From toddlers shrieking across the aisles to cramped so-called seats, we all know that the worst part of traveling is the traveling. But that five AM scramble through security and ensuing flight does not have to be as exacting as most endure. For a calm and breezy arrival, here are some tips for making a flight less stressful.
Summer brings cloudless days but also a season of thunderstorms. While bitter weather is one culprit behind delayed or cancelled flights, the resurgence of airport travelers combined with staffing shortages makes this summer’s flight trends even more complicated. As individuals monitor Covid cases and start returning to forgotten travel plans, airlines are having difficulty managing these concurrent factors.
One way to decrease the probability your flight will get delayed is by booking an earlier flight in the day–or at the very least, avoiding the very last flight your airline offers. More often than not, thunderstorms occur in the afternoon or early evening. Booking an 8 AM flight may force you to get up earlier, but may also help you avoid the worst weather of the day. Additionally, when an airline delays one flight, the following flights may be pushed back as well, as gates tend to board one flight at a time.
Sometimes, even when you have booked an ideal flight, your plans may still be derailed. A few hours before you leave for the airport, check the status of your flight to see if your airline has already announced a delay. Check the weather for the hours right before and during your flight as well.
If you are a frequent flyer or your budget allows, try to book a back-up ticket that can either be used as at a later date or converted to miles. Another option is to purchase flight insurance when you book your flight.
Taking the time to complete the check-in process the night before on your phone can make your airport experience much smoother. If you’re not checking a bag, you can go right to security once you arrive at the airport, skipping the ticket counter line.
Instead of rushing through security and arriving to your gate minutes before boarding begins, plan to arrive at the airport early–ideally two hours before departure for domestic flights and three hours before departure for international flights. By arriving ahead of time, you give yourself space to decompress before take-off. Send some last minute emails or scope out the food court as you wait for your flight to be announced. Plus, if something does go awry (perhaps you overpacked yet again) padding extra hours into your schedule can save you from missing your flight.
The classic comedic bit pokes fun at the poor quality of airplane food. And while the rare airline offers a carefully constructed meal, for the most part, comedians have it right. To avoid inedible airline food, try to plane out your meals ahead of time.
While security does not allow travelers to bring liquids exceeding roughly three ounces, surprisingly, bringing food through security is allowed. To avoid overpriced airport food, pack nonperishable items in your bag (think granola bars, nuts, pb&j). But if you run out of time in morning as you get ready to leave, most airports do have dining options that outshine any airline food. Try to eat before boarding as airplane seats and tray tables do not afford much comfortability.
One of the best tips for making a flight less stressful is to pack items that will make your plane ride more bearable. Even before Covid, airplanes were petri dishes for germs and a hotspot for catching colds. Pack a high-quality mask if you have access to one (preferably an N95 or KN95) to avoid having your trip spoiled by Covid or the flu. In line with fighting illnesses, bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down your armrest and tray table.
Plane air seems to fluctuate–either approaching too stuffy or frigid. Pack a hoodie or cardigan that you can pull on or off depending on the plane’s temperature. Another item designed for making a flight less stressful is a travel pillow. Adding that extra layer of cushioning really makes a difference when the alternative is resting your head on the side of the window or toward the aisle.
Finally, make sure to have downloaded media on hand–whether that be podcasts, Netflix shows or Kindle books. Before you board, put your phone on airplane mode and check if you can access the media.
After a flight, many experience new breakouts or dry skin. Staying hydrated can combat skin fluctuations and keep your skin appearing hydrated. Additionally, staying hydrated can help you feel more energized when your plane lands and may help you avoid getting sick.
While it is easier said than done, falling a sleep during a plane ride is one of the most effective tricks for making a flight less stressful. Cooler temperatures often aid sleep, so try to avoid bundling up in layers. Seeing the light from your phone and laptop can also make it more difficult to fall asleep, so power off your electronics when you rest your eyes. If you can, lean your set backwards and sit your arms on the armrest.
Assuming that you will have the energy to cross off a day’s worth of activities once you land is likely unrealistic. Flights are tiring and the process that follows your arrival (locating your checked bag, traveling to your lodging, checking in, unpacking) do not make travel days any more enjoyable.
Prepare for the majority of your day to consist of traveling. If you do want to plan for some evening activities, try to think of ones that are less draining–getting dinner with friends or recharging by the pool.
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