There’s nothing like airports. The bustle of travelers all headed to locations all over the world, from locations all over the world. The anticipation (and exhaustion) is always thick in the air as you make your way through the crowd to check in, then through security, then finally a resting spot at your gate. It’s quite entertaining to sit and watch the hundreds and hundreds of people pass by. You see the most interesting things. ha Then you board, take off, eat the airplane snack, watch the clouds go by, land, and end up in a different part of the country or world!
I have been raised in a family that has an obsession with traveling. For the fun, for the education, for the quality time, for the nostalgia and memories, for the overall experience. I love it. I’ve traveled mostly by road, since we have so many of us. It’s way easier just to pile up in the van, stop whenever we want, pack whatever we want, etc. Though I do have quite a bit of airplane experience as well. When I was young, my dad was in the Air Force, which caused us to do a lot of airplane trips. Then I didn’t really go on a plane until 2018, for Kennzie and I’s senior trip (here and here). Since that trip though, I’ve flown several times. We’ve been to Honduras, Florida, Chicago, and Colorado.
Because of my experience, I take for granted all the information and hacks and tips I have! Yet I know there’s so many people who’ve never flown who would have no reason to know some of these things. Some of the most valuable air travel tips are the most simple, which is what makes me forget that others don’t know them. So I’m here today to share all the information I can think of about flying within the US! Even the most simple of things.
- If you’re wearing layers like a jacket or cardigan, they’re going to have you remove them during the security checks. So be sure to be aware of this when choosing your airport outfit! You wouldn’t want to be caught off guard when they request layers be taken off.
- Your shoes will need to come off, as well. I like to take mine off as I near the end of the line so that I’m not scrambling once I’m going through security. I also try to choose easy on and off shoes.
- Airport snacks (and any other extra) have insane price tags! $4-$5 for a water bottle is completely normal, and the other snacks reflect those prices as well. Either plan on paying way too much or bring unopened snacks to take through security. Water can’t be taken, but you can take an empty bottle and fill up once past security.
- The fewer the layovers possible, the better. You also want the layovers to be at least an hour, more if you’re new to flying. Airports can be huge and intimidating, and if you get lost you want time to find your way. Also, your previous flight is likely to get delayed. So, even if it’s a 20 minute delay, that leaves you with only 40 minutes until your next plane leaves. You’ll need that time to eat, use the restroom, find your next gate, etc. Lines are usually long for those things, so obviously they’ll take awhile.
- All plans are subject to change! Your takeoff times will almost assuredly be changed, your gate will be changed without notification, etc. Always be sure to check that your gate hasn’t changed when you get to the airport or during a layover. There’s been times where we’ve finallyyy found our gate only to realize they’ve changed it. Double check before you head to find it!
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes! Yes, you see all the pictures of people wearing their cutest travel outfits…but trust me when I say that comfort is priority. Especially when it comes to shoes. Airports are big, and you’ll be walking a lot. You’ll want to wear an outfit that you’re comfortable sitting in for the duration of your flight and also good for navigating an airport.
- Baggy clothes are going to up your chances of a pat-down. They’re suspicious in the airline world, so be aware of that.
- If you use a lot of hairpins or anything metal in your hair, that might set off the metal detector. They’ll have to feel your hair and make sure it’s only the accessories. I usually opt for braids or something simple for that reason.
- Right now, masks are required. Even in the rebel southern states, airports require them. So come prepared to wear one the entire flight.
- I almost always bring a backpack on the plane. They’re roomy, so they’ll hold any snacks and any essentials you might need on the plane. I keep my electronics, a journal, my Bible, a blanket, extra outfit (in case of luggage lost), chargers, headphones, book, face wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Airplanes are cold, which is why I always bring a blanket or jacket in my backpack. You can adjust your air, but that has never been enough for me!
- Every terminal has different restaurants and shops. As soon as you know your terminal, you can look up what it has to offer.
- Don’t expect to have time to get a Starbucks if you’re lucky enough to have one in your terminal! The line is always crazy long, and you might not have time to stand in it. Sad, I know.
- The window views are incredible! If you’re a first time flyer, definitely try to get a window seat. Though be aware that it’s harder to get out of your seat to use the bathroom. If you’re flying by yourself, you’ll have to have the people next to you move. That’s ultimately your choice though.
- If you get lost, ask questions! The people who work there know the airport very well and can tell you which direction to head.
- Be sure to read all the requirements for bags going through security. There are some odd rules, and you wouldn’t want to have to leave anything behind. Also check how many personal item you’re allowed to take on the plane. Sometimes, you’re allowed a carryon bag, a backpack, and a purse. But all airlines are different.
- I would muchhh prefer to check a suitcase than bring one on the plane. That is personal preference. I don’t like the hassle of carrying a bag everywhere and having to store it in the cubbies. It’s soo easy to check it in when you first walk in and not worry about it until your arrival at your destination.
- Suitcase tips: Do keep in mind that they do not care one bit what brand your bags are; they will all be treated the same. Choose something durable that you don’t mind getting damaged, they are very rough when handling luggage. Hardshell suitcases will protect your things more, but they also weigh more. If you go over the weight limit, you’ll be paying a ridiculous fee. So I’d suggest weighing it before you get to the airport. If you don’t have a luggage scale, weigh yourself with and without the suitcase then do the math. Plan room for souvenirs.
- You can buy a meal in your gate, then bring it on the plane, if you’re in a time crunch.
- Bring gum, because your ears will likely pop from the change in pressure during takeoff and landing. Chewing the gum helps to relieve that pressure and make it less painful.
- When packing, be sure to seal all cosmetics or they will squirt everywhere. For lotion type bottles, I’ll unscrew the lid and place a piece of plastic over the opening before screwing the lid back on. The last thing you want is to get somewhere and your clothes be ruined.
- Delta is my favorite of the airlines I’ve used, but they’ll all get you where you’re headed. I’m not picky. I’ve flown Delta, United, Southwest, and Allegiant.
- Airplanes are actually safer than vehicles, so don’t be scared!
- Get there at least an hour early for check in. This will give you time to get through security and find where you need to be.
- After you get off your final flight, you’ll need to head to baggage claim. It often takes a bit for them to get the luggage rolling on the belt. Double check the screen that labels which flight the luggage is from, so you’re not waiting at the wrong spot. Unique luggage tags are great for spotting your bags! It can be so confusing to find your bags in the midst of all the others. Another thing I’ve heard of people doing is tying brightly colored scarves or handkerchiefs to the handles.
- Luggage tags really are nice for not only identifying your bags, but it also saves time when checking in. If you don’t already have luggage tags, they’ll require you put one of theirs on. So, you’ll have to fill it out while in line.
- Plane rides will dehydrate you. Yet, there’s a balance you’ll have to manage. Drinking water is very beneficial, but also requires more bathroom trips. Airplane bathrooms are to be avoided as much as possible! They’re so tiny and don’t always have soap. (hence why I always bring hand sanitizer in my backpack)
- Keep your flight details, ticket, and ID handy, as you’ll be pulling those out quite a bit.
- Airplane wifi has a history of not working, even if it’s available. Download audiobooks and music beforehand and bring other things to keep you occupied. Flights are pretty boring once you’re all the way up in the air.
- The best time to buy tickets is about 2-3 months before your scheduled trip. Anything else will be overpriced. I will look at Travelocity or Google flights if I don’t have a specific airline I’m wanting to use.
- Have fun traveling!!
Let me know if you have anything to add or any questions!
6 thoughts on “travel by air || all the random details”
This was so helpful, Maddison! The only time I’ve been on an airplane was when I was too young to remember, so I have no idea what to do at airports, haha. This will be good to refer back to!
Airports can be so overwhelming!! Every time I go, I see someone who’s not as informed and wish I could help. So I decided this was the next best thing 😁
Thanks for commenting!✨
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Great ideas Maddison! I’ve been on airplanes a couple of times and all of these tips are so true and helpful! 🙂
I think the challenge of flying might make it more fun! Ha It’s a chaotic way to travel for sure.
Thanks for commenting, Hannah!🍁
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Great tips! I’ve only flown once, and that was in February, so these tips are so helpful!
I’m glad it helped! Flying is so much fun, but it can easily become stressful