Whether you’re getting ready to study abroad or gearing up for an international volunteer trip, air travel these days can be somewhat of a science. If you don’t frequent airports, airline policies and airport procedures can be downright overwhelming and confusing. Read on to find out the best tips for air travel so you can learn how to survive airports, breeze through airport security, and say goodbye to stress while traveling by air.
1. Pack your own snacks! Who says you have to pay $14 for a turkey sandwich that was made the day before? You’re not just limited to taking junk food, either. A few snacks that will keep your hunger in check, and can be easily popped into your carry-on bag, include beef jerky, protein bars, almonds, and apples.
2. Bring instant coffee in your bag and ask for hot water at a restaurant…huge money saver!
3. Speaking of saving money, if you like perusing glossy magazines while you wait to board, buy them from a grocery store beforehand.
4. Use packing cubes to your advantage. Not only will it take up less space, but it’ll organize your clothes and maximize the small space you have in your carry-on.
5. Pack small items (such as bobby pins) in empty Tic Tac containers to keep them organized and easily accessible.
6. With every flight, remember there is a chance that you will need to check your carry-on bag at the last minute due to insufficient space. Always keep your most important personal items, such as money and your mobile phone, in a smaller bag separate from your carry-on in case your carry-on needs to be placed in the hold.
7. Always use a carry-on with wheels. Air travel is tiring, and it’s not fun to carry a duffel bag or a backpack across enormous airports.
8. Have your passport and airline ticket on hand before approaching security. Fumbling through bags for these items will only fluster you and annoy those waiting behind you.
9. Bring your own water bottle and fill it up after you pass through security. Remember the liquids rule: you are only allowed to take containers of three ounces, or 100 millimeters, through security screening. More than that and your bottle will get binned.
10. If you have medications that don’t fit the standard carry-on rules, such as insulin or an epi-pen, be sure to declare them at the security check-in to avoid problems; this means you need to take them out of your bag and place them in a bin. You should pack prescribed medications in their original packaging and have a note from your doctor detailing their necessity.
11. Keep your plastic baggie with your liquids and laptop easily accessible so you don’t have to dig for them during long lines at security.
12. Loosely pack and organize your carry-on to avoid delays during security. If security officers can’t tell what’s in your bag, they might pull you aside to inspect it.
13. Pack your jewelry and put it on after going through security. You don’t want to waste unnecessary time with extra checks, or with taking off all of your jewelry to walk through the body scanner, only to have to put it all back on again on the other side.
14. It is always a good idea to wear easy slip-off shoes so you can breeze through security.
15. There’s no need to rush to the gate as soon as they start boarding your flight. Your seat isn’t going anywhere, and they usually board 20 to 30 minutes before takeoff. Don’t head to your gate too late though; once they close that boarding gate there is no getting past it.
16. Gates can change quickly, so keep abreast of your flight by checking the monitors frequently and never hesitate to ask airline workers for guidance and information.
17. Bring hand lotion and lip balm to compensate for dry airplane cabins
18. Wear as many layers as you can so you have more space in your bag and stay warm in cold plane cabins. A balled up jacket also makes a decent pillow, if your airline doesn’t provide one onboard.
19. You can also bring your own neck pillow to support your head in your small space and for more comfortable napping during air travel
20. For longer flights, wear compression socks to avoid uncomfortable blood clots and swollen legs (this can be one of the most important air travel tips of all).
21. Noise canceling earphones will be your best friend in case of a crying baby on board, or just loud flight mates.
22. Keep up-to-date with the weather and policies at the airports you’ll be flying to and from, as well as through. Be prepared to know what time you need to be there as well as any changes with TSA requirements to avoid pre-boarding delays.
23. Be patient, kind, and considerate with the flight crew and airport workers. Flying can be a stressful time for everyone, and they deal with people at their worst on a daily basis. Don’t be that person!
24. Don’t be afraid to chat with your flight mates! You never know who you’ll meet and chatting with others can make the flight go faster and even more enjoyable.
25. Always have some cash and reliable credit cards to be prepared for whatever occasion presents itself during your air travel.
26. Check in online and have your boarding pass on your phone. Airlines tend to have lower checked bag prices and you can typically go straight to the security line if you’ve got your boarding pass. Having it ready on your phone helps to avoid losing it and saves paper.
Now that you are all set with the best air travel tips there are, it is time to book your flight and go abroad!