One of the best ways to spend your time and money is traveling. However, even the most pleasant things in life cannot happen without stress. Sure, you are excited to get to the beach, your friend’s house, or that great restaurant you found on insta. But getting there is the hard part; trips are stressful, and before you get to your dream place, you will have to go through a real mess with preparations and flight.
Airports are not the calmest places. Signs, lines, terminals, check-ins, security, and gate-agents are never pleasant. Some things can make your traveling more overwhelming and uncomfortable than it might be, but we have a list of airport travel hacks and tips to help you.
1.Research the baggage policies of your airlines
Take your time to read the baggage policy before leaving. This won’t take more than five minutes, so don’t skip this. Every airline seems to have a different policy. When buying a ticket, you should mind that not all airlines have the same baggage policy: some allow a handbag and/or a laptop as carry-on, the others don’t. Or they charge a fee. For example, Delta allows a carry-on, but when I flew United, they only allowed a carry-on if I stowed it under my seat. A carry on stored above would cost extra. That sounds like a nightmare to enforce, but whatever.
Check your ticket to see how many items are allowed. Make sure that your baggage meets the requirements because the last thing you want to do is paying additional fees or trying to cram your stuff into a suitcase at the airport.
2. Book your off site parking in advance and save a ton!
For years, I’d been using the same off airport parking with ease of convenience, but it seemed that within a couple months pricing for off airport parking had skyrocketed. Price comparison was of little help. All the airport lots were similar in price. Then I saw some advertising about booking it online. What a hassle I thought, but then I realized I could save about 40 – 50 percent on parking. My fee for a four day trip was $25 instead of $53!
3. Sometimes it is good to be a follower / sometimes just look for signs
This might sound obvious, but you should read the signs instead of following the crowd. Remember, people don’t always know where are they are going and why. Rely on signs – they are easy-to-follow and straightforward. BUT I always look at some of the people on my flight so if I did check a bag I spot them to know which carousel is mine. It saves time instead of just looking at every prompter to know which carousel is yours.
4. Glasses instead of contacts
Your eyes will get dry during the flight, so if you wear contacts, you should change them for glasses. Don’t forget your eye-drops and moisturizing cream for hands if your skin is dry.
5. Take an empty bottle to your carry-on
Airports have high prices for water and we know that brining a bottle of water in your carry-on is not allowed. You may take an empty bottle and fill it at a water fountain after checking in. I do this all the time and it saves so much money. Many airports now have special dispensers for this and the water is quality.
6. Jackets with pockets will help you take more stuff
One of the best airport hacks is putting your stuff in large pockets of your coat. If you don’t have anything like photography facilities or other instruments, you can fill your pockets with gadgets (a tablet or e-book).
7. Take a portable phone charger with you
You need to be sure that your phone is charged when you land. This is important, because you may want to check the map, take a taxi, or call your friends that meet you there. Make sure to have a portable charger with you, so you won’t have to run around the airport to find one. Plus, airports are slow to make outlets and everyone seems to be gathered around them, so you don’t want to be one of those people without a cell charge. I do love that I have my AWAY luggage that comes with a charger BUT you must take it out to board the plane.
8. Choose the security point on your left
Experienced travelers swear that most passengers choose the security point located on the right because they are right-handed. Turn left and avoid long queuing.
9. Keep your laptop in carry-on
Take care of easy and fast access to your computer. When entering the check-in point, you have to take it out. Keep it in carry-on baggage or a separate bag, so you won’t have to poke around your suitcase to find it. I always make sure that my laptop is the last one to go through the security scanner, so that it is closest to me and less likely someone will walk away with it.
10. Take a couple of Ziploc bags along
All liquids should be packed to avoid a leak. Take a couple of reserve bags as well – you can use them to save your documents and phone from the rain, for instance.
11. Email yourself a copy of your ID (passport or drivers license)
Have you ever wondered “What would happen if i lose my ID in another country?” Luckily I have never had to find out. BUT what I do is email myself a copy of my passport and print a copy out just in case. I don’t know how much this would help me, but it is a precaution I take. Also, I’ve seen people that have lost a Drivers license. You can still get on the plane, but they do an intense scan of all your belongings.
11. Take a night flight if you want to avoid the hustle
Late flights are less noisy. There are fewer planes at night, which means that fewer passengers will be running around, buying coffee and sandwiches as well as souvenirs and gifts. The terminals and check-in department will be less crowded, and you will enjoy a quiet flight.
12. Morning flights for those who don’t like turbulence
If turbulence is real trouble for you, you should get yourself a ticket for a morning plane, because storms usually happen in the late afternoon. If you don’t have a choice, then pick a sit in the middle of the plane – it is the most stable spot.
13. Don’t get too relaxed in the airport restaurant
One of the most effective airport tips is this: always track your time. Even if you have a couple of hours before the flight, don’t get too relaxed in the terminal. You may want to eat and drink something in a local cafeteria, which might be a great idea. Long hours of flight are waiting for you, while onboard snacks are too expensive. If you decide to stop and get some food in a cafeteria, set a timer on your phone to make sure that you won’t miss the flight. Cafeterias are loud and don’t have informational screens.
14. Skip your morning joe until you get to the airport
One of my must haves each and every morning is coffee. It gives me that jolt I need. However, if I have an early morning flight, I usually skip it. I have a semi-long commute to my airport, and I don’t want to have to stop to go to the bathroom. So I wait until I get there to have my coffee. Yes, it is more expensive, but better than having to sit in traffic to get to the airport because I had to stop.
15. Pack your bags as if they will be checked.
I think we can all agree that you should put something on your back to identify it on the luggage carousel. But most of us have moved on and savvy travelers just carry-on. That way, you can be on your way as soon as you land and there’s no risk of lost luggage. BUT in many cases, flights are so full, they know they cannot fit all the luggage in the overhead bins, so they often offer to check your bags for free at the gate. So, I always pack my bags (keeping the important things in my small personal item carry on) and my bigger bag ready to be checked.
16. Have wet wipes and disinfectant liquid for hands
Tilt tables are really dirty! Keep wet wipes and disinfectant liquid close at hand, so you can use them before eating or drinking something. I also recommend taking something with zinc in it, or something with an immune booster for long flights. The last thing you want is to get sick on a vacation!
17. Keep your documents in order
To avoid rush during the flight, and have a calm arrival, prepare all of your documents beforehand. Have a copy of your hotel reservation, passport, and credit card. Also, make sure to fill your travel/immigration card carefully.
18. Snag a bag at the duty free shop
This trick will save you if you picked too many things during your vacation and now they don’t fit your suitcase. No need to pay for extra luggage, just visit a duty-free shop and get a bag there. Put all of your things in the bag, and you will look like you did some shopping before getting on the plane. In most cases, the staff doesn’t check duty-free bags.
20. Dress for a Netflix and chill night
When I was a kid, my mom always had us dress nicely for flights. But that was when flights were on time and airlines seemed to actually care about their passengers comfort. This is 2020 and all that is out the window. You are going to sit on a plane for hours, so when choosing between style and comfort, choose the latter and wear sensible clothes. High heels are not an option for an airport! Also, remember about the metal detector and don’t put too much jewelry on.
21. Free up space on your phone
So many people get to their vacation and find out their phone is full and they have to delete pics as they are taking them. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a bunch of photos and videos on your vacation without having to delete as you go? Why not use the time while you are waiting at the airport or when you are on the plane to do through and delete a bunch of photos?
22. Don’t miss something important when wearing headphones
Music, lectures, and podcasts are great to help you pass the waiting time, but be careful when wearing headphones at the airport. Don’t make the noise too loud – you risk missing an important announcement, like a gate change which happens all the time at the Atlanta airport where I live.
23. Download the airline app (if they have one)
With the apps, you can find out if your flight is delayed, what gate it is and other important information. I know I find it useful to check in for the flight and find out which gate need to go to.
24. Ask for hand scan if you have health problems
If you have implants or any other physical conditions, you can always ask for a hand scan instead of a magnetic scanner. The airport representatives will assist you.
25. Drink this instead of alcohol
I think we all know that onboard snacks are expensive. Snacks like nuts or granola bars are a great go to food to fill us up on flights. But besides saving money on food, save money by not drinking booze. Ginger ale is a great option to get on flight as it is great for settling the stomach. I either choose that or Tomato juice as it is high in vitamins.
26. Weigh your things so you don’t go over the weight limit at the airport.
Not only you need to know the number of items allowed, but also the weight of your bags. Re-packing is the worst thing you can do at airport check in. Airports accept bags of particular size and weight. Again, make sure that your stuff matches the rules.
27. Don’t use taxi services
As a rule, taxi services in airports are overpriced. Check if there are convenient public transport options before you arrive. Or try using services like Uber, you can even use Uber pool to save even more money if time is not an issue. You may even be able to take a shuttle to a hotel which will shave up may miles of an ride share service and then order your ride share from there.
Remember to check all the rules and policies before getting on board. Weigh your luggage, check the dimensions of your carry-on so you don’t get charged extra. Read signs carefully and don’t panic if you get lost, or something goes wrong. You can always ask airport staff for help. If you need to take some extra room, use the pockets of your jacket or buy a shopping bag at the airport. Keep these simple tips in mind and enjoy the journey!