The Best Air Travel Hacks for 2019
Planning Your Trip for Summer or Beyond
Woo hoo, summer! Time to get away. There is still time to plan a great getaway this season, save some money and returned refreshed. Plus, these tips will continue to work for you no matter what time of year you plan on traveling.
Searching for low airfares used to be a pain. You’d have to search multiple travel sites or go to each airline directly. Today, there are much better options.
While services such as Kayak will search all major travel sites for you, if you are still deciding where and when you want to go, check out Google Flights. You can enter in multiple originating airports and destinations at once instead of doing individual searches. A calendar feature shows the cheapest time to fly for a two-month time period.
Though this tool lets you search for, compare, and purchase flights, it’s not technically an online travel agency like Expedia or Travelocity. Use Google Flights to search for the best flight, then follow the recommendation for the best place to book for the fare shown- usually directly through the airline.
Another effective tool is using Fare Compare, and setting up an alert when the price for your destination drops.
There are also subscription services that will do all the searching for you, like Skyscanner or Hopper, finding the best deals to your desired destination.
There might be a few things you need reservations for, such as a special performance or park admission. But avoid scheduling every day of your vacation. Allow yourself some time to be flexible, immerse yourself in the local culture and discover new things while there.
Do research free things to do too. Beaches, hikes and scenic drives are three that come to mind!
Check the weather forecast at your destination—temperatures, humidity and precipitation could be quite different from home, and will affect what you pack and wear on the plane.
Pre-download all of your entertainment
Having your own device preloaded with books, movies and TV shows will not only supplement in-flight entertainment, it may save your sanity during layovers or flight delays. This will also help you avoid tapping into public Wi-Fi, which could pose a security risk.
Charge all your devices beforehand
Since everyone else will be traveling with devices, plug-ins at the airport are hard to come by. Fully charge your phone, laptop and tablet before leaving home, and pack your chargers in your carry on. If you are using your phone on the way to the airport, make sure it is plugged into the charger. You might also consider bringing a battery backup. You can bring a power bank up to 100w, but you must bring it in your carry on—lithium ion batteries pose a serious risk in unpressurized luggage compartments.
Update your ID
Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every traveler will need to present a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of identification such as a valid passport to fly within the U.S. Passengers who are unable to verify their identity or do not present an acceptable form of identification will not be permitted through the airport security checkpoint. Minnesota started offering Real ID drivers licenses and ID cards in October, 2018. If your ID does not have a star in a yellow circle, you should consider updating it to Real ID, even if you are far off from your renewal date. The renewal fees in Minnesota are:
+ $2 for a renewal up to 17 months before expiration
+ $4 for a renewal 18-29 months before expiration
+ $6 for a renewal more than 29 months before expiration
Those who renew early will also have four years added to their original expiration date, making your new Real ID driver’s license or ID card valid for a longer period of time.
Pack like a pro
Why is it that seasoned travelers have tiny, efficient luggage while others seem to be dragging along their entire wardrobe? The answer is experience. With a few tips, you can pack like a pro, too.
Bring a complementary color palette of clothes
Choosing clothes in the same color family, or complementary colors will give you more wardrobe choices. Mix and match to create different looks and leave home selections that don’t fit in. This method will save a lot of room in the suitcase!
Try rolling your clothes
Fold clothes neatly to a narrow width of about 10- to 12-inches, then roll! Not only does this save space in the suitcase, rolling prevents wrinkles and clothes are actually easier to find than when folded.
Use Ziplock bags to organize items including electronics and toiletries. This is also a great way to guard against leaks.
Stow shoes in a recycled grocery bag or reusable shoe bag to keep clothes clean. Stow breakable or bulky items inside shoes for an added layer of protection while filling this often-overlooked space.
If you must pack a ton of clothes (or are sharing a suitcase), consider using compression bags. These polyethylene bags eliminate air gaps in your suitcase. Unlike Space Bags, you manually remove air (no vacuum needed). They are also great for bringing home still-wet bathing suits. Toss in an extra bag for laundry to keep smelly clothes from making your whole suitcase smell like a hamper. Once home, use the bags to stow away seasonal clothing.
Make sure to weigh all bags before leaving home, and follow your airline’s weight restrictions. Overweight baggage charges can be stiff. Also allow for the weight of any souvenirs you might bring back.
Check TSA rules for carry-ons and checked bags
It’s a good reminder to check the Transportation Security Administration rules before you leave home. I sadly had to relinquish a half-full four-ounce container of expensive moisturizer, as the liquid rule is 3.4 oz, as printed on the manufacturers label. TSA has a thorough list of what can and can’t be packed, including some unusual items such as sports equipment. Also, plan to wear slip-on shoes to the airport- don’t be that person who holds up the line taking off their lace-up shoes.
On the Plane
There is no way around it—you will be in close quarters with the rest of humanity for the duration of your flight. With a little prior planning, you can be relaxed and stay healthy for your upcoming vacation.
Boost your immune system with Vitamin C
My dad was the king of promoting vitamin C to prevent colds and illness, possibly due to self-preservation because of our large family. But it works. Vitamin C is proven to support a healthy immune system. While it can be found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, you might be missing out on this important vitamin when eating airline food. Pack a Ziplock bag of chewable Vitamin C gummy vites for you and your traveling companion. Since the vitamin is water soluble (you excrete any excess your body doesn’t need), you can munch on about 8 gummies and still be within the recommended daily limit of 2000mg a day.
Skip the booze
Hate to be a buzzkill, but alcohol and flying do not mix well. Alcohol and low humidity inside a plane both lead to dehydration. Alcohol also acts as a diuretic. Plus, the lower cabin pressure on a plane reduces oxygen to your brain, which can cause dizziness and enhance the drunken effect of alcohol. So, while you are depriving your body of fluid, you will also have to get up to use the lavatory more often, and you may be more inebriated than you intended. Water or herbal tea are the best choices for airline travel. For a sparkly alternative, try a mineral water with lime or lemon. The carbon dioxide in fizzy water helps replace electrolytes, and the citrus adds vitamin C.
Get up and stretch
Use every opportunity when your seat mates get up to stretch your legs by standing in the aisle, or do a few stretches near the bathrooms. Even while stuck in the middle seat you can flex and unflex your legs to keep circulation active.
Invest in noise-cancelling headphones
While away blissful hours in the crying baby section by packing a foldable pair of noise cancelling headphones in your carryon. Even a budget pair will do the trick. Just make sure they have a cord with a stereo mini plug to listen to airplane media. If you load up an iPad with several downloaded movies before leaving home, you’ll have all of your flight time covered with entertainment. Pick up a stereo headphone splitter so you and your traveling companion can watch a movie together.
Say no to nausea
Many people don’t like motion sickness meds because they cause significant drowsiness. However, there are healthy alternatives. Use peppermint essential oil for a calming anti-nausea effect. One of the easiest ways is to wear an essential oil diffuser (available as a unisex necklace) to keep the scent close. Couple this with tummy soothing ginger candy like Gin Gins, which are available in varying strengths and flavors. You could even throw in a few ginger or peppermint tea bags to make a soothing beverage on the plane. Consider these items a little travel insurance for a happy trip that you can also use if a boat trip is part of your vacation.
Pack nutritious snacks in your carry on
Travel often means eating foods that are not part of your normal diet. Even though airline food has gotten considerably better, choices are often packed with sodium and sugar to bring out flavor. The good news is, other than liquids, airlines are pretty liberal when it comes to bringing your own pre-packaged food. Just keep in mind that fruit and vegetables are often restricted from entry, meaning they must be consumed on the plane or discarded before entering places like Hawaii or international destinations. Morning flight? Toss in a single serve cup of steel cut oatmeal and get hot water from the flight attendant. Most grocery stores sell single-serve veggie kits. Other great choices include small amounts of raw nuts, or a few limited ingredient, high protein, low sugar bars like Kind Minis. But avoid the pre-packaged mixed nuts- the super high sodium causes “jet bloat.”
Bring a reusable water bottle
You will feel better and recover from jetlag quicker if you stay hydrated. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it once you go through airport security. A great choice of for travel is Vapur. Reusable and BPA-free, Vapur can be totally flattened when empty, rolled or folded. They’re also 90 percent lighter than a standard reusable bottle, making it very packable.
Ready to plan your adventure? By following these travel hacks, you’ll not only have a more pleasant journey, you’ll arrive back in your “real life” feeling great.