To some, the airport is the most stressful part of their vacation or travel experience. As a frequent traveler, I completely understand why it could be. As most issues, the fear of the airport stems from not understanding how to navigate through its steps. Here are some tips that I’ve mastered over the years to help make the airport a much better experience.
Plan ahead! Leave yourself lots of time.
As simple as that may sound, most people don’t do this simple step. Starting from the time your flight boards, work backwards. Allowing yourself time to get through security and customs if you’re flying international. A good rule of thumb is being in the airport 90 minutes prior to boarding. This should be plenty of time to get through all the steps you need to. Don’t forget to leave yourself time to drive, with a cushion for traffic and park.
Checking in online and paying baggage fees ahead of time
Your airline should notify you when you are eligible to check in for your flight online. Usually its 24 hours prior to your flight departing. You can submit travel documents, pick your seats (for some airlines), pay for luggage fees and print boarding passes all in advance. This saves tons of time when you arrive at the airport the following day.
Know the rules of flying
Some of this may seem like common sense, but again, traveling as much as I do, I’ve seen it all. Become familiar with the rules of flying. Know what you can and cannot back in your carry on, and in your suitcase. Know what to do when you get to security. Have the items you need off, already off and in your carry on. Have your boarding pass and passport or travel document ready. If everyone was as prepared as you will be, things would go like clockwork. But remember, for every person who slows down the line by even 30 seconds, multiply that by the tens of thousands of people who are traveling through that checkpoint in the day. Do the math, thats the reason it takes so long.
Invest in a travel luggage scale
To avoid wasted time at the airport, and avoid you paying overage fee’s, weigh your bags. There is a per-bag limit on most airlines. If you are traveling with more then one bag, try and spread the weight out evenly. Take things like camera’s and put them in your carry on. They don’t weigh the carry-on, but do check its size.
Do you know where you’re going once you land?
Most airports can be kind of tricky to navigate, coming up with a game plan ahead of time for your arrival will make your trip seamless. How are you getting to your hotel or next destination? Knowing where to find the taxi stand or pre-arranged transpiration meeting locations are key. Destinations like Disney use the Magical Express. This is the definition of seamless. You get off the plane, go straight to the Magical express meet-up area in MCO, and get on the bus. No waiting for luggage. Its fantastic.
Enrolling in trusted traveler programs
For someone who travels through airports and border crossings frequently, I am enrolled in a program called Nexus or Global Entry. This allows you to save time at customs and security. The enrolment process is a bit lengthy but it will 100% save you time in the end.
Packing a change of clothes in your carry on
I always stress planning for a worst case scenario. Who knows what will happen. And if your luggage doesn’t make your final destination, would you want that to put your vacation on hold? What I recommend doing is packing a change of clothes and a bathing suit in your carry on. That way, regardless of what happens with your luggage, you can still hit the resort or your final destination running.