Some people love being at the airport, while others would rather have a root canal than deal with the hassle. While there are some things you can’t prevent, such as canceled flights, there are ways to make traveling easier. I use these airport hacks everytime I travel and feel so much more comfortable now – I would almost say I enjoy the airport (almost)!
1. Book an early or late flight
Most flights start mid-morning and go until the early evening, so save yourself the hassle of being in huge lines by booking flights opposite of that. Early morning flights will allow you to breeze through the lines and still have time to enjoy your coffee. Red-eye flights will also allow you to get to the airport later, plus you’ll be at your destination when you wake up.
2. Get to the airport early
I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it saves you so much stress to get there a few hours early. Even though I have TSA Precheck, I still get there two hours early. That way I get through security, find my gate, and then know I can relax. I typically grab a coffee and find a table to get some work done.
3. Dress practically
I’ve seen women at the airports in tight skirts and high heels, and if they’re actually comfortable in that, more power to them. You will never find me in that, however, as I know I might have to walk far to get to my gate and will be sitting on a plane for hours. My typical outfit is sneakers, stretchy workout pants, a t-shirt, and a long hoodie.
Read more: Travel Gear You Need for Your Next Trip
4. Check in online
There’s no reason not to check in for your flight before you leave your home or hotel. Most airlines even have apps you can download and get your boarding pass on. Even if you have bags to check in, there are often expedited lines for people who have already checked in. The exception to this is if you’ll be traveling internationally, as you’ll have to go to the counter to show them your passport.
5. Keep your documents together
I have a travel wallet that easily fits my passport, credit cards, cash, driver’s license, and boarding pass. When I need to go through security or get on the plane, I don’t have to be that person holding everyone up because I can’t find what I need. Put them all together before you leave for the airport so you’ll be organized.
6. Sign Up for TSA Precheck
I got TSA Precheck when it first came out and it’s completely changed how I travel. I now don’t need to get to the airport hours early because I know I’ll go through security much quicker. For only $85, you have access to the TSA Precheck line in all US airports that have it, and it lasts for five years. I can leave my laptop, camera, and liquids in my bag, and don’t even have to take my shoes off. I’m often through security in less than five minutes and sitting at my gate enjoying my coffee.
7. Get Global Entry for International Travel
I visit Canada often throughout the year, so I decided to get NEXUS so I could drive through the border without waiting in a long line. That includes Global Entry, which I couldn’t believe I didn’t sign up for before. If you travel internationally often, you’ll want to get this.
When you return to the United States to go through customs, you get to skip the huge line and go to a kiosk to answer a few questions. You then give your slip to the customs officer, who rarely asks more than one or two questions, and you’re good to go! If right now you don’t have either Global Entry or TSA Precheck, I recommend signing up for Global Entry, which will also include TSA Precheck (and saves you money).
8. Use packing cubes
Buy small packing cubes to organize your carry on luggage. If you need to get something out for security or on the plane, you don’t want everything falling out as you dig through to get to the bottom. Organize your items by electronics, toiletries, snacks, and anything else you may have in there.
Read more: Europe Packing List for the Summer
9. Have a reusable water bottle
You’re bound to get dehydrated while you’re on the plane with that dry air, so bring a reusable water bottle with you that you can fill up at the airport. I always fill mine up as soon as I get past security and drink the entire thing before refilling it right before my plane boards. That way I’m already a step ahead on the hydration game.
10. Bring a portable charger
I’ve been to airports where either I can’t find any accessible outlets to charge my phone or they’re all full. That’s why I always bring my portable charger with me so I don’t have to worry about my phone dying. A good one will last you at least four to five full charges so you don’t have to charge it for several days.
11. Walk around
When I was coming home from Patagonia, I had six different flights to catch and over 40 hours of travel. I started to dread all the time I was sitting on planes, so as soon as I would reach my next destination I would start doing laps around the airport. It helps stretches out your muscles and gives you energy too.
12. Take advantage of charging stations
While my favorite airline, Alaska Airlines, has both USB and outlet plugs on their planes to make sure you’re fully charged when you arrive, many airlines don’t. If you’re going to be sitting down waiting for your flight, you might as well sit at a charging station. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on an airplane than being stuck in an airplane with dead electronics. They’re often spread throughout the airport at different gates or sometimes by the windows.
13. Buy a lounge pass
I had never paid to go to an airport lounge before this year, but it’s a game changer when you have a long layover. With all the traveling I do, I ended up getting Priority Pass, which allows you to visit hundreds of different lounges all over the world.
Lounges have stronger wi-fi than the public airport’s wi-fi, showers so you can feel refreshed, much better food, free alcohol, and you can even sleep for a few hours in ones with pods. I can’t tell you how much better I felt after traveling all day and using the lounge in Peru at 2 AM.
Read more: The Ultimate Patagonia Packing List
14. Bring extra Ziploc bags
How often have you been traveling when one of your small Ziploc bags for your liquids breaks? By the end of a trip, one of mine is always torn, so pack a few extra so you don’t have to worry about not having a bag for your liquids.
15. Pack your own snacks
While airports are getting healthier, they’re not getting any cheaper. I know some people feel that their vacation starts the second they walk in the airport, but there will be plenty of delicious food once you get to your destination. Pack some protein bars and trail mix to snack on so you start your trip on a healthy note. You’ll feel much better, too.
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