Early-morning flights can be a real drag, especially if you aren’t much of a morning person. However, with a little bit of planning, you can optimize how much time you’ll need in the morning. Here are a few tips to make leaving for a crazy-early flight a little less stressful.
1. Pack early (and smart).
The last thing you’ll want to do before any flight is run around looking for your sunglasses, so make sure you are completely packed the night before your trip. Keep a list of any last-minute essentials you may not be able to pack until the morning (think toothpaste, a phone charger, and deodorant), so that you don’t wind up leaving these items behind in a half-awake haze. Similarly, don’t go to sleep until you have all of your clothing, even your socks, ready for the next day. Also make sure to pack your items so that they are easy to get through security. Empty your pockets of any loose change, keep your laptop handy for additional screening, and put your toiletries together in a small Ziploc bag — unless you are departing from the U.S. with TSA PreCheck, in which case you’ll be able to send your bags right through the scanner.
2. Check into your flight online.
It’s never a bad idea to check into your flight online, whether or not it’s in the early morning. This is particularly important if you haven’t booked seats in advance and want to make sure you don’t get stuck in the middle. It’s also important when you’re trying to avoid long lines at the airport. If your airline doesn’t allow online check-ins, you can still save time by using a kiosk at the airport to get your boarding passes.
3. Consider sticking to carry-on bag.
If possible, ditch the checked luggage and condense all of your gear into one carry-on bag. This way, you’ll be able to head straight to security upon arriving at the airport, which can save precious time in the morning. Just note that you might need to verify your passport before receiving your boarding pass, or at the gate, so build in time for this accordingly.
4. Figure out your food situation ahead of time.
If you’re on the first flight of the day, dining options at the airport might be slim to null. If you plan on eating at the airport or want to grab something to carry on the plane, make sure to check what time restaurants in your departure airport open ahead of time. Alternatively, pack a sandwich and some protein bars.
5. Arrange your transportation in advance.
Don’t wait until the last minute to book your transportation to the airport, especially if you need to be there before public transportation starts running. Fortunately, most ride-share apps allow you to book your rides in advance, so you don’t have to stress in the morning. If you’re taking a car and leaving it at an airport parking lot, check the shuttle schedules ahead of time and make sure to get their early.
6. Bring a sleep mask and other comforts for the flight.
Even if you aren’t the type to sleep on planes, a near-sleepless night before your flight might change that. Make your trip a little more comfortable by bringing a sleep mask, earplugs, and a neck pillow onboard. Even if you don’t end up fully falling asleep, having these little comforts can help you feel more rested.
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