Who couldn’t use less airport stress?
Even those of us (like me!) who love to travel and do it often, can experience stress during the actual traveling part – especially dealing with airports. All the rules, all the crowds, and lines…. I get it.
Here are some of my top tips for three areas to help you with less airport stress and “fly” through the airport like an expert.
GETTING THROUGH SECURITY
I’m glad there is airport security, truly…..but that always feels like one of the biggest hassles to get through. It can be much easier though if you remember to be prepared properly:
- Liquids and large electronic devices must be removed from your carry-ons; make sure they are easily accessible.
- Liquids must be in 3-ounce containers or less, fitting in a single quart-sized bag. I know that not everyone travels a lot, but this rule has been in place for a long time. So, it still amazes me how many people come up to security not knowing or remembering this – too many or too big liquids (that includes your water bottle).
If you don’t want to buy a water bottle at the airport, bring an empty one and fill it at a water fountain once through security.
If you are having trouble fitting all your liquids in small enough containers or into one quart-size bag (ladies, we can have a lot of toiletries, right?), a couple of extra “secrets”:
- Medical-type liquids (for example, contact lens solution) can be bigger and outside the bag, just take them out of your carry-on also.
- If you only need a little bit of something, contact lens cases are a great way to take up less room, so you can fit more items.
- Make sure there’s nothing in your pockets.
- Dress for it – if possible no belt or watch, no big jewelry, wear slip-on shoes, nothing in your pockets; I even avoid underwire bras and button-fly jeans (they can set off some metal detectors).
Make it even better: Apply for TSA-Prescreen or Clear. These allow you to go through special shorter security lines. And then you usually also don’t have to take anything out of your carry-on or take your shoes off, which definitely streamlines the process!
PACKING YOUR CARRY-ON
In addition to the tips above about considerations for security, some things to be sure to have in your carry-on:
- Always pack valuables, medication, etc. in your carry-on, and not your checked luggage. Even if you are doing solely carry-on, keep these items (or anything else you would not want to check) in a smaller bag and not your suitcase. If the plane is small or full, you may have to still gate-check your suitcase.
- Pack items you may want for the plane – sweater in case it’s cold, neck pillow, something to read, a snack.
A big one: Consider having whatever you would need for overnight, such as toothbrush, change of clothes, etc. in case your checked bag gets lost or delayed (doesn’t happen often….but if it does, you will be sooooo glad you did this).
GIVING YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME
If you don’t have a direct flight, be mindful of connection times, and have at least an hour between flights. Make sure to check this when you book your flights – the airlines will sometimes have a connection of only 45 (or even 35!) minutes. That can be cutting it way too close……people can take forever to get off the plane when it lands, or the gates could be far apart. And that’s not even considering if your first flight is delayed a little, which is not unusual.
And finally: Arrive early. Arrive early. Arrive early.
Take the recommended airport arrival times seriously. I’m typically 5-10 minutes late for most things but I always give myself plenty of time to get to the airport well ahead of my flight. Traffic, long lines, long walk to get to your gate…..it’s just not worth the rush and risk of missing your flight. So get there early, check in and get through security first thing, and then go grab a Starbucks or a glass of wine and relax. You’ll be glad you did.
Follow these tips for less airport stress and happy traveling!