Whether you’re flying long or short haul, economy or first class -- there’s almost no getting around the fact that your trip has to start with an airport. While the airport can be a pain even for those with the sunniest of dispositions, turning up late and ill-prepared, with a negative attitude in tow is guaranteed to make your airport visit far from the awesome start to your trip that you may want. Okay, awesome might be a stretch -- but plenty of people find airports to be an enjoyable part of the vacation, and you can be one of them if you follow these nine tips for increasing the chances of a fun, stress-free departure.
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1. Arrive early.
Yes, we had to start with this one because although it is stating the absolute obvious, if you don’t follow it, it is without a doubt the easiest way to start your trip all wrong – as in, a missed flight kind of wrong. Stringent security checks mean you should err on the side of caution with TSA advising you to arriveat least two hours before takeoff for domestic U.S. flights and three hours before international departures.
2. Do not party till the wee hours the night before.
It’s 6 p.m. on Friday afternoon and you’ve just finished work, so you consider your vacation officially starting right now. What better way to kick it off than with happy hour cocktails down at your local pub, right? Wrong. Waking up for an early flight is hard enough without a hangover slowing you down (or making you forget essentials like your travel-size toothpaste).
3. Book an airport hotel.
Depending on your location, staying at an airport hotel the night before departure removes the stresses of the airport commute on the day of travel. Here are eight awesome airport hotels to check out.
4. Sneak into a private lounge.
Business and first-class fliers pay for the luxury of their own private lounges — but there’s no reason why economy customers can’t have a try at gaining access to these wonderlands of serenity hidden out of sight; here are five infiltration techniques worth trying out. Alternatively, there are websites where you can buy a lounge pass if you’re willing to pay the price for the likes of leather recliners, free Wi-Fi, a well-stocked bar, and a far quieter environment.
5. Adopt a positive attitude.
Smile and the world smiles with you; embrace the airport with positivity (which yes, means even embracing long lines, the boarding passes that mysteriously disappear from your smart phone, the crying babies that won’t quit, those people who can’t help but invade your personal space, and even the nightmare of long delays). Okay, maybe not delays, but you get the gist. PMA: Positive. Mental. Attitude.
6. Download podcasts.
Waiting out a dreaded delay is bound to test the patience of even the most zen traveler. Here is where the podcast becomes your best friend. From interesting and informative, to hilarious and emotional, they are strangely soothing –and for us, at least — the podcast has made many an airport delay more bearable.
7. Go shopping.
While this list primarily deals with the beginning of your trip, it can easily apply when you’re homeward bound — particularly this tip. We’ve bought wedding gifts in Tokyo Narita, last-minute souvenirs for unsuspecting family in Venice Marco Polo, and one of the greatest and most garish Bob Marley t-shirts ever seen in the Tobago airport, which goes to show that shopping at the airport is always a fun reason to get there early.
8. Choose appropriate luggage.
Think about your luggage and make sure you follow the Transport Security Administration rules. That means no liquids above 3.4 ounces/100ml, all liquids in separate clear plastic bags, and no sharp objects like nail scissors stashed in your carry-on. Size and weight of luggage is another way to slip up at the airport. If you’re carrying a lot of weight then book an extra suitcase in advance to save money. If you’re planning to go carry-on luggage only — always advisable if possible — then make sure your bag fits the size restrictions. Some airlines are less strict than others, but having to check your carry-on bag is a quick way to puncture your cool, calm airport-loving exterior.
9. Keep a separate plane bag ready to go.
So you’re on the plane, you’ve made it through the airport and you feel calm, relaxed, and ready for the next step of your vacation. But as soon as the seatbelt light switches to off, you’re forced from your seat while the person next to you makes a 10-minute rummage through the entire contents of the overhead compartment for something he left in his bag. Don’t be that person; have a separate plane bag ready with everything you need (exactly where you know it;; be) and you’ll feel fly as you fly.
As for keeping cool for the rest of the flight, here are 15 other types of plane passenger you don’t want to meet.
- The 8 Most Extravagant Airports in the World Go Way Over the Top
- 8 Airport Hotels That Are Awesome (We Promise)
- An Airport Terminal You’d Actually Want to Get Stuck In
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