Flying Tips for the New Traveler by a New Traveler

I’m an introvert and a little bit of a hermit at times. But other times, I want to go off and do something adventurous. Like fly to Ecuador on one of the Unbound Student Life Mission’s Trips. Or fly on an impromptu trip to see a friend. From the few adventures I've taken, I’ve found that making the decision to fly somewhere is easy. Actually flying somewhere is a little more difficult. When I flew to Ecuador last year, it had been over a decade since I’d last flown—long enough for me not to remember anything about flying. Being the type of person that I am, I did a ton of research before my departure. But after actually flying, here are the top three things I found the most useful to know:

1. Yes, you can probably fit it into your carry-on.

When I flew to Ecuador, I thought there was no way I could pack enough clothes and supplies for the entire trip in my little carry-on. However, I also wanted to keep my suitcase near me in case something were to go wrong. So, with a little Ziploc bag hack, I was able to easily fit ten changes of clothes and all my other necessities into my carry-on suitcase. Instead of folding all my clothes and trying to stuff them in, I packed each item of clothing in a Ziploc bag. By sitting on the bag and pushing all the excess air out, the Ziploc bag acted almost like a vacuum sealed bag. My shirts took up about half the space they would have, leaving room for a lot more items. I know that putting everything into a carry-on may seem impossible, but why not try? Being in an entirely new environment like an airport is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about whether or not your suitcase safely made the journey with you!

2. Know the airport before you fly.

I had a layover at the Atlanta airport both on my flight to and from Ecuador and on my impromptu flight to visit my friend. I knew that Atlanta was a very large airport compared to my home state’s small airport and that terrified me. Lots of unfamiliar people. An unfamiliar place. And a limited amount of time to find my next gate. So, to help calm some of my nerves, I looked up layouts and maps of the Atlanta airport and studied the terminals (and the food court, of course!). I knew the gate I’d be taking off at, so I mapped out where I would need to go. I also reached out to several people whom I knew had traveled to or through the Atlanta airport. Hearing their stories helped the large airport not seem so intimidating.

3. Eat and drink.

The change in altitude and stress and probable lack of sleep from the night before can all cause you to feel unwell during your flight. To help ease the churning stomach sensation, bring an empty water bottle that you can fill once you get through security and make sure that you drink plenty! Dehydration, stress, and altitude changes are not a good combination. Also, bring some granola bars, dried fruit, or crackers with you. Chances are that you didn’t eat much for breakfast and might not even have the time to eat a substantial lunch. Having something to munch on will help you feel better as you take-off (also, who doesn’t love snacks!?). These three things may seem simple to those of you who are way more experienced at flying than I am. But as a newbie to traveling, these are three tips that I found helpful as I took flight. Enjoy your adventures! Written by Megan Shupp