Airport Travel Hacks To Make Your Trip Easier

Are you ready for your next vacation? While air travel means jetting off to a new and perhaps exotic place where you can rest, relax, and adventure, it also means airports and all the other not-as-enjoyable aspects of travel. So to help you prepare for the time before, during, and after your flight, we’ve compiled this list of travel hacks to make your trip easier, cheaper, and more comfortable.

1. Pre-Booking: Incognito Mode

When you’re ready to start looking for flights, always use your browser’s incognito mode. When you do this, the airline websites aren’t able to track your searches using cookies, ultimately resulting in lower flight prices being shown to you. Yes, that means that the more frequently you look up a flight, the more the cost of the flight will go up because the airlines know you’re interested. It’s the law of supply and demand, people!

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2. Pre-Booking: Fly Direct

Whenever you’re able, fly direct. By flying directly to your final destination, you avoid the risks that come with a layover – missing your connecting flight or having it canceled, losing your luggage or having it end up at the wrong destination, and so on. It may cost a little bit more but, it’s always worth it and makes travel less stressful. If you aren’t able to fly direct, look for a flight that has a longer layover. This way if your first flight gets delayed you won’t have to run frantically through the airport trying to catch your next flight.

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3. Pre-Booking: Red-Eye Flight

If you’re someone who can sleep on a plane, consider flying red-eye for your next trip. You’ll be able to skip the crowds and lines because you’ll be taking off and landing during off-peak hours. Red-eye flights are often cheaper as well, making your trip more affordable overall. If you can’t handle a red-eye, try to take the earliest flight out, even if that means you’ll be getting up super early. Early morning flights are often less likely to get delayed or canceled, making your airport experience more enjoyable. They also tend to be slightly cheaper than flights leaving at more convenient times.

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4. Before You Fly: Switch to Solids

There is nothing worse than opening up your suitcase and realizing that one or more of your liquids has leaked or exploded. There are a couple of ways to try to prevent this from happening, but the best way is actually to avoid liquids all together! Before you travel, pick up a shampoo bar, conditioning bar, and bar of soap from a store like LUSH. They’re just so good that you might actually find yourself making the switch permanently! You can also get items like facial cleanser, facial oil, body lotion, and toothpaste as a solid. It simplifies travel without sacrificing the quality of your skin and hair care!

Source: Shutterstock

5. Before You Fly: Layer Your Clothing

When you’re packing for your trip and choosing what you’ll wear for the flight, consider layering your clothing. The temperature often varies quite a bit as you travel to the airport, on the plane, and to your final destination. Rather than sweating it out or freezing when your seatmate blasts their air vent, you can simply remove or add layers as needed, making for a much more comfortable experience. Plus you can avoid paying for one of those overpriced thin blankets they offer you on the plane!

6. Before You Fly: Wear Bulky or Heavy Clothing and Footwear

If you’re only planning on taking a carry-on suitcase or you’re jam-packing your checked baggage, you’re going to need to pack smart! If space or weight is a concern, wear your bulky or heavier clothing items and footwear (like winter boots) through security. If you want, you can always change into more comfortable clothing before boarding your plane. Since airlines don’t count what you’re wearing towards your maximum weight allotment, this is a great way to squeeze in some extra weight without overloading your suitcase.

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7. Before You Fly: Wear Comfortable Clothing

While we understand that some people need to wear suits and ties on their flight, most of us don’t have to. It’s pretty obvious – wearing comfortable clothes will help keep you comfortable during your trip. This becomes even more important when you experience a flight delay or it’s an overnight flight! Ditch the suit or skirt and opt for comfy jeans or leggings and a cozy sweater layered over top of your fav t-shirt. No one is judging you!

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8. Before You Fly: Pack a Reusable Empty Water Bottle

The liquid limitations that you can bring on a plane are strict and that causes many people to think they have to buy water once they’re through security! To reduce plastic waste and keep yourself from spending money on water, bring an empty reusable water bottle through security and fill it up at one of the many water fountains throughout the airport. This will help keep you hydrated, which is incredibly important because the high altitudes (drier air) when flying dehydrates you. Fight the temptation to not drink water to avoid using the onboard toilets and drink up. You’ll feel better post-flight if you keep chugging back that water (especially if you’re planning on a glass or two of wine)!

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9. Before You Fly: Pack Dry Snacks From Home

Airports are notorious for overpriced and often bland-tasting foods and snacks. But did you know that you can bring dry snacks like trail mix, chocolate bars, or protein bites through security and onto the airplane? However, as always, be sure to check your specific airline and call ahead if you aren’t sure. Generally speaking, you don’t need to buy food in the airport if you plan ahead, which is great for your wallet and for those with dietary restrictions.

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10. Before You Fly: Pack Earplugs and a Sleep Mask

Earplugs and a sleep mask come in handy whether you’re planning on trying to take a little snooze in the airport or on the plane and can help block out the constant noise and fluorescent lighting. They’re also good to have on hand in case your flight gets delayed or you get stranded in the airport and need to catch some shut-eye. You may be able to buy them from an airport kiosk or from a flight attendant, but you’ll pay a pretty penny, so why not just bring them from home?

Source: Shutterstock

11. Before You Fly: Know Where You’re Going

Before you fly, do a quick Google search of the airports you’re flying into to get a sense of what they’re like. This is important if you’ve got a layover that you could miss or that could be canceled, leaving you stranded in the airport longer than anticipated. It’s important to know if the terminal stays open overnight, and if your connecting flight departure gate is close by (or even in the same building!) as well as what kind of food and shops are available. This may seem like a lot, but it’s better to be prepared and have a backup plan in case you find yourself stranded.

Source: Shutterstock

12. At The Airport: Download Your Airline App

You might feel like you’ve got enough apps on your phone already, but having the free airline app downloaded and your flight information entered is helpful to stay up to date with gate changes, delays, and heaven forbid cancellations. You generally get the updates before they make the announcement and you don’t have to worry about missing them – crucial if you tend to have headphones in at the airport. Some airlines have also started using their apps for in-flight entertainment, so if you want to watch a free movie while you’re up in the air, be sure to download it while you’re still on the ground and on Wifi.

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13. At The Airport: Airline Lounge

Did you know that most airlines have VIP lounges in every airport? Did you know that they’re absolutely wonderful to stay in? Some people get access to them because they are airline VIPs from flying so much (many business people have this status), but you can actually purchase a day pass for many of them! They offer comfortable seating, peace and quiet, free high-speed Wifi, and in many, snacks and buffet-style meals and alcoholic drinks are included! While you may not choose to pay for this if your layover is only an hour, these lounges are totally worth it if you’ve got a longer layover or you get stranded in the airport.

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14. At The Airport: Get a Seat Close To The Gate

More people are choosing to only bring a carry-on suitcase and a backpack or purse – a common luggage allowance. This can lead to overpacked overhead bins and requests for people to volunteer to check their hand luggage for free. If that’s okay with you, then go right ahead and sacrifice your bag, but many people pack a carry-on so that they don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel upon landing. If you want your carry-on to stay a carry-on, grab a seat close to the boarding desk and hop in line as soon as your zone is called. More frequently, the last group of people to board end up having to check their baggage, which adds hassle and time upon landing if you didn’t check another bag.

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15. At The Airport: Load Leftover Currency Onto a Gift Card

If you’ve got a small amount of foreign currency left at the end of your trip and there’s a store in the airport that you also have at home, load the change onto a gift card. This works especially well if there’s a Starbucks, David’s Tea, Booster Juice, or Tim Hortons – all shops commonly found in big airports. If you’ve got big bills leftover, take them back to your bank, but most currency exchanges and banks won’t accept small amounts of foreign currency back, so this is a great way to not waste leftover change!

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16. On Flight: Snacks and Drinks

Most airlines thankfully still offer complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and small snacks while you are aboard. When they come around and ask what you’d like, don’t hesitate to ask for the full can of whatever you’re ordering and one of each snack. Most of the time, the flight attendant doesn’t care and will happily hand it over, especially if you’re polite.

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17. On Flight: Moisturize

Flights tend to leave our skin dehydrated and more prone to breakouts. The longer the flight, the worse your skin will be upon landing. Since you can’t bring big bottles of cleanser or cream on the plane, use an empty contact lens container and put a little bit of cleanser and cream in each divet. Part of the way through your flight, head to the bathroom and wash and moisturize your face. Bringing a small airplane-sized facial mist onboard and spraying a little bit on every hour can also help keep skin moisturized and may help you feel more alert! Also, bring a face sheet mask to do once you get to your destination to rehydrate even more.

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18. On Flight: Peppermint Essential Oil

Another great item to bring on board is a small roll-on of peppermint essential oil (like this one from Saje!). You can roll it onto your temples and neck if you get a headache or have tension, roll some onto your hands and breathe the oil in to clear your sinuses, feel more alert, or help with nausea, and generally just to help with odors. It’s a great multi-purpose oil that’s perfect for some of the negative health effects of flights. Plus, you’ll smell great!

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19. When You Arrive: Break a Sweat

Most people are a little bit tired upon landing, even if there hasn’t been a time change. You might be tempted to take a nap, but that will most likely just mess up your sleep that night. Getting active and breaking a sweat can combat those sluggish feelings and help you wake up and enjoy the rest of your day at your destination. It can be as simple as a short yoga session in your room, some weight lifting at the hotel gym, or a quick jog or brisk walk outdoors, which doubles as a way to see what’s in the area!

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20. Before You Head Home: Online Grocery Shop

Does anybody else try to empty out their fridge before they go on a trip? You never want food to rot while you’re away, but this also means you come home to a very empty fridge. A couple of days before you get on your flight to come home, order some grocery staples online from whatever local grocery store offers the service and choose delivery for the day you’re arriving back home. That way there’s something to eat when you get home sleep-deprived and jet-lagged and you don’t need to worry about breakfast, lunch, or dinner the day after.

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11 Tips for Getting Past TSA Quicker

You have been planning and looking forward to that great getaway vacation and now the time is almost here. If you are like most people dread sets in when you arrive at the airport and realize that you have to run the gauntlet of security known as TSA just to get past the gatekeepers and into the holy sanctum of the departure area. Once you negotiate the check in area and get that coveted boarding pass comes the long line of people with their carry-on bags, strollers and impatient kids slowly kicking their bags on the floor inching ever so closely to the front of the line. For a lot of people the TSA security check is one of the worst parts of the travel experience and if you are unlucky enough to fly during peak hours or bad weather the wait to get through the line can be frustrating. Especially if you are running late. Here are a few tips that might help reduce your anxiety and get you to the plane a little faster.

11. Pack Your Bags Right

Before you ever leave the house make sure you pack right. That means not putting anything in your bag that is prohibited. Instead of reading the list at the entrance to the security line and scrambling to dig around in your luggage for things not allowed in carry-on luggage or prohibited items in general, take some time and pack properly. Don’t put anything in your bag that isn’t allowed. There is a reason the little bins full of disposable lighters and pocket knives are always full, they are prohibited. Go to the TSA website and take a look at the list of items you can’t transport and things that can’t be in your carry-on bags. Things like aerosol cans and lighter fluid are prohibited in all luggage while safety matches are not allowed in checked bags but okay in carry-on, go figure.

Packing

10. Organize Your Packed Items

Assume that the TSA agent will want to open and go through your luggage. Do them (and mainly yourself) a favor and make it easy for them. Pack your belongings neatly so it will be easy to open, check and get you on your way. Wind up and tie electrical cords, put things in clear plastic bags so they are easy to see and make it easy to visually see everything in your luggage. The more cluttered things are the longer it will take to inspect and the longer it will take you to re-pack everything. If your bags do get opened, it will make things go faster and get you out of line a lot quicker. After all that is the goal, right?

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9. Dress Appropriately

These days you have to consider what clothes you wear when flying just as you would if you are headed out to a party. The difference is a lot of clothing will slow you down in the security line and you don’t need to dress to impress. Clothes containing any kind of metal, wearing lots of jewelry, lace up boots and more will only slow you down. Instead leave the jewelry packed in your carry-on or better yet don’t bring it. Jackets, hats and belts will have to be removed and run through the x-ray machine. Laptops will have to be removed. Before you enter the line remove coins, wallets, belts and anything else that might set off the metal detectors and put them in your carry-on. Wear shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on. Configure everything before going through security so all you have on your person is your boarding pass and ID. That will ensure you get through in one pass instead of being motioned off to the side for a pat down.

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8. Liquids

Follow the 3-1-1 rule which means containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, placed in the screening bin. A lot of places sell plastic bottles this size specifically for taking through TSA security. If you have other liquids pack them in your checked bags or just buy it when you get to your destination. Medically required liquids and baby formula are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces as long as it is reasonable for the flight and don’t have to be put in plastic bags. Remember though, you are dealing with people making decisions at the moment and may not agree with you on what is necessary.  Just a hint, if you pack liquids in your checked bags put them in a zip top bags so if the spill they don’t make a mess all over everything else.

liquids airport

7. Food Items

Some foods are allowed but limited to quantities of less than 3.4 ounces. That means the big bottle of Maple Syrup you are bring back from your trip to Vermont won’t be allowed on the plane unless it is checked. Certain things like fruit and baked goods are allowed but save yourself the hassle and buy the pie at your destination. Bottles of alcohol can’t be brought on board unless they are less than 3.4 ounces. That is why you see bags of alcohol in duty free bags being loaded on the plane on some flights only to be retrieved once you get to your destination. Be mindful when traveling internationally as a lot of things may not be allowed through customs once you arrive. Fruits and meats are routinely confiscated by customs agents. The TSA says salad dressing less than 3.4 ounces is allowed but really, why would you want to bring it on board?

OlegD / Shutterstock.com
OlegD / Shutterstock.com

6. Sharp Objects

While it should be common sense not to bring on board things like meat cleavers, axes, swords and box cutters, you would be surprised how many are confiscated. Even though items such as nail clippers and tweezer are allowed in carry-on luggage these items have been confiscated in the past by overzealous TSA agents. Do yourself a favor and leave anything that might cause the agent to confiscate an item behind. If you need a small item during your trip just buy it when you arrive where you are going or put it in checked baggage. Items such as spear guns for diving, scissors and anything else sharp can usually be safely transported in checked bags. Check the TSA site for prohibited items and you will find a list of things allowed.

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

5. Kids, Elderly and People with Disabilities

Children under 12 can leave their shoes on. Put all belongings, strollers and other things through the x-ray machine. Grab enough bins so you can get everything through without it spilling over. People over 75 don’t need to remove shoes either. I guess TSA doesn’t consider kids and the elderly as threats. Both kids and the elderly are allowed two passes through the metal detector before they are given the dreaded pat down. Make sure you put all objects on the conveyor belt that could set off the detector so you don’t have worry about going through more than once. Anyone with a disability should notify the security agent ahead of going through the metal detector. If you do have to get a pat down it might help from having your bad knee man handled too roughly.

Carolina K. Smith MD / Shutterstock.com
Carolina K. Smith MD / Shutterstock.com

4. Pat Downs

There are stories almost daily of people refusing pat downs and TSA agents being fired for inappropriate pat down procedures. If you do get singled out for a pat down there are a few things you can do to make it less stressful. First ask the agent to put on a new pair of gloves. They are required to if asked. If they refuse politely ask for a supervisor. Besides the fact you don’t want germ-covered gloves all over you it will insure that any residue left over from previous pat downs isn’t attributed to you. Ask for the pat down to be done publicly in front of other passengers. Most cases on inappropriate pat downs occur when people are taken to secluded areas. Agents are not allowed to grab and fondle private parts. If you feel that the agent is going too far take a step back and again firmly but politely ask for a supervisor. You can ask for another agent to do the pat down.

Photo by: CBS
Photo by: CBS

3. Going Through the Scanners

Once you have everything on the conveyor belts and you are ready to pass through the metal detector you should still keep an eye on your belongings. Keep a mindful watch on your belongings in the bins and watch them as they pass through the scanner. When it comes time to go through the metal detector do so at a steady pace. If you go through one of the full body scanners pay attention to the directions and do it right the first time so you can move out quickly. Stopping or walking extremely slow might set off a false alarm. Once on the other side keep an eye on your belongings. Intentional or not someone might grab your bin thinking it is theirs. As soon as you see your belongings grab the bin and before you do anything else make sure you have possession of all your bins before trying to get the items out.

mariakraynova / Shutterstock.com
mariakraynova / Shutterstock.com

2. Once Through Security

Quickly remove all items from the conveyor belt and get out of the way. Don’t spend time trying to put on shoes. Stash your laptop in the bag and make sure you get everything out of the bins. There will be an area where you can put your socks and shoes on and re pack everything properly. You can remove everything from your bags that you want to carry on your person at that time. Standing next to the conveyor belt and trying to dress and repack everything only slows down the process and makes you rush unnecessarily. Before leaving the area ensure you have everything with you. Boarding passes, wallets, watches and more have been left behind and once you leave the area the chances of recovering them are slim.

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1. Bypass the Lines and Breeze Through

Did you ever notice the one line that is empty or has very few people? That is because it is reserved for Business and First Class passengers. Paying extra has benefits besides a more comfortable flight. Some airlines also offer express screening. Frequent flier programs with certain airlines such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, Delta, United and a few others offer TSA PreCheck which will allow you to get through screening quicker. The TSA PreCheck program also allows you to keep your shoes and belt on, keep your coat on and you don’t have to remove your laptop from the case. The TSA PreCheck program is available for 12 participating airlines and is in effect in over 150 airports. To qualify, you fill out an application and schedule an appointment for an in-person enrollment. The fee is $85.00 but it might be worth it if you travel more than once or twice a year.

Photo by: LL World Tour
Photo by: LL World Tour

How to Eat Healthy at the Airport

Healthy airport food, is there even such a thing? Over the years airports have been littered with fast food concessions, variety stores full of candy and chips and not a leafy green salad in sight. Times are changing though and as people become more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies it is up to the airports to keep up and provide us with more healthy options. But with the smells of Cinnabon wafting through the hallways we know how hard it is to walk right on by. After sitting on a plane for 5 hours without a meal understandably passengers are starving when they disembark. But what should you eat to curb your hunger and stay healthy?  These tips and tricks below will have your belly full in the healthiest of ways possible.

Pack ahead

We know it is easier said than done as most of us are too busy running around remembering to let the dog out and call the babysitter rather than thinking about snacks for the road. Packing healthy snacks is a great way to avoid that unhealthy airport food though. Toss a few granola bars, a container of crackers and some dried fruit into your purse as you dash out the door. Safety regulations vary from airport to airport but in most cases you will need to leave your liquids at home but foods are usually fine to carry through security.

Fruit and nuts

Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

Have the willpower to walk past the bag of chips, to put down the chocolate bar from the tiny variety shop and to avoid the overpowering smell of Cinnabon that has a whopping 880 calories in just one roll. Other things to avoid include anything with mayonnaise, anything ‘stuffed’ and anything with a lot of dressing on it. Use your common sense and don’t order a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds; in fact you should probably just avoid that restaurant altogether at the airport. Also make sure you aren’t eating a lot of little snacks; those donuts or small ice creams can add up to a lot of calories when you have more than one or two. Avoid drinking alcohol in between flights as this will make you less aware of what you are eating and has the capacity to make you crave unhealthy snacks. Before you know it you will have drank your calories and eaten a burger loaded with cheese and bacon. Skip having the second latte at Starbucks and instead grab a bottle of water. Keeping hydrated in the dry airports and on the plane will do wonders for your mood and your ‘fake’ hunger.

TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com
TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com

Do Some Research

Research the airport terminals before you go to see what they offer in terms of meals or snacks. Knowing that there are healthy places to eat makes a big difference when you step off the plane, especially if you’re starving. If you don’t know what is available you are likely to stop at the first place that smells good and chances are it will be unhealthy. Research the products available at these restaurants and have an idea in mind of what you want before you get there. Look for restaurants that list nutrition facts on their menu and go for veggies and fruit over French fries. Don’t be fooled by the ‘fruit smoothies’ that are often packed with sugar and instead reach for the freshly squeezed juice that still satisfies your sugar craving but in a natural way. Some of the airports that offer the healthiest options include Baltimore, Seattle Tacoma and Los Angeles, with Baltimore offering an incredible 92% of their concessions with at least one healthy option. Healthy options include quinoa salad, sushi, organic fruit, veggie burger sliders and roasted beet salad. The key is finding these healthy options rather than just settling for the first thing you see.

computer research

Make Sure You’re Actually Hungry

Being in an airport, for even just an hour somehow seems to make our brain believe we are hungry. Something about the smells, the boredom and not knowing when you might get an opportunity to eat again makes us run for food as soon as we get there. But take a minute to figure out if you are actually hungry or if you are just eating for something to do. If you are simply struggling to find something to do than take a long walk around the airport; browse the shops, browse the restaurants and find out what the healthy options are once the time comes to eat. If you are actually starving grab a piece of fruit to tie you over while you search for the right option.

airport waiting

We Know It’s Not Easy But…

Eating healthy at the airport is a lot easier than it used to be and with options such as Freshii, Argo Tea, Legal Sea Foods, and Kobo the choices are only getting better. Remember to look for leafy green salads, ancient grain bowls, veggie options and cholesterol-free, plant-based, fiber-packed meals. Don’t be overwhelmed by the sweet smells of high sugar junk food; hold that head up high and walk right by. Pack snacks ahead of time; just be aware of what you can bring in through security and customs. Stock up on dried fruits, power bars and nuts. Most of all; be smart about what you are eating. You know your body and know what is good for it. Don’t let being in an airport be an excuse to eat everything you wouldn’t normally. And if you just can’t walk by that frozen yogurt place again; just remember to get an extra small size. Trust us; your belly will thank you later.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

The 10 Best Airport Hacks

Nobody likes airports. They’re often big, confusing and full of weary travelers and cranky staff. Delays, cancelations and outrage about overweight fees and extra charges can add to tension and generally make the airport an unpleasant place to be. Customs and security can be a stressful experience, especially when we have to go through metal detectors and have our baggage subjected to X-rays and the scrutiny of officers who are looking for threats. We understand why it’s done, but sometimes, it’s just a big pain. There are plenty of ways to make the airport, including security and customs, much less stressful. There are ways around some of the restrictions, as well as some of the extra charges that come with having too much luggage or overweight bags. We’ve gathered up some of the best tips from the travelers here at EscapeHere and others in order to bring you the 10 best airport hacks! Next time you’re traveling through a big hub, give some of these tricks a whirl and make your trip all the more pleasant.

10. Follow Signage

This may seem like a no-brainer to most people, but for some reason, people often become completely flummoxed the second they enter an airport terminal. Even though airports often have easy-to-follow signage, some people still find themselves pondering where they need to go or what to do. One thing not to do is follow the crowd; the crowd sometimes has no idea what they’re doing.

Case in point: On a flight into Geneva, I witnessed a number of passengers with U.S. passports heading into a line up clearly marked for EU passport-holders. Some of these passengers waited just as long as I did in the correct line-up, only to be turned away when they got up to the window. A similar thing happened to passengers arriving in New Jersey from Europe; EU citizens attempted to go through the lanes designated for U.S. and Canadian citizens. Some of those people were just “followers” and ended up in line because they followed the person ahead of them, rather than reading the signs themselves. Read the signs and avoid standing in line for double the time!

airport signs

9. Dress Sensibly

This probably seems like another no-thinking-required point, but you’d be amazed by how many people still arrive at the airport dressed in a completely impractical get-up. While some people insist style should always trump comfort, I say you’re going to be stuck in a flying tin can for the next few hours, so you might as well be comfortable. I’m not saying you should show up to the airport in your pyjamas, but you also don’t need to break out the waist trainer and the 5-inch heels, ladies.

Not only is some attire uncomfortable, some of it is actually impractical for traveling through an airport. You know you need to go through a metal detector, so why would you wear chains or additional metal jewelry that you don’t normally wear? U.S. customs makes you remove your shoes (and EU airports definitely prefer it), so why would you wear the most uncomfortable pair of shoes you own, knowing you’re going to put them on, then take them off and not be able to get your now-swollen feet back in them? A cute pair of flats or nice dress shoes will suffice.

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8. Use the Priority Lane

Okay, this might run contrary to the “read the signs” point, but sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules. Most airlines reserve 1 or 2 check-in lanes for their first-class customers. These priority lanes are available to passengers who paid extra in order to ensure them better and faster service. However, since there are fewer customers flying first-class or business-class than there are economy passengers, the attendants on these lanes often aren’t nearly as busy. Sometimes, if there’s no one in their queue, they’ll even wave you over.

First-class passengers also have a tendency to show up very early (so they can hang out in the lounge – free food and drinks!) or as close to the flight as they can, in part because they know they have priority check-in which means these lanes are often empty for long stretches. Since there are also fewer passengers to check-in, and many of them are experienced travelers, there are fewer cases where the line gets held up by, say, an overweight bag or a confused customer. While it won’t happen every time, if you see the priority lane is free, hop it!

CaseyMartin / Shutterstock.com
CaseyMartin / Shutterstock.com

7. Wear Your Extra Luggage

Extra luggage is perhaps one of the banes of any traveler’s existence. With airlines charging more and more for checked baggage, often including the first bag, more people are attempting to get around these fees by using a carry-on and a personal item. Of course, carry-ons have size and weight limits, so this isn’t a perfect workaround. I’ve even seen flights where there was too much luggage in the cabin, so the crew actually had to force people to check some of their baggage (for free, of course) in order to free up space.

Let’s say you’re coming back from vacation and you’ve picked up a few extra things. You only brought a carry-on and you loathe to pick up (and check!) another bag. You just don’t want to deal with the carousel routine at the other end. But your carry-on is overweight. What to do? The easy answer is wear some of your luggage. Layer your clothes, put on some jewelry, or pick your running shoes over your flip-flops, because the sandals take up less space in your luggage. After all, they don’t weigh you! (Yet.)

joey friends
Photo by: YouTube/Comedy Central

6. Use a Shopping Bag

We’ve all been there: you picked up too many things while you were on vacation and now you face a difficult dilemma. You must either face overweight fees for your luggage or check a bag (or perhaps a second bag). Either way, you’re going to have to pony up some extra money for your extra stuff, right?

Wrong! There is a solution here, and that’s to get an airport shopping bag. Chuck all your extra stuff into the shopping bag and, voila, it looks like you made some purchases at the gift shop before getting on your flight. Most airlines don’t require you to check these items, nor do they weigh them. Most will even gather them right up and put them on the cabin. Grab a bag, fill ‘er up, and avoid the fees. If you’re really stuck, however, you can usually check a second bag at a discounted rate over the first. And, if the cabin is really crowded or there’s too much luggage, you might luck out and have the airline offer to check your luggage for free.

duty free bag

5. Rub Elbows to Get into the Lounge

First-class and business travelers get perks at the airport, not just on the flight, and one of those on-the-ground perks is access to the priority lounge. First-class flyers can hang out in the lounge, which is generally furnished with more comfortable seats and also offers complimentary food and drink. Some lounges also offer showers.

Another perk? They’re also usually allowed to bring a friend or a guest with them into the lounge. If you’re dying for a comfortable seat or some free grub, hang out near the lounge and see if one of the lounge-goers would be willing to admit you as their guest. Some might not want to and others might already have traveling companions, but you might find someone who is willing to sign you into the lounge. If you’re having difficulty, but still dying to get in, don’t be afraid to spin your story—interesting conversation, adventures, or even a little bit of “woe is me” can go a long, long way.

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

4. BYOB

Flying can be extremely traumatic for some people. Some take a couple of pills in order to deal with anxiety, while others use everything from deep breathing techniques to meditation to help relax on the flight. Others resort to alcohol, often taking advantage of the drinks served on the flight. While most of these people don’t get plastered, a drink or two might dull the edge of their fear and make the flight slightly more enjoyable (or at least tolerable).

The big problem, of course, is that airline drinks don’t come cheap. If you’re flying economy, chances are you’re on a budget anyway, so if you need a drink (or more), you may not have the funds to fork out for it. What to do? Well, remember that you can bring up to 100 mL of liquid onto the plane. That means that, yes, you can bring the little bottles of alcohol into the cabin with you. Grab a soda or some juice from the beverage cart when it comes by and make yourself a cocktail!

liquor bottles

3. Freeze Liquids

We all know that there are restrictions on how much liquid a person can carry with them into the cabin of the plane. While some restrictions have been loosening up in the past couple of years, most airports still play by the 100 mL rule, which means you can only have 50 mL of any given liquid in your carry-on.

However—and this might seem like a weird exception—the TSA in the U.S. has no guidelines about frozen liquids. So if you want to bring a 500 mL bottle of water with you on the flight, just freeze it first. Of course, you have to ensure that it’s frozen at home, so if you happen to grab a bottle of water while you’re at the airport, you’re going to need to ditch that or drink it before you go through security. And if you’re traveling on a hot summer day, your water might unfreeze faster than you anticipate, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to remove it and dispose of it anyway.

frozen water

2. Bring an Empty Water Bottle

We all know that we can’t bring more than 100 mL of liquid through security, so that 500 mL water bottle you brought from home is going to have to be emptied in a sink or tossed in the trash. Trust me; I watched a nun get frisked and be led off to additional security checks just because she refused to give up her bottle of water. Surely none of us want that; it’s too much hassle.

But why pay for overpriced water bottles on the other side of the security checkpoint, especially for non-reusable plastics bottles? If you know you won’t be able to wait until the flight attendants bring around the beverage cart after take-off, but you want to save money, bring an empty container from home. Once you’re through security, you can fill the bottle up at a water fountain or, if worse comes to worse, in a bathroom sink. Sometimes, you can even ask staff at airport restaurants to fill the bottle up for you; many are happy to oblige.

Water fountains

1. Fly Red-Eye

Need to fly, but dread the hustle and bustle of busy airport terminals? Do yourself a favor and book a red-eye flight. The later your flight departs, the more likely the terminal is to be quiet, as there’s both fewer flights and many of the airport amenities will have closed for the day, which means there will be fewer people queuing up for food or thronging around overpriced gift shops. Security and flight check-in desks will also be less crowded. While you can’t be guaranteed a quiet flight, flying through the night also allows you to (try and) sleep on the plane, instead of spending your waking hours stuck in a flying metal box.

A red-eye also gets you into the arrivals terminal early, which means the airport is often just as quiet, as few flights are arriving, staff is at a minimum, and most services and amenities are just opening up. You can be in and out almost in a flash.

Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com
Jeff Schultes / Shutterstock.com