Most travelers have a tendency to over pack or under prepare for a long flight, resulting in two travel no-nos: bag fees and jet lag. That sort of inefficiency and lack of sleep might be the norm for some travelers, but it doesn’t fly when travel is your lifestyle.

Scott Keyes, co-owner of Scott’s Cheap Flights, spoke with Travel + Leisure to explain how a travel expert prepares for a long flight. Keyes is all about taking advantage of the cheap international flight deals his team digs up, but knows that a little strategy goes a long way when it comes to long flights and new destinations.

Brian Kidwell and Scott Keyes - Scott's Cheap Flights
Credit: Courtesy of Scott Keyes

He only brings a carry-on backpack.

Keyes takes the notion of traveling light seriously. Forget about a carry-on suitcase, Keyes limits himself to a carry-on backpack and clarifies that, “It’s not a massive backpacker backpack.” His version of traveling light lets him skip the baggage claim and allows him to get in and out of public transportation and up and down stairs without difficulty.

He never packs more than a week’s worth of clothes.

As you might guess, a small carry-on backpack doesn’t lend itself to overpacking, which Keyes admits can be tough. “I’m an overpacker by nature, so it’s a bit of a struggle,” he said. “Because I’m carrying it all on my back, I do my best to prevent overpacking.”

There’s enough space in his backpack to bring about a week’s worth of clothes, if he’s traveling for longer than a week, he does a load of laundry on the road. Other than clothes, he makes sure to bring his “computer so I can pitch in at work, an iPad, and a couple books.”

He doesn't buy trinkets on the road.

When you travel, it can be tempting to pick up gifts, home decor, and knick knacks – especially if the price is right. But in the name of not over packing and traveling light, Keyes said, “Rarely, if ever, do I buy anything on the road. I’m not buying trinkets.”

He adheres to the time at his destination as soon as the airplane door closes.

Jet lag can be one of the hardest parts of travel. Entire days can be wasted when your body tells you to sleep at all the wrong times. When you travel as often as Keyes, strategies to acclimate quickly go a long way. He adheres to the “notion that as soon as the [airplane] door closes you set your internal time to the destination time.” Explaining that he’ll immediately set his sleeping and eating schedule to match that of his destination.

The method, which is backed by people like Peter Cistulli, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Sydney, can be difficult – as you won’t want to necessarily eat dinner at 8 a.m. or sleep during the middle of the day – but Keyes says he prefers to jump in and get acclimated as quickly as possible.

He deprives himself of sleep for overnight flights.

Frequent fliers know there’s nothing as frustrating as boarding a plane with every intention to sleep only to find it impossible. Keyes has his own method to make sure he can sleep on the plane on command.

“I’ll purposely try to make myself sleep deprived the night before. If I only got five to six hours the night before then I’ll fall asleep,” he said.