If you’re like me, flying on a plane (and sometimes just being at the airport) can make you a bit anxious. You feel guilty walking through security even though you’re totally innocent, and you worry endlessly about timing everything just right. We’ve got travel tips that can help.
Whether you want to make the most of the money you spend on flights or are curious to hear what flight attendant tips are true, these travel tips will hopefully reduce your stress levels so you can enjoy the ride a little bit more.
Here’s what you need to know about flying:
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Travel Tips: Booking Your Flight
1. Sign up for a travel rewards credit card to earn perks and benefits.
Travel rewards credit cards often come with a signup bonus or incentive to get your travel savings started. Plus, you may get other benefits like:
- Discounts on food, car rentals, hotel stays and more
- Flier miles/points you can use toward future travel
- Exclusive perks (like priority boarding, seat upgrades, or airport lounge access)
- Free airline tickets
2. Join the airline’s frequent flyer program.
If you intend to fly often on a certain airline, sign up for their frequent flyer or loyalty program so you can use any earnings toward future travel. Even if you don’t have plans to travel a lot, some airlines allow you to share your miles/points with others who do, or donate them.
Be sure to enter your rewards member number or info when booking so you get credit.
3. Get a Google Flights price guarantee.
Try and keep your travel costs down with a Google Flights price guarantee. As part of a pilot program, Google Flights offers a price guarantee for select flights. Covered flights will have a price guarantee badge so you can easily spot them. If you’ve booked a flight with this badge, Google guarantees that the price won’t drop before your departure. And, in case it does, Google Pay will refund you the difference after your flight takes off so you get the cheapest flight possible.
Currently, this handy feature is only available for “Book on Google” itineraries that depart from the U.S.
4. Learn airline-specific travel tips & hacks to get the most out of your flight.
- Southwest Savings Hacks
- Delta Savings Hacks
- JetBlue Savings Hacks
- United Airlines Savings Hacks
- American Airlines Savings Hacks
- Spirit Savings Hacks
- Frontier Savings Hacks
Travel Tips: Packing for Your Trip
5. Find the best deals on luggage and toiletry bags at Walmart and Amazon.
Walmart suitcases include brands like Rockland, Olympia USA, and American Tourister. They also run sales regularly and offer two-day shipping on orders over $35.
One of the best times to find luggage deals at Walmart is during their after-Christmas sales and promotions, which typically run from Dec. 26 through mid-January.
As for Amazon, the Bagsmart Toiletry Travel Bag is their No. 1 best-selling toiletry bag. It’s rated 4.8/5 from almost 9,000 reviews, and you can usually get it for under $20.
See all the best luggage deals happening right now.
6. Try your best to fit everything you can in your carry-on luggage.
Whether you’ll be gone for a few days or a few weeks, aim to fit everything you possibly can in your carry-on suitcase. Making this work is half strategy and half creativity, but it’s totally worth it.
Fitting everything in your carry-on means not having to wait in line to check your bag AND not having to retrieve it from baggage claim when you arrive. Plus, there’s no weight limit for carry-on luggage, and you won’t risk your bags getting lost in transit.
So pack smart and swap out single-use clothing for items you can mix and match across outfits.
TIP: Keep documents like driver’s licenses and passports in an easy-to-access place to eliminate any frantic last-minute searches in the security line.
7. Save suitcase space by rolling clothes instead of folding them.
This is a tried-and-true travel tip for saving space in your suitcase. Plus, it can help prevent wrinkles.
It’s also helpful to choose travel-friendly fabrics. Knits and stretchy fabrics like basic tees are less prone to wrinkles, and any creases will straighten out once you hang these items up. Woven fabrics like cotton and twill are more likely to wrinkle in your suitcase.
Related: Check out these packing tips and tricks every traveler should know.
8. Use a dryer sheet to keep clothes smelling fresh in your suitcase.
When your clothes are packed in tight spaces, they tend to absorb moisture that can cause smelly odors.
Stick a couple of dryer sheets in your suitcase before you zip it up. This will keep your clothes smelling like fresh laundry while you travel!
9. Pack a wellness kit with face masks, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes.
Taking the proper health and safety measures while flying has never been more important. It’s extra easy to spread germs during air travel.
Consider adding the following things to your safe flight wellness kit:
- Face masks (make sure they fit comfortably)
- Hand sanitizer for anything you touch at the airport or on the plane
- Antibacterial wipes to clean surfaces like tray tables, windows, and armrests
- Band-Aids, Emergen-c, and other health items for added protection
10. Store moisturizers and makeup in a contact lens case.
Basically, your contact lens cases are just tiny storage containers. Even better, they’re under the TSA liquid limit of 3.4 ounces for carry-on toiletries.
If you have an extra case or two, use it for storing tiny amounts of liquid, like eye cream, concealer, primer, moisturizer, and more when you travel.
Related: See more ingenious hacks for using contact lens cases.
11. Store jewelry in a seven-day pill organizer.
These small, seven-part containers are perfect for storing jewelry and small trinkets like earring studs, rings, and pins. You can find one on Amazon for $5.
12. Attach an ID tag or ribbon to your luggage.
If you have check-in luggage, attach an ID tag or ribbon that’ll make it easy for you to spot your bags in baggage claim after your flight.
13. Get creative with the pillowcase travel hack.
This genius travel hack is a big win-win:
If you can’t fit clothes in your suitcase, stuff them in a zip-up pillowcase instead. Close up the zipper and carry it on board with you. Not only will you free up space in your suitcase, but you’ll also have a comfy pillow to rest on during your flight.
Note, some airlines count pillows as personal items, so you should verify with the airline ahead of time.
14. Bring an empty water bottle that you can fill once you get past security.
If you show up at security with a full bottle of water, TSA will surely make you toss it.
But if you bring an empty water bottle, you can fill it up as soon as you get through security. Bring your own water bottle to stay hydrated and avoid paying the hefty markups on bottled water.
15. Download content the night before and charge your devices.
Some airlines and airplanes don’t have in-flight entertainment or power outlets. Downloading your music or movies on your mobile device ahead of time will allow you to watch or listen while flying. Be sure to charge all your devices before taking off so they don’t run out of juice mid-flight.
TIP: Download rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft if you don’t have post-flight ground transportation pre-arranged.
Travel Tips: Flying with Children
16. Pack snacks. Period.
Flying with kids can prove challenging even for the most experienced traveler. Pack your kiddo’s favorite snack to keep them from getting hungry on the plane. Try not to give your kiddos too much sugar so you’re not stuck on a plane with them buzzing from a sugar high.
TIP: To combat ear pressure caused by cabin pressure changes, pack lollipops or gum for kids during takeoff, and encourage them to swallow or yawn to ease the discomfort.
17. Bring activities.
In addition to snacks, bring plenty of kid activities like coloring books, playing cards, or electronic devices such as an iPad, Kindle, or DVD player.
18. Wear your children out pre-flight.
Let your kids play before your flight. Expending their energy may leave them tired and more relaxed on the flight.
Related: We’ve got even more travel hacks that can make flying with kids much easier.
Travel Tips: Pre-flight
19. Download the myTSA mobile app.
When you’re already rushing to catch your flight, there’s nothing worse than hitting extra-long lines or getting randomly selected for an in-depth search.
Don’t make assumptions about how long it will take you to get to your gate. Instead, download the MyTSA mobile app. It tells you how long the security lines are at specific airports, plus gives you an estimate of how busy the airport will be based on historical data.
20. Check-in and use the flight tracker in your airline’s app.
Most airline mobile apps give you easy access to your boarding pass, seat assignment, and flight status, along with a plane tracker and options for buying in-flight extras. Plus, you can check in to your flight 24 hours ahead of time and avoid the extra line at the airport.
Download the airline’s mobile app one to two days before your flight so you don’t forget.
Travel Tips: At the Airport
21. Take pictures to remember your parking space.
If you park at the airport, take some pics of your car and the spot number it’s in. Include permanent things like row markers and buildings.
22. When you get to security, keep left.
Without consciously thinking about it, people tend to prefer the direction of their dominant hand. Since most people are right-handed, most people will turn right.
If you come to a fork in the security line and there are two lines to choose from, pick the one to the left. Statistically speaking, more people will go the other way.
23. If your flight gets delayed or canceled, don’t wait at the gate desk.
This is a mistake everyone makes, especially if you’re already at the gate when your flight gets delayed or canceled.
If you need a new flight, your best bet is to contact the airline directly. You have a better chance of reaching a customer service agent before making it to the front of the line. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the same agent who just spoke with dozens of frustrated flyers before you.
24. Use Twitter to communicate with airline customer service.
Twitter is another great way to reach your airline’s customer service department. Send a tweet summarizing your concerns and mention the airline’s Twitter handle. You can expect a response from the airline within 30 minutes or so.
And always remember: kindness is key.
Travel Tips: Inflight
25. Skip the coffee and tea on the plane.
This is one of the most common flight attendant tips that they often share with travelers. The water served in drinks like coffee and tea comes straight from the plane’s water tanks, which are usually located next to the bathrooms. These tanks are literally NEVER cleaned — and flight attendants admit they’re dirtier than everyone thinks.
Play it safe by sticking with drinks from a sealed container, like canned soda or bottled water. This way, you won’t have to wonder what’s swimming in whatever you’re sipping.
26. Walk the plane aisle every hour to avoid swollen feet.
Sitting on a plane for long periods of time causes blood to build up in your leg veins. This is why your legs and feet tend to swell during air travel.
It’s a typically harmless symptom, but you can prevent it by getting up to stretch and walking around the cabin regularly throughout your flight.
27. Drink lots of water during your flight.
Ever wonder why you get so thirsty on planes?
Plane cabins have low humidity levels because half the air gets pulled in from outside. Plus, at high altitudes, there’s almost no moisture in the air coming in.
Remember to drink PLENTY of water during your flight to combat dehydration and avoid that dry, scratchy feeling in your throat.
28. Pass the time by getting productive.
The best way to make your flight fly by is to stay busy.
Pull out your notebook, study guide, tablet, or laptop, and get to work. When you distract yourself from thinking, “How much time is left?” you’ll hear the captain announce the 20-minute landing notice before you know it.
Travel Tips: After Your Flight
29. Check all the nooks and crannies around your seat(s) before de-boarding to prevent losing stuff.
With or without children, you should always check around your seat to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind. Due to security reasons, flight attendants usually won’t let you back on the flight once you de-plane.
30. Watch the clock at baggage claim so you can claim any late-baggage discounts.
If you have check-in luggage, pay attention to the time as you wait for your bag(s) to appear on the baggage carousel. If it takes more than 20 minutes for your luggage to show up, Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines will reimburse you for the delay.
- Alaska Airlines offers a $25 discount code for a future flight or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan bonus miles. You must get hold of an Alaskan Airline team member at the baggage office within two hours of your flight’s arrival to get your discount code or miles. According to the fine print, this guarantee is only valid for “Alaska Airlines (flights 0001- 1999), Horizon Air (flights 2000 – 2999), and SkyWest (flights 3300 – 3499), with the exception of international flights requiring customs clearance, and flights between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor.”
- Delta Airlines offers 2,500 bonus miles for late baggage on domestic flights only (you must submit your claim within three days of your arrival).
31. Hit the road with sanity-saving road games.
Long flight with your kiddos? Chances are you’re all exhausted or amped up to be off the plane. If you still have to hit the road to get to your destination, play some of these sanity-saving road trip games that may keep everyone’s attention long enough to get where you’re going without a full-on meltdown.
32. Save and reuse hotel toiletries for future trips.
Most of those tiny hotel toiletries are under the 3.4-ounce TSA limit for carry-on liquids. Plus, they’re free. You can even ask the front desk for more toiletries at no additional charge.
Always save your hotel toiletries for future travel plans so you don’t have to buy them every time you jet off. They make for great souvenirs even if you don’t use them later on.
Related: Don’t have free hotel toiletries? Save on shampoo, soap, and beyond with these personal care coupons.