15 Tips for Your Next Flight

I am a moderate to heavy traveler and flying has become a regular travel method for me. My 6-year-old daughter is even a world-class traveler. When she was 4, she flew 14 times in less than one year and even earned a free flight from Southwest for being a frequent flier. People always comment how good a traveler she is which makes a daddy proud.

The idea for the article actually hit me other day on a shuttle to a hotel in Los Angeles, an elderly couple asked me for some advice related to their travels and I was more than happy to help them. It was clear they were confused by the hussle and bussle so I stepped in to give them a hand and pointers on how to travel like a pro. After helping them, they said I should write a book on these travel tips.

And that is how I came to write this post on a flight from LA to Phoenix and finished it on a recent 5 leg flight from Tucson to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Washington, DC to Denver back to Tucson. It ain’t a book but it will do for now:)

Tip 1: Have tip money. You need to be prepared to tip the valet, the baggage boy, the shuttle or cab driver. I always have $1’s and $5’s with me for just these occassions.

Tip 2: Use off site parking with free shuttle. Private enterprise is always more accountable than government. The onsite parking garages are almost always more expensive and they often add a high airport tax and fees to the total. Park offsite and experience the power of the free market and competition.

Tip 3: If flying Southwest, ask the steward or stewardess if the flight is full. If it isn’t, look for isle or window seat in those 3 seat rows that there is already someone sitting and they appear to be alone. Chances are you will not have another person sit in between since the flight is not full. Even if someone does, the 2 next to you will be strangers and therefore not talk very much:)

Tip 4: If flying Southwest full flight and traveling alone, sit next to a married couple. I often find married couples don’t have much to talk about so you will travel in peace and quiet.

Tip 5: If you suffer from motion sickness like me, sit in the rows close to the wing (often rows 13 thru 17). I took flying lessons once and suffered from motion sickness. My flight trainer was also a commercial pilot and recommended this tip to help me avoid unnecessary movement on my commercial flights. The center of the plane close to the wings experiences the least movement which is much easier on my inner ear.

Tip 6: Don’t sit in exit row unless you are 6’2″ or more. Exits rows have the most leg room but often the seats don’t recline. Leave the exit row for your 6’2″ or taller friends who could use the leg room and be sure to instead get a seat that reclines.

Tip 7: Bring industrial ear plugs. Right this moment, there are very loud wall street traders next to me and they feel the need to yell at each other. I just insert my ear plugs and it is quiet time for me:)

Bonus Tip: Get the ear plugs with the yellow connecting nylon string between the 2 ear-buds and people will know you are seeking solitude.

Tip 8: Bring bud-type ear bugs with a personal music player if music or podcasts are your thing. Be sure to invest in a set of in-the-ear bud type that drown out the baby that is crying behind me right now while still allowing me to enjoy my music.

Tip 9: Place carry-on luggage right above your seat if you can. I used to put my luggage anywhere and then later worry if someone accidently grabbed my bag as they depart. I then started putting my carry-on across the isle from me so I could easily see it. But if I had to get something out of my bag during the flight, I would have to dig while hovering over someones head. Now, I put my carry-ons right above my seat. That seems to have resolved most of my problems as well as making for a more speedy departure.

Tip 10: Always bring a carry-on bag with your toiletries and change of clothes. If business travel, put you meeting clothes in the carry-on. I once flew to Dallas to give a presentation to executives with HCA Healthcare. My luggage ended up in Amarillo, Texas forcing me to buy new clothes at Wal-Mart at 2am:(

Tip 11: Bring book or magazine for reading. During take-off and landings when the laptops, iPad’s and Kindles are banned, a book or magazine will come in handy.

Bonus Tip: Invest in car chargers for your electronics. American Airlines provides cigarette-type outlets you’ll find in your car on almost every odd row making recharging and staying charged a breeze.

Tip 12: Buy water after you go thru security. I have been on flights in which there were no drink service because of turbulance during the entire flight. I now always grab a water after security for those moments of thirst.

Tip 13: Always carry a snack even if you don’t want it when you buy it. If you have ever been stuck on a tarmac for 3 hours waiting on that small snow storm to blow by which is an hour more than when you thought you’d eat next, you will remember this tip well like I do now. Even if you don’t get hungry, you can always offer it to your neighbor as a peace offering, the loud kid next to you to bribe them into being quiet or just leave it in your bag for later at the hotel when the munchies hit. I have found that a good trail mix fits well for this type of snack because it provides great energy and keeps for long periods of time.

Tip 14: Never pre-pay gas from a rental car and fill up the day before your flight. Mathematically, the odds are in favor of the rental car company if you pre-pay. On the day before your return flight, fill up your tank. On the way to the airport, stop and top it off if time allows. If you are rushed, then skip the gas station. Chances are the rental company won’t even notice or at least will only charge you for a couple of gallons.

Tip 15: Always bring home a gift for your significant other and children no matter the cost. And put some thought into it. Those cheezy magnets aren’t going to cut it… I know, I’ve tried:( Your family has missed you and this will show them how much they were missed, also.

Happy travels!