Gone are the days when air travel was a fun part of the experience of travel. These days, not only is flying no-frills, it’s minimalistic nature leads to stress, frustration and dreading the medium that gets you to your destination.
These tips will help you preserve your sanity.
Murphy’s law still holds true most of the time. When booking, avoid large airports when you can, as they often have more diversions. Don’t trust machines. For your peace of mind, print a copy of every document you receive starting from the day you book your fly. Check for flight delays or cancellations before you leave, and leave early—taking rush hour and traffic into account. Don’t show up to the counter with a daunting task (like seat changes for a party of five or rearranging your overweight check-in). Take care of these issues the night before.
Wear the Right Thing.
No matter how comfortable, skip the pajamas. Think about how much more comfortable you’ll be if you’re upgraded to Business or First Class (employees at the counter look for “smart”-dressed people to upgrade). Remember that no matter how warm the weather, it’s cold at 35,000 feet. Bringing a hoodie along can serve as both a blanket and a way to keep the sun (or reading light) out of your eyes. Bonus: pack clothing items you can recycle. A travel item that has multiple uses is worth its weight in gold.
Don’t be the person holding up the already-dreadful security line. Laces are the enemy. Wear slip-on shoes. Have your laptop in your. Keep your carry-ons small and light. Also, keep in mind that the best line is not necessarily the shortest one. Try the checkpoint farthest to the left. Research shows that most people are right-handed and tend to fill up queues to the right. Avoid lines with small children, unconventional luggage (which will probably be inspected) and anyone who looks like they haven’t been in an airport in the past decade (You’ll see them. They look confused).
Fake it Like First
While on long-haul flights it may be worth it to splurge on Business or First Class, the same can’t be said for a three-hour flight from New York to Miami. Book your seats ASAP, but don’t do so without checking the seat maps on sites like SeatGuru and SeatMaestro. The closer to the front you sit, the more premium your seat will feel, and you may even score a spot by a coveted power outlet, more legroom or simply away from a funky-smelling restroom. Long layover? Buy a one-day pass to the airlines’ exclusive lounges, which usually run about $50. Bonus: airport massages are worth every penny.
Bring Your Own Water
But you can’t bring a water bottle through security, right? Wrong. To avoid dehydration and paying $5 after the security checkpoint, bring an empty bottle with you and find a water fountain close to your gate. Bonus: make your own cocktails on the plane! Just make sure the bottles of alcohol as less than 3.4 ounces and strategically placed in a clear bag.
During the chaos of travel, it can be easy to miss a meal. But, you’ll be considerably less cranky if you’re stomach isn’t crying out in hunger pains. Plane food is never so good, so eat a solid meal prior to leaving for the airport, and bring healthful snacks (think trail mix, smoked fish) in-flight. You’ll have more brain power to deal with anything Murphy throws at you.
Beat the Fear
Does flying make you anxious? When pilots come on the intercom to disclose a bit of bumps, they’re usually over with before he’s done making the announcement. Still bumpy? Stare at your water instead of the seatback in front of you. As the water barely sloshes around, you’ll realize that a train ride on the Metro North is much worse. Prone to motion sickness? Fly in the morning or sit by the wing. You won’t feel the bumps as much.
Hear No Evil.
Never get on a plane without earplugs, lest you’ll hear the ubiquitous crying babies, couples arguing, businessmen talking business, the rap music (or whichever genre you consider torture) blaring from your neighbor’s headphones and flight attendants gossiping. Noise-cancelling headphones are never cheap, but work wonders.