How to make the most of long haul flights, get the best seats and travel tips for a life full of airplane travel.
“I spend a lot of time on airplanes and in airports. I actually in some strange way enjoy the whole process, along with the feeling of being somewhere and nowhere all at once, and I like to think that I have it all figured out, although I am still prone to moments of idiocy. Hard to believe for those who know me I’m sure. Along my travels I have picked up some pearls of wisdom and minor revelations which have helped make the whole journey much more pleasant. What follows can at times be called life hacks and likely more travel tips for airports, but regardless these little trinkets of knowledge can make your life in the skies much easier.”
job title: Samesun’s Director of Sales
countries visited: 59
Pete’s tips for airplane travel:
Organize Your Carry On
Stay organized. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give anyone. Get a good carry on bag and decide before you leave where everything goes and then stick with that plan. When you take out your passport, put it back in the same place. Sounds simple, I know, but I’ve seen it and done it countless times where you put something back in a different place because you feel rushed and then have a moment of panic when you can’t find it later on. I also travel with pencil cases and other bags that close to keep myself even further organized. It’s like feng shuy for your bag; if you feel organized, the whole journey is more relaxing and less stressful.
Pack The Liquids
I’ve seen some people pull out ridiculous bags of liquids at the security lines. As a guy, there isn’t too much that I need really. I have a package of zip lock bags at home and do take a couple of toiletries onto the plane. For long hauls, a little toothpaste. Otherwise I always have a small container of moisturizer and have recently started bringing 1 ounce containers of natural oils that help me sleep and fight jetlag. Remember you can bring small containers on a plane, so make sure you have what you need, but don’t go crazy. Deodarant and lip balm are always good too. Less items also helps speed up your security process.
Waiting to Board the Plane
I’ve never quite understood the urgency that people have to get on the plane. The only time it is really necessary is if you have something to put in the overhead compartment, which I never do. You’re going to be on that plane for X amount of hours and they aren’t going to leave without you if you’re at the gate, so wait it out. Airport lines can drive anyone crazy.
Choose Your Seats Wisely
I always check in online before a flight, and pretty soon this will be the industry standard across the board. Most budget carriers require that you do this already, otherwise you will have to pay an extra fee at the airport. I’m an aisle seat guy, I like knowing that I can get up whenever and stretch my legs. The best seat for long hauls is the aisle seat in the middle bank of seats on the left hand side of the plane. The middle bank is almost always a row of four, which means that only one person will need to get by you instead of two. The left side means you can get off quicker once you land. I also always try and get as close to the front as possible, but not the very front row, because then you have to put your bag in the overhead. As I said earlier, I like to put my bag in front of me. Once we are in the air I pull it out and put it under my knees so I can stretch my legs out. If there is no middle bank of seats, any aisle seat, closer to the front. And sometimes on short flights, just to mix it up, and to be wild and crazy, I take the window.
Lay Off the Booze
I like booze. I have a hops tattoo on my right arm. But I don’t drink on travel days, with the exception of red wine with dinner. Air travel dehydrates you, and booze even more so. If you get sloshed on a plane it will affect you for a few days once you land, so save your boozing until you are on the ground.
Get a Comfy Hoody
Everyone loves a good hoody. I have several and I never board a plane without one. You need to be comfy, and hoodies always fit the bill. Plus planes can get cold. One thing that I like to do and this may sound silly, but I wear a hat on flights. I can then take my hoody, flip it around, and hang it off my hat. This acts as a blackout blind and a blanket, and the hat keeps the hoody far enough away from you so that you can still breathe. Hoodies also double as decent pillows.
$4 for a bottle of water after security? No thanks. Bring your own (empty of course) and fill it after security. Most airports, at least half-decent airports, have water bottle filling stations now. If not, there are always bathroom taps. If this freaks you out, just ask one of the restaurants to do it. They will usually oblige. The bottle will also come in handy for your trip, especially if you are in warm countries and buying large bottles of water. This will allow you to not lug around a 2L bottle when you don’t need to. For first world countries, you can always just fill it up wherever you are staying, thus saving you cash.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
If our Venice Beach General Manager Sara is reading this she is probably laughing at me right now. I always talk about my headphones. Seriously, they have changed my life, for trains and buses too. Being able to cut out that jet engine sound completely and listen to your music at a reasonable level goes a long way to helping you relax, especially if you listen to music to get to sleep like I do. They come with a price tag but I refuse to travel without them now.
The Google Map Trick
Not everyone knows about this one, and if you do, good for you smartypants. If you are arriving in a new city and are not sure where you need to go, before you leave home pull up a map of the area where you are staying and leave it open in Google Maps. Don’t close the app. Even without data, you will be able to see yourself on the map and find your way from the train or bus stop to your hostel.
This one really only applies to Canadians, so apologies to the rest of you. Canadians, get your Nexus pass. As long as you haven’t done something dumb in your adult life such as getting in a hockey fight in the middle of the street you should be eligible. Even if you aren’t travelling to the U.S. there are certain benefits that this card has, including faster, separate security lines and customs.
Don’t Bring Nuts
This isn’t a life hack at all. But I am speaking on behalf of all of us who are allergic to nuts out there. Please don’t bring them onto planes. The smell is very strong in a closed space. There’s a reason why you get rice crackers and pretzels as snacks on board these days, with the exception of most Asian airlines. We allergenics thank you in advance.