Travel Tips for First Time Flyers
I remember the days when my grandma and aunt would wait with us at check in, walk us through security and wave us off at the gate. Sadly, those days are long gone.
Now there are a lot more restrictions on how we fly and a lot more processes just to get through the airport. Inexperienced and nervous first time flyers are in the right place!
Once you get there make sure you have the proper identification and documentation you need to board your flights. When traveling internationally, you'll need a passport and the necessary visas to enter your desired countries. Sometimes you’re required to apply for visas before you leave, and some visas you can get once you land. Make sure you double check the visa requirements while you’re planning your trip.
Your airline will advise you on arrival times, but arrive early and give yourself enough time to wait in line at check-in, if you checked a bag, and to go through security before boarding begins and the gate closes.
In my experience, no two airport securities are the same. Which is a good thing, right? So be ready to follow TSA instructions on what to do with your shoes / scarves, electronics, and liquids while at security.
Be mindful of the restrictions on the amount of liquids and powders you may carry onboard with you, but don’t hesitate to pack snacks and lots of them!
Pro Tip: If I happen to check my bag at the gate, then I like to leave my luggage unlocked until I get to the gate and have my toiletries and liquids readily available for the security check.
What to Wear
If you’re on a flight for over an hour, I've found that the best travel outfits for planes are loose and comfortable clothing. I twice made the mistake of wearing a leotard that buttoned at the bottom. I’ll just say, buttons at the bottom aren't a comfortable situation for you or security.
Pro Tip: I like to wear a shawl or large scarf that can double as a blanket in case it gets cold during the flight.
It may be best to pack your bulky clothes and studded / metal jewelry that might draw the attention of the folks at security. I have a pair of boots that get stopped every time!
Waiting to Board
While I wait for boarding to begin I tend to stay close to my gate, but I like to:
- Grab a Quick Drink / Snack
- Browse the Souvenirs and Shops
- Read a Book or Magazine
- Listen to Music or a Podcast
- Use the Restroom
Hey! There's nothing like getting stuck in the middle seat after you just had a couple of drinks at the airport bar.
Enjoying Your Flight
So you're onboard, your luggage is settled, you're all snug in your preferred seat, and you're ready to hit the sky. Now it's time to enjoy your flight!
Pro Tip: If you get a little queasy when the plane gets a little shaky, then I suggest sitting by the wings. It’s closer to the plane’s center of gravity and a more stable ride.
Make sure to drink plenty of water during the flight to stay hydrated and try to avoid having too many alcoholic beverages. It causes grogginess and can heighten jet lag once you land.
Flights on a Budget Airline
Most budget airlines will charge you for all beverages (yup, even water) and snacks. So when I’m flying like the frugal queen I am, I always bring a refillable water bottle and my own hearty snacks for long-haul flights.
Have your earbuds and charger or your favorite reading materials close to keep you busy on the flight because lower-cost carriers may not have in-flight entertainment.
If you’re like me, you’re taking a nap before the plane takes off. I sleep well on planes…. Lucky me, I guess!
If you want to splurge for extras, then you can just sit pretty while drinks and meals are served right at your seat. I like to order a nice plastic cup of wine to help me relax (if I’m still awake by the time the flight attendants come around!)
Once You Land
Layovers (long or short) aren’t a problem. I figure out if I need to collect and recheck my checked baggage before my next flight, find out my new gate number, and get to my next gate with in plenty of time.
Grab all your stuff before you leave the plane and get ready for the time of your life in your new destination.
If you checked a bag: before you hit the exit the airport, head to your carousel to pick up your bags.
If you have all of your belongings onboard: baggage claims are usually close to the exit and you can still follow the signs right out the door.
Leaving the Airport
Most airports allow access to ride sharing so you can meet your driver at a certain spot in the terminal. Make sure you’re there by the time they arrive because cars aren’t allowed to stop and wait for you.
Airports usually have designated areas for personal pick-ups & shuttles. Reach out to your hotel or travel group about what they offer and to get information on their specific shuttle schedules and pick up locations.
Don't forget good ol' public transportation as an option. Some cities are more public-transpo friendly than others.
While public transit can be a very cost-effective way to travel, some people don’t mind splurging for a taxi or other ride-share options. Research your options and figure out what’s most comfortable for you.
Share some of your favorite flying tips in the comments!