I was less than one flight away from A-list frequent flyer status last year, which I’m pretty sure is a title which almost exclusively applies to businesspeople. Being in a long distance relationship and going to school far from home has led to an abnormal number of plane ticket purchases in the past two years, and as I get ready for a month of weekly flights, I realized I’ve gained some wisdom and it might be worth sharing.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Literally. I gauge my stress levels in an airport based on whether or not I am sweating. I’ve actually started using meditation techniques while going through security at an airport and boarding planes. I focus on breathing, try to stay in the zone and avoid letting external factors get to me, and work to prevent myself from thinking of everything that could go wrong. A few little tricks can help avoid stress, such as making sure you arrive at the airport with an hour or so to spare, but I think most of travel stress comes from how you react to a situation.
2. Check your bags or pack very, very lightly. I absolutely despise having to hoist my carry on bag up into the overhead compartment. I try to keep the bag as lightweight as possible if I must bring it on with me, but if it’s an option, I always check the bag. Having to lug any extra equipment around an airport makes me much more stressed and sometimes miserable. I frequently overhear people on planes talking about how they never check bags because they don’t trust it, and I’ve had bags lost before, but on domestic flights the bags can typically make it to your destination by later that day or the next morning. That combined with the travel voucher for late or lost luggage makes the extra hassle of a possible missing bag worth it to me.
3. Invest in lightweight luggage. These suitcases have saved. my. life. I am an over-packer for sure, but these have come in handy primarily because when I go home, I’m usually traveling with a lot more than clothes (at holiday break, I usually bring back a suitcase full of food because it’s so much less expensive in Louisville). The suitcases are incredibly lightweight and easy to transport and most importantly, if you’re looking to stay under 50lbs. and pack a lot more than clothes, these make the job a breeze.
4. Pick a customer-friendly airline when possible. Have you ever flown Spirit airlines before? If the answer is no, don’t. I’m typically flying from Boston -> Louisville or Boston -> Houston, and fortunately Southwest or JetBlue is almost always the cheapest airline. I don’t have to worry about paying for checked bags or printing my boarding pass or paying an arm and a leg for airport snacks or choosing my seat before the flight (Southwest only). I find that it’s a good idea to check amenities when flights are somewhat close in price, especially if you have to check bags. Many times, the price for checked bags makes Southwest or JetBlue a cheaper option even if the base price is higher.
5. Always log your miles. Last year I decided to go back and log all of my flights from my first year at school, and much to my surprise, I had enough points to cover an entire semester’s worth of trips to Houston. I never thought I would fly enough to earn the number of miles it takes to pay for flights, and even if you don’t fly frequently, miles on many airlines don’t expire as long as you log them. Don’t let it go to waste!
I definitely haven’t perfected all of my tips myself, and these are geared more toward a college-aged crowd (How do people fly with young children???), but I hope at least some of these tips are helpful! Until next time!