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Use This Helpful Air Travel Checklist Before You Fly Anywhere

Grace Lower | Feb 23, 2021

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This blog post was updated Feburary 23, 2021.


I don't know what it is about airplanes, but they never fail to spark a sense of wonder. Even at the height of holiday travel season, I'll try to break away from the crowded parts of the terminal and take a few quiet moments to watch the planes take off. In my mind, flight represents the best parts of human creativity and ambition.

Although I've got an undeniable adoration for aviation, as a traveler, I've gotten a little jaded. With all the advancements we've made in travel, why is air travel so miserable? I could write endlessly about skyrocketing airfare and delayed flights, rude seatmates and hopelessly bland meals. Instead, I'll focus my energies on something a little more positive.

Fortunately, I've found a great way to cope with the hassles of flying — it's my pre-flight travel checklist. In the days leading up to a flight, I'll create a printable version of this checklist to help me prepare.

No two trips are ever the same, but I always travel happier when I stick with the same set of pre-flight rituals.


One day before the flight

Check in online

While there are still travelers who prefer to check in at the airport, I'd much rather complete an online check-in the night before. With advanced check-in, not only can I get an extra half-hour of sleep, but I get to breeze right through to security when I arrive at the airport.

Make a copy of your boarding pass

Online boarding passes are a wonderful thing, but if you've ever been “that passenger” with the code that won't scan, you know that helps to have a back-up version of your ticket. I like to take a screenshot of my boarding pass, or if I'm feeling especially careful, print out a physical copy of my ticket before I leave for the airport.

Double-check your luggage

Whether you write it by hand or keep it as a note on your phone, a travel packing checklist is an essential tool. Once you have finished gathering your belongings, go through your list of packed items once more with fresh eyes. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to pack something obvious, like pajama bottoms or my contact lenses.

Then, turn your attention to the luggage itself. Remember to check the dimensions of your bag —- your airline should have their carry-on size and weight restrictions posted on their website.

Gather your travel snacks and a reusable water bottle

Travel snacks are a simple-yet-effective way to cut costs: just pack your favorite chips in a sandwich bag or toss a few granola bars into your backpack. When you're on the road and feeling on-edge, a small snack can be an excellent mood-booster. Bring a reusable water bottle, too — that way, you can fill up after you've gone through security.

Put your important documents someplace smart

I have a designated folder where I keep print-outs of my hotel confirmations, tickets, and important receipts, along with copies of my passport and credit cards.

Secure transportation arrangements

Is one of your friends taking you to the airport? Confirm timing with them the night before.

Using an Uber or Lyft? Check the app to get an idea of pricing. Driving yourself? Give your car a once-over to make sure you won't have any setbacks (they happen!).

Put your luggage by the front door

If your personal items are scattered around your house, you run a greater risk of forgetting something. Put all your bags neatly by the door so you can just grab them and go.

Lay out clothes for the flight

The morning of your flight should be effortless. Rather than frantically deciding what to wear when you should be heading out the door, curate a comfortable-but-stylish travel outfit the night before. Remember to choose a pair of shoes that are easy to slip off at security. Your future self will thank you!

Make a mini-list of all the last-minute items you'll need to pack

Some items — like your contact lens case, your toothbrush, and your cell phone charger — have to wait until the morning of your flight before they can be packed. Write those items down, and check them off your list when you're ready to finalize your packing. As an added treat, sneak in a pair of fuzzy socks, an eye mask, and a plush travel pillow if you' plan to catch some Z's on the flight.


Morning of the flight


In all the excitement leading up to your trip, it's more important than ever to maintain your health and wellness.Take a walk around the block, go for a jog, or complete a 20-minute yoga practice. Travel is often accompanied by extended periods of standing and sitting, so limbering

Eat something hearty

Take it from me: there is no fate worse than traveling on an empty stomach. Before you leave, make a simple, wholesome meal that will give you lasting energy. Even if egg salad and chili dogs are your go-to snacks, avoid anything that might upset your stomach — you'll want to be as comfortable as possible for the next few hours.

Check weather and traffic reports

Don't let inclement weather or construction projects put you behind schedule. Instead, double-check traffic or weather events prior to leaving for the airport. This will allow you to build in extra travel time as needed.

Make sure you have your boarding pass, ID, and credit/debit cards

You won't make it far without them, so double-checking always pays off.

Two hours before the flight

Check your flight details

While airline apps are certainly useful, review the airport's monitors to confirm your gate and any changes to your flight's status.

Check out your terminal

Once you pass through security, take some time to explore. You'll want to develop a mental map of the terminal so that you'll know how to navigate to your gate when it's time to board. In particular, make sure to scope out any food vendors or retailers you might want to stop by later.

Find a seat near an outlet

When you're ready to settle in and wait for your boarding group to be called, try to score a seat near an outlet. The downtime before your flight is an ideal opportunity to give your devices one last charge — and you'll appreciate having a healthy battery when your flight lands.


30 minutes before the flight

Eat something

Here's where your preparation will pay off. Use this time to break into the snacks you packed beforehand and enjoy something a little more satisfying than complimentary pretzels and a half-can of soda.

Fill your water bottle

If you packed a reusable water bottle, now's the time to fill it up at a water fountain. Planes are notoriously dry, so a sip of water now and then will keep you feeling fresh.

One last bathroom break

This one is self-explanatory. The bathrooms onboard your plane will be cramped at best and terrifying at worst.

Get excited

With all the preparation out of the way, you should be able to sit back, relax, and focus on the adventures that lie ahead!

Purchase Travel insurance

Don't forget your travel insurance. You should never leave home without it, especially if you're traveling internationally.

Not sure what type of travel insurance plan you need? We can help!

Use our self-service guide — answer a few questions, and we'll find the best plan for your travel situation.

Or call our team of sales ninjas for help choosing a travel insurance plan.


    Guest contributor: Grace Lower

About the Author

Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.

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