A Guide to Stress-Free Flying

travel gearIt wasn’t so very long ago that I professed my love for flying. That deep-seeded desire to get on a plane has been waning a bit as of late, but I still take several steps to make sure that when I fly, it’s as easy as possible. Here are my surefire tips to ensure my flight—wherever it’s headed and for whatever length of time—is a simple hop from here to there:

> Always travel with a carry on and nothing more. – Unless it is a very unusual circumstance, I do not check a bag. I like to be in control of my luggage at all times and not have to think about grabbing anything from the baggage carousel before leaving the airport. I just want to get on my way! In all seriousness, though, I’ve had things stolen from checked luggage and suitcases that never showed up at their final destinations. I’d rather be in charge than leave my life in luggage in someone else’s hands. There is only one occasion in which I will check luggage and that is if I am bringing home bottles of wine or beer.

> Keep liquids together. – Confession: I have yet to pull any liquids from my bag when going through security despite requests to do so, but I do keep them all under three ounces and in one location, should I ever need to actually remove liquids while I go through security.

> Print boarding passes at home. – With no checked luggage and boarding passes in hand, it is so incredibly easy to just get to the airport and head toward the security checkpoint. There’s no need to stand in the long check-in line, checking my watch incessantly just to make sure I’m going to make my flight on time. I also make sure I’ve chosen my seats prior to printing my boarding passes so there is no guessing game there either. And, yes, I print my boarding passes. I have used the mobile app tickets before, but this assumes I’ll be able to pull the boarding passes up when I need them and my phone will still have battery power when I need them. Not worth the stress, so I go with the classic paper tickets.

> Pack snacks. – Long flights, delays and layovers happen. Being hungry doesn’t have to happen. I try to eat relatively healthily when I travel, so if I have a layover over a mealtime, I find a place to sit down and eat a legitimate meal. I don’t buy food on airplanes, though, and if I’m between meals, a snack suffices. I’m always prepared with a variety of snacks—sweet and salty, crunchy and soft. I never know what I’ll be in the mood for, so I carry several snacks and a reusable bottle of water (which I empty prior to going through security).

> Arrive at the gate with a little bit of time to spare, but not too much. – I don’t get to the airport two hours early. That just prolongs an already excruciatingly long travel period. But I also don’t come running up to the gate at the last minute. If I have a long airport layover, I make the most of my time so it doesn’t drag by.

> Stick with the time zone. – I take my cues from the sun, and this means that sometimes I’m awake when I’d rather be sleeping and I force myself to sleep when it feels like the middle of the day. Jet lag is no fun, so I avoid it at all costs. That also helps me keep my head clear so I’m not stressed out during the travel process.

> Carry comforting music. – When I am stressed out, I just put my ear buds in and turn on a mix of soothing music that lasts several hours. Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever hit the end of this playlist, so I just let it take me away for as long as I need to calm down.

4 Responses to “A Guide to Stress-Free Flying”

  1. Alouise

    I only travel with carry-on luggage as well. It amazes me how much stuff I used to think I’d need to have when I was traveling, and now if it can’t fit in my carry-on then I don’t bring it. Saves time, money, and stress.

    • JoAnna

      Admittedly, there have been a few times when I definitely wish I’d brought something and I didn’t, all because I only had a carry on. Luckily those times are few and far between.

  2. Trisha Miller

    Great tips, JoAnna! On the rare occasions that I know I’ll have to check a bag, I still take a small rolling carryon bag with a change of clothes and whatever else I need that isn’t easily replaced when I get to where I’m going. And I totally agree with you on the paper boarding passes – I was using the mobile passes until I ran into a gate agent that insisted I couldn’t use it, and she actually made me go print one before letting me board! Yes, I complained (loudly), but until they are more widely (and reliably) in use I’ll stick with the paper, too!

    • JoAnna

      Yikes! Your experience with the mobile boarding pass is exactly the kind of thing that makes me a little leery of that process still. I know people who haven’t been able to pull them up when they needed them, and that’s just an added layer of stress I’m not interested in having!


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