Nearly 2.5 million people fly every day, keeping airports across the United States humming, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. And they've learned a thing or two about mastering a smooth and enjoyable travel experience. Here are some helpful tips and tricks gleaned from our own travels and the helpful community over on Reddit.
1. Booking tickets in a different currency
If you're planning a trip to a foreign destination, you may want to pay for your flight with that country's currency. It could save you a nice chunk of change.
For example if you're flying to Norway, search for a flight from an airline company that's native to that country. More than likely, you'll have the option to pay in either U.S. dollars or Norwegian kroner. Depending on the exchange rate, the ticket may be cheaper in kroner.
2. Canceled/delayed flight?
It happens every day — a flight is canceled or severely delayed. Many travelers become frustrated while airline employees scramble to book them on another flight. A surefire way of having better odds of getting on the next available flight is to offer to fly out of a neighboring airport.
If you're in Washington, D.C., and your flight at Dulles is canceled, offer to fly out of Reagan International Airport. Most of the time, airline employees will be able to find you a flight sooner and will be grateful because it makes their job easier.
3. Avoid 'jet belly'
Bloating is a common issue for many people who fly, so much so that in the industry people have nicknamed it "jet belly." It's caused by a drop in cabin pressure and gas expanding inside a person. While fairly inevitable, you will get some amount of bloating, there are ways you can stave off pain.
Before boarding a plane, eat a meal that's high in protein, low in salt and has few to no carbohydrates. The protein will keep you full longer so you're not tempted to eat airplane food, and the less sodium you eat the better; that last step can help prevent swelling.
4. Always pack chewing gum
No, it's not to make sure you have fresh breath for the flight attendants. (Although, that's not a bad idea.) Chewing gum during takeoff and landing can help prevent your ears from popping.
The chewing helps produce saliva, which forces you to swallow while chewing. The swallowing motion relaxes your Eustachian tubes, which connect your nasopharynx (the way upper part of your throat, behind the nose) to the middle part of the ear. The tube equalizes air pressure on either side of your ear.
5. Wear specific clothing for your safety
While the odds of being involved in a plane accident are extremely low, there are still some key safety measures you should keep in mind. You should always wear closed-toe shoes. If you have to evacuate the plane, the shoes will protect your feet from jet fuel, debris and whatever else is around the plane. Also, closed-toe shoes help keep your feet from swelling too much during the flight.
A pilot on the Reddit thread recommended also wearing non-synthetic clothing like cotton. If there's a fire, non-synthetic clothing will just burn while synthetic clothing like polyester will melt to your skin, potentially causing more injuries.
6. Carry hand sanitizer
You'd think the airport bathroom is where all the germs lurk, but a new study says you'll find more nasty microbes when you're going through security. Researchers examined 90 swabs from surfaces in Finland's Helsinki Airport including touchscreens, handrails and toilet areas. The most germ-laden were those plastic bins where we drop our shoes, liquids and other personal items.
These trays are not routinely disinfected, the researchers point out, so bring your own hand sanitizer and gel up after your make it through security. It won't eliminate all viruses, but it can be effective for many. Better yet, as soon as you get through security, head to a bathroom and wash your hands with soap and water.
During the flight
7. Water is your friend
Plane cabins have very little humidity, and that can cause dehydration. Dehydration can lead to jet lag and other travel issues. Experts recommend you drink water constantly throughout your flight. Even if you think you're drinking too much water, you're probably not.
The Aerospace Medical Association recommends you drink eight ounces of water every hour and avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol. To keep your skin from getting dehydrated, apply moisturizer during your flight.
8. Get more room to stretch in your aisle seat
Have you ever been in an aisle seat and wished you could stretch out a little bit more?
Underneath the aisle armrest, toward the back, there's a button. If you push that button, you can lift up the armrest and have it out of your way! The armrest, along with all other armrests, has to stay down during takeoff and landing, though.
Don't just plop your luggage down on your bed when you check in. (Photo: ivabalk/Pixabay)
9. Use saline spray
Many travelers believe the best way to prevent getting sick from a flight is to use antibacterial wipes and clean the tray table and arm rests. Saline spray may be more helpful.
Air is re-circulated throughout a flight and can be a breeding ground for germs and viral pathogens. One way to prevent those germs from making you sick is to spray saline up your nose and blow your nose. This will help clear out your nasal passages and any mucus residue. You can also use the saline spray throughout the flight to help prevent your nose from drying out due to the low humidity in the cabin.
10. Put your luggage in your hotel room's bathtub
Bedbugs can ruin anyone's trip in a split second. Most people know to check for these pesky insects in the bedding. But bedbugs can live in carpets, too.
When you first check into your hotel room, place your luggage inside the bathtub. Check the bedding, any upholstered furniture, curtains and carpet if possible. If you see any bedbugs, at least you know the bugs didn't make it onto your luggage.
While these aren't all the travel tips you could use, they should make your next trip more enjoyable.
Editor's note: This story was published in January 2018 and has been updated with new information.