Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro

Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro

Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro | Bad with Directions Blog | Are you going on a trip soon, or even going on your first flight? Here are the top airport tips I could come up with in order to make the entire airport experience as smooth as possible. Travel stress-free and enjoy your vacation. Travel like a professional and enjoy your airport experience.Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro | Bad with Directions Blog | Are you going on a trip soon, or even going on your first flight? Here are the top airport tips I could come up with in order to make the entire airport experience as smooth as possible. Travel stress-free and enjoy your vacation. Travel like a professional and enjoy your airport experience.

When it comes to traveling or going from point A to point B, I believe most of us can agree that the plane ride and the process leading up to the flight can be the most annoying. We like getting to our final destinations and having a great time: taking pictures, learning about a place, and eating delicious food. Although the airport/airplane part is not our favorite, why not try to make the most of it anyway? Here are some of my airport tips and tricks for having a smoother airport experience.

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Before the Airport

Book the cheapest flights

There is no better feeling than getting to an airport, knowing you scored an amazing price on your flight. We all know flights can be super expensive (especially if you’re flying internationally) but one way to ease the pain of flying is to know you shopped smart.

My favorite resource for scoring great flight prices is Skyscanner. Find out more with my Guide to Booking Cheap Flights.

Pack like a pro

When it comes to packing, you want to make sure you’re only taking what you actually need and that you pack it in the most convenient way possible. I always recommend traveling with just a carry-on if possible because it is less of a hassle: you have everything you need in one place, you don’t need to pay extra to check-in the bag, and the chances of it getting lost in transit is SUPER slim because it’s always with YOU.

RELATED: Packing Light Tips: Four Days in a Backpack

If you can’t manage to pack in just a carry-on, then at least make sure everything you are taking is worth the hassle and necessary for your trip. Can you get away with only taking one black top instead of two? Do you really need three pairs of shoes for a weekend away? Also, make sure to weigh your luggage if you think it might exceed weight limits.

 

Make your luggage stand out

I’m not saying to get a neon pink cheetah print suitcase, but if it’s a typical black or grey bag, for example, add a ribbon or scarf to it so you can easily identify it and no one else will pick it up accidentally. Also make sure to put one of those tags on it with your contact information, just in case!

 

Use a four-wheeled suitcase

The BEST types of suitcases you could ever buy! They roll easily and make life a lot simpler.


Carry-on essentials

Packing Light Tips: Four Days in a Backpack | Bad with Directions | Blog

Whether you managed to pack everything in a carry-on or not, these are a few things you should definitely be taking with you in order to have a pleasant airport experience and flight overall:

  • An empty/reusable/collapsible water bottle (to refill with a drinking fountain instead of paying upwards of $4 at the airport)
  • Snacks (you can definitely bring your own snacks and food to the airport. I recommend some small cereal bars or fruit, or even a pre-packed salad – that way the plane doesn’t smell too much when you open the container).
  • A portable charger (you never know when you’ll need to charge your devices, or if there will even be a plug available somewhere – they’re just normal everyday lifesavers really).
  • Travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush, and hand sanitizer (to stay clean and fresh during the trip)
  • Fuzzy/thick socks (for utmost comfort and warmth, especially on long flights)
  • A passport wallet (to keep important documents in one place)
  • A travel plug adapter (if traveling internationally – you never know if you’ll need it at an international airport as well)
  • Headphones/Earbuds (to listen to music or watch shows/movies, without having to pay for low-quality ones)
  • A pen (for filling out customs papers and avoiding long lines in immigration, AND for killing time on a plane with…)
  • …Activities! (Make sure to pre-download any Netflix episodes or Spotify playlists you may want, as well as have any other material easily accessible…Another post coming soon)

RELATED: Top Christmas Gifts for Travelers


Check-in beforehand

With all the technology we have now, checking-in should be the least of your worries. You can check-in through your phone as most companies now have mobile check-in. Make sure to save the passes to your Apple wallet if you have an iPhone. Or you can print boarding passes at home. It’s one less thing to worry about and to get in line for. OR, if you can use those check-in machines instead of going to a counter, even better.

Have copies of important information

This is one of my biggest airport tips! It never hurts to have a physical AND digital picture of your ID or passport just in case something gets lost. It’s also very good to have screenshots of information you might need when you land, such as car rental or hotel / Airbnb information.

 

***STORYTIME***

Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro | Bad with Directions Blog | Are you going on a trip soon, or even going on your first flight? Here are the top airport tips I could come up with in order to make the entire airport experience as smooth as possible. Travel stress-free and enjoy your vacation. Travel like a professional and enjoy your airport experience.

London 2014

When I landed in London for my first time, I was almost deported. My friends arrived before me and I didn’t know the name or address of the hotel we were staying at. (Rookie mistake, I know). I couldn’t get in contact with any of them and security had me wait in the little detainment section of immigration. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had.

 

Take pics of your checked luggage & parking space

Snap a pic right before you check it in: just in case airport staff loses it or if you can’t identify it in a sea of other bags.

If you’re driving and parking your car at the airport, don’t forget to take a picture of the parking spot as well. This will help you easily and quickly find your car on the 4th floor, section C, for example, when you get back from your trip. Sign up for TSA Precheck or Global Entry

If you travel frequently from the U.S. consider paying for TSA Precheck. It’s $85 for a 5-year membership and allows you to:

  • Go through security without taking off your shoes, or removing your laptops, belts, or liquids
  • Go through security in a fraction of the time – usually less than 5 minutes

Or if you fly a lot internationally, consider applying for Global Entry.


Airport Tips

Arrive with plenty of time

This point is super obvious, but you have no idea how many people still don’t do this and end up stressing, running through airports, and missing their flights. Don’t be that person.

Plan for traffic, getting lost, long lines at check-in, security, and passport control (if flying internationally), and anything else that could go wrong.

 

**STORYTIME**

The last flight I took from Barcelona to London I had to RUN through the airport. I arrived two hours earlier than my flight, but the check-in line was super long and when I finally arrived at the counter, my luggage decided to break.

I couldn’t push the handle down and the ticket lady was not going to let me check my bag unless the handle was 100% closed. This random guy tried to help but couldn’t manage. Finally, someone from the line came told me I had to unpack the suitcase, unzip the backing, and push this little teeny-tiny button in so that the handle could go down.

I’m SO happy he was correct! But one of my worst fears (don’t ask why) is to have to undo my suitcase at the airport and take out all of my stuff. And…I had to do exactly that. It took about 15 minutes because I couldn’t manage to re-pack my luggage correctly (after all those hours of packing Tetris), and when I got past security, I found myself in an extremely long passport line.

Top Airport Tips: Travel like a Pro | Bad with Directions Blog | Are you going on a trip soon, or even going on your first flight? Here are the top airport tips I could come up with in order to make the entire airport experience as smooth as possible. Travel stress-free and enjoy your vacation. Travel like a professional and enjoy your airport experience.My plane was already boarding and I was stressing the entire time; heart racing. I didn’t have it in me to cut the line, even though these two wonderful Americans were telling me I should. In the end, the universe pulled some strings and brought this other American who was on the same flight as me!

After freaking out for about 30 seconds, we decided to cut the line together and run to the gate, which was on the last boarding call. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have made the flight!

Anyway…long story short: you never know what can go wrong, so better to arrive earlier and be as stress-free as possible. I need to follow my own airport tips!

 

Wear comfortable clothes

This should also be a given, but I see SO many people fly with the most uncomfortable looking clothes and shoes. Wear something flexible, stretchy, and warm. Planes get cold, so make sure to have an oversized sweater or a scarf that you can use to cover up. Also, most airports allow you to walk through the machines without taking your shoes off, as long as their normal tennis shoes – not boots or heels and whatnot.


Prepare for the security line

Make sure you know the rules of the security line that way you can go in and out easily.

  • I tend to calculate how many bins I’ll need before I get to the bin pick-up that way I can have all the space I need.
  • Remember that your liquids need to be less than 3oz (100ml) and in a clear bag (some airports provide ziplock bags). It is best to have these at the top of your carry-on bag, that way you can easily access it and put it away again.
  • You will also have to separate your laptops, tablets, and cameras, by putting them in their own bins. Make sure they’re also easily accessible and make sure not to forget them (like Scott has done before…making us run all the way back to security about 45 minutes later).
  • Take off your jewelry, belts, zip-up hoodies, and shoes (if necessary) AHEAD of time. Don’t wait until you get to the metal detector to take everything off.
  • AND to be the best person ever at the airport, don’t hold up the line by putting everything back together after the x-ray machine. Try to combine your things in one or two bins and move to the side. Airports usually have tables or little stations after security check that you can use to gather all your things in a more calm and convenient manner.

Walk Around

This is the best time to kill time before your flight, to get some exercise, to see some new things, and to get your blood circulating. When you’re on the flight, you can’t really walk too much or really stretch yourself out. Try to get this done before going on the flight that way your body can feel as fresh as possible by the time you land in your destination.

If you have a layover somewhere, then definitely use that time to walk around and get your body moving. Flying isn’t the healthiest thing to do and it takes a toll on your body, so definitely try to get as much movement in as possible.

Consider paying for lounge access

The best way to get lounge access is by being part of a frequent flyer program or an alliance, but if you’re not, you could always pay extra for a day pass to a lounge. Depends on how much time you’ll be spending at the airport, but usually, in lounges, you get free snacks, free drinks, free internet, comfier seats, and sometimes showers and sleeping pods. Might be worth the extra cost!


Happy traveling!

Holidays and traveling are for us to take a break from life and enjoy things in the present. Hopefully, the tips above will help you have a better and smoother airport experience.

Let me know if you’re interested in more airport tips or travel hacks posts such as packing a suitcase, packing a carry-on, flight hacks, etc.

What airport tips do you have for a smoother airport experience?

2 Comments

  1. Maggie | TotallyTeenTravel.com
    February 17, 2018 / 1:36 pm

    Hey Nicole! I love your thoughts and tips here! I’m a pro traveler (who loves the whole airport experience! LOL!) but was researching online for my 17yo DS who’s flying solo next month. Anyway. Goodness, all bags DO look alike all right, but I’d be careful recommending ribbons and scarves. Airline personnel always make me hide away baggage shoulder straps when checking in my bags; I doubt ribbons and such would be welcome, either. All that can get easily tangled up below decks when tossing bags onboard the aircraft. I’d recommend neon or dayglo name tags instead. Thanks again for a helpful blog entry. 🙂
    Have a great day!
    Maggie

    • February 20, 2018 / 5:52 am

      Hello Maggie! I have a small purple ribbon tied on one of my bags handles and it definitely helps (even though it’s super tiny). Cool nametags are also a great idea though! Maybe I’ll look into that. I hope your 17yo has a wonderful time on the solo trip! All the best, Nicole

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