to figure out what it is. I did this twice and every time they pulled me to the side to check me. If you would like more details on electrical converters and what they are, check out my post “My Best Ten International Travel Tips and Tricks” for more details.
Bring a Water Bottle
A common problem that people face while traveling is dehydration. Whether this is from not wanting to pay the extremely high prices in the airport, the tiny portions during the complimentary drink service within the flight or forgetting to keep hydrated within all the stress of the hussle and bustle. There’s even a lot of people that purposely don’t consume any fluids because they don’t want to use the bathroom on the plane or in the airport, which is understandable because some of the bathrooms can be kind of gross. Whatever the reason might be, the fact is that we need to stay hydrated and one thing I recommend is bringing a water bottle with you. Now of course you can’t bring your water bottle through airport security containing liquids, but you can still send the empty bottle through the scanners without any problems. Afterwards, you can find a drinking fountain and fill your bottle back up for free and avoid the outrageous prices of bottled drinks.
I have even noticed that more and more airports are offering the bottle refilling station as you can see in the picture, which is a nice complimentary service for passengers. You can even ask the flight attendants to refill your bottle within the flight if you just happen to run out. Why burn more holes in your pockets or force yourself into the thirsty desert camel syndrome? Keep hydrated, save a little bit of money, bring your own bottle and if it’s a disposable one you can always throw it out after the flight.
One thing people don’t always think about is bringing a light jacket with them during the flight. Sure you might be leaving from a hot tropical destination and have no need for a jacket, but remember you will be at an altitude of 35,000 ft. (10,668 M) midflight with vents constantly blowing AC and it doesn’t matter how sunny it is, there is a big chance you will probably get cold.
Not to mention that airports are usually always cold as well due to the high output of AC and long waiting times of sitting around. Not every flight offers blankets, so it’s always better to be prepared rather than freezing. Besides, if it turns out that you didn’t need it, you can always use it as a pillow.
If we actually start to think about this one, it’s not really free because you paid for it within the price of ticket, but it’s being offered to you so why not take it? Now every airline is different and it just depends on if you’re flying internationally or domestically. I have been on flights that offer you nothing except a taste of a cold beverage, to everything from headphones, several meals, snacks, drinks, pillows, blankets, earplugs, eye covers and complimentary alcoholic beverages. Whatever is being offered to you, take it, because you just might not know when you will actually find a use for the item.
Maybe you lose or break your expensive headphones during your trip, but you just remembered “hey! I’ve got some cheap, not so great headphones that I can use for the time being.” You could always can give them to somebody that doesn’t have any at all.
Or maybe you just spend the whole day traveling, in trains, planes and automobiles feeling exhausted and groaning from hunger, but all you want to do is crash once your head reaches the pillow, and then you remember, “Hey! I’ve got a little cookie that I hoarded away during my flight to cleanse my palate.” Or you have a layover and want to save some money by eating your leftover food from the flight before. Whatever the case may be, when preparation meets opportunity, you can be ready for the little inconveniences or potential blessings awaiting you in the future.
Nobody really likes the whole strenuous process involved within airplane travel, but if you can better yourself with the little things that you have control over, you can make your next trip much more enjoyable.
If you have any questions or would like to share any tips that you might have while traveling by airplane, I encourage you to please leave a comment below.
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