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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.