I didn’t take my first flight until I was married and in my twenties. I remember being so scared of that trip. Since then, however, I’ve learned to love flying. It allows me to travel to places I would otherwise not be able to see. And now that our son lives overseas in Australia, it allows us to see him on a regular basis.

I’m a frugal flier, however. We don’t pay for most of our flights—we use points. If you want to learn more about how we travel on a budget, check out this travel hacking post I wrote.

Today I want to share with you about the logistical side of air travel. I feel like on our most recent trip to Australia I cracked the code in a variety of ways. I was the most comfortable as I’d been on any trip.

With that in mind, I want to share some of the strategies I used with you:


Comfort is key! When I travel, I usually wear sweatpants, a t-shirt or tank, and a zip-up runners jacket. The runners jacket has two pockets with zippers—these pockets with zippers are a key part of my strategy. I also always wear a scarf around my neck. This keeps me warm on the plane but can be removed if things are too warm. It also has served as a small blanket on flights that were chilly. I’ve even put it over my head when I need to shut the world out and sleep!


I believe comfortable, supportive tennis shoes are essential for navigating airports. Mark and I always try to get our 10,000 steps in when we have layovers that give us time to walk. We never take the tram in between terminals but walk it instead (unless we’re cutting it close on time.) This time, however, I tucked my looser pair of slip-on Skechers into my carry-on for me to change into for the long-haul flight to Sydney. While we were waiting to board the Sydney flight I took off my bulkier, tighter, have-to-be-tied walking shoes and slipped on my more comfortable, slip-on Skechers. This gave my feet room to breathe on the long flight. I could slip them off when I was at my seat and easily slip them on without bending over when I needed to walk to the bathroom.


My most recent trip to Australia is the first trip I’ve taken my pillow on. This was a huge game-changer and I will be traveling with my pillow from now on! Pillows are not considered a carry-on so if you want, you can take two carry-ons and a pillow. Our trip to Australia required four flights: one two-hour flight from our Central Illinois airport to Atlanta, then one four-hour flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, then a 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. Finally, one 90-minute flight from Sydney to Melbourne. I used my pillow in a variety of ways on all of those flights: I sat on it, I slept up against the window with it, put the pillow on the pull-down tray and slept on it in a way that mimicked sleeping on my stomach, which I do at home. The pillow case also served as an extra “carry-on” for me as I stuffed a few things in the pillow case for easy access. As you can see in the picture, I just used a small bungee cord to attach it to my carry-on bag when I was moving throughout the airport.

Carry-on Storage

My main carry-on is a rolling computer bag. I always fill it with my computer, personal items, reading supplies, etc. It fits fine under the seat but on all of our recent trips, I never put it there once and it made such a difference because I was able to stretch my legs fully out in front of me! That was so helpful—especially on the longer 4-hour flight to Los Angeles and the 15-hour flight to Sydney.

Prepping to Get on the Plane

As we sat in the gate area, I began to think of the things I really needed at my seat.

  • Lip Balm
  • Hand cream
  • Kleenex
  • Medication
  • Pillow
  • Book
  • Earbuds/Headphones
  • Passport (I always keep it on me on an airplane when I’m traveling internationally)

With the exception of the pillow and the books, all of those smaller items and my phone went into my pockets.small bag for travel (You can also use a small purse or a small bag (like the one in the picture here) at your seat—the only challenge is that it can easily slide forward if stored under the seat during the flight).

I slipped the book into my pillowcase so I could easily carry it on. My roller bag was then stored in the overhead bin and the area in front of my feet was open. I had everything I needed either in my pockets or in my pillowcase. Halfway through the 15-hour flight to Sydney, I did get my computer out of my carry-on bag to use for a little while, but other than that, I had everything I needed for the whole 15 hours.


I’m a finicky sleeper. I need to be laying down in a dark room, in my jammies, with my favorite pillow to get my best sleep. Sleeping sitting up on a plane is not good for me. (My husband Mark doesn’t have that problem. He can sleep anywhere in any position!) So when I’m going on a long-haul trip I always ask my doctor for a prescription for Ambien. In general, I take very little medication and I steer clear of it, trying to use more natural methods when I can. However, I need help with sleep on a long flight and 5 mg of Ambien does it for me! I slept on our long haul very well…thanks to Ambien! (Always consult your doctor before using any medication.)

Both Mark and I were also recovering from severe sinus infections leftover from Covid a few weeks earlier. My ENT recommended that we use two squirts of Afrin in each nostril 30 minutes before takeoff and 30 minutes before landing to help protect us from the painful pressure changes.  This worked like a charm for both of us!

Airport Lounges

Mark and I have a Delta American Express Credit Card (see my travel hacking blog for how we use that card.) This gives us access to the Delta Lounge for $39 a person. On a short layover, it’s not worth that expense. However, on our recent 8-hour layover in Los Angeles, it was absolutely worth it. The lounge offers comfortable seating, complimentary food and drinks and is so much quieter and less chaotic than sitting at the gate. We’re so glad we had that option!

Minute Suites

On a recent trip I took by myself, I had a four-hour layover in the Charlotte, NC airport. I was so tired from my trip and just needed some sleep. I had seen Minute Suites but never used them before. These are private rooms that you can rent by the hour to just have a little break from the chaos or to sleep. I decided to get a suite for 90 minutes. I asked for a blanket and pillow and took a nice long nap. It cost me $60 for that break but it was so needed, and I slept that whole 90 minutes! I was then refreshed for the remainder of my trip!

I love traveling to speak—I’ve been afforded the ability to speak at women’s retreats and at marriage events with my hubby in some beautiful places. I also love traveling for pleasure and to see friends and family. It’s taken awhile, but I’ve finally learned how to do so in a way that keeps me refreshed and comfortable.

I hope some of these tips help you to do the same!

What about you? Do you have any tips you would add?

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