Air Travel: Tips for Reducing Stress & Frustration on Long Flights

As the summer draws to and end, and boarding students begin preparations for moving into the dorms this fall, we’ve created an air travel guide for getting from Point A to Point B. Follow some of these tips to reduce stress and make your flight as trouble free as possible.

Air Travel: One Month Before You Leave

  1. Make sure your visa and passport are up to date! Be sure to check the expiration date to ensure your passport doesn’t expire while you’re at school!
  2. Get your vaccinations and well-check taken care of by your doctor.
  3. Make a packing list of what you’ll need for school and your dorm room. You can check the suggested items checklist on the SMA Residential Life tab on our website,
  4. Also make a list of items that you will need for your dorm room that can be purchased when you get to the United States, so you don’t have to stuff your suitcases!
  5. Call your bank and decide the cheapest way to exchange currency. Sometimes the currency exchange at the airport will charge up to 15% for a service fee, while some ATMs will only change 1%-3%. If your bank has a low service fee, go ahead and exchange currency before you leave.
  6. Round up all important documents, such as an emergency contact list, health and medical history, travel documents, itinerary, passport, and travel visa all together in a folder.
  7. Look at the climate and temperature of central Texas during every season you’re going to be here, so you don’t pack clothes you don’t need!

Air Travel: What to Pack in Your Carry-on

Here are some tried and true tips to help make getting through the airport and surviving a 7+ hour flight!

  1. Bring an extra change of clothes for when you get off the plane or if you get stuck at an airport overnight!
  2. Warm socks—sometimes the plane can get chilly!
  3. Hand lotion
  4. Chapstick
  5. Face moisturizer
  6. Empty, reusable water bottle
  7. Hand sanitizer
  8. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  9. Your cosmetic bag (if you wear make up) and make-up removing wipes (be sure everything is travel-sized and fits the airline regulations)
  10. Contact lens solution and case, or glasses
  11. Prescription medications (in original bottles or containers)
  12. E-reader, E-books, or traditional books.
  13. Neckpillow, eye mask, and earplugs
  14. Pain relievers
  15. Headphones
  16. Powercords
  17. Healthy snacks
  18. Credit cards and cash
  19. If you are bringing a laptop, make sure you have your charger.
  20. DVDs: use a case that can hold multiple discs, and leave behind the individual DVD cases. Or, pre-load movies onto your laptop!

Okay, I’ve packed my carry-on, now what?

Here’s advice for the actual plane ride, and how to prepare for it!

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Airplanes can dehydrate you quickly, and can also dry out your skin and eyes, so it is important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight. Hand lotion and a face moisturizer can also help prevent this problem!
  2. If your flight is overnight, get some good rest! It can help you fight jetlag once you’ve landed. It may help to set your clocks to local time of where you’re going as soon as you get on the plane, so you can rest as if you were already there.
  3. Dress comfortable! Stretchy or loose-fitting bottoms and comfortable top are great for long flights. Also bring a sweater or cardigan, or an oversized scarf that can also act as a blanket, if the one they provide you with isn’t enough. Also, slip on shoes make getting through security a breeze.
  4. Pack healthy snacks like nuts or protein bars. Don’t pack anything with a strong smell; you don’t want to make your neighbors uncomfortable! Also, avoid heavy meals before the flight. You don’t want to feel sick or sluggish because you ate too much!
  5. Some flights have in-flight entertainment systems with free movies, but don’t assume they’ll have movies available! Bring your e-reader, books, your iPod or tablet to help pass the time and keep you entertained.
  6. About an hour before you land, go to the bathroom to freshen up your make-up, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and even change clothes if you want to. This will help wake you up and get you ready to explore your destination! (Don’t wake until the last minute, or you may end up dealing with a long-line or a “fasten your seatbelt” sign being turned on to prepare for landing!)
  7. Triple check that you know where your passport is, and be sure to carry a pen to fill out the customs forms on the plane. Make sure you’ve packed up all of your personal items such as technology, charging cords, etc.
  8. If you decide to bring valuables, such as a laptop, jewelry bag, camera, etc.) make sure it is with you at all times.
  9. Keep your itinerary, rental car confirmations, wallet, sunglasses, etc. in a place that is easy to access.

Bon voyage!

–Submitted by SMA Communications Intern Kendall Nighbert, SMA Class of 2014. Kendall is a junior at the University of Kentucky, majoring in integrated strategic communication.