Make Travel Much More Enjoyable With These Essential Airport Hacks

If you’re like most people, travel tends to stress you out. And even seasoned travelers could always use some good tips on making the experience of traveling as painless as possible. We’re here to help you navigate the friendly skies with these tips and hacks that will have you flying through the airport with ease. You’ll save some money, too! Read on for some of the best tips for a smooth and comfortable journey.

Take A Photo Of Your Parking Spot

parking
Pinterest/wayservices
Pinterest/wayservices

This is the first thing you should do when you arrive at the airport. Snap a photo of your parking spot. Be sure that your photo includes identifying information such as your parking deck number, your level, aisle, space, etc.

This way, you’ll know exactly how to find your car when you arrive home at the end of your trip. No more wandering around aimlessly in a parking garage when you just want to get home and unpack!

Carry A Refillable Water Bottle

water bottle
Pinterest/theteachertouri
Pinterest/theteachertouri

This airport hack is going to save you quite a bit of money, especially if you drink a lot of water. Bring your own refillable water bottle when you travel. Be sure it’s empty, though, so you can get it past security. There are free water bottle filling stations located throughout most major airports. No more paying $7 to quench your thirst, and you’re helping the environment!

If the bottle doesn’t fit into your crammed-full carry-on bag and it’s a model with a loop at the top, you can attach it right to your bag’s straps.

Know Before You Go

Passengers go to the terminal at Tegel Airport.
Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images
Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Before you even head out the door, checking on things like your flight status and current security wait times can really save you some time. The MyTSA app will even tell you what each airport’s busiest time is.

And if you’re bringing an unusual item with you, check it out online first. AskTSA is a Twitter account that you can send photos to. A representative will them tell you if your item is OK to bring along or if you should leave it at home.

Bring Your Own Snacks

travelers snack and wait to board a TAP flight to Lisbon, Portugal
Horacio Villalobos – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Horacio Villalobos – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

This is a no-brainer for anyone who’s tired of paying astronomical prices for airport food. If you just take a little time the night before your flight, you can pack some snacks at home. Not only will this save you money, but you can bring food you actually like to eat instead of settling for whatever’s being offered at the airport.

Be aware that certain airports don’t allow produce, like fresh fruits and veggies, through security. You’ll also want to keep your fellow passengers’ noses in mind and not bring “smelly” foods along.

Choose Your Seat Wisely

airplane seats
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Whether you need extra legroom, or if you just prefer to be comfortable (and who doesn’t?), it’s a good idea to look up your flight’s seating chart. A website called SeatGuru provides reviews of the different seating options on your flight, allowing you to pick the best and most comfortable seat for your needs.

This also comes in handy if you know you’ll be getting up more than once to use the bathroom. If that’s the case, make sure you get an aisle seat!

Take A Photo Of Your Luggage

Passengers wait for baggage to arrive on the carousel
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sure, you have a luggage tag on your suitcase(s) already, but what if that identifying tag came off during its journey? There’s a simple solution for this problem — take a photo of your luggage before you hand it over to the airline representative.

This way, if there’s ever a dispute at when the time comes to claim your baggage, you’ll have irrefutable proof that your luggage is, in fact, yours.

A Portable Battery Charger Can Be A Lifesaver

charging station
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

If you don’t already have a portable battery charger, you will want to get one before your next trip. You can’t count on finding a free outlet or charging station at the airport, especially when you’re traveling at a busy time.

Keep it in your carry-on and be sure to recharge it while you’re in-flight. This way you’ll always have the means to charge your devices when you’re at the airport.

Keep Germs At Bay

hand-sanitizer
Pinterest/juliedod
Pinterest/juliedod

Airports and airplanes are simply full of germs. There’s no avoiding it. With that many people passing through, and many of them sick, the airport is rife with all kinds of microbes.

Stay germ-free by bringing your own sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. You can even wipe down any surfaces in the bathroom that you’d rather not touch, like toilet seats and doorknobs. It’s not a bad idea to clean your armrests either, once you’re seated on the plane.

Rebook Via Phone

Two commercial airline passengers use their smartphones standing beside a row of landline phones
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

In the frustrating event that your flight is canceled, it makes sense to quickly get into line at the customer service desk. The problem is that everyone else has the same idea. Those lines can take forever to get through, and you usually don’t have much time to spare in these situations.

It’s better to step out of line and locate an airport phone. Use that to call and rebook your flight with the airline. You’re almost guaranteed to save time rebooking this way instead of in person.

Research Your Layover And Destination Airports

Florida, Miami International Airport, crowded concourse.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ahead of time, or even during your first flight, it’s wise to do a little research on your final destination airport, as well as any layovers you have. All airports are laid out very differently, so knowing where you’re going before you even land puts you at an advantage over the clock if you have a tight connection or just want to get to baggage claim and on with your trip faster.

There are apps such as GateGuru that provide information about airports including maps and amenities for every terminal.

Prepare For It To Be Cold

blanket on flight
Pinterest/cntraveler
Pinterest/cntraveler

There’s really nothing worse than being stuck on a flight that feels like it’s about 20 degrees below zero. You might be heading to St. Lucia or some other toasty destination, but don’t count on your flight being warm.

Always pack a pair of warm socks, as well as a sweater or scarf, in your carry-on. You’ll be a lot more comfortable and it’ll be easier to take a mid-flight snooze if you’re not shivering.

Bring Reusable Bags

staying organized
Twitter/AfricanExtract
Twitter/AfricanExtract

Staying organized during a trip can help reduce stress. When you’re able to easily locate things you need, such as medicines or charging devices, you’ll stay much more calm, cool, and collected than if you have to rummage through multiple bags to locate items.

Reusable bags can help you stay organized over the course of your trip. For example, bring along a bag specifically for dirty laundry and you’ll be able to keep it separate from your clean clothing.

Being Flexible Can Pay Off

A traveler walks past new flat panel screens
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If you’re not bound by time and have some flexibility you can save yourself a lot of money and time. Off-peak flights, such as the red-eye, are usually a good bit cheaper than flights during peak travel hours. Additionally, the fewer layovers you book, the lower your ticket cost should be.

And if you’re able, try not to travel through the busiest airports. As of 2018, the FAA reports that the top five busiest airports in the country were Chicago O’Hare International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Los Angeles International, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and Denver International Airport. Avoid booking yourself at these airports if at all possible.

Tie A Ribbon Around Your Suitcase Handle

ribbon on luggage
Twitter/mco
Twitter/mco

Since so many bags look alike these days, you’ll want yours to stand out from the crowd. This can save lots of time at baggage claim — no more picking up every black suitcase that comes around on the conveyor belt only to learn that none of them are yours.

Simply tie a brightly-colored piece of ribbon on the handles of all your bags and suitcases, and you’ll be able to identify your belongings from a mile away.

Have A “Flying Uniform”

Casually dressed young stylish female traveler
Pinterest/56kilo
Pinterest/56kilo

This hack is going to save you a lot of time and headache before you even leave for the airport. If you have a favorite set of clothes to travel in, designate that outfit as your “traveling uniform” and wear it every time. No more last-minute decision making the morning of your flight – you already know exactly what you’re going to wear. Just make sure that this outfit is clean a couple of days before your scheduled flight!

Your clothes should be comfortable but a step up from the sweats look that so many people go for these days. Aim to be somewhat stylish, warm, and comfy and your flight will be much more pleasant.

Wear Your Eyeglasses Instead of Contacts

Jennifer Garner is seen at Los Angeles International Airport
GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

If you wear contact lenses, then you’re all too familiar with how irritating they can get when they’re dry. That’s not something you want to deal with when you’re flying since there’s very low humidity on board airplanes. The lack of moisture in the air can cause your skin, eyes, and other organs to become dry and/or irritated.

Wear your glasses instead, and spare your eyes from the discomfort and irritation of dry contact lenses.

Did You Pack Too Much? Wear Those Extra Clothes!

Travelers walk past a baggage scale
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If your luggage is determined to be overweight during the check-in weigh, you can save yourself an expensive extra fee by taking out an item or two and wearing them instead.

Usually, a jacket or coat will be sufficient to get your bag down under the weight limit but you might need to take out more items. This way, you’ll also stay warm on those chilly flights – double bonus!

Go Left, Young Man

Passengers queue at El Prat airport in Barcelona
JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images
JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

When you reach security, turn left. This hack is based on science. Most people tend to be led by their dominant hand, meaning that right-handers are more likely to go right at security. Since the majority of people are right-handed, this means that the right lane is likely to be more crowded.

Go left instead, and most of the time you’ll be out of there faster than if you’d gone through the right line.

Using A Laptop? Keep It Accessible

laptop at airport
ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images
ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images

If you plan to use your laptop in-flight, whether for work, entertainment, or any other reason, be sure and keep it somewhere where you’ll have quick access to it. The last thing you’ll want to do is to have to get your bag out of the overhead compartment and dig through everything to find your laptop.

Many companies make lightweight and convenient bags that keep your laptop safe and accessible at all times.

Pay Attention!

A young traveller sits in the Manila airport waiting for his departure. (
Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images
Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Many of us like to wear our headphones or earbuds when we travel. Listening to comforting music can really help ease the stress of dealing with a busy airport and all the headaches that come along with traveling.

However, you need to remain alert to everything that’s going on around you – for example, important gate announcements or schedule changes. Keep your volume at a level that you can still hear external sound with.