Being a frequent flyer has led me to develop an airport routine which always makes travelling smoother. I would rather be relaxed sitting at the boarding gate super early than trying to make it to the gate on time and feeling super anxious. Here are basic 10 Tips for the Airport that are simple and easy to apply. I always stick to these and it makes the airport process easier!
1. Pack light
I know we want to pack things because of "just in case this or just in case that" situations. But think of what your packing as outfits and have pieces that you can wear with other garments you've packed. What I mean by this is: versatility is key! For example, one pair of trousers, one pair of shorts and a few tops that all work together!
Plus you want to leave room for shopping in your destination city! Packing lightly insures that your suitcase wont weigh a ton when you're trying to traverse a new city upon arrival (I don't know about you, but having to carry your suitcase up 3 flights of stairs in rush-hour London underground traffic is a nightmare of mine...I've been there and its not fun).
2. Check in online before hand
I'm surprised by how many people don't do this. Usually 24 hours before your flight you can go to the airline website and check in. This way you can get dibs on seats and go straight through to baggage drop. This cuts out so much time, which leads me to:
3. Pre-print boarding pass
Having your boarding passes printed means that after baggage drop you can go straight to security...again, cutting time! FYI some airlines for some countries require that you get a visa check done by the airline (this will be stated on your boarding pass) before the security gate which is always some sort of stamp or signature done on your boarding pass by the airline associate, so please read your boarding pass thoroughly!
4. Arrive early to airport
This is very VERY important. No matter how close you are to the airport (geography wise) or if you have checked-in online and printed your boarding passes you should arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your boarding time (not flight time). Anything can happen: there can be delays in public transportation, traffic, you can be locked into the friend's apartment that you're staying at with no key and no help in a foreign country...yes thats happened to me, and once you get to the airport there can be long queues at security, you may have to take a train to your terminal or you may have to walk long distances to your gate...I mean it, ANYTHING can happen. You want to reach your gate, go to the washroom, procure some food and water, sit and relax before a flight, not be running to your gate with the potential of missing your flight (I'm not a superstitious person, but that is a bad way to start or end any trip!).
5. Have your liquids packed in one ziplock bag
Another way to cut time and save yourself from having to go through the anxiety of opening your hand luggage in front of the security queue is to pre-pack your liquids (100 ml) in a zip lock bag. The items from this ziplock bag can be transferred into the bags provided and required by the airport (all airports have their own requirements) or can be placed as is into the security trays. Place this bag in an accessible pocket of your hand luggage so you don't have to open and close you luggage at security.
This is something people don't do or forget to do. No matter how careful and anxious you are anything can happen while you're travelling so it is imperative that you make copies of your IDs. Keep one copy in your hand luggage, one in your checked-in luggage, leave one at home and email yourself a scan. Have your passport ready to go with your boarding ticket at security and know where you have put it before, during and after security.
7. Don't wear things that beep and remove all jewelry and gadgets from pockets
Do yourself a favour and please remove anything that will beep through security, including jewelry, watches, belts, loose change in your pockets, certain types of shoes, sometimes jackets with zippers etc...basically if you think its going to beep put it in your hand luggage and then put it on after security to make that security clearance quicker.
Security can be confusing. Some places want you in a single layer of clothing, some want no shoes, some will want all your electronics out and so just gage it out while you're in the queue and if you're still confused just ask a security officer. I mean sometimes they're not friendly but at least they'll know that you did ask.
8. Empty water bottle
You cannot carry liquids over 100 ml through security. And water bottles on the other side usually cost way too much. So if you want to save a bit of money, carry an empty water bottle with you which you can fill up once you cross security.
This is my key to a happy flight. Again, you don't know what can happen. Flights can be delayed, the food in-flight can suck, or your metabolism can just get kick started meaning you're hungry a lot more. Having snacks is never a bad idea, so pack some or buy some after security. In fact, I usually recommend eating a meal before getting on the plane, as it can prevent you from feeling ill (if you're like me).
10. Slip on shoes + socks
Important for a smooth security check and if you're like me and you like taking your shoes off in-flight! Socks because if you have to remove your shoes during security check in you don't want to walk bare foot on the airport floor. Also I get super cold on the airplane so I always carry a pair of socks that I wear on the plane ride.