Flying can be a stressful experience for anyone… and it’s often the most daunting part of your entire vacation. Whether you’re going through security, trying to make a connection, or just nervous to fly, here are some tips and tricks to make your time at the airport and in the air go smoother!
Before you leave:
- Weigh your bags
Airlines generally have baggage weight limits. It’s a good idea to weigh all of your bags that are going to be checked. You don’t want to pay extra fees or be scrambling to repack at the airport. Leave the stress behind and check their weight in advance. You can find weight limits on your airline’s website.
- Tie a bright colored ribbon on your suitcase
After a long flight, the last thing you want to be doing is searching for your suitcase at baggage… especially if it’s one of the hundred plain black suitcases making their way down the conveyor belt. Tie a bright colored ribbon around each of your suitcase handles. That way when the bags come around, you will immediately know which ones are yours!
- Check in for your flight
As simple as this seems, checking in for your flight and printing boarding passes at home can alleviate some stress. While it’s not necessary (you can absolutely check in at the airport!) this crosses one more thing off the to-do list for the day of the flight.
- Create a checklist
Create a short list of all the essentials you need in order to board your flight. Items could include driver’s license, passport, boarding pass, etc. Check your list the morning of the flight and confirm that you have everything. This will help you stay organized at the airport. (Make sure you don’t put these important identification cards in your checked baggage!)
Going through security:
- Find out what is allowed in your carry-on
Going through TSA screening can be stressful! A lot of travelers aren’t sure what types of products they can bring. Check out the full list on the TSA website by following the link. Here’s a friendly reminder for rules about liquids, gels and aerosols:
-3.4 ounces or less per container
-1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
-1 bag per passenger
- Be prepared
Not sure what to take out of your bag at security? Confused about what articles of clothing need to come off? Can your laptop stay in your bag? Here’s a basic guide that will help your TSA experience go smoother:
-Ensure your pockets are empty. Take out wallet, keys, phone, etc.
-Remove bulky jewelry (leaving on wedding rings or stud earrings is fine!)
-Remove shoes and belts (Note: If you have TSA PreCheck or just get lucky and are sent to expedited screening anyway, you get to leave your shoes on!)
-Remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag
Waiting at the airport:
- Get to the airport early
I personally like to arrive at the airport 2 hours before my flight. That gives me plenty of time to get through security, find my gate and then have a pre-flight beverage while I wait. Leaving extra time ensures a smoother travel day.
- Check your flight schedule
Once you’ve reached your gate, check the schedule for the rest of your connections. Make a note of whether the planes are on schedule and how much time you will have between layovers to make your next flight. Knowing where you’re going will help lower your stress!
- Bring things to do
Whether it’s your favorite book, a crossword puzzle, or a handheld video game, bringing something to do at the airport while you wait for your flight can help lessen the nerves. If you get anxious about flying, focusing on something like a good book can do wonders!
Making your connection:
- Ask for directions when you get off the plane
If you’re trying to make a tight connecting flight, don’t guess which direction to go… ask the nearest airport personnel. The staff manning the desks at each gate will be able to point you in the right direction. You don’t want to start walking the wrong way and waste time turning around.
- Double check that your gate hasn’t changed
Once you’re on the ground and the pilot has allowed passengers to turn on electronics, use this opportunity to confirm your next flight’s gate number. If you’ve been on a plane for many hours, it’s possible that the gate has changed. If you have a smartphone, you’ll find this information on the airline’s website.
- Stay calm
If your flight connection time is tight, try to stay calm. Focus on finding the quickest way to get to your gate because panicking is only going to make it more stressful. If you miss your connection it’s not the end of the world! Find the customer service desk and they will help you get on a different flight.
In the air:
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re on an airplane… especially if you don’t fly very often. But here are some tips to help combat the nerves!
- Try to rest during the flight
Taking a nap can make a long flight fly by (pun intended!), and it can also help you relax. If you’re not tired, just closing your eyes can help with anxiety, especially during takeoff and landing.
- Watch a movie
Too excited to sleep? Many planes come equipped with individual screens, allowing travelers to watch movies or even television while in flight. Watching a good movie will help make the time pass quicker.
- Talk with your neighbor
While some passengers prefer to be left alone, you might sit next to someone who enjoys conversation. I’ve met some of the most interesting people on airplanes! So go ahead and say hello, strike up a conversation and see who you meet. (Plus, chatting with someone can help take your mind off flying!)
- Airplanes are safe
Finally, remember that airplanes are extremely safe! According to The Washington Post, which cited data from Northwestern University, planes are indeed the safest mode of transportation. While it can be scary to fly, just remember that it’s far safer than riding in a car or on a train! So sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight!
Do you want to experience stress-free travel? Join us on a Cruise & Tour vacation! We handle all of the logistics that come with flying so that you can focus on enjoying your vacation!
By Kaitlyn Pidgeon