Travel expert shares her favorite tried and tested hacks

Travel expert reveals her list of ‘secret flying hacks you didn’t know you needed – from using a BEACH BALL as a foot rest to the best seats to pick if you want the most space

  • Travel expert Aly Smalls shares a selection of her favorite tips
  • She uses a half inflated beach ball as a foot rest while flying 
  • The traveler also reveals that a suitcase with no zips is safer and easier to use 

Want to take the stress out of air travel? Well, take a flight down to brush up some tried and tested hacks. 

In a YouTube video titled ’24 Secret Flying Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed’, travel expert Aly Smalls shares a selection of her favorite tips with viewers, touching on everything from getting through airport security to finding the perfect type of suitcase. 

At one point, she reveals how she uses a half inflated beach ball as a foot rest while flying, and in another segment she shows how using the opposite overhead cabin is more convenient than using the one directly above. 

So, if you have a vacation in the pipeline, Aly’s tips might help make your journey there more of a seamless experience. 

Pack security trays in order 

Aly says putting your possessions ‘through the scanner in the order you need them to come out’ makes it easier to repack them on the other side

While going through security, Aly highlights how putting your possessions ‘through the scanner in the order you need them to come out’ makes it easier to repack them on the other side.

She tells viewers: ‘For example send your backpack through first so that as your items come out you can just place them right into your bag.’

Her second security tip is placing a laptop or other valuable electronics in the middle tray. 

She says she ‘sandwiches’ her valuables between her personal items as it helps to keep them safe and prevent them from getting mixed up with all the other items.

While moving through the airport, Aly recommends attaching cup holders to the handle of your wheeling suitcase to help keep things organized. 

She explains: ‘You just slip [the cup holder] over the handle of your suitcase and then you can travel through the airport with ease. 

‘When you’ve got your cup of coffee, your phone, your passport, airpods…. anything else you need… now your hands [are] free and not fumbling around.’

Use a foot hammock or beach ball to elevate your feet 

As an alternative to a foot hammock, Aly suggests taking a beach ball so you can keep your feet elevated while in the air

‘There’s nothing worse on a long flight where you can’t elevate your feet,’ Aly says, as she reveals one of her favorite travel gadgets: her ‘trusty’ foot hammock. 

The avid traveler explains: ‘It simply attaches to the seat in front of you for an instant foot rest. 

‘Just make sure you’re mindful of the person in the seat in front of you and avoid swinging or moving your feet around too much.’

As an alternative to a foot hammock, Aly suggests taking a beach ball. 

She continues: ‘These pack flat and once you’re in the air, all you have to do is blow it up and now you have a foot rest.’

Aly says she has a 20-inch beach ball which she only partially inflates, ‘so that it’s a bit flat for more stability.’ 

Pack clean socks and a toothbrush 

Changing into a fresh pair of socks ‘makes a world of difference for feeling fresh,’ Aly says

Before landing at your destination, Aly says changing into a fresh pair of socks ‘makes a world of difference for feeling fresh.’

On long haul flights she also suggest brushing your teeth as a ‘quick way to feel human again.’

Book an exit row seat for priority boarding

If you can’t run to a premium ticket and don’t have status with an airline, Aly suggests a sneaky way of snagging priority boarding: purchasing an exit row seat.

Simple Flying notes that ‘an exit row ticket entitles passengers to priority boarding on most airlines, including WestJet and Delta Air Lines. 

‘This means passengers can easily access the overhead bins to store carry-on luggage.’

If you do book an exit row seat, Aly recommends trying to book the left side, which is the port side of the plane.

This is ‘because the flight safety demo kit is usually in the overhead bin on the starboard side so this leaves a little less room for your carry-on luggage.’

Choose a window seat for the most room 

If you have a bigger carry-on bag or plan to fly with a pet, Aly recommends booking a window seat as these offer the most room.

The travel pro says these spots are ‘almost double the size of the aisle seat and much bigger than the middle seat.’ 

Book an aisle and window seat as a couple to get the whole row

By booking an aisle and window seat as a pair of travelers, Aly says you are likely to get the row to yourself 

If you’re traveling with a partner or a friend, Aly says one of her top tricks is to book a window and aisle seat instead of two side-by-side. 

She says that if you are on a row with three seats, ‘there’s a big chance no one will book the middle seat and you’ll get the whole row to yourselves.’

Use the overhead bin opposite you

Instead of putting your carry-on luggage in the bin above you, Aly suggests storing it in the bin or rack across from your seat.

She says this will make it ‘much easier to grab at the end of your trip or it helps you keep an eye on it if you’re a bit of a nervous traveler.’

Travel carry-on only

Moving on to packing tips, Aly urges viewers to fly carry-on only. 

She explains: ‘There are so many benefits to this but I think the biggest benefit is just just the freedom that you get.’

The YouTuber adds that delayed baggage is also ‘extremely common,’ so you can speed up your journey by traveling light. 

If you do check a bag, Aly recommends taking a spare change of clothes in your hand luggage so you can change at the airport while you’re waiting for the luggage carousel to load. 

Invest in zipperless luggage 

Aly recommends investing in a ziperless suitcase as it’s easier to get into and safer

When it comes to carry-on luggage, Aly recommends investing in a ziperless suitcase with her favorite being an aluminum model from brand Level 8 which retails for $430. 

As she shows the wheeling case to the camera, Aly says: ‘This bag is what I call a “buy once, cry once” item. 

‘It seems a little expensive at first but you will literally have it forever and you won’t need to buy another bag. 

‘Over the years I’ve spent 80 bucks here and then a couple years later I’ve dropped another 100 bucks on another bag and over the last 10 years I’ve probably bought three or four different carry-ons. If I had just bought one [more expensive] bag I would have saved money.’

Aly says the best thing about her Level 8 suitcase is that it doesn’t have any zippers. 

Instead, it has two buckles ‘which are also TSA locks, so it’s really easy to get in and out of.’

She says this feature proved especially ‘handy’ when she needed to grab something mid-flight from the overhead bin.

‘I didn’t have to unzip the entire thing just two clicks of the buckle and it was open,’ Aly explained. 

Another plus of the buckles over the zipper, Aly says, is that it’s a lot harder to break into as ‘anyone can use a ballpoint pen to bust through the zipper if they really wanted to.’

Pick the biggest bag possible to go under the seat

Looking at carry-on luggage options, Aly instructs travelers to ‘buy the biggest bag that you can fit under the seat in front of you.’

Her bag, she says, ‘fits perfectly under the seat and it holds enough items for a two-day or a weekend trip.’

So with this in mind, Aly says that it might be possible to ‘get away with just a personal item and not have to pay for any luggage at all.’

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