I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike flying. It’s not that I’m afraid of flying. It’s just a noisy, cramped, dirty, exhausting, anxiety inducing experience for me.

However, since traveling full time for the past 17 months, I’ve taken my fair number of plane rides and I’ve learned a few things along the way that have helped make the experience more enjoyable. Check out how I manage the anxiety and irritation below.

  1. I plan buffer time. This has taken A LOT of practice because I prefer to show up and strut right to the gate and onto the plane but I’ve learned if any wrench gets thrown into the picture, it causes me to get worked up unnecessarily. I plan on getting to the airport an hour before boarding time (boarding time is about a half hour before the flight) at minimum. I also consider day of the week and time of flight as this will impact travel (example: Monday morning will be busy with business travelers) and add in another 15 minutes if checking a bag.
  2. Avoid checking a bag. Not only does this save money (unless flying Southwest or you have a credit card with free checked bags) but I’ve had my own bag get lost, delayed, destroyed so many times that it’s just not worth it to me. Plus, it can take a while at the destination baggage claim depending on the airport.
  3. Fly non-stop when possible. This helps keep track of belongings, makes traveling easier, and saves time. It’s worth it every.single.time.
  4. If a layover is a must, I aim for a minimum of 60 minutes on domestic flights and 2 hours on international. If you’re on the same airline, it’s likely your gate will be on the same concourse and relatively close, but this is not a guarantee (unless you know the airport well). If I plan on going to grab a coffee, refill the water bottle, take bathroom break, I plan for 90 minutes. I also plan for 90 minute layovers if I’m flying during peak travel times, holidays, or potentially inclement weather seasons. Again, when possible, aim for non-stop.

    You never know what travel will include, so allow extra time.
  5. Wear comfortable clothes (of course) but also compression socks. Yep, you heard me. My sister turned me on to this trick and it works for longer flights especially, but even the shorter ones. They help increase circulation and reduce swelling (not to mention reduce blood clot risk). I enjoy them because they make my legs feel way better and almost rested after flights. PS: compression socks come in cute colors and designs for both men and women!
  6. Always go through security with an empty water bottle and fill it back up once you get through. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years (like before everyone had reusable water bottles 😉 ) and it keeps me hydrated for the plane ride and saves money on airport water bottles.
  7. Speaking of drinking, I don’t drink alcohol before/during flight (even if I have snazzy drink coupons) because I find it to be incredibly dehydrating and just makes me feel exhausted the entire rest of the day.
  8. While I don’t drink, I do eat (a lot). I always pack snacks (and more than I’ll likely need) to avoid the hanger and keep me focused. Aim for grounding snacks like unsalted nuts or hydrating snacks like an apple and carrots. If it’s a longer flight/travel day, be sure to pack something more substantial, like a nut butter sandwich or leftovers that are easy to eat. Filling up with high salt airport food will not only put a dent in the wallet but I find extra salt while traveling leads to bloat and more fatigue.

    Always pack snacks and hydrate.
  9. Warm liquids can be your best friend while flying to help keep you hydrated, grounded, and well… warm. I travel with non-caffeinated teas and often ask for hot water when the beverage cart comes around. It’s the coziest, simplest, best part of traveling for me. Airplane self-care.
  10. Because traveling causes the body to move faster than it’s designed, it’s easy to feel out of sorts which is why grounding foods and warm liquids are important but also taking the time to mentally chill. This has been THE biggest game changer for me and I started to look forward to flights after I designated the first several minutes as meditation space. It’s perfect; I close my eyes (my neighbors think I’m trying to sleep), and in a matter of a few minutes of doing a specific pranayama, meditation, or mantra practice, I’m settled into a heck of a lot more ease.
  11. Noise-cancelling headphones. They help the chill process immensely and help drown out the screams, coughs, and chatter. I bought my first pair of noise-cancelling headphones on Amazon last minute prior to our Asia travels and they were the best $50 travel investment. Ever. I noticed the star rating has decreased since I bought mine but I still LOVE them to cancel noise and listen to podcasts and music while flying.

    This is me with noise-cancelling headphones. This is my husband without noise-cancelling headphones. 😉
  12. Yoga and Steps. Because I’m wearing comfortable clothes while traveling, you can bet I’m going to walk around as much as possible and squeeze in a few hip openers before sitting still for hours to make everything more comfortable and to help with the chill process… because of that buffer time I planned for, I have time for this (usually!). Anyone curious about my favorite travel yoga poses??

    Standing Figure Four/Pigeon is one of my favorite pre-flight hip openers!
  13. Be extra kind. To yourself and others. I will send extra hellos, smiles, and small genuine compliments (I love that scarf; where did you get that bag; thank you for being so efficient; thank you for coming to work today so I can have my coffee). It helps me put things into perspective (everyone has some struggle) and as cheesy as it sounds, spreading kindness helps me feel happier about the noisy, crowded, germ filled, florescent light situation I can’t do anything about. I can control my emotions though.

How do you make flying easier on yourself? I feel like sometimes the “easy way” is the best form of self-compassion – especially when traveling.

Flying Hacks to Save Money, Time, and Your Sanity

2 thoughts on “Flying Hacks to Save Money, Time, and Your Sanity

  • March 13, 2018 at 4:21 am

    You forgot the best hack of all… marry an airline pilot!

    • March 13, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Hahah!! That would be the best yet! Mickayla is a lucky duck 😉


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