Some Great Flying Advice For Making a Trip 110% Smoother
I have a flight to Spain coming up in a couple of weeks and I re-stumbled across a piece over on Thrillist about the unwritten rules of flying that I freaking loved… And of course, reading it made me think of a few rules of my own. I’m still not the smoothest flier in the universe, but I have gotten better at it over the years—and hopefully will continue to get smoother at it! (Traveling with a bike, though, is just never going to be super easy.)
This rule from Thrillist made me smile, because it’s one that I’ve now seen broken on my last 10 flights or so and it is somehow the most maddening thing in the world: “You may not rush to the front and cut people when you’re getting off the plane.When the seatbelt sign turns off, there’s always that scumbag in the back who attempts to charge his way up to wherever his carry-on is stowed. Or the scumbag who only has a backpack who tries to book it to the front. YOU WAIT. YOU FILE OUT. IN ORDER.”
I genuinely do not understand people who somehow ignore this rule.
But anyway, a few of my personal rules/tips for an easy (sort of) flight:
Get there early
I’m one of those annoying people who would rather get to the airport 4 hours early versus 90 minutes. (The Aspire Team almost murdered me over this during my years with them, but no one ever missed a flight!) My pitch: Getting there early avoids stress about lines. It makes it easier to check your big/bulky bags (like bikes) and you’ll have less chance of getting hit with a huge fee or your bike not making it. You have time to fill your water bottle after security and use the washroom. You can get a coffee/snack/meal without being nervous that they’re boarding without you.
Snacks + a water bottle!
I don’t care what ANYONE says about fasted travel. Healthier? Maybe, but it will result in violent behavior from me when I get off the plane and need to beeline to the nearest food vendor. If you’re like me and flying makes you stupid-hungry, fly prepared. I bring a water bottle (with a cap that actually seals… trust me on this one), plus a few packets of a tea that I like, plus a protein powder and a greens powder… But I also toss in an apple, and some kind of actual real-food snack, like an oatmeal cup (you can usually get hot water to make your oatmeal). I’m not a fan of plane food—it’s usually pretty gross and also, usually served when I’m trying to sleep—so I prefer to have a meal with me.
Bring a pashmina
This may be a more female-specific tip here, but man, a pashmina scarf is so useful on an overnight flight. Pillow, shawl, mouth/nose cover if the person next to you is eating a burrito… I rarely bother with a travel pillow anymore because then you’re stuck with a damn travel pillow for your whole trip, versus a pashmina scarf that can be used as a scarf/emergency blanket/skirt/top. (Plus, they’re crazy cheap.)
Also, cozy socks
I realized I have the hardest time sleeping on planes because my feet are ALWAYS freezing. I think it’s fine to jettison shoes, especially on long flights, but definitely only if you’re wearing socks. No bare feet on planes. To this end, I’ve started bringing super thick cozy socks that I put on over my thin socks when I get on the plane if I take my shoes off. Warm feet, check. Less offensive feet, check.
Pack essentials in a carry-on
Last year in Reno, my actual suitcase ended up stuck in Denver for 36 hours, and I was PISSED. Thankfully, I had shoved a few extra things into my carryon at the last minute (like run shorts, a sports bra and my running shoes) and United had a toiletries kit that they offer in these situations, but I was so angry at myself for not packing slightly smarter. (I know, I know, pack just a carry-on, but for an athlete that just isn’t practical advice most of the time!)
Like not wanting to use airplane blankets from a grossness perspective, I don’t like the free headphones. Seriously, ick. So here’s the reminder to bring headphones, especially now that everyone has either regular headphones for their iPhone with a lightning cable end or AirPods that don’t work with the TV on the plane. (I also specifically love a big pair of headphones because they make it clear that you’re listening to something and don’t want to talk, they buffer noise even if you’re not watching something on TV, and they don’t give you a headache by jamming in your ears! They don’t have to be Bose to be effective, these are $15 and have worked for me!)
If you get cut in line, chill. Security is frustrating? Chill. Ticket agent is being a dick? Chill. Even—to bring it full circle—as you disembark if someone tries to cut in front of you on the plane… Chill. It’s just not worth it. (To go Rudyard Kipling on you, “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs”… You get the idea.