So you’re excited for your upcoming trip… and especially for the memories you will make. And you should be!! But sometimes the journey is not so enjoyable. To travel to some destinations, air travel may just be a fact of life, and it’s often not the most comfortable or enjoyable part of our trip. However, our family has found that these seven tips and tricks make air travel a little more comfortable and bearable!
Bring an empty disposable water bottle
This is primarily if you are traveling within the United States where drinking fountains are commonplace. You can’t bring that trusty water bottle- filled- with you through security, but you can bring it empty. And that way you can refill it from a drinking fountain before boarding your flight, ensuring you stay hydrated without added cost. You can keep it with you throughout your destination and travels also, refilling along the way. We are big water drinkers, so hydration consideration is key in our family!
For long flights, especially international ones, neck pillows really do make it more comfortable to attempt sleep, or even just to relax. We recommend them for every family member. They help support little ones’ necks as they slump over in exhaustion, and prevent those uncomfortable “crinks.” Inflatable ones are easy to tuck in your hand baggage, though
plush pillows can be hooked to your bag and carried on the plane as an “extra,” anyway.
Hand sanitizer is a must for travel
We usually have small containers in each of our hand baggage. Walking through airports, touching handrails, checking out exhibits, shopping, all kinds of travel- and vacation-related activities are perfect for interacting with lots of germs! Often, it is inconvenient or impossible to get to a sink with hot water and soap. So on the plane, and anytime before eating or drinking, whip out that hand sanitizer!
In fact, we usually have small containers in each of our hand baggage. Walking through airports, touching handrails, checking out exhibits, shopping, all kinds of travel- and vacation-related activities are perfect for interacting with lots of germs! Often, it is inconvenient or impossible to get to a sink with hot water and soap. So on the plane, and anytime before eating or drinking, whip out that hand sanitizer!
Pack a portable phone charger
More airports are now offering charging stations, which is great…. but you can’t always depend on that. Be prepared with your own battery pack charger. Make sure it is fully charged before you leave home or depart from the hotel for your return. You don’t want to be caught needed to call for ground transportation or wanting to take a picture and your phone is dead. Not how you want to spend even one minute of your vacation!
Be prepared with snacks
I am an advocate of always being prepared in case of drop in blood sugar or general grumpiness, which are often related. Very few airlines offer any food to passengers, unless it is an international flight. And I prefer to have control over the cost as well as health factor of snacks, so buying them at the airport is not generally in our plan. Whether you’re traveling with or without children, tuck a few non-perishable snacks in your purse or hand baggage. Think nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, an apple or two. Gum is also a great tool for air travel, especially if children are having trouble with pressure in their ears.
Prep ahead of time with reading and listening material. Books can get heavy to carry, though if you’re in the middle of a great one, go ahead and bring it along. Additionally, prepare your phone or tablet with material downloaded in advance. Many fiction and nonfiction books are available in e-format from your local library. Also, travel time is ideal for catching up on those podcasts you’ve been wanting to hear. For adults or kids, this kind of listening and reading material on portable devices can be a lifesaver on plane rides. Jut don’t forget to download in advance so you’re not caught using roaming data. And don’t forget the earbuds or headphones! You can even consider downloading some favorite movies for the kids. In addition to on the plane, you might want to have some downtime one night at the hotel.
It’s amazing what “just asking” accomplishes sometimes. On a plane, ask if there is a different snack available (besides peanuts, for example, based on your preferences or allergies), or ask for a blanket or pillow to be more comfortable. Often, airlines have a few amenities available, but don’t offer them unless customers make a specific request. Try the same thing at airports.
We recently had a 2.5-hour layover in Mexico City. We had never used a VIP lounge in an airport before, and weren’t sure if we qualified. However, we were game to try and asked if our credit card qualified us. We were pleasantly surprised to find out YES! This ended up being a huge coup in this airport- where there are no drinking fountains!- with abundant bottled water as well as many other drinks and a generous variety of hot and cold snacks, all at no cost. Benefits also included free WIFI and business services. We were so glad we asked!
Hopefully, these tips for air travel, especially as a family, will make your journey a little more enjoyable. Then once you get through the travel part, you can get on to the enjoying part of your memory-making adventures! Come back here for tips on documenting your family travel. Have a great trip!
You make memories. We make them last!