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Flying solo: Travel tips for beginners

Nov 29 • Features • 1821

So you’ve booked your ticket after a long, drawn-out battle between you and the flight gods. They won, and it looks like your seat on the six-hour flight is practically inside the jet’s bathroom.
While you might not be able to change your seat assignment, there are some things you can do to have a more comfortable time. Here are some tips coming from my own experience — and the TSA’s guidelines.

Fly Carry-on.

Unless you’re planning on moving to a new city after this flight and really need to bring half your wardrobe, carry-on is the cheapest and easiest option for luggage. In fact, most airlines allow one free carry-on bag and one free personal bag, such as a purse or laptop bag.
No waiting in line to check bags for you. No fees for checked luggage. No waiting for your bags at baggage claim, either. And the best part is the airline can’t lose your stuff if you’re carrying it throughout your trip.
The best carry-on bags fit on your back, but in the case you need more space than a backpack would offer, I’d recommend a soft-sided bag that meets size regulations for the TSA. These bags pack better into overhead bins because they’re more flexible, especially if your connecting flight is on a small plane.

Always check your gate information at the airport.

That app you downloaded for the airline may not have the most up-to-date information. Avoid the cliché running-through-the-airport scene and find your gate at the airport, not on your ticket.
Delta doesn’t even provide that information on printed tickets and specifies this advice. Take it.

Opt for an e-Ticket. Or not.

About 24 hours before you board your flight, the airline might send you an email asking you to check-in. In some cases, you can change your seat assignment here.
You can also save a copy of your e-ticket, which you’ll need when you go through security and when you board. The easiest way to do this is probably to take a screenshot and pull it up every time you need your ticket.
If you’re worried about your phone battery, though, just print a paper copy of your ticket. Sometimes that’s the more reliable option.

Liquids- Hydration and other things you need to pack.

Feeling thrifty and thirsty? Pack an empty reusable water bottle you can fill after you go through security. If you don’t like the taste of water fountains, you can usually buy one after passing through security.
Traveling makes you tired to begin with, and feeling dehydrated is only going to make it worse.
If you plan on using liquids like shampoo or body wash, each container must be 3 ounces or smaller, per the TSA. These liquids should be put in a quart-size plastic bag in case security asks you to remove them.

Plan your wardrobe.

If you’re restricted to a carry-on sized bag, you probably only have room for three or four outfits. Pack pieces from the same color scheme so you can wear them together, and roll your clothes while packing to save space.
The day of your flight, it’s best to wear comfortable clothes. Security usually requests you remove your belt and shoes, so sweats or drawstring pants and slip-off shoes are the most practical options if you’re trying to buy yourself some time.
Pick one jacket or sweater as your outerwear and wear that to the airport. If you get hot, you can always take it off, or use it as a blanket in the case that you’re cold.
Traveling alone can be intimidating, but keeping a level head and arriving at the airport prepared can make all the difference. On the bright side, you can move at your own pace when you don’t have a caravan to follow, and you just might find a new sense of independence.

KELSEY GHERING
ghering001@knights.gannon.edu

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