When not properly prepared or equipped, a long flight can be a real nightmare. You’re too cold, you’re too dry, you can’t sleep, you don’t feel fresh… I’ve been flying quite a lot these past few years and put together all the travel hacks I use to make my time less painful when up in the air or preparing for a flight. Hope it’s useful for you!
What to bring with you:
- Slip on shoes: you want to be able to remove your shoes and put them back on again whenever you need to go to the bathroom or for a little walk on the plane to stretch your legs.
- A scarf, cape or any versatile piece of cloth: whether you want to use it for your neck, as a blanket or even as a pillow, you always need a scarf to keep you warm on the plane or while waiting for a connecting flight.
- A jacket or a sweater with pockets: pockets will allow you to store whatever you need in easy access, like your earphones, your passport or your lens box.
- A digital copy of your official documents (ID, visa, passport,…): before leaving, upload those documents to Dropbox or any other cloud system. This will allow you to access them from anywhere on the planet, which can come in handy if you lose the originals while abroad.
- A pair of socks: sounds basic, but it might actually change your whole experience. Your cold feet will thank you!
- An extra pair of underwear: unless you can access a lounge in between flights and get a shower, it’ll be complicated to feel fresh while flying to the other side of the world. Changing underwear will help you feel way more comfortable.
- Hand sanitizer: because, you know, germs. Germs everywhere. Who wants to get to their destination with a flu? Not me! Since we’re at it, don’t hesitate to wipe your whole seat clean with that sanitizer.
- Face wipes: even if you’re not wearing any make up, face wipes will help eliminate the toxins accumulated during your trip while giving you that sensation of freshness, perfect before trying to sleep.
- An extra plastic bag: whether it’s to store your used underwear or anything else, you always need a little plastic bag.
- Hand cream and chapstick: you might have noticed that the air in planes is super dry! With just 10% to 20% humidity in the cabin, a long flight will soak hydration out of your body. Extra tip: drink more than usual on the days before leaving.
- Face moisturizer or a moisturizing mask: no explanations needed!
- Melatonin: the main role of melatonin is to inform your organism about the day/night alternation, in order to help it adapt to its environment. Because its secretion starts at dusk and stops at daybreak, melatonin is a biological signal telling your body it’s time to go to sleep. You can now buy melatonin in pharmacy, just make sure to ask your doctor about its use.
- A snack: … Duh!
- Ear plugs & eye mask: to isolate yourself from the outside world and send a clear “do not disturb” message.
- Separation is key: separate essentials (daily medication, ear buds, wipes, sanitizer,…) from potentially essentials (tissues, deodorant, hair ties, toothbrush,…) in two different, preferably clear, pouches.
- My most useful travel hack: Whenever I fly with a checked-in suitcase, I always bring a few essentials with me on the plane. This means, depending on my destination: a swimsuit, underwear, a light dress, shorts, and a pyjama t-shirt. If your suitcase gets lost for a day or two (hopefully not more), you’ll still be able to change and enjoy those 48hours!
Additional travel hacks, because the more I write the more I think of other ones:
- Choosing your seat: I know your instincts will tell you to get the window seat, don’t. The window seat means a whole flight trapped in a corner. If you want to stay hydrated, you’ll be drinking a lot of water and obviously going to the bathroom quite a few times. You see where I’m going: take the isle seat! It will ensure you a total freedom of movement throughout the flight.
- Check-in timing: try to check in in the last people to be able to see where there are available seats next to each other and, in the best case scenario, even get upgraded!
- Sleep: set your biological clock to your destination’s time zone as soon as you get on the plane. You’ll spare yourself a whole day of jet lag.
- Your suitcase color: DON’T buy a black or dark suitcase! Really, just don’t. If you’re on a huge plane with hundreds of passengers, hence hundreds of suitcases, you’ll have a very hard time finding yours in that sea of darkness. Also, prefer a four-wheeled suitcase to a 2-wheeled one.
- Take a picture of your luggage: not because it’s beautiful, but because in the unlikely (uhm) event of the airline losing it, you’ll have something to show so that they know what to look for.
- Empty soft water bottle: in airports and planes, water and gold pretty much have the same price. To avoid buying water full price, bring a soft and empty water bottle with you and fill it at water fountains.
- Dress in layers: you’ll go from hot to cold all the time, you don’t want to catch a cold
- Charging your devices: always have a plug adaptor and a USB hub with you, to charge your devices while in the airport.
- In case of cancelled or delayed flight: if there’s a problem with your flight, get in the line to talk to the airline but at the same time, call the airline! Sometimes the operator on the phone will be more effective than the overwhelmed one in the airport booth.
- Miles: register in all the frequent flyers programs you can, you might think it’s useless right now but in a few years when you’ll be sitting in business class thanks to your miles, you’ll thank me.
- Lounge: if you’re not traveling in business class or aren’t in any frequent flyers program, you shouldn’t get access to the airline airport lounge… UNLESS you pay for it! Some lounges accept payment to access them, regardless of what’s written on your ticket. If you’re bound tu spend 6hours in an airport, you might want to consider that option. Think about it: they have snacks and showers. SHOWERS.
- Running late: If you’re running late, TELL somebody in the staff so that they can help you and maybe hold the plane a few minutes. And sometimes, a few minutes is a lot of time (and money).
What about you? What are your travel hacks? Let me know in the comments!