Preparing for your trip: how to pack, survive the flight and more!

By Enkhzul Badral

In a few weeks time, we will all be traveling to attend the NonfictioNOW conference. A few lucky folks will be able to pack their cars and drive to Flagstaff, AZ, but many more will be boarding flights, probably with a layover or two.

Image source: Flickr CC / ferran-jorda
Image source: Flickr CC / ferran-jorda

I am from Denver, CO but am currently working toward an undergraduate degree 9,000 miles away from home in Singapore at Yale-NUS College. This means that every year I spend at least 96 hours in the air! Here are some things I’ve learned through trial and error about surviving a trip: 

  • If you’re only taking carry ons (I assume almost everyone is), take a backpack and a rolling suitcase. Leave purses or smaller bags inside your suitcase to take advantage of the little space you have.
  • If possible, pack clothes in the same color scheme! This way you can mix and match without repeating an outfit while saving space by not bringing garments you don’t end up wearing!
  • Pack the heaviest items (like your toiletries) at the bottom of your suitcase when it is held upright. This will prevent things from shifting or causing wrinkles in your clothes.
  • Wear your heaviest shoes on the plane (within reason).
  • Roll clothes, don’t fold. It’ll save space and reduce wrinkles.
  • Overcome your urge to overpack and leave the things at home that the hotel can provide. This usually means towels, hair dryers, irons, conditioner.
  • Double bag the toiletries you do decide to bring. Change in cabin pressure has resulted in leaks and spills that damaged the clothes I brought with me. Not fun!
  • If you’re on a long flight and are worried about jet lag, resist the urge to eat plane food and fast for 8 hours. Then eat a meal at a time where you would be eating breakfast at your destination. This we will help reset your circadian rhythm.
  • Remember to stay hydrated! This means bothering the stewardesses a lot–I usually bring aboard a pack of Ghiradelli Chocolates or other goody to give them for their help and make myself feel less guilty. I’ve even been upgraded to a roomier seat once or twice just for being nice. 🙂
  • If you’re like me and get antsy easily, take advantage of layovers to stretch your limbs. I usually find a quiet corner in the airport to do this video. Another benefit is that increasing your blood circulation can help prevent your feet from swelling and bloating, leading to a more comfortable ride.
  • If you’re taking a flight that has more than a few empty seats, book a seat at the end of an empty aisle. When seats begin filling up last minute, it’s more likely the one next to you will be empty–no one likes the middle seat.
  • If you’re flying internationally, don’t forget to pack a pen to fill out customs forms.

Comment below if you have any other travel tips to share!

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Preparing for your trip: how to pack, survive the flight and more!

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