We’ve all seen them: Those people in airports who seem to breeze through security, unpacking and packing their perfectly sized carry-ons and gliding effortlessly to the gate for departure. If your limited experience with flying is often the opposite, you’re not alone. Frequent flyers have a real advantage over the rest of us since they get plenty of practice.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to flying, like preventing jet lag and making sure you board with plenty of time to score space in an overhead bin. But your comfort starts at the airport, and knowing what to pack can be extremely helpful.
Smart packing tips
Your first order of business is to master the art of suitcase-packing. Whether you’re heading on a weekend getaway with only a small bag or a week-long adventure with a lot of luggage, creating a packing strategy by knowing what you’ll need will keep you from digging through your suitcase at the airport looking for a sweater to take on your flight in case it gets chilly. Don’t overpack, but do make sure all your needs will be met.
There are a few things that frequent flyers always bring with them to the airport, and you won’t want to miss out on their advice.
First, please don’t be annoying
No one wants to be the annoying traveler everyone dreads seeing at the airport. You don’t have to go overboard or let anyone walk all over you, but showing others some courtesy will go a long way. Be as prepared as possible when you get to the security line. Read up on the rules and regulations about what you can bring on board and what you can’t. Knowing what not to pack is just as important as knowing what to bring.
Frequent flyers never arrive at the airport without …
… an empty water bottle. Surprised? When experienced, frequent travelers are polled, their number one tip is to bring an empty, reusable bottle of water to the airport. Since liquids aren’t allowed through the security line, you’ll have to fill it after you get through. Your only other options are to pay $8 or more for a bottle of water or wait until beverage service on your flight, risking the dehydration that is so common with air travel.
Hydration: The struggle is real
It’s true, flying dehydrates the body. The air inside the plane is extremely dry, which reduces the moisture in your body. Since your body always loses water during flights, staying on top of your hydration is essential. Packing your own water bottle is the best way to do this — and if you’d like to take it one step further, a light hydrating spray for your face will really help.
While you’re at it, pack a snack
Flying often involves being in the air for standard meal times, and most airlines don’t serve meals on standard flights — or they charge a lot of money for mediocre food. Plus, you never know when you’ll be hit with a lengthy flight delay. Pack a few snacks to ensure you don’t starve or spend way too much on airport food because you’re “hangry.”
Other must-haves for flights
According to frequent flyers, there are a few other must-haves when you’re flying: Hand sanitizer (because you touch all kinds of surfaces and you never know when you’ll be able to wash your hands next), brightly colored luggage tags, and noise-canceling headphones all come highly recommended. Just think about what you need to be comfortable and entertained (a pillow, a good book, etc.) and go from there.
What not to bring
It’s entirely too easy to overpack for a trip, and that includes cramming your carry-on full of useless things you won’t end up needing. Among them, frequent travelers claim that too many pairs of shoes (and too many outfits), more than one book, full-size pillows, and sleeping bags (yes, this has happened) top the list. Pack what you need, but keep it simple — you don’t want to be responsible for too much on your trip.
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