Hi, name is Jessica and I have a self-diagnosed case of flight anxiety. This may seem strange coming from a travel blogger whose passion in life is to travel as much as possible. But hear me out for a second. It's not the flying itself that is the source of my anxiety - in fact stepping foot on the plane is my favorite part. It's all the other aspects of flying that I worry about.
How on earth do I get to terminal XYZ? Am I at the right gate? Do I have my passport (after checking my bag 154 times)? What if my bag doesn't make it on the plane? Am I going to have enough time to make it through security? And the list goes on and on...
My hubby, bless his heart, is the flight master. When we travel together he handles all aspects of navigating the airport and I literally just follow him around and he always gets us to where we need to be. And while I SO appreciate his guidance in this area of our marriage, I do frequently travel without him and have to figure it all out on my own.
Over the years I've gotten much better at preparing myself in advance so I can eliminate as many variables as possible. Whether it's your first time flying, or you're just an over thinker like me, these 8 tips are designed to help you have a foolproof flight experience from start to finish.
1) Purchase Parking in Advance
If you ask me, parking your car and getting to the actual airport tends to be one of the most stressful parts of the whole experience. And if you're flying out of a larger airport (looking at you O'hare) it can be a multiple step process from bus, to tram, to people mover, etc. before you even step foot in the airport. Save yourself a lot of hassle and purchase your parking in advance. Many airports will have nearby park and ride facilities which allow you to park your car (for a much cheaper rate than the airport) and take their shuttle which drops you off directly at the terminal. You don't have to worry about traffic near the airport and can pay in advance and know you have a guaranteed spot in the lot for the duration of your trip. I would suggest doing your research ahead of time and reading reviews to ensure the facility your parking at is legitimate and safe. As always, never leave any valuables in your car and try to park in a well lit area.
2) Book a Hotel the Night Before Your Flight
When you're traveling on a budget, this may seem like just another added expense. But in my opinion, the amount of stress it eliminates the morning of your trip is SO worth it. We don't live near a major airport so any trip we take typically involves a 1.5 to 3 hour drive just to get to the airport. Making the drive the same day as your flight often requires an extra early wake up call and hoping you don't have to deal with car trouble, bad weather, backed up traffic, etc. By arriving the night before you allow yourself plenty of time and can have a relaxing evening in your hotel with a good night sleep. This is even more important for us when traveling in the winter months as you never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve. Related to tip #1, we often try to find a hotel that offers a park and fly rate which allows you to leave your car at the hotel and take their shuttle.
3) Download the Airline's Mobile App
Technology has come so far in nearly all aspects of Iife, and airlines are no exception. Most all major airlines offer a free mobile app which provides travelers with a number of features to help create a more enjoyable flight experience. With most apps you can check in for your flights, download and store your boarding pass (no more worrying about another piece of paper), get push notifications for gate changes/flight delays, and of course enjoy in-flight entertainment. Some of the apps I've used also provide an interactive map for each airport as well as real-time baggage tracking which gives you peace of mind knowing your suitcase made it on board with you. Just make sure you always download the app on your phone before takeoff as you won't be able to with the plane's wifi.
4) Bring Snacks and a Water Bottle
Don't let the no liquids in your carry on rule fool you. One of the must have items on my packing is always a water bottle. You can take it in your personal bag through security (just make sure it's empty) and then fill in at one of the many water stations available near the gates. You can also avoid paying for an overpriced sandwich or bag of chips by packing your own snacks. Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags.
5) Purchase Travel Insurance
We don't always purchase travel insurance, particularly if we're traveling within the country, but there are certain situations where having insurance can alleviate a lot of added stress. Any time we travel outside the country we purchase insurance mainly for the medical coverage. Many countries require payment in full for services rendered before you can leave which means if something where to happen you would be left owing thousands of dollars in medical bills. Traveling during the winter months or hurricane season could also be a good reason to purchase trip insurance as it covers cancelled flights, evacuation, lost baggage, and much more.
6) Pack Smarter
Losing or having your luggage misplaced is any travelers worst nightmare. While there isn't much you can do to avoid it, there are some steps you can take to prevent it from ruining your entire trip if it does happen. I always try to pack only a carry on whenever possible. Not only does this help save money in checked baggage fees, it also ensures your bags stay with you. However, if this isn't possible and you have to check a bag, always include at least a few outfits and important personal items (medications, etc) in your travel partner's luggage or your personal bag. If you do book a budget flight that doesn't allow overhead bin access and are traveling with someone else, save money by sharing one checked bag.
7) Make Yourself Comfortable
Don't forget to pack the necessities to ensure you are comfortable and have an enjoyable time after boarding the flight. I can't live without my 2-in-1 sleeper scarf designed to discreetly and stylishly transport your inflatable neck pillow while traveling (so it's not dragging all over the dirty airport). When I'm on a long haul flight, I make sure to pack a travel bottle of face spray and lotion as my skin gets really dry. Compression socks can help reduce leg swelling, discomfort, and blood clots on flights longer than 5 hours. Even on short flights I like to pack at least one pair of socks in my personal bag as my feet tend to get cold if I'm traveling in sandals. Be sure to download any podcasts or entertainment you plan to listen to in advance as well.
8) Give Yourself Plenty of Time
This may seem like a no brainer, but far too often people simply don't give themselves enough time to navigate through the airport. As a rule of thumb, arrive two hours in advance for domestic flights and three to four hours in advance for international flights. This may vary depending on the size of the airport you are flying out of but its always a far more enjoyable experience to arrive early and have to kill time at your gate then be running through the airport Home Alone 2 style to catch your flight.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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