Knowing the ins and outs of traveling through an airport is as important as knowing the ins and outs of your destination because it helps to set the tone for the remainder of your day (and trip).
From packing wisely for TSA, to getting your documents in-line for the airport...here are a few airport tips that will help make your next flight a breeze and help you avoid what could otherwise quickly become a stressful situation.
1. Make Your id + Airline Tickets Accessible (to you)
Make your IDs and Airline Tickets easily accessible (to you only) by keeping them stowed in the inner pocket of your jacket or somewhere that only you can reach and quickly access. This will make it easy to show your ID when interacting with TSA or flight desks. That being said, airline tickets can be mobile, but keep those accessible on your screen as well before TSA and boarding.
2. Bring Snacks and Empty water bottle
You know how you thought a $6 bag of chips was too expensive at Disneyland? Airports are no different. All restaurants and food places in airports have to charge extra due to airport fees, which we won't get into. All you need to know is that you're better off bringing your own travel snacks (see our list of Best Travel Snacks). You'll also want to bring your own water bottle – empty, though! After TSA, you can fill up your empty bottle at a fountain.
3. Check-in the day before your flight
EVERYONE needs to do this. Checking-in online in advance helps ensure that if you arrive to the airport and the line is insane, you can just sail right past everyone and head to TSA (if you have no luggage to check). If you have luggage to check, the process will still be quicker as you pass off your luggage to the attendant. Checking in beforehand will also allow you to easily find out if there are delays or changes to your flight.
4. Wear sandals or shoes that are easy to remove
Going through TSA is no fun for anyone, but the process becomes significantly easier once you know that you will be expected to remove your shoes. So opt for sandals or slip-ons if possible, because you don't want to be that person holding up the line because you wore lace-up boots.
5. Skip accessories
Again, TSA usually will make you remove all jewelry, accessories (like belts), and heavy jackets. It's best to skip the jewelry and altogether avoid having to juggle them amid hectic lines, or risk losing them in the bins.
6. Pack electronics and toiletries at the top
TSA will usually ask you to take out electronics (laptops, cameras) and toiletries (toothpaste, liquids) and place them in their own bins. If you've packed wisely, you'll have your electronics and toiletries easily accessible so that you can whip them out, and toss them back in after you've been scanned. Make sure to also check limits for toiletries in your carry-on (usually 3oz or less) to avoid throwing things away :(.
7. Dress in layers
You never know how you're going to feel once you're in an airport, so it's better to dress in layers. If you're running late (knock on wood) and you're sprinting through the airport, you're going to break a sweat. If you're sitting in an airplane that's blasting the AC, you're going to get cold. Dress in layers, and dress comfortably, because you'll probably be doing a lot of walking, sitting, and hanging out.
8. Take photos of what you have
This might seem oddly cautious, but better safe than sorry! Taking photos of your luggage or the things inside your luggage is a good way to keep notes of what you have and if for some reason you need to claim something stolen or lost, then you'll have a photo of it.
9. Mark your luggage
When you're in an airport with hundreds of other people who all probably shop at Target and Amazon too, your luggage and backpacks all look the same. Especially if you have black or grey luggage, make sure you mark yours with a unique, bright tag or ribbon so that it's easy to spot when it comes around on the carousel.
10. Consider the TSA PreCheck Program
If you can afford it (approximately $85) and if you plan to fly more than a few times a year, it might be useful to consider the TSA PreCheck program, which essentially speeds up the process of going through security check points.
11. Utilize Free checked bag at the Gate
If you've made it to your gate and you're still lugging around a bulky duffel, you might have another chance to check it in – for free! It happens quite often that flight desks will announce that they're offering to check bags for free because of limited cabin space. All you do is go up to the desk at your gate, and they'll tag and take your luggage. Now you can avoid the stress of finding a space to cram your luggage into on the plane and... you've got more free hands to carry around your macchiato.
Ready to start traveling to new places? Join a group of new friends to explore Australia, Vietnam, Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, South Africa and more! Check out FTLO's upcoming trips for 2019 and sign up for a trip today!