One of the banes of my job is the amount of time I spend travelling, and time in an airport can be stressful to even the most seasoned – and calm – traveler. With that in mind, here are my top seven tips on how to minimize stress and maximize efficiency when embarking on air-travel.
- Have a ‘Go-bag’ separate to your hand luggage – I use a canvas bag with a zipper, and I put inside it all the things I need to access during the flight itself. This is separate to my hand luggage, which might be my only suitcase (if I’m only traveling for a short trip and don’t want to check a suitcase) or may contain things I don’t necessarily want to put into my checked suitcase (my laptop, notes for my meetings/presentations, my smart (i.e. expensive!) watch etc. So – I have my hand luggage which is stuff I don’t want to check, but don’t necessarily need on the flight, and my ‘Go Bag’ which I keep with me during the flight. This contains my wallet, snacks, headphones, phone charger and external battery for my phone. Most airlines allow a ‘personal item’ as well as hand luggage, so you will be able to carry both onto the flight – as well as duty free shopping.
- Pack your laptop on top of your hand luggage – If you have a handy laptop bag, pack it inside your hand luggage, with your laptop packed on top of it. Most airport security requires laptops to be removed from luggage and scanned separately. Packing your laptop on the top of your luggage will make this process much easier.
- Take an empty water bottle with you – most airport security will not allow liquids through, however there are water fountains throughout most airport departure lounges. Instead of paying $3 for a bottle of water, take an empty bottle and fill it in one of the fountains.
- Keep your passport/boarding card etc in a safe, accessible place – I tend to put mine in my tablet, which is in a handy zip-up case, and I put that into my Go-Bag. It’s easy to find, and secure.
- Download the app of your airline in advance – airlines such as BA, United, South West, Virgin etc all have pretty good apps which, among other things, allow you to store your boarding card on your phone and turn on flight alerts. This means that, should you flight be delayed, or there be a gate change, your phone will alert you immediately. In addition, many apps will have the in-flight entertainment accessible from your phone.
- Zip-Lock bags are your friend – I use zip lock bags to keep everything in my Go Bag separate; I have one with snacks, one with wires, chargers etc, one with pens and a small notebook (you never know when a slip of paper will come in handy!) – Don’t forget to pack a pen, you may need it to fill in landing card/customs declaration etc
- Pack a couple of small packs of tissues – nothing is more frustrating than spilling a drink when you are flying – maybe the kid behind you kicked your seat, or the guy in front chose just the wrong moment to recline his seat – and it could take a while for the flight attendant to come and clean it up. Having your own tissues handy will let you clean up the mess quickly, before it spreads and gets worse!
I would like to dedicate this to the staff of the TSA of the United States and their equivalent agencies around the world. Thank you for keeping us safe.