So you planned the perfect vacation. You got a great deal. You packed your bags. You're so excited to start your vacation.
However, there is one tiny little thing you have to get passed before you can sip that yummy drink on the beach.
It's called the airport. UFFFFFF!!
Why does it have to be so difficult? The lines. The people. The 7 mile walk to your gate. And don't even get me started if it is a connecting flight.
Would you believe me if I told you that I have learned to love the airport? That after years of traveling including commuting from San Francisco to New York City for work I have figured out a few tricks to make the airport a friendly place.
Now love is a strong word. So let me rephrase. I have learned to embrace the necessary evil called the airport.
Stop suffering your way through the airport. Let's talk about airport hacks that everyone should know. The same airport hacks I use every time.
Not only will these airport hacks save you time but they will also save you money. Yes. MONEY!!!
Ok, let's get started.
Airport Hacks to keep in mind Before you Get to the Airport
Before you even get to the airport there are things you can do to help make your time at the airport a bit less stressful. From knowing what to pack to prepping in advance you will be thankful you took the time to do these things before even leaving the house.
Invest in Global Entry
This is my number one so I, of course, have to start out by telling you that Global Entry is a game-changer.
What is Global Entry?
“Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. ”
When you sign up for Global Entry you also get TSA PreCheck with allows for expedited clearance through security lines in my US airports.
Many will say that you don't need to waste your money now that there is the Mobile Passport app or that you can just get TSA PreCheck but at only $100 for five years (that's $20 a year) if you travel often it is worth the investment.
As a point of reference Precheck is $85 for five years so for $15 more why not get both.
It can even be used in some airports outside of the US. For example, we were able to use it when we flew out of Vancouver last year.
So now that we got that away let's talk about packing before your trip.
Carry a Multi-Outlet Surge Protector
Not only will you be the hero of the day but you no longer have to spend hours trying to find an empty outlet. If you see an outlet that is being used just ask if you can plug in your power bank and then everyone will be able to charge their devices.
This one from Amazon is kinda cool and it is only $10
Bring a Portable Charger
Invest in a portable charger and you will no longer need to spend precious time chasing a power source. Not only it is great to have for the airport and long flights but it is especially helpful when you're out and about. You don't want to be that person that has to interrupt a day of sightseeing to find a place to charge your phone.
BYOWB Bring Your Own Water Bottle
Why is water sooooo expensive at the airport. It doesn't make sense to me. Why must I spent 5 bucks on a bottle of water that I am pretty sure is going to take me about 4 seconds to drink. Instead, bring your own water bottle. Make sure it is empty before you go through security. Then you can fill it up after you go through security.
I especially love water bottles that keep your water chilled. Here are some of my faves.
While we are on the subject of how expensive things are at the airport, save a bit of money and pack snacks. Everything is way overpriced at the airport. You don't want to blow your budget on pringles now do you? I would also go further to say to pack something to eat such as a sandwich that you can have on the plane. Since most airlines do not offer meals this will not only save you money but it will save your stomach from growling all flight long.
Pack Smart: Liquids and Electronic Devices Should be Easily Accessible
Most places around the world will ask you to remove your liquids and electronic devices out of your bag before going through security. Don't be that person holding up the line while you dig through your suitcase.
I tend to keep my liquids and electronic devices in my backpack where I can easily pop them out and then pop them back in.
Pack your essentials in your carry on
If you are checking a bag make sure to keep essentials such as medication, electronics and other valuable items in your carry on. It is also a good idea to pack a change of clothes. In the event that your luggage is delayed or lost you will be prepared.
Like that time my luggage never made it to New York from Italy. UFFFF
Luckily I got it back in a day but I also wasn't worried because I had everything I needed with me.
Don't forget to Pack Layers
A sweatshirt, cardigan or even a pashmina are great things to have because airports are sooooo cold. Keep something cozy in your carry on that you can easily throw on if you start to feel chilly
Freeze your Liquids
I personally have not tried it but I have read this before and have been told this by a few frequent travelers. Frozen liquids are solids therefore as long as they do not melt you can technically bring them through security. If you have something that you are not going to miss give it a try and let me know if it works.
Customize Your Luggage
If you have checked baggage make it easy to find by customizing your luggage. You can go the easy route and tie a fun ribbon around the handle of your suitcase or you can go a bit grand and invest in a luggage cover with a giant picture or you or your favorite human or pet.
Check-In Online/Download the App
Skip the lines and opt to check-in online. Most airlines have apps that you can easily download on your phone. The great thing about these apps is getting real-time updates on your flight status. I especially like the Delta app that will notify you of flight delays and even allow you to change your flight if another flight is available.
Download or Print your Boarding Pass
If you don't have an app you can still check-in online and either download your boarding pass to your phone or print it at home. This will save you time. Have you seen the lines at the check-in counter? No one wants to stand on those lines.
Download or Print an Airport Map
It's always a great idea to plan ahead so familiarize yourself with the airport beforehand. When you get to the airport you don't have to waste time trying to figure out where everything in. You will be breezing right through.
Travel Hacks While You're At the Airport
Ok. So your bags are packed. You made it to the airport. You did everything you were supposed to do. Now, this is where the fun begins.
Opt for Self Check-In
If you didn't have a chance to check-in prior to arriving at the airport or do not have access to do it from your phone be on the lookout for self-check-in kiosks. This is a great way to avoid the lines and save time.
Airport Hacks for Going through Security
We already talked about making your belongings accessible when packing so let's discuss a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when going through security that will help you and everyone else.
Pick the line that is furthest away from you.
People tend to gravitate to the lines on the right. Therefore if you see there are multiple lines walk to the left a little bit. Chances are you will discover a shorter line.
Don't wait to empty your pockets
Save yourself (and fellow travelers) time by emptying your pockets while standing on line. Or how about not carrying anything in your pockets, to begin with. Before it is your turn to go through the scanner it is a good idea to empty your pockets, remove items such as belts, glasses or jewelry that may trigger the scanner and put them in a safe place such as your bag or luggage.
Not only does this save time but it ensures that you do not inadvertently leave something behind.
Be Aware. Don't Listen to Music
It is tempting to listen to music or catch up on a few episodes of your fave show while waiting to board your flight. However, this is bad bad bad. Why? Well, first you run the risk of missing out on very important announcements such as boarding calls, flight delays or even cancellations.
But more importantly, this could cost you money.
How do you ask?
Well, when flights are oversold airlines may ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for an airline voucher or in some cases a gift card. These can be worth anywhere from $250 to over $1000. And in most cases, if you are flying on a popular route they will rebook you on the next flight out which can be just an hour later.
Take A Nap
Did you know that there are airports that actually have lounges where you can nap? There are even some that are free. (fill in info about free lounges).
If you have some time to burn set an alarm, find a pod and take a nap. Just make sure this nap doesn't disrupt your routine or sleep schedule.
Looking for airport lounges (fill in info about free airport lounges)
Consider Airport Lounges
If you have a long layover finding an airport lounge may be worth the money. Some travel credit cards or airline loyalty programs will give you discounted and even free access to VIP lounge. If this is the case it is well worth it. Think about how much money you spend on a meal or drinks for example. I know I can easily spend $30 bucks on a glass of wine and a snack easily.
So do your research before you completely decide that you are not about the lounge life. It might actually the perfect budget-friendly option.
Airport Hacks that Will Save You Time and Money
Traveling is fun but it can also be super exhausting, frustrating and expensive. It doesn't have to be. Let's make travel affordable and easy.Keep these tips in mind the next time you travel and start enjoying your vacation as soon as you step foot out of the house.
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Karen Villano says
Great Tips, Thank you.
I am a gate agent and see travelers miss their airplanes every day!
Thank you. And yes. I have seen it too when waiting for my flights. I can only imagine the things you see.