5 Expert Travel Tips from a Flight Attendant

iStock
iStock

Travel is one of the most satisfying experiences in life, but it can also totally wear you out. Between the crowds of people, the overpriced airport food, and flight delays, there are so many ways travel can go wrong. We talked to Bianca DiValerio, a flight attendant who also blogs about her goal of early retirement at MissMazuma, about how to make the travel experience more efficient. She gave us five solid tips for making the most out of your trip.

1. PACK LIGHT.

One of the biggest mistakes many travelers make is bringing too much stuff with them. “I once saw a hiking documentary where someone said that we carry all of our fears in our luggage,” DiValerio says. “What if I need this? What if this goes wrong? But what if it rains? Whatever it is, handle it when it happens. That is part of the joy of travel!”

If you’re traveling alone, you can likely bring everything you need in a small carry-on that fits under your seat. If not, pay to check your bags (or fly with one of the few airlines that still offer free checked bags) so that you don’t have to carry them all over the airport while you wait for your flight. Many people are afraid to do this because they don’t want to wait at baggage claim, but DiValerio says most airlines have sped up this process. “I promise they come out way faster than they used to,” she says.

One final packing tip: Instead of wasting precious luggage space for toiletries and essentials, consider buying these at your destination.

2. GET THERE EARLY.

You might be surprised at how many travelers don’t show up to the airport with ample time, DiValerio says. Err on the side of getting there too early rather than too late. “Planes leave at the scheduled time,” she says. “They can close the door for boarding 10 minutes earlier than the departure time and give your seat away to a standby. So get there early.”

A good rule of thumb is to get to the airport an hour before your scheduled departure. If it’s an international flight, get there two hours early.

3. GET SOME EXERCISE.

OK, so you’ve made it to the airport early and now you’re bored. What to do? “Most people hit the bars and restaurants to pass time,” DiValerio says. But she advises against this: As most seasoned travelers will tell you, the food is always overpriced and usually terrible. Instead, use the time to get some exercise and move around, which is especially important if you’re going to be sitting for the next few hours. “I like to take advantage of ground time by walking laps to get my steps in or just sitting and people watching,” DiValerio says. “Everyone is coming and going. There is excitement all around and, if we take a moment to look up from our devices, that energy is contagious.”

Of course, if you get sick of that, you can always get back on your device to binge watch some Netflix to pass the time. Make sure to download your shows in advance so you can watch without Wi-Fi.

4. BE CAREFUL WITH THE BOOZE.

If you feel completely out of it when you have a single drink on your flight, it’s not your imagination. “One drink in the air equals two on the ground,” DiValerio says. “Low cabin pressure equals less oxygen, which is the main attribute to such magic, so don't think you can beat it. You will wind up arriving a disheveled, drunken mess.” So go slow.

5. BE KIND TO THE CREW.

Yes, delayed flights can be a nightmare, but remember: It’s not the crew’s fault. In fact, they may be even more bummed about the news—it means they’re not getting paid. “Our pay starts when the forward entry door is closed,” DiValerio says. “That means every time we are boarding or deplaning or the flight is delayed due to weather, mechanicals, or medicals, we aren't making money.”

Thus, a little kindness will go a long way when you’re stuck on the ground. “We’re just as anxious to get on the move as you are,” DiValerio says. “If it happens to be the end of our trip, we too have families waiting for us at home, parties to get to, holidays to enjoy, and funerals to attend.” So remember, you’re in it together. And once you’re in the air, you want to make sure the flight attendant is your friend.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

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By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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The Reusable Rocketbook Smart Notebook Is the Ultimate Recycling Move

StackCommerce/Rocketbook
StackCommerce/Rocketbook

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You may be conscientious of your environmental footprint, but some habits are tough to change, like transitioning from writing notes on paper to typing notes and saving trees. There’s just something about physically writing with a pen and paper that’s fulfilling, engages your memory, and just feels right. You can keep jotting without the guilt on this smart reusable notebook from Rocketbook that translates all of your written text to your favorite cloud services so you can recycle the pages to use again and again.

Once you start using cloud storage for notes, it’ll be hard to go back. You’ll have every song lyric, appointment, and list of directions you jot down anywhere you have internet access (which is basically everywhere these days). The set comes with 42 pages for various uses, like calendars and to-do lists that wipe clean with a damp cloth to reuse after you save your notes to the cloud.

One of the reasons it’s hard to ditch traditional pen and paper is the feeling of your favorite writing utensil gliding on the page. This set comes with a FriXion pen that writes smoothly on the synthetic paper just like the old-fashioned way—except you can’t misplace or ruin these notes in a shuffle or coffee spill since everything will be stored digitally. It’s better for the environment and kind of like an insurance plan on your personal thoughts and notes.

For a limited time, you can replace all of your archaic and environmentally wasteful notebooks with one easy set. Score the Rocketbook Fusion Executive book in black, the Rocketbook Mini in black, two FriXion pens, and two microfiber cloths for wiping with a 12 percent discount. You’ll get unlimited paper from the sleek large and small black notebooks for just $44.

Prices subject to change.

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