I love airports. I tend to arrive hours before my flight, not because I’m stressed or afraid I’ll miss my flight, but because I love airports. I like to take my time, wander around the shops, stop for breakfast, get some coffee, and let the excitement and anticipation build.
I don’t, however, love flying. I squeeze my eyes shut and pray like crazy during take off and landing, gripping the armrests and hoping for no bumps. I keep my seatbelt on all the time. I freak out at the tiniest bit of turbulence. I tend to be bored, anxious, and always freezing cold on flights.
Whatever kind of traveler you are—airport hater, window gazer, or anxious armrest gripper—I’ve got some fantastic tips for you. I polled some of my favorite travel bloggers to share their secrets for making sure their time in the airport and time in the air goes smoothly.
Since we’re headed out to Seattle this morning, I’m excited to try a few of these!
(By the way, any tips that are not credited to another blogger are my own.)
(Also, please know that I’ve paraphrased these bloggers’ ideas to fit the style of this post, and I’ve linked to the post they requested I share with their comment.)
1. Always check in and pay for your baggage online if your airline gives you the option. Some budget airlines (ahem, Spirit) will actually charge you to check in at the airport. Save yourself the time, money, and headache!
2. Instead of taking a pricey cab to the airport, opt for public transportation or park your car in an off-site lot. These lots often offer free shuttles to the airport and many have covered parking spots. It will cost you a little extra in time but will save you quite a bit of green. Better yet, ask a friend to drop you or pick you up if possible.
3. To remember where you parked at the airport, save it on my cell phone calendar on the date and time you will return. That way, just when you need it, your phone will alert you. —Lisa of Libelletage
4. Arrive early to eliminate unnecessary stress. If you like to avoid the body scanners and opt for pat down, allow at least 30 extra minutes. —Penny of Adventures of a Carry On
5. If you’re flying within the US, enroll in the TSA Precheck program to save yourself some time. Also be sure to bring or wear long socks to keep warm. —Sarah of The Cash Odyssey
6. Try to get to the gate before the gate attendants arrive. As soon as they’re all set up, go ask for an exit row or bulkhead seat. Since most airlines charge you to book these seats in advance, there will usually be some empty ones. If you ask for them at the gate, you won’t be charged to switch from your standard seat to a better one! —Katrina of The Two Week Traveler
7. Do not book a connection that gives you less than an hour between flights, especially when you’re flying internationally. Having a longer layover is better than missing your connection and being stranded at the airport until the next flight out. —Menorca of Europe Diaries
8. When you’re stuck in the airport on a long layover, create your own food or pub crawl using the airport map as a guide. You’ll burn time in a fun way and get to try some local beers and wines while you’re at it. —Laura of Savored Journeys
9. Treat yo’ self! It may be a bit more expensive than usual, but purchasing a coffee or pastry at the airport can make an early morning in the airport feel magical. It’s my favorite way to kick off a vacation!
10. Book the first flight of the day. Yes, you’ll have to get up early, but there is less of a likelihood that you’ll face delays since the plane is already at the airport! —Holly of Brave Little Cheesehead
11. But if you’re traveling with an infant, avoid very early or late-night flights to avoid disrupting their sleeping routine. —Sherezade of Shere y Paul
12. Bring a refillable water bottle with you. Especially for long flights, you won’t want to depend on the tiny glasses of water that the staff come around with every now and then. —Lauren of Wanderlust
13. Wear a scarf, regardless of the outdoor temperature. This becomes an instant blanket on freezing flights. —Anna of Rich As Kings
14. If you’re traveling with a child, opt for a window seat. Our son will keep himself occupied well after takeoff and a good portion of time prior to landing just by looking out the window. Also be sure to bring plenty of snacks and a few toys. —Karilyn of No Back Home
15. Pack plenty of food—a few bags of snacks and a sandwich work well. And always have cookies and chocolate available, both for your own sanity and to share with grumpy neighbors during tarmac delays. —Suzanne of Phila Travel Girl
16. Bring disinfecting wipes to wipe down the seat, tray, and armrests. —Matilda of The Travel Sisters
17. Stretch whenever you get the chance! When standing in lines work your shoulders. Spiral your fingers out and rotate your wrists. Press the ball of your foot into the floor and rotate your ankles. These are small stretches that release tension and are nearly invisible. —Elaine of Trip Wellness
18. Bring a good neck-support pillow and an eye mask, especially for long flights. You can find cheap and portable options at TJ Maxx, Walmart, and Amazon. —Samantha of Samantha En Route
19. When you’re flying internationally, always bring two pens. One’s for you to fill out forms, the other is for the people around you who want to borrow it. —Sarah of Mango Sticky
20. Bring some sort of non-electronic entertainment. In the case that your flight gets delayed and your computer/iPad/phone dies, you’ll want a book or magazine as backup. Besides, when was the last time you had multiple hours of uninterrupted reading time? Take advantage of it!
21. Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane, including a jacket or sweatshirt (if you’re bringing one), so it doesn’t take up space and weight in your bag. Plus, you’ll stay warmer during those chilly flights!
22. If you know you’ll be traveling on budget airlines, make sure to take note of the baggage allowances and costs before you book. The flight itself may be cheap, but some airlines charge you to even bring a personal item! —Shelly of Norway to Nowhere
23. Check carry-on rules before you pack and abide by them. Measure your bag before you pack it so you’re not holding up the line and delaying the boarding process due to having to pay for a checked bag or not being able to fit it in the overhead bin. Also keep in mind that whatever your personal item is, it will be taking up your foot and leg space. Choose wisely! —Erin of Traveling Thru History
24. Fly with only carry-on luggage when possible. You have zero chance of your bag getting lost, and you don’t have to wait around for your bag after you land. Plus, traveling light makes traveling easier – and sometimes cheaper! —From Mandy of Mandy Living Life
25. If you can’t carry on all your luggage, be sure to pack the essentials in your carry-on or personal bag: medicines, a change of clothing, a bathing suit, your wallet/purse, and your important documents in your personal bag. You never know when your luggage will be lost. —Tiana of Let There Be Travel
Happy travels, everyone!