While we all love going on vacation, facing the airport and sometimes a long flight ahead can be stressful. Lines upon lines, slow people, fast people, people breaking the rules, people following the rules to a T, delays, cancellations and extra charges – it all adds up. It is enough to persuade some people to shy away from air travel and stay close. Literally, I know people who do not fly because of the stress and choose to spend their vacation within driving distance of their home. That is swell for them, staycations are great too, but what about those of us who need to get away – faaaaaar away?
I fall in to that category. Do you? I’ve got you covered, then. After flying domestically and international multiple times a year over the past few years Mike and I have discovered there are a few tricks and tips – travel hacks if you will – that have saved us time, head aches, discomfort and dirty looks from others!
You will notice that half of these travel hacks happen prior to leaving your house. This means that your planning and preparation will lead to a better travel day. You will be cool, calm and collected knowing that you are prepared.
Before You Leave Your House:
Pack your toiletries at the top of your carry-on bag. This way, they are easily accessible when you get to the bag scanners. If you are the person digging around or unpacking your entire suitcase to place your toiletries in a bin at the security check point I will give you a dirty look. I promise. I recommend packing your toiletries in your carry-on for a two reasons. One, it is nice to be able to freshen up some after a long flight. And two, worst case scenario and your flight is delayed or cancelled and you find yourself at the airport over night, you know have your deodorant, tooth brush, contact solution, etc. Having even some of your most necessary toiletries can make travel day snafus much better.
Dress comfortably and always wear slide on/off shoes. I do not care if it’s cold outside, wear shoes that you can take on and off without a shoe horn or lacing up a million times. Again, dirty looks will happen if you are that person holding up the security line because you just had to wear those thigh-high, lace-up boots.
Find the most obnoxious ribbon and tie a big bow on your suitcase. I have black luggage. I am just not a flashy girl, so the idea of buying hot pink bags is not appealing to me. But, my Plain Jane suitcase does have a big red bow on it. There is no mistaking it.
Pack a sweatshirt. Even if your final destination is warm, your sweater or hoodie or fleece or whatever you pack can keep you warm on a cold flight or pull double duty and act as a pillow. Being “comfortable” always helps me feel relaxed. If I am cold, or hot, I get aggravated easily. Be prepared for cold temperatures on flights and in the airport.
Pack protein bars, trail mix and a few pieces of fruit (if you are flying domestically). There is nothing worse than me getting hungry while stressed. It is not pretty. If you know the meaning of “hangry” you will be glad you packed some snacks in your bag before you left. So, save yourself the money, and calories, and pack yourself some healthy snacks before you leave your house.
At the Airport:
Pull up your boarding pass on your smart phone. Do not waste a piece of paper or risk forgetting your boarding flight on your kitchen counter. Instead, download your air carrier’s app and keep your boarding pass handy. It’s fast and efficient and so 2015!
Blow up your inflatable neck pillow. If you did not like #5, or you just really love your neck pillow, this one is for you. Invest in an inflatable version. These babies will save room in your bags because you can deflate them upon arrival. However, blow up your pillow while waiting for your flight. Do not wait until you are stupid close to your neighbor while sitting on the plane. I feel like a dirty look is warranted here too if you sit there huffing and puffing in my ear for ten minutes while you blow up your pillow. Sorry.
No I am not. It’s the truth.
Offer to get bumped. Michael and I have received flight vouchers because we voluntarily give up our seat on our scheduled flight, hang out at the airport for a few hours and take a later flight. And hey, because you have your toiletries packed in your carry-on with you, who cares if you have to spend a few more hours at the airport? Be cautious when volunteering to give up your seat. It is not always an option, but if it is – take it! Getting “free” money always brightens my day!
Pay to Get In. If you find yourself at the airport longer because you got bumped and received a voucher, consider paying to get in to lounges and clubs in the terminals that some airlines have for their customers. It is free for those with a certain status with the company. But, did you know you can pay a fee to take advantage of these amenities? If you have a long layover or a flight delay, consider paying to be comfortable. Lounges offer bigger, better, softer chairs, better (sometimes free) food and drink, cleaner bathrooms, and even showers (showers!!). My aim with this post is to help travel days less stressful – this is a very good way to make your travel day better!
On the Plane:
Ask the flight attendant to fill your reusable bottle with water. I know a lot of people say you should do this at the airport, but water fountains skeeve me out! Am I alone here? Plus, you now have saved $3 on a bottle of water in the terminal. You’re welcome.
Use baby wipes to sanitize your seat tray. I am really not a germ-a-phob. I actually cringe when I see people wiping things down. I think to myself “Get over it!” They’re germs. But, I like baby wipes because A.)they take off my make up and keep my face clean and B.) they clean surfaces around me. So, since they are already packed in my carry-on, I live on the wild side and clean my seat tray. And yes, people have given me dirty looks for doing this, but they have also asked to borrow a wipe. So there!
Arriving at Your Destination:
Status does matter when renting a car. If you are renting a car sign up for the company’s preferred, or elite or gold or whatever-they-call-it membership. The perks are worth it. Depending on the company you can bypass other waiting customers in line for fast check-out services, bypass lines altogether and walk straight up to your rental car and have the keys waiting for you in the car, free roadside help and free car upgrades when available.. It makes you feel like a rock star and alleviates waiting in another line when you can walk straight to your rental car and go! Besides, after traveling all day, who wants to wait in yet another line. It pays to have status sometimes!
Traveling can be stressful, but there are ways to save time, headaches, money and dirty looks. Use some of these travel hacks to provide some relief on those long, sometimes tedious and tiresome travel days.