There’s nothing fun about the airport when you’re waiting to get to your vacation destination. You wait all year to have a week (or more, if you’re lucky) off, only to spend 2 hours at the airport, and 3+ hours flying. It’s all fun and games until, suddenly, your luggage is missing or your flight is delayed for 4 hours. For those who have been in the situation, you know that there’s little you can do about it. But we can atleast prepare ourselves for what could happen. Here are some tips to make your airport experience quick and easy!
Get there early!
I can’t stress this enough. It doesn’t matter where you’re flying out of, or what time of day it is. Get there atleast 2 hours early just in case there’s trouble parking, or you get delayed going through security. You never know what could pop up, and being late should be the last reason you’re missing a flight.
Double check the TSA Guidelines before arrival
No one wants to be that person in line who has to throw a bunch of stuff away just to make it through security. The regulations can be extremely tedious and inconvenient, but they’re there for a reason. Take a second glance at the restricted items and bottle sizes before loading up the suitcases. It’ll save you the time and the worry. You can see an updated list of them here.
Mark your suitcase
Every suitcase has one of those little tags where you can fill in your name, address, phone number, etc. But these are really only good for if you lose your luggage entirely. It’s impossible to see the tiny tag when you’re suitcase is going around and around on the conveyor belt. Put a bright colored tag or ribbon (not too long, you don’t want it getting caught on something) on the handle of your bag so that you can pick it out from the rest. This tip works great and saves time, especially when all of the other suitcases are black just like yours.
Weigh your suitcase at home
The weight limit for most flights for checked baggage is 50 pounds, which probably sounds like a lot. But if you’re going to be traveling for 7+ days, that’s 7+ outfits, toiletries, emergency outfits, bathing suits, towels if needed, accessories, and other supplies. This can easily exceed that 50 pounds, so you have to be super careful. The only thing worse than having to throw away things from your carryon is having to tear apart your luggage. Be mindful of what you pack, and weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport. Even if it’s way under the limit, it’ll be one less thing to worry about.
Get the most out of your carryon privileges
Over the years, carryon requirements have gone from being lenient, to strict, to lenient again. On my most recent flight, I learned that you can actually have 1 carryon and 1 item (such as a purse) that can be put by your feet during the flight. They call it a “personal item”, so laptops, purses, and other small bags would constitute as such. These carryons are the only “free” service you get, so take advantage of everything you can.
Prepare for the worst
So what happens if you’re headed for a beautiful vacation in the Caribean, and you arrive safe and sound but your luggage does not? I’ll tell you what happens: you wait. In these situations, you’re truly at the mercy of the airline. They could find your luggage after 1 day, or it could end up on a flight to California and not be found for weeks. Sometimes, it never gets found!
Make sure you’re mindful that this could happen when you’re going through the packing process. Don’t put anything super expensive in your checked baggage, or anything that you don’t want to risk losing. Luckily, airlines will reimburse you if they lose your luggage, but it’s only up to a certain amount.
The great part about having a carryon is that they’re usually big enough to fit 2 outfits. I utilize this every time I fly, just in case my luggage does get lost. This allows me to have a few options while I wait for my luggage, and/or it gets me through part of the week until I need to buy more clothes.
Pick a comfortable outfit
This is usually a no brainier, but I’ve definitely seen people (women mostly) who are far too dressed up to be flying. Even if you’re traveling for work, you can always change when you land. You don’t want to get on the plane and sit for 6 hours only to realize that you should have changed.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to take off any jewelry/metal accessories when going through security. If you’re really in a rush, don’t wear any to begin with. I’ve been stuck behind quite a few people who wore their whole jewelry box just so they wouldn’t need to pack it. Trust me, this doesn’t make things easier.
Twenty-four hours before flight, you’ll get an email typically telling you that you can now check-in. This process can either be done online, or in the airport (either at a kiosk or at the desk). The check-in basically serves as a confirmation for the airline that you’re aware of departure times and where you’ll be seated. Completing this process online can save you 10-15 minutes if it’s a busy airport, and takes away from some of the stress.
Keep the important things accessible
There are three things that should always be accessible: Cash or Debit Card, License/some form of ID, and your phone in case of emergencies or to check your flight status. Make sure that these don’t get buried in your luggage somehow, but at the same time, make sure that they aren’t in a place where they could fall out or be taken. It’s such a hassle to have to step aside after waiting in line forever because you have to rummage through your things to find something.
Have you ever been stuck on a plane with a crying baby, or a really obnoxious person? If you have, than you know how important it is to be able to drown out the noise for a few hours. The whole flying experience can be very loud and hectic, so once you’ve finally made it to your seat, it’s time to relax!
What are your tips and tricks for surviving the airport?