7 Airplane Travel Hacks To Breeze Through Your Next Flight Like A Pro

Making your overall airport experience, well…less sucky.

Photo: Emma Cunningham

Ah travel, how we adore you so. Islands in the middle of nowhere, food dishes we can’t pronounce but fall in love with after the first bite, bazaars and cobblestone streets we forever find ourselves lost in, and not to mention the people we meet along the way that make our head and heart spin.

But travel, quite frankly, sometimes you can be a bit of a nuisance. You somehow spastically choose which moments are going to go smooth sailing for us, and which moments are going to be a bumpy-ass ride. And no matter how seasoned of a traveler one may be, you can always give them a run for their money when it comes to the dreaded air travel.

Long lines, picky airport officials, overpriced airport meals, delayed flights, overweight luggage, gate changes, screaming babies in the seat next to us, visa issues, lost baggage. Damn travel, you don’t make it easy. But somehow we think you wouldn’t be as rewarding if you did…

Luckily we’ve mastered how to handle the curveballs you throw our way, ultimately making our journey from A to B faster, easier and leaving us less likely to rip our hair out.

Here are seven simple hacks to breeze through your next flight like a pro, and make your overall airport experience, well…less sucky.

1. For those long and endless flights,

when you know you’ll be either be attempting to sleep or just downright bored, throw your flight essentials into a small backpack or bag before you board the plane and keep it under your seat. Chapstick, reading glasses, earplugs, a book, pen, sleeping meds, passport, laptop, headphones, snacks. This saves you from getting up, disturbing your sleeping neighbors, and reaching into the overhead compartment every time you need something.

airplane window
Photo: Emma Cunningham

2. When the flight begins to board most people tend to jump up,

get in line and get right on the plane. If seats were not assigned, we’d understand the reason for this. The fight for a window seat would be very real! However, this is almost never the case. Our advice? Sit around the gate, finishing charging your phone, and enjoy your last few moments stretching your legs. When the flight attendant announces the “final boarding call”, then go ahead and board. Why wait? Well, sometimes the flight isn’t fully booked which means empty seats. If you’re last to board, you can pick from either your assigned seats or the plethora of empties. Typically the back of the plane is open so if you’re looking to snag a nap you can head to towards the rear, sprawl out, and catch your Zs.

Photo: Emma Cunningham

3. Read the in-flight travel magazines and advertisements…

stashed in the seat in front of you en route to your destination. Of course this passes the time a bit, but chances are these magazines highlight some unique and off-the-grid sights, shops, museums, temples, monuments, locations in your intended destination. Air Asia is well known for their inflight magazine called Travel 3 Sixty. Thumb through these during your flight and jot down some of the restaurants the writer recommends and festivals that are going on. Arriving in your destination will feel less overwhelming when you already have some boxes to tick off.

travel hacks
Photo: Emma Cunningham

4. Bring your own water bottle.

Depending on the airline’s own policies regarding drink costs, the amount of times water is offered may not be to your liking. Having your own water bottle ensures that you have water when you want it. When they do come around, top off your bottle with what they give you. It’s also great to have if you’re staying in a country with horrific tap water. Refill at your hostels or hotels filtered water cooler as often as needed and save some cash on constantly buying bottled water at convenient stores (sometimes they aren’t easy to find). The bonus is, you’re also saving the environment!

plane window
Photo: Emma Cunningham

5. Roughly around 20 minutes before you land,

sprint for the bathroom. Usually when the seatbelt light comes on, there’s about 15 minutes of leeway until the flight attendant starts growing annoyed and you truly have to be seated. Use this opportunity to relieve yourself to prevent fighting for a restroom in the airport when you land. There will b no need to make a toilet pitstop, which means you can head to customs quickly before the line gets outrageous.

Emma Cunningham
Photo: Emma Cunningham

6. Use the airport ATMs to get your local currency upon arrival.

Using money converters in the airport usually come with their own fees and the exchange rates are a rip-off. ATMs always dispense local currency and have the most up to date exchange rates. So use your debit or credit card and get your money there instead of at the airport Currency Exchange counter. There sometimes may be a small fee for using an ATM that isn’t tied to your bank, but it shouldn’t be more than $4USD.

Photo: Emma Cunningham

7. Always carry a pen with you!

You never know when there is something you have to write down because your phone died or you have something you need to show someone, or there’s something at the airport you need to fill out (like those annoying customs cards), and so on… But mostly keep a pen handy for all the journaling you’ll do on the flight home. Trust us, you’ll wanna remember every single second of that incredible journey you’ve just embarked on which made all the annoying airport hurdles ever so worth it.

Emma Cunningham


World traveler, writer, adventurist - you can typically find Emma out on the road, headphones on, suitcase in hand, hanging on every note the world has to offer.

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