Traveling by plane can be uncomfortable. Long waiting times on the airports and hours of sitting still in tiny airplane seats. Tired and frustrated, you often pay much more than you should for food, drink or conveniences. After years of traveling and countless hours on the road, I decided to put together this practical guide to help you avoid the pitfalls of air travel and enjoy your trip. Here are 7 tips to make sure you have a smooth and comfortable flight. Both on the plane and in advance at the airport!
Also read: Skyscanner | How to save (a lot of) money on flights
Table of contents
1. Bring your own food and coffee
Eating at airports and onboard domestic flights is expensive – often double the cost you would normally pay. And while meals are usually free on international flights, the quality is very hit and miss. It is always better to be prepared for setbacks. Bring your own healthy snacks. Nuts, muesli bars and whenever possible: fresh fruit. Spread one or 2 well-filled rolls in advance and pack them well. You never know when you'll need them.
Also consider bringing some tea bags and (good) instant coffee with you. Hot water is often free at the airport, so you save another 10 euros if you make an instant coffee yourself. Tea bags and instant coffee also come in handy on the plane. The coffee in the plane is often kept warm for a long time, which absolutely does not benefit the taste. Ask for hot water, use your own instant coffee, much tastier. You can also just drink your own tea in the taste you like.
2. Bring enough mouth caps
A face mask, something we never thought of before and can't live without today. Everyone is used to having one in their pocket in 2021. Yet in practice I often see that often used, dirty, stuffed mouth caps are pulled out of the bag to meet 'the obligation'. Damn!
Mouth caps become moist every time you wear them and the dirt from your pockets, from your hands and the outside air therefore sticks extra well. It sometimes seems that people want to save on mouth caps and that while you are at an airport with a plane ticket for which you paid 1000 euros, haha.
Good medical face masks are really not expensive anymore and when you travel it is best to take a few with you, or for example a box with 50 pieces. With a small stock you always have a clean mouth cap with you and you are not tempted to pay 10 euros each for it at the airport...
3. Bring your own water bottle
Take an empty water bottle with you to get through security, then refill it at the water fountains or filling points at the airport. Paying four euros for a bottle of water, we've all fallen for it way too often, haven't we?
Having your own water bottle on the plane not only saves you money, you stay hydrated without relying on the flight attendants' sometimes slow service. You also save an unnecessary amount of thrown away small plastic or paper cups.
4. Choose the right credit card
If you book your flight through an airline credit card, you get extra benefits while flying. You usually get priority boarding so you can board the plane before all the bins above your head are full of hand luggage. You can also get discounts on in-flight purchases and get additional compensation in case your flight is canceled or your luggage is no-show.
Some premium cards even give you access to airport lounges, which can make a layover infinitely more comfortable. You will also receive excellent service from the staff in the lounges if your flight is canceled and you need to rebook. After all, you are a regular customer!
Also read: Banking, bank accounts and credit cards for your world trip
5. Pack Strategically
Think strategically before you go. How will you spend your time? When checking in a bag, make sure you leave the items you plan to use during the flight in your hand luggage. It's frustrating to have your earbuds in your checked bag when you need them on the plane, or have them all the way at the bottom of your hand luggage.
In-flight entertainment such as movies and series can be a good distraction from hours of boredom. However, some airlines don't offer entertainment, or at least not what you're interested in. Bring your own movies and series to make sure you can keep busy during the flight. For example, you can now download episodes and movies in advance on your tablet on phone with Netflix. Take advantage of that!
Also read: Dark Tourist | Travel to the most bizarre & dangerous places in the world
If you start your trip with a good book, good music and a few favorite TV shows or movies you will find that your flight goes by a lot faster. You can also save podcasts to your phone for free or pay for audiobooks. With Audible's audiobook service, your first book is free, give it a try!
Finally, make sure your electronics are charged and ready to use. Most airplanes nowadays have USB chargers, but it will just happen to you to hit an airplane without Charger and a dead battery.
6. Get ready to go to sleep
Sleeping on an airplane is another way to pass the time quickly, although it is difficult for many people. I too have not been able to sleep in airplanes for years, but practice makes perfect! Bring the gear you need for sleep, including an eye mask (or use an extra mouth cap in 2021, works just as well!), earplugs, sleeping aids and a neck pillow to get really comfortable. A jacket or vest can also serve as a pillow or blanket if necessary. Make sure you have this stuff before you get to the airport. A neck pillow at the airport can cost three times as much as in a regular store.
Keep everything you'll need during your flight in a garment bag or small bag under your seat for easy access and not have to get out of your seat when you're sleepy.
Also read: Five expert tips for a good night's sleep on the plane
7. Try to have a sense of humor
Airports can be great places to people watch. You get to see humanity in action in its many colorful capacities. It is of course annoying to be limited in your movements and stuck in stale air for a long time. Remember what you're doing it all for! You get to see one of the most liberating things. You fly, the view can be bizarrely beautiful, you see strange people, you go to the next cool destination! Everything will pass, including this long flight.
By preparing yourself for a good trip and adopting a positive attitude, you can make traveling by plane not only more comfortable, but even enjoyable. Happy flight!
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!