Sarah has been volunteering full time with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for almost 20 years and has travelled all over the world. Here she shares a few helpful tips and Air Travel Hacks she’s learnt over the years to make the journey a little more comfortable.
Packing Carry On Bags for Air Travel
Here are a few things I always make sure to have with me on my Air Travels:
- Water Bottle – be sure to empty it before security and keep it filled at airports to yourself hydrated on and before your flight.
- Headphones – Bring your own headphones for the flight – noise-cancelling ones are even better!
- Compression Socks – these are great for circulation and long flights of 20 hours and over.
- Eye Mask – sleep is so important and if the person next to you has their reading light on; this will help you to be gracious.
- Baby Wipes – perfect to freshen up or clean your hands after eating.
- Moisturiser – flights can dry your skin out big time so always keep a bottle handy! Coconut Oil is my preference and it stays as a solid with the cabins air conditioning making it easy to apply!
- Neck Pillow – find one that suits you and try to purchase it before you get to the airport.
- Phone Charger – most airports have USB chargers available for you to use. Some airlines will provide this at your seat on the plane.
- Travel Purse – it is helpful to include print outs of your visa, an address of where you are staying, and flight itinerary handy. Sometimes I have been asked for this information if they can’t find it on the system. Also, carry a pen to fill out customs declarations on the plane before arrival.
- Vitamins – whether it’s a Multi, Vitamin C, or Grape Seed – it’s always a good idea to keep your immune system topped up during travel. Your body needs all the help it can get!
- Protein Bars – for those flights that don’t feed you enough or have an overpriced menu.
- Keep Cup – you can ask host or hostess to fill it with coffee or tea on your flight. Also, most airports have hot water facilities so if you bring your own instant noodles you can make a cheap snack during your layover.
Getting Through Security Easy
No one likes waiting in line longer than necessary. Plus, the pressure to empty your bags, take off your shoes/coats and then re-pack everything with a queue of people waiting behind you can often be stressful. Here are a few tips to make getting through security a breeze.
- If possible; avoid big jackets which you will need to take off.
- Put all your carry on liquids in a clear case and try to avoid wearing belts or watches so you can go through security quickly.
- Try to wear shoes that you can easily take off if needed at security (usually for flights in the USA).
- Have your laptop accessible to easily remove into its own container to go through a security scan.
- Make sure your water bottle is empty! (You would be surprised how often people forget).
Air Travel Layover Hacks
If your itinerary involves a 13-hour layover or longer you can ask the airline for a complimentary motel. It can be subject to availability but is a service you can request from most popular airlines. Don’t forget to ask for food vouchers too! If you miss your connecting flight because your first flight was late – go straight to a service desk and ensure they update your luggage tag to keep track of where your bags are. If you have been rebooked on another flight the next day – be sure to request a hotel and food vouchers.
Download Apps & Entertainment Before Your Air Travel
Another handy tip is to download the App of the airline you are travelling with. Having this on your phone can be helpful to access wifi on the plane or keep track of your baggage and giving you information updates on flight gates. Some Airline apps will even direct you to your next gate using an airport map. This is very handy for those short run-to-your-gate layovers!
My fave travel app is: Go To Gate. This app sorts out your itinerary in a way that is easy to understand and has on-time information about departure times and gate changes.
Grab the Netflix app and download movies or documentaries you have been wanting to see; just in case your plane has no good entertainment options 😉
Got a Long Layover? No Worries!
Lot’s of airports have fun things to do if you have the time. Go to Info booths or check online to find out your options. I once spent 8 hours at an airport and then discovered later that you can get free meal and entertainment vouchers to spend on long layovers!
- It’s always best to do a walk to get your circulation going after a long flight. Have a browse around the terminal or go try on a new perfume (this is my favourite thing to do).
- Find a place to stretch – even just having your legs horizontal or above your head for a few minutes will help a lot!
- Some airports even have showers so you can freshen up.
- Bookshops – the bookshops in an airport can offer you a good insight into the culture of a country. As a missionary it is so important we understand the culture so if you want a glance at what is popular in the headspace of locals check out what books are for sale.
by Sarah McCutcheon
YWAM Newcastle Staff