How to manage the hassles of air travel

July 11, 2017

air-travelPeople who don’t travel talk a lot about the hassles of air travel. The aggravations. The problems. All the reasons they do not fly. Of course, that’s usually an excuse for some other reason.

Like fear of flying.

I get that. I was a fearful flyer once, too. But here’s what I know:

People who don’t travel are missing out on wondrous experiences. I didn’t want to miss those things.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I flew cross-country every week for work.  So I know a little bit about the hassles of air travel and how to manage them. Note that I said “manage” and not “handle.” You’ll see why as you read on.

The first big step is to PREPARE.

  1. Book early enough to reserve the seat of your choice, whether it’s exit row, aisle, window or purchase a seat with a little extra space.
  2. If you can carry your bag onboard, do. Make sure your personal item at your seat has your prescription meds and any OTC meds you might need.
  3. If you need a neck pillow, get and bring one. Ditto with blanket, snacks, a meal, whatever. Plan for your needs in advance.
  4. If you’re scheduling a flight with a connection, leave yourself as much wiggle room as possible in case of weather or other schedule delays.
  5. Let’s talk distractions. Do you like to read? listen to podcasts? watch films or TV shows? rock out to the beat? Whatever you like to do, get ready to do it on the flight. Download away before you leave home. Charge up your device. And get a chargeable case or an extra battery just in case. While you wait for your flight, charge your device somewhere so you board with a full charge. Many airports now have charging stations.

The second big step is SET EXPECTATIONS.

  1. Understand that very little is in your control: not weather, not the aircraft mechanics, not the effect of other late flights. Take that as a given. No amount of complaining, tantrum or invoking the gods is going to change the situation. Whatever happens will happen no matter what you do.
  2. So plan how you’ll stay calm if a snafu occurs. Do deep breathing, listen to music — do anything so that these hassles don’t bother you.


  1. When it’s your turn to board get in your carefully chosen seat, take out the book, magazine, e-reader, mp3 player, device and prepare to distract yourself.
  2. As soon as you take off, begin distraction. I used to call it “putting myself into the zone.” That meant I left my body for some other world, transported by what I was reading, watching or listening to. I wasn’t on an airplane, I was in the zone. I completely ignored the flight I was on.
  3. It’s easy to be in the zone if you plan ahead. I take care of my own food and drink and really, I have no need to engage with anyone, including a flight attendant, unless I want to. Nothing exists but my distraction.
  4. Stay in that zone. Even if it’s a bumpy flight. I used to be a far more nervous flier than I am now. I’m calm because I put myself in the zone. Every flight. Ask girlfriend, who sat next to me on a 10-hour flight to France. I barely raised my head from my distraction. She’s another Very Frequent Flyer, so neither did she.
  5. If you do this right you may not even notice that your plane is landing until you’re startled when the wheels hit the runway. That’s happened to me more than once.

So there you have it. Don’t miss out on the wonders of seeing new places. Air travel is manageable with these techniques. Try them and let me know how they work for you.

41 comments on “How to manage the hassles of air travel
  1. Shari Broder says:

    Great advice, Carol. Then there’s the prequel: booking your flight. That drives me nuts with the crazy pricing and all the add-ons. The airlines have made that an ordeal too. Ugh.Yet I love to travel, so I just need to suck it up!

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I don’t think anyone enjoys the actual traveling, but getting there makes it all worth it. Usually, that is.

  3. As someone who travels a lot, I’ve learned to keep my eye on the prize – getting there! And to splurge for upgrades whenever possible. Business class makes a huge difference!

  4. technology and the ability to completely ignore your surroundings really does make flying so much easier now.

  5. Thank you for these great tips! I travel pretty frequently and even though everyone makes fun of me, I arrive at the airport super early, get through security and just chill – knowing I’ve done everything I can a to make sure it goes smoothly. After that, I just go with the flow.

  6. Great tips and advice, Carol, I imagine you are quite the travel pro these days! I’m becoming the self-proclaimed solo road trip pro with dogs! Love my audiobooks for those long drives. Air travel makes me anxious, not the flight itself, but all the other stuff! Appreciate your concerns and comments about my pooch this week. Thank you 🙂

  7. These are all such awesome tips! I fly a lot, and anything that will make my trips easier is always welcome. I’m bookmarking this.

  8. Laurie Stone says:

    Good advice. I put myself in the zone by listening to yoga music on my i-phone. The same relaxing melodies work the same magic, whether 30,000 feet or on the mat. Thanks!

  9. I think one problem with people who don’t like to do it is that they don’t know how to or just flat out don’t prepare. That makes it harder on them, but also the people in line behind them. It really does help to prepare ahead of time.

  10. These are great tips, even for me! I am not a fan of traveling this way because of the lack of control, it’s good to be able to hand that over occasionally though.

  11. Nancy Reyes says:

    Such great advice, both times I flew were a hassle and terrible, Plane delayed, then canceled, this will make everything go nice and smooth

  12. Cheryl says:

    I don’t fly that much, but my son is becoming a seasoned solo flyer. I feel like all we do before he goes away for the summer or a holiday is prepare as if we’re going on a long road trip. Lots of activities and comfort goods.

  13. Joely Smith says:

    Thank you for the tips. I am NOT a fan of flying but will have to take a trip for a wedding soon. I can use all the advice I can get!

  14. Such great tips. Especially realizing that there is so much you have no control over. I need a neck pillow!

  15. candy says:

    Traveling use to be more fun and easier. Being prepared is always a plus and makes it much less stressful.

  16. Jeni says:

    One of my favorite air travel tips is to check out airports you have layovers in ahead of time at home. You can find all sorts of stores and restaurants in the airport, and have a plan so you can have a meal someplace you love during your layover.

  17. Carmel says:

    THis is so handy, bookmarking for later use! I travel with kids these days but setting those expectations is key!

  18. This is a great post! I think that if you are prepared and understanding you can survive anything that flying has to offer! I love using meditation and relaxation music. When in doubt, SNACK! 😉

  19. Carol Bryant says:

    I had to get a neck pillow after my last flight. I arrived at my destination and could hardly turn my neck. I dont mind flying except the airport hassles ;(

  20. Sarah says:

    Great tips! It always helps to plan ahead!! A lot more goes into air travel than people realize.

  21. Dogvills says:

    These are very helpful tips. I know a few people who fear flying. I will share this with them.

  22. Bellybytes says:

    I would add a fresh set of underwear in hand baggage in case your bags are misplaced. Also I would advise a small bag so that you don’t have to stretch overhead (My hand can’t reach that high). Also make sure you don’t have too many removables like bangles and scarves and belts that you may leave behind in the check in trays at the airport! I’ve been asked to take off the spectacles round my neck before entering a metal detector once. I’ve also been asked to take off my boots that were difficult. And believe it or not, a security attendant at a US Airport prodded my bulging tummy asking what it was!!!!

  23. Lien says:

    I love to travel with planes! I just grab a book or listen to music and time passes by so quickly…

  24. ricci says:

    These are all great tips on surviving air travel!! AMEN to the neck pillow, I invested in one on my last trip and can’t travel without it now, even in the car!!

  25. Kelly Reci says:

    i love to travel but i am not a fan of flying. i always have this fear at the back of my mind so before the trip,i do a lot of praying and making sure that my gadgets are fully charged. And yes, neck pillow is a must for me because i always intend to sleep the whole flight away.

  26. Czjai says:

    I love flying! It’s the packing and unpacking before and after the trip that I detest, haha. 🙂

  27. Planning is a huge part of having a successful air travel. I usually bring a book to read when I fly to get into the zone.

  28. Emily says:

    This advice is awesome! As a nervous flier, I have to just let myself accept that I have little control, but everything will be okay. I did some deep breathing on my last flight and I ended up enjoying it a little more than I thought! Thanks for the awesome advice.

  29. Jaime Nicole says:

    I definitely put myself in the zone. I try to just roll with the punches because so much besides our attitudes are out of our control!

  30. I usually pull out my head phones and adjust my pillow and prepare for sleep. I’m about the sleep on plans. – yolonda

  31. Emely Roman says:

    Great Advice. I am very afraid of flying due to fear of heights however I LOVE TRAVELING. That love doesn’t allow me to be conquered by my fear. There are so many experiences to be had. Sometimes you just have to face your fears. I am planning a trip to TOKYO, that’s a 12-hour flight from where I live. But I am definitely going to do it!

  32. Mr Amodu says:

    Nice tips for travelers, honestly I’m not a traveling type and I’m missing out on so many things. Hoping to start soon

  33. These are some really nice travel tips! that you shared. Not just about packing stuff but the whole thought process makes you prepared.Specially people who have phobia of air travelling, can really get some tips of keeping themselves in that zone.

  34. These are some great tips for air travel! I always make sure that my carry-on has my medicines, as well as my makeup and expensive hair tools.

  35. Gabriel Bregg says:

    For me it’s all about packing light. I avoid needing to check luggage like it’s the plague.

  36. Catvills says:

    These are great tips. Next time I fly, I will try to be “in the zone.” Flying always makes me feel anxious, because I focus on the flight time, the cramped seat, the person sitting next to me is snoring, etc. etc. Thanks for these awesome pointers.

  37. This post should be read by anyone who travels! Excellent points, Carol!

  38. Linda Hobden says:

    Great tips! I always go into the zone when flying – I listen to music. Although I forgot to download music last time onto my iPhone & was really anxious but I found that I had some business podcasts downloaded shared by my husband so I spent 8 hours listening to all those – not as effective as music but it was better than nothing. Next time I will be better prepared!! ????

  39. DEBBIE says:

    Great tips and distraction is a good way of describing it Carol. Any trip we take from Australia is a long haul so we get good at preparation. I agree that travel is well worth the effort!

  40. We are off to Spain in October and flying from Australia is not fun but so worth the end result. Thanks for the tips Carol

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