Flying Tips – Air Travel Made Easier

“I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
– John Denver

Although air travel is the most carbon-intensive mode of transportation, it is also the fastest and most convenient way to get between two destinations. However, if you like slow travel and the challenge of buses, trains and ferries, you will likely only use airplanes for long-hauls, such as crossing oceans or bypassing continents. After hundreds of flights, we have developed some strategies for making air travel as comfortable and safe as possible.

Always confirm your flight 24-48 hours in advance, no matter how positive your reservation is. Get to the airport early. Very early. Unforeseen delays could make you miss your flight. Traffic jams, customs / immigration and long queues can add up to hours. If you are fortunate enough to avoid any lengthy delays, and have a couple of hours to kill at the airport, better safe than sorry.

Eat a light meal before and/or during the flight to help avoid motion sickness, jet lag and other airplane ailments. On long flights, make a point of getting up ad walking around the aisles every hour or two. This will help your circulation, stretch you limbs and reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis.

Security Check

There are excellent and versatile products on the market when it comes to securing your belongings. Most are simply a cage (resembling chicken wire) with steel cable draw cord and a lock used to envelope your backpack. It is virtually impossible to slash a pack encased in such a device, and is extremely effective in prohibiting anything being removed from one. Equally important is nobody putting anything IN your pack, either. Zap-straps fastening zipper tabs together also work well.

Ensure all pocket-knives, scissors and anything else that could be construed as a weapon are not on your person or in your carry-on baggage, if carry-on baggage is even permitted. If you are carrying any liquids, gels or creams, keep them in 100ml containers or smaller. If not, they will be confiscated.

Watching the clouds roll in from the Window Seat

Watching the clouds roll in from the Window Seat

In airports, if you are traveling with others, have one person go through the metal detector first. When they are through, put all the packs on the x-ray machine’s conveyor belt and make sure they all go in before the last person goes through the metal detector. If you are traveling alone, make sure you keep a close eye on your pack when it comes out the other side of the machine.

Even if it is a short flight, your luggage may not meet you for a few days. Attach an ID tag with an email address to your luggage. That way, the airline can contact you easily if your luggage is misplaced or mislabeled. Don’t include your street address as it may indicate that your home is empty, risking a burglary. Prepare yourself with a few bare essentials and toiletries in the event you and your pack end up on different planes.

Newspaper Mentioned Cheap Airfare

Many countries offer domestic air passes, which may be of good value. These are usually good for 3-4 flights over 3-4 weeks. More flights can be added for a fee. Most air passes must be purchased outside the country in question and require your international flight be with the same airline or one of its partners. If you are visiting a large country, this may be worth researching, as bus and train fare may be just as expensive, more time-consuming, and less comfortable.

Sometimes, short-hop flights are very inexpensive. They can save a lot of time on the road / tracks / river and may make border crossings easier. “Bucket shops” in popular tourist hubs that sell cheap seats on chartered flights are a good place to look for deals on onward travel.

You might find that a package tour – airfare and accommodation offered by a travel agency using a chartered flight – may turn out to be cheaper than buying a plane ticket independently. Travel agencies occasionally have such deals due to their economies of scale. It may be worth looking into, and you don’t have to use the accommodation if you don’t want to.


Anyone who has done any amount of air travel has their own way of best dealing with jetlag. Some people prepare for a week or so prior to traveling by adjusting their biological clocks by one hour per day.

In other words, if the time difference between where you are and where you’re going is six hours, go to bed an hour earlier/later than the previous day for six days before departure.

Using this method, a trans-Pacific flight will require about two weeks of adjustment. This seems inconvenient and onerous, but works for a lot of travelers.

The horizon stretches across the desert

The desert from 30,000 feet

We prefer to deal with jetlag upon arrival. This may mean staying up all night, going to bed early and/or waking up with the roosters. If it is 9pm at our destination, but 9am at our departure point, we will stay up all night upon arrival, because sleep will be impossible. We will then force ourselves to stay awake the next day and go to bed early that night. By the following morning, we will be pretty well adjusted to our new time zone.

For long flights in an easterly direction, try to choose an early morning departure and stay up all night before you leave. The relative time will remain the same, and the airline will accommodate this by serving appropriate meals and dimming the cabin for the duration of the flight. If you can catch some sleep on the plane, jetlag shouldn’t be much of an issue upon arrival.

Sanitized For Your Protection?

Public spaces are never the cleanest places around, and this is especially true for airplanes. Although air travel is statistically the safest way to get around, airplanes are notorious for making people sick. Every few years, news reports surface about how dirty airplane cabins are and the bacteria found on and around the seats and washrooms. Airlines justify the lack of cleanliness with tight schedules and short turn-arounds for their aircraft.

Protect yourself by wiping down all surfaces around your seat with hand-sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes. These areas include tray tables, seat-belt buckles, headrests, air-vents and seat-pockets (and anything in them). Use napkins when you touch anything in the washrooms, especially after you’ve washed your hands.

Stay away from people who appear sick, and ask for another seat if anyone near you is coughing or sneezing excessively. The risk of contacting bacteria during air travel starts with the tote for your carry-on at the security check, and ends with your luggage handle at the baggage carousel.

Circling before landing on the Baja.

Circling before landing on the Baja

So, spreading your wings will get you where you want to go quickly. But, air travel will also enlarge your carbon footprint, and you will forgo seeing the countryside and interacting with the locals. As with everything else in life, balance in your transportation methods will likely give you a good taste of all worlds.


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