Photo: Olezzo

Adventure Travel Tips for Flying

If you’re wandering far afield or anywhere overseas, air travel is surely in your future.

With a flight booked, you can begin planning and preparation to increase your odds of a more seamless, enjoyable experience. Packing for outdoor adventures ahead takes extra thought, though, when factoring the flight. For one, you’ll need to know TSA, airline regulations, as well as any destination-specific requirements. Those guidelines, plus the size and number of bags allotted, will help dictate your gear list. Run through the added considerations below, and when you arrive at your destination organized, ready, and rested, you'll be glad you planned ahead. 

In this air travel guide, you'll learn: 

  • Air Travel Planning Tips
  • Gear and Baggage Considerations
  • What To Carry on the Plane 
  • Gear That Needs to Be Checked
  • Air Travel Tips

Air Travel Planning Tips

A few factors can help air travel go more smoothly. 

  • Sign up for TSA Precheck to save time and hassle at the airport. 
  • Prepare for jet lag with a gradual adjustment to your weekly sleep schedule—an app like Time Shifter helps.
  • Check the U.S. State Department travel advisories for your destination.
  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19 and check with the CDC for other recommended vaccines for your destination. 
  • Set travel alerts with your bank and credit card company.
  • Leave your itinerary with someone at home.
  • Make extra copies of travel documents like your passport or identification, plus flight and hotel confirmations.
  • Arrange for airport arrival pick up before you go, or know the public transportation options. 
  • Don't book tours immediately after you land. Instead, give yourself a rest or flex day when you arrive to allow for recovery from travel, but also in case there are any luggage or flight delays. 
  • Leave behind any valuables (or items with high sentimental value) that are unnecessary for the trip. 
  • If you plan to sleep on the flight, book the window seat. If you like to get up often and stretch your legs, the aisle is more ideal. 

Gear and Baggage Considerations

If you are flying to your travel destination, consider how to pack your bags. 

Weight Limits

Check weight limits before you go and limit your luggage, or prepare to pay extra. 

Gear Packing

Pack your gear thoughtfully to stay in place, to avoid jostling and unwanted damage. Secure the hip belt, straps, and other loose items on backpacks.

Luggage Protection

Protect your backpack and gear by wrapping it in plastic wrap, or pack it within a larger duffel bag for air transportation. 

Tour Providers

Confirm the gear that tour operators or guides will provide. 

Carrying On

If you don't plan to check luggage, consider renting or buying gear at the destination that is not allowed on the plane. Items like fuel, repellant, and trekking poles can be easily rented or purchased at most destinations. Also, make sure your carry-on bag is within overhead storage size limits.

Photo:Mimagephotos

What To Carry On the Flight

If you check luggage, make sure to keep a few key items with you on the plane—as well as essentials for the flight.

Food and Snacks

You never know when you’ll be able to buy food (or the options available, especially if you have a specialty diet or allergies).

Reusable Water Bottle

Reduce your carbon footprint and bring a reusable water bottle and a filter if necessary. 

Technical Gear

Carry on the plane any equipment that you cannot quickly or affordably replace. 

Toiletries and Medications

Always bring prescription medicines on the plane with you, but also consider getting travel-sized toiletries to keep your hygiene fresh on long travel days. 

Clothing

Pack warm layers for the flight and an extra set of clothes for comfort, but also in case there are any luggage delays. 

Reading Material

Bring a small paperback book or a stack of magazines that you can throw away upon arrival. 

Gadgets

Don't forget to pre-charge your gadgets, pack the cords, and charging devices. An extra battery pack is helpful on long flights or in crowded airports. If you’re traveling internationally, you may also need a specific power adaptor. 

Sleep Aid

Arriving at your destination well-rested is a key to enjoying your trip. Bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, an eye mask, and a neck pillow. 

Gear That Needs to Be Checked

Many technical gear items need to be checked with your luggage. This list is not comprehensive but includes common adventure travel equipment that air travelers cannot carry on the plane. Be sure to check with your airline or TSA for other questionable items

  • Aerosol insecticide
  • Crampons
  • Ice ax
  • Knife / multi-tool
  • Sharp fishing tackle
  • Snowshoes/microspikes
  • Ski poles
  • Spearfishing guns
  • Tent stakes and poles
  • Trekking poles
  • Trowel

Items that Cannot be Carried or Checked 

Some items can’t go on the plane at all. If you need these things, you'll have to ship them ahead to your destination, or buy them when you arrive:

  • Camping fuel
  • Bear spray

Tips for Air Travel

With your gear and baggage organized, a few other measures can help ensure a safe and comfortable day traveling through airports and in-flight.  

  • Wear a mask. Federal transportation regulations require a mask that goes over your nose and mouth to stop the spread of COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated. If these regulations change, wearing a mask is still recommended if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms.  
  • Use your adventure day-pack as a carry-on bag. Before you go, see if your carry-on can fit inside your checked luggage; consolidating bags upon arrival can make transit more efficient. 
  • Download and use your airline app for efficient updates in your preferred language. 
  • Sign up for flight alerts via text or email. 
  • Use your travel card for perks like bonus points while traveling or for special access to airport lounges, which are quieter and often have better food options. 
  • Airports can be noisy, and it's easy to tune out flight announcements. Set an alarm for your boarding time and check your flight status regularly.
  • If you have a long layover, take a walk to exercise your legs and find something healthy to eat. 
  • Consider upgrades for legroom (or requesting a new seat assignment at the gate if the flight is not full); it can make the difference between arriving rested or exhausted.
  • Air travel can make you dehydrated. Fill your reusable water bottle and drink plenty of fluids on the plane. 
  • Keep it light on the plane otherwise. The smaller your personal items, the more legroom, especially if the overhead storage fills. 
  • For long flights, consider wearing compression socks that help blood circulate in the legs. Get up often and walk as much as possible. Have no shame looking foolish by stretching while waiting for the bathroom. 
  • Carry or wear essential items in case of lost or delayed luggage.
  • If you like your morning cuppa, pack a few instant coffee packets for assured coffee on the fly. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.