As a flight attendant, I travel to as many as 50 different cities on several continents every month. Travel makes up about 70% of a FlyGirl life, so I know better than most that flying can be equal parts exciting and cumbersome. No other season in the year reveals the ugly underbelly of commercial travel like the holiday season—to help, I’ve compiled tips I’d share with my passengers; ranging from the globetrotting travelista, to the once-per-year infrequent flyer.
Booking Your Trip
Like any other time of the year, doing your research and being flexible is the best way to save on travel costs. Always look into options such as booking 2 one-way tickets instead of roundtrip, or comparing prices on alternate days. My favorite tool is Skyscanner—this engine allows you to search flight prices in calendar form, and if you are super adventurous, it’ll allow you to leave the destination blank and show you the cheapest flights everywhere for your travel dates.
*Bonus FlyGirl tip: Avoid too-tight flight connections. Nothing sucks more than having only 50min between flights and being delayed or stuck in traffic on the tarmac (The average taxi-out/taxi-in time at LGA is 30 minutes). Love yourself and leave at least 90min between your connecting flights.
I’ve been flying for almost 2 years and I am only now developing a foolproof system for packing just the right amount for the trips I go on. When it comes to packing for a trip, keep three laws in mind:
- Is it versatile?
- Is it lightweight?
- Can I absolutely not survive without it?
Simplicity is key. Pack coordinating outfits that allow you to mix and match. Limit footwear to one comfy pair and one fancy pair. Bring products that work double duty (coconut oil as a skin moisturizer, makeup remover and hair oil? Yasss). Unless you plan on having high tea with the queen, what you have on won’t matter much, but bulky luggage can make an otherwise awesome trip very miserable.
*Bonus FlyGirl tip: Avoid checking a bag if possible and pack carry-on luggage. It will save you on check-in fees, as well as anxiety from hoping your bag isn’t lost. If you MUST check baggage, split up your belongings between the checked in and carry-on luggage so that IF one goes missing, you will still have what you need to get by.
At the Airport
Some airports are an absolute dream to travel through (Detroit is easily one of my favorite airports). Others appear to have been strategically designed to torture its visitors (ahem, London Heathrow). Nevertheless, a few tips can help make the airport experience easier:
- Arrive early. TSA lines can be ridiculous at some airports (Chicago- O’Hare workers are currently on strike). Spare yourself the stress and arrive at LEAST 90 minutes prior to your flight.
- If you are prone to being cold, pack a travel blanket or pashmina scarf. If you plan to sleep, bring a neck pillow. Pack snacks just in case the flight is too turbulent for a beverage/snack service. Bring an empty water bottle and refill it at water fountains to stay hydrated. The moral here? Take control of your comfort while you fly.
- Seats in the vicinity of an electrical outlet are prime real estate in airports. To keep your gadgets powered up, purchase a portable charger to avoid hunting for an outlet. My favorite charger is the Mophie, it can fully charge my phone from 0% twice before dying.
- Download helpful apps for traveling. The mobile app for the airline you’ll be flying is key–some others include GateGuru, which tells you what shops/restaurants are in the airport and where; as well as Mobile Passport, which allows you to skip long lines in Customs.
Bonus FlyGirl tip: Wear comfortable shoes for walking through the airport, extra points if they are easy to take on and off through TSA. And skip giftwrapping presents, as TSA will likely undo all of your hard work.
The key to surviving the busiest traveling season of the year is to be prepared, flexible, and patient. Delays, cancelations, lost baggage and irritable gate agents happen sometimes, but remembering the reason for the season and that you are not alone in the experience can make your journey merry and bright. Hope to see you in the sky!
***I do not receive any compensation for the recommendations I make. These are just a few of my favorite things as a FlyGirl.