Originally published February 2018
Alaska. Texas. Colombia. Malawi. New Zealand. Australia. California. Hawaii. I’ve been a world traveller since I was fifteen years old, and have flown on airplanes dozens of times. I’ve learned a few tips for staying calm, stress-free, and comfortable while travelling!
I am so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to travel. I was born in Canada. My mom is from Alaska so my family visited there a couple times when I was young. We moved to the States when I was a baby. I accompanied my parents and youngest brother to Texas to have his heart surgery done when I was fourteen. At fifteen, I flew to Colombia with my grandparents to visit missionaries they know there. The next year I went to Florida and then Malawi with Teen Missions Int’l. And at eighteen, I hopped on a plane to spend 6 months in New Zealand, a country I’d never been to. While there, my sister and I flew to Australia for a week and thoroughly enjoyed our girly vacation. A year later, after returning to my home in the States (where I got to be in my best friend’s wedding in California), I now call New Zealand my home.
1 Don’t Stress
In total, I’ve been on over 30 airplanes. So many airports. And I’ve learned a lot about travelling.My first rule is, don’t stress. I always feel like I’ve forgotten something when I travel. To ensure you do remember everything you need, make a list that you can refer to when packing. But when you’re at the airport waiting for your plane, don’t worry about ‘did I remember to pack pajamas?’ At that point there’s not anything you can do about it.
Make sure that you have the most important things: Passport, boarding pass, wallet, cell phone, glasses or hearing aids, etc.Funny story- I almost forgot my passport when Jared and I returned to New Zealand after our wedding. How do you forget a passport when you are literally moving to another country?! I don’t even know. I didn’t even know exactly where it was- I didn’t think of it until the day after our wedding, and a few days before our flight. Smart. Thankfully my mom saved the day and brought me my passport, birth certificate, and glasses, all of which I had forgotten to pack.
Those are important things. But if you’ve forgotten a sweatshirt? It’ll be okay. You can get a new sweatshirt if you really need it, but it won’t ruin your trip to forget it.
2 Leave Plenty of Time
Leave plenty of time. My parents always make sure to leave the house with plenty of time to get to the airport and get through security with time to spare. It takes away a lot of stress as well, as you’re not thinking about the traffic and the minutes ticking away. Another story from when Jared and I got married: Our flight was at 8am. We got up at 3am and we finished packing, loaded our car, and headed to the aiport. We had a rental car so we had to fill it up with fuel before we dropped it off, and it took us a while to find a fuel station because we didn’t know the area well. Once we dropped the car off, we had to get ourselves and our big bags on a shuttle to the airport. Once we found the place to check our bags, it was about 7am. Bag checking closes 1/2 hour before the flight. The line was long. And when we finally neared the front, there was a lady ahead of us taking an extremely long time to fill out some paperwork that she could have done ahead of time.
As the minutes passed, I kept glancing anxiously at the tv screen displaying the time, and fervently praying that we would make it to the front of the line before 7:30. Finally the line started moving again, and we made it with minutes to spare. Phew! After we left our bags, we went through security. The line wasn’t too long and we got through without any problem. We headed straight for our gate, and when we got there, the plane was already boarding. Talk about cutting it close… at least we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes before boarding out flight though! However, I don’t recommend this method of travelling.
3 Bring Entertainment
Especially if you have a long flight ahead of you, or flying makes you nervous, it is really nice to have something to keep you occupied. I have been on a 17-hour flight before and it was incredibly boring… for your own sake, please bring something! A book, music, or a game. If you have an electronic device that you plan to use, like a kindle or smartphone, bring your charger. Some planes, especially for longer flights, have USB ports so you can charge your devices. Many also have screens on the back of the seats that you can listen to music or watch movies on. Often you have to pay for them, but I’ve found that on longer flights they are usually free.
4 Dress Comfortably and Weather-Appropriate
When you’re practically undressing to go through security (God bless America), waiting for hours in uncomfortable seats, and then sitting in tight quarters on a plane where you can barely move, it is way better in comfy clothing. And I don’t know about you, but I am almost always freezing cold on airplanes. It used to irritate me until I realized that the air outside is actually way colder, so it could be worse, and the air in the plane is intentionally kept cool to lower the risk of spreading bacteria in the air. So I do appreciate that we don’t all get the cough that one guy on the plane has.
That being said- bring a sweater or jacket in your carry-on just in case. Also make sure that you are dressed right for the climate of your destination. When I first went to Florida, as soon as I stepped off the plane the heat and humidity just hit me. When I returned to the States from New Zealand in March this past year, I knew it would be cold so I wore warm clothing.
5 Find Your Gate and Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.
When my brother Judah and I flew to Florida to Teen Mission Int’l, my mom advised us to get to our gate as soon as we passed through security. Every time I fly, I go straight to my gate before getting food, looking around, using the bathroom, or anything else. If your boarding pass doesn’t have the gate on it, find an electronic screen displaying the departures. It will have your flight number, time, destination, and gate. And if all else fails find an airport employee and ask for help. That’s what they’re there for!
What is your dream travel destination? Where is your favorite place that you have been?