Being a doula trainer has brought about a multitude of experiences for me. Nearly 14 years ago, I boarded my first ever flight, but never did much traveling after that. I knew the basic ins and outs of travel, but I was definitely not the seasoned traveler I am today. Over the last year, I’ve picked up a few tricks that have helped me tremendously as I’ve gone city to city, sometimes cross country, and over seas.
1.) Get Pre-check
Pre check was a game changer for me. It allowed me to arrive at airports a bit later and move through security check points smoothly. The process was fairly easy and required an hour drive to a verification site, finger printing, and presenting forms of identification. It took around a week to process, although they told me that of my finger prints were “common” it might take up to three weeks. Apparently, I have pretty unique prints, which was wonderful. It’s important to know that not all airports offer pre-check and some that do only open up pre-check lines when they are experiencing high volume. For that reason, I choose airports to fly out of that are higher volume. You wouldn't think that pulling liquids and electronics out of your bag would be that big of a deal, but when you fly a lot it becomes quite a nuisance. I love walking right up, handing my ID and boarding pass to the TSA officer and moving right through. My bags go right up on the conveyer and I walk through a metal detector and not the large scanning devices. I do want to point out that there are occasional bag checks for even those who have gone through the pre-check process. I try to not get annoyed by this because the unpredictability of it is for my safety overall and the lines are still much faster and shorter.
2.) Get the airline Apps
Airline apps can be life savers. I am a Delta girl through and through and when possible I fly the friendly skies with them. If the airplane is wifi enabled, you can check your flight status, book flights, check on the gate you will be arriving at as well as the gate you will be flying out of (if you have a connecting flight). This can all be done for free through the app, which is really nice. Many airlines also offer free entertainment including movies, television shows, and even live newscasts. Entertainment helps the hours go by much faster and I’ve been able to catch relatively new releases so it’s not just outdated movie options. Make sure you have it downloaded before take off!
3.) Zone 3
I always felt like boarding the plane early was best, but I’ve come to realize that’s not the case. If you don't fly often, you probably aren’t aware at how unorganized the boarding process truly is. I still cannot figure out why they don't board window seats first, then middle, and finally aisle. Instead, everyone gets herded in and end up having to leave their seats as others come to their row. Since I hate getting up multiple times during a flight, I enjoy boarding last! Getting on early doesn't mean you will reach your destination any earlier so why not sit back and relax in the terminal a bit longer? Airlines like Southwest have alternative options without assigned seats. In these cases, the earlier you board the better or you’ll be stuck with a dreaded middle seat.
4.) Gotta go!
Something rarely discussed in travel is the use of the restrooms. When traveling all day, it can be difficult to plan stops, even for the most regular of travelers. Truly though, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go and I think this warrants being spoken about. There is nothing worse that waiting in line for 20 minutes and walking into a stall that has urine all over the seat or that smells bad for the obvious reasons. There is also nothing worse than knowing that you are the one leaving behind the smell for the next lucky person. Now, maybe some of you aren’t embarrassed by this sort of thing, but I know it’s a taboo and embarrassing subject for some. So what do you do? Grab a bottle of Poopourri or the AirWick version. It’s small enough to bring into the airport in your carry on and a few sprays in the toilet makes for a perfect containment system as well as air freshening upon flushing. no more snarling your nose upon entering and no more rushing the hand washing to get out of the bathroom before the person behind you comes out and you make dreaded eye contact. You laugh, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. Travel size Clorox wipes make for a quick clean up if the seat has been sprinkled. Fold it over a few times and wipe it down-it's perfect!
5.) Check that bag
I’m always asked at the ticketing counter if I am checking my carry on as well and I always tell them no. Know why? I never pay for the second bag because the majority of time the airline will run out of overhead space and check it for free to your final destination at the gate. I patiently await the call over the intercom that space is limited and graciously head up to the counter and allow them to check it. This is especially helpful if you have a tight connection and you don't need everything in your bag. I always bring a large personal item to accommodate any items I might need on the journey. My favorite is the Never Full bag. It holds a lot of stuff and still fits beautifully underneath the seat in front of me.
As you travel more and more you will come up with helpful hints of your own. Add your personal tips below as I can always use more. Until then, Farewell and have a safe flight!