Airport Travel is notoriously a hassle. Some of the headaches are self-induced, however, or at least self-preventable. You have no control over most of the inconveniences, but some you do. Make your travel as efficient and streamlined as possible to reduce your chances of getting hassled by airport or airline personnel. Your goal from packing to getting through security to reaching your destination should be to do so in as an efficient manner as possible. The following are tips for maximum efficient airport travel.
Efficient Packing and Check In
Do this as early as possible. Last minute packing is not efficient and you will make mistakes. Check the weight allowances of the airline. How many bags will the airline allow you to check and how many carry-ons? Whether to pack a checked bag or a carry-on depends on many factors, and packing the right suitcase is very efficient. If you are going home, you don’t care about lost luggage, as you have more clothes at home, therefore checking your bag would be efficient and you won’t have to lug a suitcase around the airport. If you are going on a short trip, then taking only a carry-on can be very efficient as I will discuss later.
Pack nothing of value unless you absolutely must. Packing irreplaceable or expensive items is not efficient as it will cause you to worry and influence your packing. Pack only what you absolutely need for the trip. It is efficient to pack toiletry items in the checked bag to avoid hassle at security, and if they are lost, you can always buy more at your destination. Packing expensive creams or any toiletries in your carry-on is not efficient.
Weighing your bags before leaving home is efficient. You can use a bathroom scale by weighing yourself first without the bag, then hold the suitcase and get back on the scale and subtract the difference. If your suitcase is even a couple pounds overweight, they may make you repack or pay more money. Either way, this is not efficient and will increase your stress level at the airport.
Filling out luggage tags before you go to the airport is efficient and is one less thing you have to do while checking in. If you print your itinerary, it is efficient to keep it to one page, folded and in your pocket to refer to it easily until you no longer need it.
Efficient Airport Security
Wear a shirt with a front pocket. This is the most efficient place to keep your passport or other ID and your boarding pass. You will have to present them possibly multiple times, and it is not efficient to be searching in a bag each time. Keeping them in a front pocket is efficient because you can easily glance down and check that they are still there instead of searching through another pocket. Never set your passport and boarding pass down anywhere. If you set it down somewhere, especially while you are flustered going through airport security, then you increase your chances of forgetting to pick it back up again. It might also get stolen or lost. When the airport security person hands it back to you, put it immediately back in your front shirt pocket.
Wearing a watch, jewelry or having change in your pocket is not efficient. This will be an extra hassle going through airport security. Prior to even getting into the airport security line, remove your cell phone, wallet, keys, change, jewelry and watch and put them into your carry-on or backpack. Fishing things out of your pockets while you are being rushed through the metal detector is not efficient.
Wear pants that don’t require a belt. Removing a belt and then having to put it back on again is not efficient. Wear shoes that easily slip on and off. Having to re-tie your shoes or squeeze into them is not efficient.
Going through airport security with an entire family, especially with small kids is not efficient and could be a nightmare. Try having a trial run at your home with the whole family. Make sure everyone is packed and wearing the clothes they will wear at the airport. Have one of the adults pretend to be airport security and each person should pretend to put his or her bag on the conveyor belt and go through the metal detector. This can identify problems ahead of time, such as a kid’s shoes being not efficient to remove or someone wearing too much jewelry.
The most efficient layover is about two hours in duration. Any more is a waste of time. Any less and you run the risk of a delay causing you to miss your connecting flight. One efficient advantage of not checking a suitcase is if your first flight lands on time and you can catch an earlier connecting flight, you can talk to an airline agent about getting on an earlier flight. They will only do this for you if you have no checked bags. Federal law requires that you be on the same flight as your luggage, so if your luggage is already tagged to be on your original flight, you cannot board an earlier one.
When you land at your connecting airport, it is efficient to find your next gate as soon as possible. Once you find it and ensure that nothing is wrong or that your next flight isn’t taking off early (yes, that does happen sometimes) then you can do something else like shop at the nearby stores.
In your carry-on, it is efficient to only pack one book or one iPod or one thing to work on. Many people pack multiple things to keep themselves entertained or busy but only end up using one thing. Decide on only one thing to pack to keep yourself occupied in order to be most efficient.
Packing a sandwich or two in your carry-on is efficient as it will prevent you from having to waste time and money buying costly food at the airport. The days of being fed a good meal or any meal on each flight are over. Packing sandwiches might not work if you are traveling internationally and are forbidden from transporting food items.
Getting thirsty while traveling is not efficient. It can give you a headache and cause you to make mistakes. Since you are not allowed to bring water with you through security, and buying bottled water is very expensive, maximize drinking water on the flight. Each time the flight attendant comes by asking if you want anything, get a glass of water. Ordering water only will keep you hydrated and on top of your game. The other drinks may be tempting, but anything with caffeine or alcohol will dehydrate you and make you lose your edge. Even juice contains a lot of sugar. To be the most efficient at proper health while traveling, hydrate as often as possible on the plane.
If you follow all these tips for efficient airport travel, then you will reach your destination having experienced less stress than you would have otherwise and will be ready to start the real part of your journey. All you have to do now is pick up your luggage, if you checked any, and find a way to get to where you are going. Making an inherently troublesome experience into a more efficient one will get you to your destination safer, healthier and happier.