It’s no secret that flying can be a hassle… From long security lines, to overpriced airport snacks, to freezing airplane cabins, there are plenty of obstacles that can get in the way of having a good flight. That’s why I’ve put together this list to help you out… What to do Before a Flight: 18 important things to do before flying.
18 Things To Do Before a Flight
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1. Get TSA PreCheck (or better yet, Global Entry)
Both of these programs are excellent for saving time at the airport. Once you’re a verified trusted traveler, you can save loads of time at the airport by skipping lengthy security lines.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years of expedited security screenings in US airports. Global Entry costs $100 for five years, and expedites your security screenings through customs when you return to the US, as well as TSA PreCheck benefits. So if you ever travel abroad, it’s worth it to just pay $15 extra for Global Entry!
Not to mention, some credit cards (like the Chase Sapphire card) will cover the fee for TSA PreCheck. See if a card you already have covers one of these programs so you can start saving loads of time at the airport!
Consider Getting Travel Insurance
If we’ve learned anything over the past year or so, it’s that the world is a wildly unpredictable place. Save yourself a little of the heartache (and headache!) that comes when something unexpected happens by protecting yourself with travel insurance.
Flights get delayed and canceled, bags get lost, and reservations get messed up. When you have travel insurance, you can make it easier to deal with and get compensated for these issues. And while looking for coverage, be sure to see if your credit card covers any sort of travel insurance. Many do!
Pick Your Seats Carefully
Most airlines let you pick your seat ahead of time these days. If that’s the case, always try to take advantage of this perk! You don’t want to be stuck next to the bathroom for a longhaul flight, or without any extra storage space in a bulkhead seat.
Just remember, not all planes were created equal. Different airlines use different seating arrangements and numbering systems, so to make sure you’re getting exactly the seat you want, use SeatGuru. They make it easy to compare seating maps for different airlines so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Gather All Necessary Documents (And Make Copies)
To travel anywhere, you’re going to at least need a valid form of ID, confirmation numbers for your reservations, and any necessary credit and debit cards. If you’re going abroad, you’ll need to pack your passport as well, plus visas and other documents to make it through border control.
Before your flight, gather all these documents and keep them somewhere safe in your carryon bag—NEVER place sensitive documents in checked bags. And just in case you lose them, make copies of those documents. I keep virtual copies in a password-protected folder on my Google Drive so I can access them anywhere.
Plan Your Plane Outfit Accordingly
What you should wear to fly largely depends on where you’re headed —while it needs to be comfortable, it also needs to match the destination you’re going to.
For example: if you’re flying from Colorado to Florida for spring break, you need to plan an outfit that won’t be covered in sweat as soon as you land, but also won’t be freezing to wear while waiting at your gate. The easiest way to travel from one climate to another is to dress in breathable layers in simple, compatible colors.
Double Check The Weather
And while we’re on the topic: save yourself the hassle of a poorly-packed suitcase by double checking the weather a day or so before you leave. That way, you can catch sight of any impending thunderstorms, heat waves, or other varying weather conditions that threaten to rain on your parade (pun intended).
Make Sure You Have Flight Essentials
Flying isn’t always the most comfortable or fun thing to do, but you can make it a lot more enjoyable if you remember to pack these flight essentials. Here are some of the most vital items you won’t want to forget:
- A good travel pillow—here are the highest rated travel pillows for every kind of traveler
- Noise-canceling headphones (or earplugs)
- Any necessary medication/first aid
Charge Your Electronics
Nothing is worse than a low battery at the airport or on a flight. Always remember to charge all your electronics before a flight — especially the ones you’ll use inflight, like a phone and tablet. Pro tip: bring a portable charger so you can charge on the plane if you need to.
Pack Snacks For Your Flight
Avoid overpaying for your inflight snacking by planning ahead of time. Bring a couple of your favorite high-protein snacks to stay full and satisfied on your flight. And don’t forget a reusable water bottle, which you can refill yourself at the airport. Just make sure it’s empty before you go through the security line—even if you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry!
Check Airport Wait Times From Home
Whether or not you have enough time before your trip to get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, it’s always a good idea to scope out the airport wait times the day of your flight. You can use the MiFlight app to see how long security lines are at airports around the world, with data crowdsourced from other travelers.
This app is a true lifesaver, letting you know when you need to get to the airport early and when you can afford to sleep in a little extra.
Check For Available Airport Lounges
If you’re flying business or first class, you’ll typically have access to airport lounges as well. This is also true for people with active military ID’s. Or, you can invest in a Priority Pass, which gives you access to a variety of airport lounges around the world.
Airport lounges are a great spot to relax a little more comfortably than at your gate. There are snacks and beverages, comfy chairs, charging stations, and more.
Double Check Your Luggage
There are a few things you should check before a flight when it comes to your bags:
- Does it fit within the limit? Airlines vary, but the standard carryon must fit within 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and 40 pounds. That includes your handle and wheels! Checked bags typically have to be under 62 linear inches and 50 pounds. Of course, check with your specific airline!
- Are you carrying any liquids? If they’re in your carryon, they must be under 3.2 fluid ounces each.
- Did you pack batteries? Make sure to remove any lithium batteries from your checked bag as they’re considered hazardous. This includes external batteries for charging your phone!
If you’re used to being able to stream whatever you want whenever you want, remember that it’ll cost you a bit more while flying. Avoid paying for inflight WiFi by downloading all your entertainment ahead of time.
Whether it’s music, podcasts, movies, or TV shows, I recommend downloading enough content for nearly twice as long as your flight. This gives you plenty to choose from no matter what mood you’re in—you could decide to pop on a serious podcast or chill with your favorite comedy.
Download Your Airline’s App
This is the best place to store your tickets, find out about changes or updates to your flight, as well as access entertainment on the plane and more. Most commercial airlines in the US have their own app, so check it out before you go. Some even offer small bonuses or deals for inflight purchases, which is a nice perk!
Figure Out Your Phone Data
If you’re headed to another country, you most likely won’t be able to use your American data plan. Before your flight, scope out the situation in your destination.
- Can you buy a SIM card at the airport? How much is it, and what plans are on offer?
- Is WiFi readily available in your country, and can you just get by on that?
- Is it cheaper to get local data or use roaming data on your American plan?
Plan Inflight Skincare
Flying is extremely dehydrating: cabin air is dry and many travelers wind up drinking far less water while flying than they do in their day-to-day life. The biggest casualty is usually your skin—you know what I’m talking about if you’ve landed in a destination with cracked lips or tired skin.
Beat the dehydration by planning your inflight skincare. Bring a nice moisturizer and chapstick to reapply during your flight and drink plenty of water—at least 8 ounces for every hour you’re in the air.
Plan For Jet Lag
If you’re headed a few time zones away, prepare accordingly for jet lag. I follow these 11 tips to prevent jet lag, including:
- Avoiding long layovers
- Adjusting my circadian rhythm
- Using natural supplements to ease symptoms
Let’s be real, planes are essentially public transportation (unless you’re flying private, in which case, jealous!). That means they’re not the cleanest places, even when flight attendants regularly wipe surfaces down.
For example, did you know your seatback tray has 8 times as much bacteria as the toilet flush button on planes? Gross! Keep things clean by packing your own hand sanitizer and wipes.
With these 18 things to do before a flight, you’ll be ready to have an incredible (and stress-free!) trip. Now tell me: what do you always make sure to do before you fly? Leave a comment below or send me a DM on Instagram!
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