Let’s face it: Flying isn’t exactly fun. The search for affordable tickets, the confusion of choosing a flight and the hike through a crowded airport can send anyone’s anxiety levels sky-high… and that’s before you even get on the plane!
That said, flying need not be a chore if you know how to prepare and navigate smartly through the turbulence. Here are some tips from the TripAdvisor Travel Forums for an enjoyable experience throughout your journey, from planning your trip to relaxing at 30,000 feet:
- Save (and avoid crowds!) by flying mid-week
Choosing to depart on a Tuesday or Wednesday may help you save more, as travelers tend to opt for a weekend escape. Streamline the process by booking through TripAdvisor Flights, which searches through hundreds of premium airlines, low-cost airlines and the biggest online travel agencies to find the best deals.
kellybrooks – As a general rule, to get the cheapest airfares be flexible with flight times as midweek flights are often cheaper than those on weekends. If you are flexible enough to fly indirect or leave at an anti-social hour, airfares are likely to be less.
rosecamoro – Be flexible with your travel dates if this is possible. You can sometimes find reductions by being flexible about your flight time or being willing to fly at short notice. It sometimes helps to travel in the middle of the week as fares can be lower when there may be fewer passengers travelling. Be sure to check all nearby airports and consider nearby destinations if this is possible for you.
- … Or fly during the off-season
It may not be possible for everyone, but if you can make this work you’ll find lots of opportunities to save money, from lower-cost flights to discounts on things to do once you arrive.
BradJill – Supply-demand principles dictate that high season travel usually comes at higher prices. Meanwhile, those who can travel during the low season can usually take advantage of lower prices on travel expenditures like airline tickets and accommodations, which usually represent a significant portion of travel budgets.
- Make the most of your airline points
Are you a frequent flyer, or do you have a credit card that offers airline rewards? Stay up to date on the miles you rack up, and use them to save money on your next flight – or spring for an upgrade.
ibgardyloo – If you’re using frequent flyer miles for trips, last minute is often the time you can get business class award seats. The airlines’ yield management systems will hold them back until their little robot brains are convinced that nobody’s going to walk up with a suitcase full of money to pay cash for them. This is especially true for summer travel from/to the US/Europe.
- Master the art of packing smart
TripAdvisor travelers agree: packing light is the way to go. Not only can you avoid luggage fees, but you can also save time upon departure and arrival by not checking in or claiming your bags.
Girl_604 – I started using contact lens cases for my face and hair creams. I don’t use very much in a period of 4 days, and they take up even less room than the 3-1-1 containers.
SussexWorldtraveller – Years and years of packing for travel has taught me to keep my ‘wardrobe’ down to a basic color scheme, with just one main color, usually darker clothes for winter or city trip, brighter and lighter colors for warmer destinations. Thus, packing a small number of mix and match separates and layers covers many destinations and doesn’t take long.
r c – Wear your bulky stuff on board the plane. It won’t make a big difference but it will maximize the space in your luggage. If you bring a jacket/coat, wear that on board too. If you have a compressible jacket/coat, you can try to get it into your luggage.
r c – Look at “quick drying” and “light weight” clothes. This will allow you to take clothes that you can wash on the go and save space in your suitcase. Denim is nice and comfy, but bulky and takes a long time to dry. This will be dependent upon humidity, but if you don’t know, try washing your jeans at home and then hanging them to dry and see how long they take. Then take another pair and toss them into the dryer and see how long it takes. Then try some quick drying clothes and do the same test.
- Toss these handy items in your carry-on
As you’re thinking about what to take on the plane, our travelers have a few tips for super-useful items, especially if you’re facing a long-haul flight:
TxOffWeGo – Take an empty water bottle through security and fill it in the departure area. That way you can make sure you have water when you want it, not just when the flight attendants are moving through the cabin with the carts.
absinthecity – Bring some snacks of your own – always good not to have to wait for service. And always bring something to use as a trash bag. I found on recent trips that I was accumulating all kinds of junk, some quite messy, and having a simple plastic bag would have saved a lot of bother.
sapere_aude828 – Pack a small zipped bag or neoprene pencil case or toiletry bag with ‘seat essentials’ if you plan to put your carry-on in the overhead compartment.
- Survive a long flight with lots of distractions
Spending hours (and even days!) in the air is not fun, but there are some things you can do to make those hours “fly” by…
Numbat – Try to find out what the meals service schedule is and work out a personal program around that.
415Caroline – Buy yourself noise cancelling over the ears headphones. It not only reduces the ambient noise but also allows you to listen to music, movies etc. at a much lower volume which I find less tiring.
lien – Read, sleep, watch a movie, think, listen to music, eat, drink, walk around, stand ‘up the back’ and exercise a little.
- Prepare thoroughly when flying with kids
Flying with tots in tow can add a whole other level of stress, but it need not be a nightmare if you know what to do. Remember to bring their favorite toys and prepare plenty of activities to keep little ones occupied throughout the flight. Our travelers share more tips below:
GeordieEngineer – Airlines allow families with children to board first – don’t. I found that this just adds extra time when you have to sit on the plane and the children are confined. We always board towards the end now and find it much better.
HarleyB – If your child has motion sickness make sure you are prepared with LOTS of sick bags before you need them. Also take extra bags with you when you deplane. Also take spare clothes and a plastic bag to put the icky ones in.
EalingBlue – Do pack a few light snacks. Chocolate is a bad idea, messy and you don’t want them hyperactive. Same goes for sugary drinks, stick to water.