How to Travel by Air

Four Parts:Packing the essentialsClothing for the airplaneCarry-on itemsBeing comfortable during travel

Whether you're taking a long-awaited vacation or meeting with potential clients, traveling by air can sometimes be quite a hassle. This is especially true in the post-9/11 world. By making just a few sensible preparations before you board that plane, you can be less stressed and more comfortable. In fact, you can even make things easier on your fellow travelers!

Part 1
Packing the essentials

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    Pack what you'll need, but pack well. Check the airline website for rules and restrictions about checked and carry-on baggage, and weigh your bags before you travel. Going over the limits often costs extra, and carrying items you shouldn't will cause problems at security. For help with packing, read this wikiHow page: Pack for a Trip.
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    Bring important documents. Bring your visa, passport, tickets, and other documents you may need when you are on this trip. Be sure to bring these in your carry on or pockets—not in your checked luggage!
    • Photocopy important documents. Keep one copy of your documents with you but separate from the original. Leave another copy to a trusted friend at home. These copies will help in replacing your documents if you lose your luggage.
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    Print your boarding pass at home. If you purchase your ticket online, several airlines now allow you to print your boarding pass before you even get to the airport, why not skip the line.

Part 2
Clothing for the airplane

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    Dress appropriately for safety and security. Though rare, airline accidents do happen. Should it become necessary to evacuate the plane by using that inflatable slide, or worse, walking out onto the wing, the last things you want to be wearing are shorts, a tank top or spike heels. Keep it simple: cotton or other natural fiber clothing (synthetics are more flammable), long sleeves and pants, sensible shoes, preferably sneakers. If you don't wear sneakers, wear sturdy, comfortable shoes that are easy to put on and remove for security. Slip-on athletic or walking shoes are a good choice.
    • Keep your footwear on at all times on the plane. You'll be able to evacuate more quickly in an emergency, and it's just polite.
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    Keep clothing loose but warm. Don't wear tight clothing, unless you are wearing airplane socks that specifically help with circulation. Many people swell during a flight due to the altitude and air compression and tight clothing may become uncomfortable. Air conditioning can get cold, especially sitting still for so long on a long flight, so long pants and top are ideal.

Part 3
Carry-on items

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    Keep carry-on items to a minimum. Most airlines allow only two (2) carry ons nowadays, and that includes a "personal item", such as a purse or backpack. Pack necessities in your carry-on. This can include medications, reading materials, information pertinent to your trip, your passport if traveling outside your home country, a small travel kit (in case your luggage is lost or delayed), a snack, and anything else you feel you can't do without, such as your digital music player. Also choose a small carry-on bag that will fit into the overhead compartment and keep the already limited foot space free.
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    Take your own pillow and blanket. Long flights, particularly overseas, can be almost unbearable without these essential comfort items. This doesn't mean you need to bring your bed pillow and your down comforter. Check out travel stores and websites for neck pillows and blankets that fold to the size of a DVD case. You never know who might have used the airline's pillows and blankets before you, or what their hygiene practices are -- or aren't.
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    Bring a few health items. Gum may help keep your ears clear. Earplugs soften the drone of the engine. Even if you don't usually get airsick, Dramamine can be a lifesaver if you hit some rough turbulence. If you have a cold or sinus problems, take a decongestant well before you board the plane, but bring nasal spray just in case.

Part 4
Being comfortable during travel

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    When you are traveling overseas on a night flight, Sleep! You will want to eat and watch the movie, but when you get there, it may be morning depending on where you are going, and having jet lag is no fun.
    • As much as possible, sleep according to what time it is where you are going. You may not be able to eliminate jet lag entirely, but you can lessen it.
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    Bring your own meal or snacks. Many airlines have eliminated this 'frill' and the packed meals they provide for a charge are often pretty bad. Make sure you avoid liquids (drinks, soups, etc.) which might not pass security inspection and are messy to deal with. Instead, try foods like sandwiches, chips, cookies, and cut up fruits and vegetables.
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    Stay hydrated. Air in airplanes is often very dry. You can take an empty water bottle through security and fill it once inside, or you can purchase a bottled drink inside security. If dry skin is a problem, you may also wish to use plenty of moisturizing lotion or cream. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and salt.


  • Bring an empty water bottle in your carry on luggage. After you get past security you can fill it up at a water fountain. This saves on buying expensive airport water.
  • When dressing, consider the weather at your destination. It's easy to check weather for almost anywhere in the world online, so you can know in advance whether it will be sweltering or snowing.
  • Take a pen for completing forms on overseas trips.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. The stylish jogging suits available now are a good option, as long as they're natural fibers.
  • When you book your flight, opt for a special meal selection. Like low-sodium or vegetarian. These meals are usually prepared by hand and are a little better quality, plus the flight attendants generally serve the special meals first no matter where you are on the plane.
  • Don't wear cologne, perfume or hair spray. They're flammable. Keep hair spray to a minimum if you must wear it, and skip the perfume and cologne entirely. Remember that an airplane is a small, enclosed space.
  • Bring earplugs for landing to block your ears, if you have sensitive ears.
  • If you want to look more awake at the end of your flight, try putting white eyeliner on the inner corners of your eyes.


  • Never make jokes about guns, hijacking, terrorism, etc. They're taken very seriously and you will be escorted off the plane by security, possibly fined and blacklisted from the airline
  • Remember that flight attendants aren't there just to serve drinks. Their main job is to keep every passenger safe. Federal law and international aviation laws require that all passengers follow flight crew verbal instructions. Respect their authority and follow their instructions.
  • The only way you can make a plane late is by delaying boarding, so don't stand in the aisle unless you have no choice, load up the overhead compartment quickly, and sit down as fast as you can. Keep the items you'll want at your seat in a small bag so you don't need to rummage around. Put your jacket under the seat in front, or take it off before entering the aircraft.

Things You'll Need

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Copies of these (above)
  • Other important documents

Article Info

Categories: Air Travel