Holidays & traveling should be a fun and exciting experience. If you’re like me though, packing your bags last minute and rushing to the airport, the beginning of your trip starts with more stress than it should be. I’ve changed though and adopted a pre-flight checklist to overcome these problems. Based on 18 tips for the Perfect Stress-Free Flight.
Since we’ve begun using them, we’ve really been able to enjoy our trips from the very start of the journey.
Like any good builder will tell you, all good constructions start with a strong foundation. This foundation begins the day before you leave.
- Have all your travel documents in one location & organized
- Get your bags packed
- Make sure you’re not taking along anything you shouldn’t be
- Keep a checklist of all the things in your house that need to be disconnected, turned off & packed away
- Make sure your pets are prepared
- Check with the airport/airline you’re departing from on how early you should be to avoid the last-minute rush
- If your flight allows pre-flight check-in, you can do this online 24 hours beforehand
- Leave home with plenty of time to spare to compensate for any potential traffic issues
- If you have to stand in a long queue, best relax and just wait
- Security & Camera Equipment
- Swollen feet
- Catching a connecting flight
- Once the plane has landed, wait your turn to get up and leave
Have all your travel documents in one location & organized
There’s nothing worse than realizing your passport has expired once you’ve packed your bags. We keep all our passports in a drawer, the dogs’ passports as well. If we have any pre-planned itineraries, they also find their home there. Additional documents or a wallet can also go here.
Get your bags packed
Make sure all the packing you can do is done the night before, don’t worry, you can pack your toothbrush in the morning. 😉
Don’t forget to leave out some clothes for flight day though… I had that problem once. Packed my bags full to the brim and did some complex math in order to get the clothes to come in underweight for check-in. It was a long trip, so I basically packed all my clothes, and what I had on needed to be washed. It made for a rather annoying scramble the following day when I remembered I may have forgotten something.
Make sure you’re not taking along anything you shouldn’t be
This could be the obvious (weapons, contraband, etc.) and the not so obvious, like too much perfume, liquids, etc. Pay special attention to your carry-on luggage, not to bring along any food, liquids, etc. I’ve lost so many bottles of deodorant like this. I like to think I make the security staff smell better.
Keep a checklist of all the things in your house that need to be disconnected, turned off & packed away
It’s also good to make a checklist before you go if you need to get anything repaired or sorted out before you go. Don’t forget to make sure the freezer is on.
Make sure your pets are prepared
If your animals are coming with you, make sure that you have met the travel requirements they may need (passport, chip, vaccinations are up to date, etc.).
If they are staying behind, make sure the carer has enough pet food, treats, leashes, etc. It’s also good to leave a clear note regarding any possible issues they may need to watch out for. If they are staying in a shelter, make sure the booking has been confirmed and that your drop-off time is in order.
Check with the airport/airline you’re departing from on how early you should be to avoid the last-minute rush
2-3 hours before boarding is generally a good timeframe, but if you’re traveling to a very small airport with a flight going to a large city, you may still find a queue leaving the building. 😉
You can also never be sure about traffic, possible road closures, and a smorgasbord of other random events that could take place.
If you’re driving to the airport with your own vehicle and intend on using long-term parking (which can be quite affordable if you’re not traveling alone), check online or inquire by the airport if there are any affordable parking areas nearby or what the airports parking fees are. Best to avoid any nasty surprises upon your return.
If your flight allows pre-flight check-in, you can do this online 24 hours beforehand
Some airports also have Self-Check-In machines available, here you can simply give in your details and have your boarding passes printed without having to stand in long queues and then just check-in any luggage by the designated luggage drops.
Now that your stress-free flight foundation is built, it’s time to head to the airport.
Leave home with plenty of time to spare to compensate for any potential traffic issues
If a trip will take us an hour, we’d normally leave 20 minutes earlier. (Hour & 20 min planned for the drive then) Most of the time we will arrive early, but there have been a few occasions where this has really saved our bacon.
If you have to stand in a long queue, best relax and just wait
If you arrived early, you’ll have plenty of time to get your luggage and bags checked without having to make a mad dash to the gate.
Otherwise, you may get stopped at the gate and have your bag taken away to be stowed with the regular luggage. If you travel with camera gear/laptops in your carry-on, like me, this will just stress you out, slow things down and annoy the rest of the travelers on your flight.
Security & Camera Equipment
If you’re traveling with camera gear, or any ‘professional/expensive looking’ equipment, security can be a particular hassle. Just relax though & be friendly to the security staff. Offer to take out the equipment for them and show them the items. Remember, they don’t want to damage anything and you sure wouldn’t want anything to get damaged.
Make sure you’ve packed the bag so that things are easily removed and nothing is concealed. Drug swabs may be done to your equipment, or barcodes may be read as a precaution that nothing is concealed or stolen. This is standard protocol and shouldn’t take very long.
When boarding the plane, if flying with a large airline, you’ll board in groups based on your ticket or where you are sitting in the boarding area. Wait your turn and don’t jump the gun. We all know that one guy that will run from the back to the front as soon as someone turns the intercom system on… Don’t be that guy, the plane isn’t going to land for him/her any quicker.
When you’ve been boarded, find your seat and stow your carry-on baggage quickly, preferably where you can see it.
Now sit down and stay out of the way. We’ve all come across those people that stand up blocking the way for no urgent reason, just to ask the flight attendant whether they can have chicken or fish. Don’t be that person, you’ll have plenty of time once the plane is in the air.
If you feel your feet swelling up, walk the distance of the aisle every now and then. If you want to be a little more discreet, just head to the onboard toilet a couple of times to get the blood flowing again.
Compression socks may also be an option, you can get Amazon’s best by clicking here. You can also get socks tailored especially for you for optimum results and healthy legs.
Catching a connecting flight
If you have to catch a connecting flight in an unfamiliar, large airport and you already know your gate number. Check with the flight attendant prior to landing if they could give you directions to your gate.
Once the plane has landed, wait your turn to get up and leave
Generally, it won’t make much of a difference if you squeeze your way into the aisle when the doors haven’t even opened yet. You’ll probably just work yourself up and it won’t paint you in the best light with your fellow travelers. If there is a gap in the aisle or someone leaves you a gap, then step out and don’t forget your carry-on.
If you do not have to catch a connection and you’re at your destination, the last things to do is go through security, possibly passport control/customs, and then grab your luggage. Unless you’ve only brought along the carry-on, in which case, well done, you’ve made it!
If you have traveled with luggage though, head to the conveyor belt of your flight. Pick a spot anywhere around it and expect that your bag will be last. Then be pleasantly surprised when it isn’t.
Now pat yourself on the back, you’ve made it to your destination without all the flying stresses.
Enjoy your vacation.
Just a little bit of pre-planning can go a long way to making that trip all the more enjoyable and prevent you from exploding with anger or frustration.
I hope these tips help you as much as they help us and you’ll enjoy plenty of stress-free flights in the future.