If you’re like me, whenever I confirmed a booking to jet somewhere, the anticipation brings a sense of wonder and excitement, this is especially true for first time travelers, as the moment gets closer, the adventure of a journey stirs the happy feeling inside like endorphins being released electrifying every little veins in your body even the tiny little one’s you never thought exists!
This is all so true as leisure travel helps break the routines and monotony of our daily life, planning and imagining things to do, excitedly anticipating the experience of being in a different land. Seeing and experiencing other culture adds valuable meaning to our existence, experiencing life in a slightly different light. However, before you can board that plane and dance your way into a Hula, you must prepare yourself for the less than exciting part of your travel – but do not fret, if you are prepared and have everything in order (passport, documents, check-in luggage within the required weight limit, allowed carry-on, valuables secured, electronics packed and ready), your airport rendezvous with all its hustle and bustle will be a lot more expedient. As much as we want to be on our way asap and enjoy our destination, this is one part of air travel you are required to comply. It’s no secret that traveling can be stressful, heck! The word traveling alone came from the Old French word :”Travil” meaning to suffer, a painful effort or trouble but that was way back before airplanes, suitcases with wheels, and GPS, when people still travel on muddy roads in cloth covered wagons, horses cross-country and even on their donkeys! With modern conveniences and constant improvements in our airports, we are hopeful that someday, airport hassles will be a thing of the past – maybe soon but until then, It is my hope that in some way, this article helps you with your trip, making your adventure from the airport to your destination go as seamlessly as possible! These useful hints and recommendations are very much worth considering. Continue reading to learn a few useful tips!
Afraid Of Turbulence? Book An Early Flight.
Especially for first time Nervous Nellies (don’t worry, a lot of us was in your shoes once), Early morning flights or red-eye are less prone to turbulence. According to statistics, flights during the early morning or night are less turbulent than day-time flights though It won’t completely remove the possibility of turbulence, studies have shown wind speeds are typically reduced in the early morning and nighttime, Thunderstorms clear up in the early morning plus you have the added benefit of finding cheaper flights, fresher and friendlier crew members PLUS cleaner planes!
On a side note: The New York Times wrote an article about this matter where a pilot had said “The only thing people should fear from turbulence is the possibility of spilling their drink on a flight, so please keep your seat belt fastened, and don’t set your drink on your laptop.” Injuries from a turbulence is often the result of passengers not wearing their seat belts, so keep those seat belts on during the flight, what seem to be an inconvenience to you is the difference between a painful head bump on the overhead bin or being safely strapped in your seat when the surprise turbulence hits.
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Consider Flying Red-Eye
An evening departure but early arrival – would you consider this? Leaving at midnight like Cinderella, then arriving the next morning to your fairy tale destination refreshed and ready to start your grand vacay? I know I would! Often the excitement of a trip for leisure precedes the thought of what can one really do once you arrive – for the most part if you are arriving late at night, the first thing you’ll most likely do after checking-in your hotel is to have dinner (if anything is still open), go for a brief walk, sit and settle in the hotel, or have a night cap, unwind and sleep to get yourself refreshed for the next day.
There are several advantages of a red-eye flight if this is something you are considering – make sure to check the flight schedule carefully, book a late departure and with an early ETA at your destination. Red-Eye flights gives you the benefit of a less crowded airport and a definite quieter flight – since you are leaving at nighttime, everyone’s body clock will most likely tuck everyone to sleep.
Unless this is your very first time flying, you probably already know that you can check-in for your flight 24 hours in advance online. This is particularly convenient especially if you have no luggage to check-in, however, if this is for your grand vacation, I highly doubt you haven’t packed half your closet ha-ha (see my handy dandy packing tip by licking this link: How to pack a suitcase) which will require you to get those luggages’s weighed and dropped-off at the check-in counter.
Why early check-in then if that’s the case? Well… Let’s say you were running really late, If you did not check-in for your flight, it will be assumed that you are a no-show. Your seat will then be released, and likely taken by someone on the wait list. To be honest, I see no reason why someone would not do this very simple process, with all the procedures and security screenings in place in airports just to get to our gate, it just make sense to take-off one simple thing off our to do list when we get to the airport right? It enables a passenger to confirm he/she will be on the correct flight, obtain a boarding pass, possibly select your preferred aisle or window seat!
Checking-in early will also enable you to have your luggage dropped-off quicker as you are already in the system therefore enabling you to head straight to security screening immediately, if you’re traveling with a carry-on luggage only, you can by-pass the check-in desk which more often than not has lines of people zigzagging to smithereens! It will help you get to security screening quicker and have extra time to just chill, relax looking fresh as a daisy while waiting for your plane to start boarding.
Security Check – Get Prepared
There are a few behavioral studies published online that states most people tend to queue to the right because they are right-handed therefore opens a shorter and faster left side queue for check-in and screening, this is a neat tip which I-myself will keenly observe on my next flight although I am not sure if this is scientifically proven or substantiated or just something a bored traveler concocted to kill time and entertain him/herself during a long queue …but why not? If it makes checking-in much speedier! right?
However, my suggestion when going through security is make sure to have everything ready and you are prepared! Make sure to take those electronics out of your bag and put it in a separate bin, remove your shoes and buckled belt but keep your pants on (lol) removing your mobile phone, any coins or metals in your pocket that would cause the security screening machine to make a scandalous fuss! Any liquid container containing more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml will have to be disposed ( so make sure to leave that Costco size bottle of vodka at home)
It will be rare that airport check-ins aren’t so busy or crowded so look for lines with professional or seasoned looking travelers – seasoned travelers know what to do and almost always already prepared even before they reach the security screening and I assure you it will be a much speedier process if you tail these folks. When in doubt, think of Beyonce, “”” To the left, to the left, everything you own, in the box to the left” though there’s not a lot of data backing this information, it doesn’t hurt to turn to the left especially if the right side queue is taking their sweet time.
Inflight Entertainment – Don’t Forget Your Headphones
So you passed security and have already boarded! Congratulations you are almost there! But as we all know getting to our vacation destination can sometimes take hours or the most part of our day – Thank goodness for inflight entertainment to help us pass the hours cooped up in the plane (the “beverages” helps make it relaxing too – one more vodka tonic please””””)
To fully enjoy the array of inflight entertainment, whether movies, music or games, headphones is a must! (any headphones with a 3.5mm jack) Airlines do provide complimentary headphones for you to use – I’d be surprise if they don’t especially for International flights, they are not the best quality but they are good enough for your viewing or listening pleasures.
However, I personally like to bring my own so I can enjoy a fuller richer sound + outside noise cancellation, but also for hygienic purposes especially after all the disconcerting sanitary news about complimentary headphones coming from airline whistle-blowers.
“While they might look brand new, majority of the time the headphones have already been used and are repackaged to make them look fresh. It goes without saying that this is pretty gross, and could lead to the spreading of nasty germs and bacteria – an issue that is under the spotlight more than ever before since the corona virus outbreak. A former cabin crew member wrote “Airlines who provide headphones hardly or even never bother to replace the foamy-like ear parts. “So please always tear them once you use them just to make sure that they will replace them.””” (Source: Quora.com)
Feel Clean & Fresh – Don’t Forget Your Sanitizer & Wet Wipes
Imagine this giant tube with wings that travels across the globe, jetting from continent to continent carrying hundreds of people, travelers like you and me. I am not being a germophobe but as a precaution, it is only natural that the chances of catching a “bug” rises. It is better to be prepared than to have your vacation spoiled by a cold or a relentless snot all together. Make sure to pack travel size sanitizer (available almost anywhere especially after Covid) and wet wipes in your carry-on. Wipe your trays and arm rest with a napkin with sanitizing alcohol to protect yourself and as a courtesy to whomever will be seated on your seat after you.
Imagine being on a 16-hour flight from here to Timbuktu, the flight might be long and grueling, refreshing your self mid-flight and before arrival in the bathroom (brush your teeth as well) can at least help you look less disheveled, smelling fresh and ready to get on with your Vacay!
Bring Your Empty Water Bottle
You often hear people saying “Airport food is so darn expensive”, well they are not wrong – the mark-up on airport food, snacks and water will cost you! Hence, in my article ‘Let’s get you on that first trip” I have written ways to help you save your vacay money instead of blowing a nice chunk of it in the airport!
Make sure to bring enough snacks, seriously whatever you want that can pass through security and whatever you can comfortable stuff in your carry-on without weighing you down ( planters peanuts, chips, sandwiches and protein bars) but more importantly bring your water bottle! Why? Most International airports have filtered water fountain stations, you can fill-up your empty bottle there for free! Imagine vacationing with your family of four, each one buys a bottle of water in the airport which these days are roughly $12… Voila! You just spent $48.00 of your vacay money – a chunk of your budget you could’ve spent for your dinner in Champs Elysee or a delicious light snack in one of the Cicchetteria’s in Venezia! It’s not being cheap but in this day and age, being smart saves you money – money you could use for other awesome and delicious things and for you to fully enjoy your “me” time!