Have an early flight to catch? Here’s what you should do beforehand to make the morning of more manageable and stress-free.
I have a love-hate relationship with early morning flights. On the one hand, early flights make me feel like I’m saving time somehow. Instead of wasting the “useful” hours of my day in transit, I can get my travel out of the way during the hours that I’d normally be unconscious. But on the other hand, I hate waking up super early and feeling tired all day long. I always joke that I’m part grandma because there’s nothing I love more than getting a good night’s sleep. I thrive when I’m well rested, and I hate being woken up early. Can you see my dilemma?
It’s been a while since I’ve had an early early flight (i.e. having to wake up before 4am to get to the airport on time), so my 7am flight to Copenhagen last week was quite jarring. I had to leave my house around 4:15 in the morning to get to the airport the recommended 2 hours ahead of time, which meant I needed to wake up at least 30 minutes beforehand to get dressed, zip up my suitcase, and so forth. Oof, that was a rough morning.
Over time, I’ve learned how to best prep for an early flight. Below you’ll find my checklist things I do the night before an early morning flight. As a rule of thumb, I try to get everything on this list done by 7pm so I can start winding down for bed a little earlier.
Getting your packing done early is crucial when prepping for an early flight. Not only does it save you time in the morning and make for a less stressful departure, but it also ensures that you don’t accidentally forget something at home the morning of. If my flight is really early, I’ll pack both my suitcase and backpack / purse as well. I place any toiletries I need to use in the morning on top of my suitcase as a reminder to put them back inside my bag before leaving home.
When packing my carry-on bags, I’ll pop an eye mask and ear plugs into a pocket so that I can easily pass out once I’m on the plane. It doesn’t matter if my early morning flight is an hour long or 8 hours long, I’ll want to squeeze in extra shut eye regardless.
Set out your travel outfit
As part of my packing prep, I like to lay out my travel outfit the night before an early flight. I’ll usually wear something that’s comfy but not too hideous, and I like to wear my bulkiest shoes onto the plane to save space in my suitcase. Setting out my travel outfit the night before gives me extra peace of mind before going to bed because I know I won’t have to scramble around my room at 5am looking for a matching pair of socks or anything like that. I can just jump out of bed, throw on the clothing I laid out, brush my teeth, and hit the road.
Pre-pack a snack
Snacks are crucial to my happiness while traveling. As much I love a hearty breakfast, I can’t choke any food down before 6am so I never bother to make breakfast before leaving the house to catch an early flight. Instead, I’ll pack an empty water bottle to fill up once I’m past security and a couple granola bars and/or fresh fruit to tide me over. I try to avoid buying food at the airport whenever possible because the options are limited that early in the morning, not to mention airport food is ridiculously expensive.
Assemble all your paperwork
I always put my travel documents together the night before a trip, early flight or not. I get so anxious before flights and am so paranoid about forgetting my passport or another crucial document at home. When assembling my travel documents, I’ll print off my itinerary (in case my hotel doesn’t have internet or something like that), directions to the AirBNB or hotel I’ll be staying in, boarding passes, and copies of my passport. Knowing I have all the essentials together in one place makes me less antsy the night before a trip.
Shower the night before
I’m strictly a night showerer, but if you’re not I highly recommend taking a shower the night before an early flight. I have friends who prefer showering in the morning because the hot water wakes them up, but showering early in the morning when you’re on a tight schedule just stresses me out. Plus, I’d much rather let myself sleep for an extra 10 minutes instead of take a shower before 5am. If you insist on showering in the morning before catching an early flight, at least skip washing your hair and use dry shampoo instead. You’ll feel disgusting after the flight and will wash it afterwards anyways.
Set a few alarms
I’m normally a one alarm kind of gal, but for early flights I always set a couple alarms. I typically put my phone or alarm clock on the opposite side of my bedroom so there’s no chance of me turning off the alarm and then accidentally falling back asleep (my worst fear!). I usually don’t sleep that well the night before I have an early morning flight because I’m so excited about the trip, but setting a few alarms puts me at ease nonetheless.
Go to bed early
This one seems like a given, but I have so many friends who still stay up late even when they have an early flight the next morning. To prepare for my early flight to Copenhagen, I went to bed a little before 9pm since I knew I’d be leaving my house a little after 4am the next morning. Even though I couldn’t fall asleep that early, just lying there in the dark helped me relax and I still felt well rested the next morning despite my early wakeup call.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep early, try turning off all your electronics (minus your phone, if that’s your alarm clock) and reading for a bit before going to bed. Turn off all overhead lights too and try to get cozy and stay curled up in one place. You might not be tired when you go to bed, but at least you’ll be relaxed.
Tell me: What’s one thing you do to prep for an early flight?
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- Thinking About Traveling by Yourself? All the Reasons You Should Do It
- 12 Things to Do Before Leaving the Country
- How I Practice Self-Care While Traveling (& Why You Should Too!)
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