The Nine Mistakes That Millions of Air Travelers Make Every Day Part Three: Travel Smart

This post is about avoiding the nine mistakes that millions of air travelers make every day. If you’ve landed on this post, you’ve likely already read the advice in Part One and Part Two . In this post, we’ll look at:

Part Three: Travel Smart

  1. Arrive Early at the Airport.
  2. Never Check A Bag.
  3. Be Smart About What You Eat and Drink on Board.

1.Arrive Early at the Airport

The next time you fly, skip the rushing, the dramas, the Sturm und Drang (literally: storm and stress). Get there early, get a coffee, and relax.

Okay, what’s early mean? TSA says get there two hours ahead of time.

Sounds about right to me.

But that’s not because you going to need all of that time. It’s because you have that time anyway, so why risk having some kind of problem at the airport while you’re still at home?

Airports have comfortable seating areas, coffeeshops, and restaurants. Some even have shopping.

Get there early, get through security, get a coffee, get to the gate, keep your phone handy, and check for updates on your flight.

2. Never Check a Bag

If you Google this: “Why you shouldn’t check a bag at the airport” you get about thirty-one million results (in less than half a second) and THEY’RE ALL YELLING AT YOU IN ALL CAPS (AND SOMETIMES BOLDED!) AND HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: DON’T CHECK A BAG.

The reasons for not checking a bag are many and they are obvious: no waiting in line at check in, no delayed or lost luggage, no waiting at the carousel at the end of your flight, etc. But more than that, there’s this: if you travel light and carry your luggage with you, you can make a change en route without worrying about your luggage, because it’s with you.

Imagine this: your flight is delayed but there’s a different way to get to your destination, but your luggage is checked, and there’s not much time, and what if it doesn’t make and, and, and … you get the idea.

Okay, okay, you say, how do you do it? How do you pack what you need into a carry-on?


  • Step One: Put everything you think you need to take on your bed.
  • Step Two: Walk away. Do something else.
  • Step Three: Come back. Take 50% of what’s on the bed, and put it back in your closet.
  • Step Four: Walk away. Do something else.
  • Step Five: Take what’s on the bed and pack it in your carry-on.

If it fits, you’re done.

If it doesn’t, then repeat steps 1-5 until it does.

I am absolutely 100% serious about this: you do not need to bring more than a carry-on on any trip, to any destination, for any length of time.

3.  What You Eat and Drink on Board

Here’s how to fly smart: (1) Sip water on board—don’t overdo it, but keep it up throughout the flight, (2) lay off the soda and coffee, and (3) skip the alcohol.

Why? Because planes have drier air than you’re probably used to (if you scroll through Google results on this you’ll see that cabin air is usually less than 20% humidity—most people are more comfortable at 30% or higher).

So, skip those drinks that will dehydrate you (i.e., soda, coffee, alcohol), and sip water.

And what about food? Bring snacks from home or from the airport so that you have food you like right at hand.


When traveling by air, plan ahead, use common sense, and be prepared.

If you do, you’ll have a good flight.

And, oh, don’t forget: always take the time to be courteous to the fight attendants. They’re up in the air all day long, smiling and serving. It’s not easy. So show them respect and appreciation.

Like this post? Want to know more?

Part One

Part Two

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    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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