I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good flier at this point. This of course, wasn’t always the case. I still remember the very first time I had to catch a plane by myself like it was yesterday…
I made sure to leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare, but I unwittingly didn’t factor into that time rush-hour traffic – or the case of a natural disaster… there happened to be a major earthquake (not in my city thankfully) but it meant the roads were packed and the airport (once I finally arrived) was chaotic due to planes being stranded.
I was in a huge panic as I was yet to check in and drop my suitcase off and my flight was supposed to be leaving in half an hour… oh did I mention it was also a few days before Christmas?
My heart had quite a workout that day.
Because of the earthquake, that did however mean that my flight (thankfully) was quite delayed so I did make it just fine. I’m sure not everyone has had quite a stressful first flight alone as that!
Since then I’ve made the mistake of leaving for the airport too early (four hours is far too much time to kill), so by now I’m pretty sure I’ve got it down pat.
Since flying is on my mind I thought I could share my best tips with you to have a great flight from start to finish.
Before the Airport
For a smooth security experience here are a few tips:
Pack smart. There is nothing worse than being held up because you accidentally packed something in your carry-on luggage you’re not allowed to bring onboard the plane (cough don’t pack scissors cough). Your airline and airport’s website should provide all the information and guidelines you will need online.
Dress smart. When dressing for the day, be wary that things like watches, belts and jackets will need to be removed before going through the scanners. Wear minimal jewellery to avoid setting off the metal detector and choose shoes that are easy to get on and off.
Don’t pack your laptop deep in your carry-on – you will need to remove it efficiently and put it on a separate tray to go through the scanners. If you have to dig through and displace everything in your carry-on you’ll hold up the line and annoy everyone behind you. Fish it out and have it ready in your arms before you get to the tray section.
If you’re one of those people that security guards always pick on, know that if for any reason you’re uncomfortable going through a body scanner it’s your right to ask for a private screening with an agent of the same sex.
It’s a good idea to download your airline’s app and have your ticket on your phone – this way there is zero chance of losing/forgetting it and you have all of the information you need at your fingertips.
Keep your passport in a secure but easily accessible place.
Remember your carry-on essentials. These will vary from person to person, but here are mine:
Cosy socks – the second I get on the plane my shoes come off. (Pro tip: Make sure your shoes/socks/feet don’t smell at all. Otherwise be respectful and keep your shoes on!).
Noise-cancelling headphones – a highly essential item, not only to listen to music or watch movies but to drown out any background noise like the crying baby that’s always only an aisle or two away.
Snacks – in the case where you may not be getting a meal, bring your favourite snacks to get you through. Make sure to have consumed them before entering a foreign country.
Empty water bottle – you can’t take a full water bottle through security, but if you bring an empty one you can fill it up after security so you don’t get ripped off by airline prices.
Entertainment – to alleviate boredom bring things to do to pass the time. I like to download a couple of books on my Kindle app, make sure I have plenty of music and a game or two on my phone. (Also be sure to pack your phone charger).
Something warm – planes get really cold, so even if you’re heading to a warm destination, bring a light sweater or at least a versatile scarf that can keep you warm during your flight.
|One of my favourite airports – Changi in Singapore|
At the Airport
Airports can be chaotic. My best tip here is to keep your head and don’t stress out. Most travellers can say they’ve missed connections or sat at the wrong gate for hours, but at the end of the day, it’s going to take you where you want/need to go eventually! Here are a few airport tips to help get you through:
If you have some time to kill before your flight then walk and move around as much as you can. You are probably about to be seated for hours and hours which is never comfortable, so try to get as much activity in beforehand.
Don’t line up just because everyone else is – flights are usually called in boarding groups. I’m not a big fan of hurrying up just to wait on a cramped plane, so I stay seated/linger nearby until they call my boarding group.
Don’t crowd the luggage return at your final destination. When everyone stands that close to the carousel while waiting for their bag to come out, people whose bags are actually already out can’t grab theirs without throwing elbows. It makes more sense to stand back while you wait and then step forward when you actually spot your bag. Please pass this tip on!
|(Probably) The best plane in the world!|
It’s the final stretch! Once you’re on the plane you’re about as good as gold (unless you have to hurry to make a connection) but there are still steps you can take on the plane to make your flight as comfortable as possible:
Have your things you wish to use during the flight easily accessible. I put everything I might need in the seat pocket in front of me. This will include my phone, headphones, cosy socks, filled water bottle, hand sanitizer, pen, chapstick and gum. This way I won’t have to worry about getting into my bag in the overhead locker.
Kick off your shoes, place on your headphones, get cosy and settle in for a long flight.
Try to time getting up for regular stretches/going to the bathroom before meals are about to be served. This way you will avoid having to dodge the cart and everyone else that goes to the bathroom afterwards.
Typical snack and beverage on an internal Air New Zealand flight
If you are in for a long-haul flight, then don’t forget to also pack your toothbrush and mini toothpaste (some airlines will provide this for you) and some kind of face wipes to help remove any makeup or just to freshen up before sleeping and then once you wake – you will feel so much better for it.
Stay hydrated! It’s easy to go nuts if there’s an open bar onboard, but alcohol will only make you more dehydrated, will make you need to go to the bathroom more, may hinder sleep and leave you feeling more jet-lagged once you arrive. Sure, have a couple if you like, but make sure to match it by drinking plenty of water.
When the plane lands, stay seated. So many times I see the aisle seaters stand up and move into the aisle quick-smart. More often than not, it takes a long time to be able to disembark and now a third of the plane is stuck standing in crowded quarters. You might be excited to get off, but if you stay seated you’ll be more comfortable for longer.
No matter what your airport experience is – don’t let it put a damper on your entire trip!
If you stress about the fact that you missed your connection and arrived 3 hours later, you’re spending time focusing on the negative instead of getting pumped for the adventure to come. Everyone has their own airport battle stories, and earning yours is a rite of passage.
Where is your next trip taking you to? I have a one-way ticket booked to South-East Asia next month and I’m so excited!