10 Steps to Travel Stress Free by Air

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10 ways to fly stress free

Here are 10 easy-to-follow recommendations to make your next air travel more comfortable and stress-free:

1. Pack the day before

Pack the day before for a restful piece of mind. Packing at the last minute or on the day of your travel is stressful and you’re more prone to forgetting something. On the day of travel, you have to pack only last-minute or additional items. Make sure your suitcase is in good condition as it will have to endure quite a lot of beating on its journey. Hard-shell suitcases tend to protect your belongings better than duffle bags which can get squashed. The hard shells, however, weigh more than soft-side suitcases.

2. Put essentials in a carry-on

Travel documents including passports and IDs, personal small electronics, medications, even an extra sweater, pair of socks, underwear, toothbrush, small deodorant, and tissues are some of the essentials you need to have during your flight. Remember, any valuables also have to go with you and not in your checked-in luggage. Make sure you carry with you only items allowed to be on board or you risk them being confiscated at security checkpoints.

3. Early Check-in

Early check-in is a stress-free way to start your journey. It also allows you to check your travel reservation prior to your flight for any last-minute changes that the airline missed telling you.

Major airlines will allow you to check in online 24 hours prior to your flight. They’d even send you a reminder. So go ahead and take advantage of this opportunity. Checking in online will make your pre-boarding experience more enjoyable. You don’t have to wait in line to check in at the airport, especially so, if you travel light on a domestic flight with your carry-on only.

Traveling on an international flight will also allow you for an early check-in. During this process see if you can enter as much information as you can in your reservation such as passport and visa information, emergency contact phone number, and an email address where prompted or required. Entering some of that information in advance will speed up your personal identification verification which is required for international travel.

Don’t worry if you have to check in bags for the international flight. During the online check-in specify how many bags you want to check in where prompted. On the next day at the airport just go to the airline checking-in counter and inquire about the bags drop-off location. Established international airlines have adopted this process. Make sure you take your luggage stabs from the airport staff who checks your bags in. They are the only proof you have to claim your bags in case of being delayed or lost.

During the online check-in, you may be prompted to pay for any additional services such as extra bags, meal choices, seat reservations, etc. Don’t forget to print and save receipts for every payment for a service you pay. Carry the printouts in your carry-on. In case of any disputes over services you paid for, you’ll have proof handy.

Last but not least, you can opt-in for your boarding pass to be emailed, sent via text message, or printed. Have your boarding pass in digital form.  But carry a printed copy of it with you. In the case of a mobile device failure, you will always have a printed copy to show. 

4. Get snacks. Research what food to get on board. 

Airlines stopped offering free food on U.S. domestic flights long ago, and some of these flights can last from 3 to 5 hours. If you are not into airline food for purchase, your personal preference for snacks will be your hunger quench. You can either buy snacks in advance or on the day of travel at the airport. Remember, airport prices are steep.

On transcontinental flights which often exceed 8 hours and last up to 13 to 14 hours the airline provides at least one full meal and a snack, including free drinks. If you have dietary restrictions, visit the airline website prior to your travel, open your booking, and look for the options to specify what meal you’d like to be served. Make sure you do that at least several days before your flight. Full-service airlines are good at offering a variety of options to choose from such as vegetarian or vegan food or kosher meals. Of course, you can always call the airline the old fashion way and request a special meal.

5. Drinks: Do’s and Dont’s

Coffee: You should know that drinking coffee keeps you dehydrated and not able to sleep. So coffee should be fine on short, up to several hours flights. However, if you’re flying for 10 hours straight – definitely not. Drinking any decaffeinated or herbal tea is better.

Water vs. Soft Drinks (Sodas): Drinking plain water is always best. It will keep you hydrated at all times. Fruit juice with moderate content of sugar is also recommended. On the other hand, sodas are very popular among all ages. Remember, it may contain high fructose corn syrup and lots of sugar. Thus, avoid sodas, if you can on a long-haul flight as too much sugar may keep you away from sleep.

Alcohol: Keep it in moderation and don’t abuse it on board. And even though some people like to have a glass of wine to make them fall asleep, alcohol acts as a stimulant and can keep you awake for the first few hours of consumption. Alcohol also exacerbates the dehydration you’re probably already experiencing. Drink too much of it and you can become a nuisance for the rest of the passengers. If you become rowdy and out of control you can be arrested by law enforcement agencies upon arrival if the cabin crew deems it necessary.

6. What to wear?: Dress in comfortable clothes

If you’re going on a business trip, for example, and don’t have time to change, wear what’s appropriate for the occasion. Otherwise, wear comfortable clothes that cover your body. Even though we have seen these vacationers wearing flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirts, it is always wise to weather long-sleeved tops and jeans as the temperature in the cabin may get chilly. The best approach is to wear layers of clothing that you can take off, if hot, and put back on, if cold. Also, you’ll need good shoes if you’re to evacuate in case of an emergency.

7. The neck pillow

It is essential to have a neck pillow to give you the neck support you need while sleeping. We recommend a neck pillow with memory foam. It proves to be truly comfortable and helps you feel better during naps.

8. Use a pillow for back support

When you’re exposed to prolonged seating on long-haul flights you can start feeling back and neck discomfort as seats may not be as comfortable. To avoid getting your back sore use a little pillow to put behind your lower back. You’ll definitely feel much better at the end of your trip. Pillows is provided on long-haul flights in economy class. You may be asked to pay for a pillow if flying domestically.

9. Entertainment: Electronics on-board

On their website, airlines will tell you what entertainment to expect during your flight. Whether you travel domestically or internationally taking your personal entertainment devices is a wise idea. On domestic flights, entertainment may be offered at a fee. On international flights, you have a choice of a variety of entertainment programming regardless of your cabin class as such services are now standard in the industry. But just in case, you want to watch your favorite movie or listen to some music that you like, it is when your own device comes into use.

Make sure all of your electronics are fully charged and bring an external power battery that can help you when you run out of juice.

Entertaining on-board is now your own business

10. Where to seat?

Seating at certain places in the cabin can have some advantages and disadvantages:

  • Seating by the window will give you the nice support for your sleep and you’ll not be disturbed by your neighbors when they want to get up and stretch. But if you want to get up the passengers in the two seats next to you have to give way. Also, the window seat tends to be colder due to the ventilation set up in the cabin. 
  • Seating close to or over the winds will give you less jolt in case of turbulence.
  • Seating by the bulkhead (divider walls in the cabin) can give you more legroom. Be aware of the possibility to be seated next to a crying baby as the bulkhead rows are where they are.

How to find the best airline seat in 5 steps?

The seat belt:

Let’s be honest. You have to buckle up at all times while seated and when instructed by cabin crew or illuminated signs. Unexpected turbulence can hit the plane at any time. Guess what? A plane can drop thousands of meters in a matter of seconds and having your belt on you will prevent you from being thrown up in the air in the cabin. A JetBlue Airlines flight experienced severe turbulence in August of 2016 en route from Boston, IL to Sacramento, CA when 24 passengers ended up in a hospital. According to a CNN report a passenger on that flight said that “a woman sitting in front of him rose 2 feet into the air in the cabin at one point because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt”.

Follow Ian Powers:

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Ian Powers is a travel blogger and nature enthusiast. Ian has over 20 years of aviation travel experience.

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