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The Best Flying Tips for Airplane Travel (2023)

Posted by Jelinne Navarro on
Flying tips for airplane travel

What if your exciting journey begins with a long flight? Let’s face it, flying economy isn’t exactly exciting. Luckily, we’re here for you. We’ve got a list of the best flying tips you can use for your next plane ride. All the items you’ll need, advice to make your economy flight comfy and more! Let’s get on with the list.

 Top Tips and Hacks for Plane Travel

⚠️ COVID-19 Update: The CDC recommends to avoid all non-essential travel during the pandemic. If you're in a situation where you can't avoid to travel, follow the CDC's guidelines, including staying 6 feet away from other passengers, constantly washing your hands and wearing a face mask. For more information, visit this website.

General Air Travel Tips

1. Use packing cubes for your carry on - They make flying easier, starting from packing a neat suitcase, to getting through airport security and up to grabbing the things you need during the flight! Choose from these different sets of cubes and colors or buy individually. Below we’ll show you what to pack in each size cube and they make your life a whole lot better.

Packing cubes for carry on for flight

✓ Extra Small Cube - Fill this size cube with your travel size toiletries and 3 ounce liquids. It’s a TSA approved clear toiletry bag, under quart size and transparent. During TSA inspection, grab the cube from your bag, toss it in the bin and breeze through the line like a packing pro.

TSA approved toiletry bag for flying tips

✓ Small Cube - Pack your extra change of clothes in a Small Cube. Include a pair of undies, a pair of socks, a casual top and lightweight bottoms.

Small packing cube for underwear flying essentials

✓ Medium Cube - If you’re traveling carry on only, pack your lightweight tops and bottoms in a Medium Cube.

Medium packing cube for clothes flying essentials

✓ Large Cube - Use the Large Cube for your jeans, sweaters or other bulky clothing items.

Large packing cube for jeans flying essentials

Traveling with a baby or toddler? You can use these clear packing cubes to keep your diaper bag organized too! Use a Small Cube for your diaper changing essentials. An Extra Small Cube can hold your baby’s snacks or toys. Grab the cube you need and avoid tantrums during the flight!

Diaper bag organization for flying tips

**Thanks to Livi (Xo Livi) for this awesome photo!

2. Use a TSA approved clear toiletry bag for liquids - Pack all your 3 once liquids in a TSA approved clear bag. Don’t forget that gels and creams must also adhere to the TSA Liquids Rule. Our Extra Small Cube works best for this purpose! It even has a pull handle for easy grabbing from your bag and into the security bin.

Clear toiletry bag for passing through airport security

Pro Tip: Squeeze excess air from your liquid bottles so they don’t pop from the pressure on the airplane.

3. Bring medicines that you use - Don’t pack medicines that you don’t usually use (nor unprescribed ones). When flying, your body can have a bad reaction to the medication and you won’t have anyone to help you. Bring medicines that you are familiar with and you’ve used in the past.

Medicines for air travel flying tips

4. Choose a soft side carry on - Especially if you are an over-packer! We recommend something like the Samsonite Advena Expandable Carry On Luggage. Even if you pack too much, you can easily squish it into the overhead bin. A duffel bag or backpack (within carry on limits) are also good options!

Soft side carry on luggage for flying

5. Place items you need at the TOP of your personal bag - Pack your personal tote strategically! Place important travel documents, electronics, medicines, snacks, toiletries, etc. at the top of your bag. You can easily access the things you need during the flight (and your neighbors will appreciate it big time). #PackingMaster

How to pack a personal bag for flying tips

6. Dress smart but comfy - Wear your most comfortable clothing items including underwear. Preferably a loose top and a bottom with an elastic waistband since our bodies swell a bit at higher altitudes. Some examples:

✓ Oversized Shirt + Leggings (Ladies)

✓ Turtleneck + Palazzo Pants (Ladies)

✓ Button Down + Elastic Waist Chino Pants (Men)

✓ Polo Shirt + Dress Pants Sweatpants (Men)

Comfy clothes for flying tips

These options will keep you presentable and comfy at the same time. It’s also okay to switch into sweatpants or jogger pants during the flight (we won’t judge). Also bring a comfy sweater or jacket for layering!

7. Pack some snacks and sauces - So you don’t get hangry during the flight! Meals are usually provided on long haul flights, while only snacks or beverages are provided on short ones. Bring some Kind bars or dried fruit packs that you can munch on during the flight. Also bring a travel size sauce to level up your in-flight meals!

COVID-19 Update: Most airlines have suspended in-flight meals due to the pandemic. Eat a heavy meal before your flight and pack some sandwiches if you're traveling with kids!

Bring snacks for flying tips

8. Dr. Scholl’s Slip-On Shoes are a must - Easy to slip on and remove during TSA security or the flight itself! This version is for the ladies and this one’s for the men. They’re also available in lovely neutral colors.

Slip on shoes for flying essentials

Pro Tip: Pack an extra pair of socks that you can change into after the flight!

9. Multiple copies, different locations - Make sure you have multiple copies of your travel documents in different locations! Aside from your email, take screenshots of your flight booking, itinerary, passport and other IDs. Printed out copies are also ideal in case you lose your phone or you can’t access WiFi.

Passport and other travel items packed together

Pro Tip: Traveling as a family? Designate either mom or dad as the document holder. Use an Extra Small Cube to keep all passports, boarding passes, etc. in one place. Place the cube at an easy access but secured place (like a secret bag pocket).

10. Choose an airline and stick to it - Don’t forget to sign up for their mileage program! This works best for those who travel often. You can accumulate mileage points which you can use to get discounted airfare rates. Plus, you get priority boarding or sometimes upgrades!

11. Try for “Bid Upgrades” - After you’ve booked your flight, check your email for a bid upgrade. It’s like an auction for higher seats in economy, premium economy or even business class cabin! You can bid a bit higher than the minimum amount set and hopefully, you win the auction and be upgraded to a more comfy seat!

12. Check Seat Guru for the best flight seats - Go to Seat Guru, enter your airline, date of departure and flight number. You can check the specific seat map for your flight and select the best seats. Choose those in either green or without a highlight. Avoid the red seats and read the comments for the yellow seats!

Here’s a simple guide on the best seats on a plane (depending on the type of traveler):

 Best Seat for Families With Kids: Bulkhead seat if you have a baby or toddler

Best Seat for Tall People: Aisle seat or exit row seat

✓ Best Seat for Sleeping: Window seat!

✓ Best Seat for Least Turbulence: In the middle, close to the wings

How to choose best plane seat tip

13. Download the airline’s app - Download your airline’s app before going to the airport. After online check in, you can usually change your seat through the app if you’re not happy with the assigned seating. Just check the app often for seats that open up due to cancellations!

14. Charge devices the night before - Charge them the night before your flight and bring a portable power bank. The TSA might ask you to turn on your devices during security. Devices that won’t turn on won’t be allowed on board and you might be subjected to more rigorous screening.

15. Bring some old-school entertainment - A crossword puzzle, sudoku, book, magazine, sketchpad, etc. Something that will keep you entertained when you get tired of all your gadgets. And if you have kids, legos, matchbox cars or stickers are worth bringing with you!

Read a book for air travel tips

16. Check in online 24 hours before! - Some airlines require passengers to check in online. Do it on the airport and you can be charged a fee! Checking in online also lessens the risk of being bumped from an overbooked flight. If you’re flying carry on only, you can bypass the line at the check in counter on the airport if you’ve done online check in.

17. Go to the airport 2 to 3 hours early - At least 1 hour early for a domestic flight and 2 to 3 hours early for an international flight. It’s better to wait in the airport than miss your flight! Plus, you can also secure some of the nicer seats if you go to your boarding gate early.

18. Pass through security FAST - Just follow these tips below:

✓ Use your time standing in line to put all the stuff in your pockets like wallet, keys, belts or coins into your bag (side pocket for easy access). 

✓ You’ll go through the other end quicker since everything is already inside your bag!

✓ Have everything else ready - remove electronics from your bag and place in a separate bin, same goes for your liquids, remove your jacket and shoes, etc.

✓ Don’t hold up the line at the other end of the x-ray machine! Grab your items and walk to one of the many benches provided instead.

Passing airport security fast tips

19. Find your gate before anything else - Gate changes can happen and sometimes they don’t update the giant screens at the airport! So find your gate first before getting food or exploring the rest of the airport. Ask the gate’s crew if there’s any indication that changes can occur.

20. Gate check your kid’s stroller - Most airlines allow car seats and strollers to be checked for FREE. Personally, we prefer gate checking strollers especially on a huge airport. Handy for a very tired kid, you can even use it as a trolley for your bags.

21. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones are a must - Great for blocking a noisy plane engine or a chatty neighbor! This can also be used for the in-flight entertainment or your gadgets...because let’s face it, those free earphones don’t really work!

Noise cancelling headphones for airplane travel tips

22. Pack a portable foot rest / hammock - Great to have especially for shorter people! This memory foam foot rest can be attached to your tray table and hangs like a hammock. You can prop your feet on it during the flight and avoid swelling or just feeling uncomfortable.

23. Get your in-flight essentials ready - While waiting to board, use your time wisely. Grab the items that you need from your carry on and transfer them to your tote or personal bag. This includes medications, toiletries, your change of clothes, snacks and all gadgets. Also a good time to refill your bottle with water!

Boarding gate in airport

On board, put your carry on bag in the storage compartment. Then place your tote or personal bag underneath the seat in front of you. You’ll clear the aisle quicker and help everyone board faster this way!

24. Get to your seat EARLY - Especially if you have an airline regulation cabin size carry on! If you arrive late at your seat, there won’t be any overhead bin space left. You might be allocated space at the far end of the plane which can be a hassle when departing.

25. Wipe down everything - Get those disinfecting wipes out and start wiping down surfaces! Don’t forget to clean your tray table and headrest (two of the dirtiest places on a plane).

Wipe down airplane seat and tray after boarding tip

26. Remove all the stuff from the seat pocket - Remove the magazines and other items to gain some additional space! Leave behind the safety card though. Place the items under your bag in the front seat or even in the overhead cabin. You’ll thank us later for the additional ½ inch on your cramped seat.

27. Set your watch to your destination time - On board, set your watch to the time in your destination. Then act like you’re in that timezone. On arrival, you’ll feel more relaxed since you’ve already reset your body clock to the local time. You can spend more time sightseeing!

Set watch to destination time air travel tip

28. Getting through takeoff - Chew some gum, yawn or sip on water... any of this can help with reducing the pressure in your ears. If you get terrible ear pain when flying, try Ear Planes. Put them in before takeoff or before descent and you can bid goodbye to pressure pain!

29. Keep your shoes on during takeoff (or landing) - Most fatal airplane accidents occur during takeoff and landing! It’s best to be prepared and keep those shoes on during these times. In case an emergency happens, you can run without any worry.

30. Time your bathroom breaks - Go when everyone else is normally asleep. Avoid going to the bathroom when food is being distributed. There might be no lines at the bathroom but you could hold up the distribution process!

31. Clean your hands often - Pack a travel size hand sanitizer. It comes with a jelly wrap carrier so you can easily attach it to your personal bag. Remember to sanitize your hands before each meal or snack. 

32. Special meals taste better and are served first - You can choose special meals during check in (Kosher, Halal, vegetarian). You’ll be served your meal 10 to 15 minutes earlier than the rest. Plus, special meals usually taste better (maybe because they’re made in smaller batches compared to regular meals).

33. Anxiety over turbulence - Some flights go through bad turbulence but don’t worry! Aircrafts are large and strong enough to withstand such great gusts of wind. Just remember to wear your seatbelt since the danger is in being thrown around during extreme turbulence. And avoid holding on to the armrests as this can make you feel the turbulence more. Keep your hands over your lap or chest instead.

34. Humidity is very low when flying - At that high above ground, it is difficult for air to hold moisture and we all know how aircrafts compensate for that. Here’s a few tricks on how you can combat dry air and its effects:

✓ Drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and alcohol!

✓ Order hot tea from the stewardess and breathe in the extra moisture

✓ Wet a clean washcloth and lay it over your face while sleeping or resting

✓ Make your own Mini Spa (Use a facial mask, moisturizer or lotion to keep your skin hydrated)

✓ Use a nasal spray for your nose

✓ Use eye drops to keep your eyes lubricated

35. You won’t always have in flight entertainment - Short-haul flights (2 hours below) and older model planes don’t always have that seat back TV. So always come prepared! Load your own device with shows (Netflix allows you to download some movies / shows for offline watching). Remember to download when you have wifi at home (before you get to the airport). 

Seatback television on airplane

36. Get the most out of your gadgets - If you’re like us, that smartphone has lots of uses for your trip. As a navigator system, for taking photos, surfing the internet, etc. Here’s a few ways of getting the most out of your gadgets:

✓ Lower brightness by 50% and you can prolong battery life from 2 to 4 hours

✓ Turn on Airplane Mode (also helps avoid international roaming fees)

✓ Enable Battery Saver Mode even if your phone is 100% charged

37. Get some sleep if you can - It’s hard to get some sweet zzz’s especially on a cramped economy flight. But here’s a few tricks you can use:

Woman sleeping while flying

✓ Continue with your bedtime routine on board: Brush your teeth, wash your face, moisturize or wear PJs. Those things you normally do before sleeping AT HOME, do them on the flight as well.

Have a Sleeping Kit ready: Pack some ear plugs, an eye mask and melatonin in an Extra Small Cube

Sleeping kit for flying tips

✓ Invest in a TRTL Pillow: Helps support your neck and head while sitting so you hopefully doze off like a baby!

TRTL pillow for air travel hacks

✓ Bring your own scarf / fluffy jacket: Those free blankets they give you? They’re very thin and don’t help much with the cold. Bring your own pashmina or a fluffy jacket you can use for warmth.

 Download F.lux for your gadgets: Works on different devices and helps adjust the blue light which interferes with the normal sleep cycle.

38. Avoid blood clots or DVT - The best way to avoid it is by moving every hour or two during the flight! Or you could also use compression socks during the flight. Doing some leg exercises while sitting down also helps!

39. Soothing back pain on a flight - Bring a self-inflating lumbar pillow or use the free small pillow they give during flights. You can position it on your back while sitting to help reduce the pressure pain!

40. Do one thing at a time only - Especially for a long haul flight. You don’t want to go through your entertainment arsenal within an hour into a flight. And if you have kids flying with you, the same principle applies. Make it a game for yourself of how long you can keep your kid occupied with 1 toy or activity!

41. Dole out snacks wisely - This one is mainly for the parents! If you’re flying with a kid, keep their interest piqued with snacks. Start the flight with the more boring snacks and save the good stuff at the end. If you packed dried fruits or sandwiches, start with those. And only bring out the tasty treats (like chips or candies) during the last hour of the flight. Helps keep the little ones from having a sugar high early on as well!

42. “Goodie Bag” for nearby passengers - Traveling with an infant or toddler? It doesn’t hurt to make a few Goodie Bags that you can pass along your neighbors. Add in some candies, chocolates, ear plugs and a short note about your baby. No one can resist free sweets!

Candy bag for airplane travel tips

43. Avoid certain foods to reduce flatulence - The gases in your intestine can expand up to 30% at higher altitudes! Avoid beans, broccoli, dairy, garlic, onion and other salty foods to reduce that feeling of bloating. Drink lots of water to keep your tummy happy. If all else fails, a pair of flatulence-filtering undies could be your secret weapon against an upset stomach.  

44. Get free WiFi in airports - This list includes 300+ airports around the world and their WiFi passwords! It even includes WiFi passwords for airline lounges. Worth bookmarking for future reference.

Free airport WiFi tip

We know you’ve got questions about air travel (especially for first time flyers). Check out our FAQs section below for more info!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Travel flying tips

What are the airport security rules? Airport security rules vary by country or region. Some airports are considered stricter. In the US, airport security generally requires people to remove electronics from their bag, put 3 oz liquids in a quart size bag and remove any metals on the body when passing through the scanner. In some US airports, you’re also required to remove your jacket and shoes before passing through the body scanner. Check this link for more info about the TSA security screening guidelines.

Can you bring prescription medications on a plane? Yes, you can bring medications in pills or tablet form in unlimited amount. It’s best to pack them in their original bottles but it’s not necessary (just bring a physician’s prescription). You can also bring medications in liquid form that are more than 3 oz in your carry on. Both pills and liquid medications need to be screened (separate from your other items) via x-ray or visual inspection. Check this link for more info about traveling with medications.

Prescription medications in airport security bin

What is the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule? The 3-1-1 Liquids Rule is set by the TSA for carry on luggage or whatever bag you plan to bring on the plane. It’s actually simple, you’re only allowed to bring liquids in 3.4 oz containers and these must fit in 1 quart size bag per person, hence 3-1-1. Despite the name, the rule applies as well to aerosols, gels, creams or pastes you’re bringing on board. So it’s not only toiletries but also liquidy foods like hummus, peanut butter, etc. For more about the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule, go to this page.

Is toothpaste considered a liquid on a plane? Yes, the TSA considers toothpaste as a liquid on a plane. If packing one on your carry on, make sure it’s under 3.4 oz in size.

Travel size toothpaste for flying tips

How many quart size bags can you have in your carry on? According to the 311 Liquids Rule, you’re only allowed 1 quart size clear bag in your carry on. Check out our TSA approved clear toiletry bag here.

What items are not allowed in a carry on? Check the TSA website for a full list of which items are allowed and not allowed in your carry on. Here’s a few of prohibited items you can’t bring when flying:

✗ Liquids more than 3.4 oz

✗ Sharp objects like knives and scissors (more than 4 in)

✗ Sporting items like baseball bat and hockey stick

✗ Guns, firearms and ammunitions

✗ Explosive or flammable materials

Can I bring snacks on an airplane? As long as the snacks are solid, you’re good to go. Dips, sauces or creamy foods have to adhere to the 311 Liquids Rule. Also make sure you consume unpacked foods like vegetables and fruits on the flight. You might be required to dispose them when traveling internationally due to customs regulations.

Snacks for airplane travel

Are there charging ports on airplanes? It depends on the aircraft. Some planes have charging ports on every seat while others only have them on specific seats. You can go to Seat Guru and find your specific airline. Click on Compare Seat Pitch (right hand side of the screen) and check if there’s a charging port and what type it is. An AC Power plug means that you won’t need an adaptor to charge your devices. If it’s a DC Power or EmPower plug, you’ll need an adaptor plug to charge your devices.

Do airplanes have WiFi? Some airlines offer free or paid WiFi on some planes or flights. It’s best to check with your specific airline’s website. Here’s a list of airlines offering WiFi on board and their prices.

How soon before a flight should I take melatonin? It’s best to consult your doctor before taking melatonin. Most individuals take melatonin 1 to 2 hours before bed time. So it depends on the timing of your flight. You might also need a sleep mask (complete darkness) for the melatonin to work.

How much water should I drink on a long flight? Flying can make you dehydrated! You’ll need to drink at least 1 glass of water for every hour during your air travel. More so for those going on a long haul flight!

What is a personal item? Most airlines allow you to bring an additional personal item (aside from your carry on bag). A personal item can be a laptop bag, purse, diaper bag, tote, camera bag, etc. Basically, another bag that can fit underneath the seat in front of you. Take advantage of this and pack your in-flight essentials in your personal item!

Woman with personal item for flight

What are the carry on limits of different airlines? For a complete guide on the carry on limits and restrictions of different airlines, go to Seat Guru. Choose the airline you’re flying with. On the overview page, click on the Baggage tab and you’ll see the set limits and restriction for the airline. You can also go to your airline’s website and check their carry on limits from there.

We hope you enjoyed our collection of air travel tips! Don’t forget the flying essentials you need like noise cancelling headphones, eye mask, hand sanitizer and clear packing cubes. These items can make your plane travel more bearable...yes, even on an economy seat!

Happy Travels!

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