10 Travel Tips from an Experienced Frequent Flier

It’s been 30 years since I took my first international trip. Back then, my parents walked me to the gate, and people still dressed up for the privilege of air travel.

Much has changed, and over my 25+ years as a missionary and traveling speaker, I have gathered the following travel tips I pray will be useful to you as you go where He leads:

  1. Don’t check a bag! This saves time when you arrive, avoids luggage loss, and keeps you flexible if flights change.
  2. Don’t use a third-party website when booking air travel. They can be useful in research, but if you need to change your flight, most airlines won’t work with you unless you’ve purchased the flight from them.
  3. Consider a lounge pass: Whether you fly frequently enough to get a year-round pass, or have a long day with multiple stops, check in with Priority Pass, or your airline carrier to see what options you have. With free food, drinks, WIFI, and a quiet place to work or sleep, a lounge has often saved me money, and allowed for a hot shower en route internationally.
  4. Pre-Check/Global entry. This might feel like a luxury, but on many occasions, has meant the difference in not missing a flight. Going quickly through a border crossing or a security checkpoint has helped me arrive at my destination without inconvenience or delay.
  5. When asking for a seat change, or a flight change, or an airport change and the answer is no: Find a different agent. Most of the time “no” means “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t have time for this.” Especially when your travel plans have been disrupted, keep asking until you find someone sympathetic. They are out there! (Then reward them with kindness and a written recommendation.)
  6. If you are stuck in an airport overnight: locate a family bathroom. On more than one occasion, it’s been a great overnight accommodation in a pinch. It has a lock on the door, a plug, and water. Before objecting: bathrooms are cleaned more frequently than the carpet/seats at your gate.
  7. I suggest a rather elaborate sleep kit (eye mask, travel pillow, noise cancelling headset or ear buds, lightweight blanket.) If you can sleep, you’ll arrive better for it. If you can’t, the rest will still create margin for your challenges and activities to come.
  8. Get the latest updated apps. You can always google your flight number for gate information, but getting the airline app will help with last minute changes if delayed on a runway, allow for seat assignment changes, and in-flight entertainment. I also suggest the mobile border crossing pass app, and go-go inflight. There are new apps all the time, so keep up to date and you’ll have all the information you need with you always.
  9. Pre-download movies, music, books, so if your flight is delayed on the tarmac, you don’t have to wait to access the in-flight options. Having something to occupy your mind can help when there’s a crying baby, when you’re in the middle seat, or when you face unexpected flight interruptions.
  10. You can carry an empty water bottle through security and then fill it up on the other side. It’s more cost effective and is useful to always have the ability to hydrate on a flight or upon arrival. 

Travel usually involves unexpected circumstances — delays, cancellations, the loss or forgetting of something, a difficult seat companion, bad weather… Whatever comes my way, I try and remember most: I can’t worry about what I can’t change, and this too, will pass.

Taking a deep breath and enjoying the journey is what makes a travel day not a wasted day, but an investment in adventure.

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