Traveling by airplane can seem overwhelming, especially if you don’t travel all the time. You have to remember to pack only what you need (and none of the ‘just in case’ clothes or accessories) while making sure whatever you pack is compliant with the TSA rules.

We chat with Tanaya Winder (Duckwater Shoshone, Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute and Navajo), a poet, writer, artist and educator who constantly travels the world by both air and ground, about how she packs lightly and her tips on how to make the most out of your flight.

Tanaya Winder
Tanaya Winder

PACKING FOR A TRIP

Pack all of your toiletries in your zip lock bag and put it all together in a side pocket of your bag so it’s easy to remove if needed. I also suggest putting it in a plastic bag (double bag it) in case it explodes so you don’t ruin our clothes. Plan your outfits ahead of time so you only pack what you need. Always leave room for your running shoes and workout clothes in case you need to de-stress.

SAVING TIME AT THE AIRPORT

If you know you’re cutting it close til when your flight leaves, wear your workout stuff to the airport in case you have to run (that’s saved me a few times!).

I always pack something that can be carry-on. Waiting for checked luggage takes too long if you’re a traveler on the go! TSA Pre-Check is a must; it saves so much time.

With these tips, I can get to an airport 15 minutes before boarding and make it just fine.

HOW TO STRETCH YOUR MONEY

Never pay to check your bag. Even if you pack a stuffed carry-on they always ask for volunteers to check at the gate. Then you can check it and save yourself the $25 you would’ve spent checking it in.

This one is bad, but sometimes they tell you your bag “won’t fit” overhead but if you travel all the time like me and you know it’ll fit, they’ll tag it and tell you to drop it off at the end right before you board the plane. Just hold onto it and put it up in the overhead bin anyway.

When you’re on the flight and they’re handing out refreshments, ask for the whole can of coke. They’ll give it to you and again you maximize your money.

And remember to sign up for every free mileage rewards points you can get! They come in clutch when you need it.

And if you’re not in a hurry to get to your destination…

Most airlines always overbook so when you get to the gate, hang around the counter so you’re first when they offer a voucher to take a later flight (sometimes I purposefully get an earlier flight in case that way I can take the later flight, get the voucher, and not miss my event). You’ll score, like, a $200-500 flight credit for a future flight (on top of the flight you’re taking later).

BE PREPARED FOR ANY CHANGES

Get the Trip It app. it saves lives! It’ll often notify you of gate changes, delays and cancellations before the actual individual airlines’ app.

DON’T FORGET TO BE KIND & COURTEOUS

Remember to always be nice to the flight and gate attendants even when you’re stressed. Kindness goes a long way when you need to reschedule things and you are understanding.

I always talk to people I’m sitting next to if they’re friendly. Never know who you’ll meet. I’ve even sold books in airports and on planes because of being friendly

What tips do you have for traveling on airplanes with ease? Let us know in the comments below!