Known fact: We all love traveling. And many of us want to be jetsetters 24/7, but we all also absolutely hate how long it takes to get through the airport. (Am I right?) From the check-in process to long security lines to dealing with delays, navigating the airport can drive even the most tranquil traveler insane.
So on your next trip, follow these five tips for a smoother, quicker, and all around better airport experience.
1. Enroll in an expedited screening program.
Source: Gal Meets Glam
If you fly more than a few times per year, and you want to significantly lessen the time you spend at the airport, the absolute best thing you can do is enroll in a Trusted Traveler (or Registered Traveler) program. A Trusted Traveler program allows for pre-approved travelers to expedite time at security and immigration checkpoints. There are a few different programs to choose from, depending on where you fly most (domestic or international), but the Department of Homeland Security site has made it easy to determine which program is best for you.
Of the varying programs out there, Global Entry is typically the best choice for the average traveler. Global Entry allows for expedited access through both security and immigration checkpoints and costs $100 for five years. Tip: You’ll need to submit a thorough application and attend an interview for these programs, so plan to enroll a few weeks before your trip.
2. Check-in online.
It’s such a simple step, but there are still so many of us who don’t check-in to our flights online! Spending the extra five minutes to check-in online, review flight time, and print a boarding pass can save you a lot of grief at the airport. TSA allows for travelers to scan boarding passes right from your smartphone so there’s no excuse! Most airlines have apps that help expedite this process even further, so be sure to download the right app before traveling.
Ideal scenario: Check-in online, print boarding pass, and pack a carry-on only. This way you can effectively avoid the ticketing area entirely. Now isn’t that the dream?
3. Find a go-to travel outfit.
We’ve all seen the person in the security line that sets off every possible alarm and can’t figure out what the source of the issue. Don’t be that person! Before you fly, take time to create a go-to airport outfit. Steer clear of difficult jewelry, complicated accessories with metal hardware, or shoes that are tricky to get on and off quickly. A comfy pair of pants, a cozy sweater, and slip-on shoes can go a long way in making your airport experience more enjoyable. Plus, having an outfit (or a few variations of an outfit) that you always wear to the airport will make the lead up to traveling all that much easier. Tip: If you can, avoid wearing a belt and limit the amount of jewelry you wear. A jewelry roll stashed in your carry-on is the best option if you like traveling with lots of jewelry.
In terms of items you’ll want to bring, add a pair of socks you can slip on while going through security. This helps you avoid touching the not-so-sanitary airport floor with your bare feet.
4. Check wait times online.
Airport security lines can be a bit of a gamble. We’ve all seen an airport with zero wait turn into a chaotic nightmare in minutes. While you can’t plan for every possible scenario, you can plan ahead by checking airport wait times via the TSA app. This app allows you to see airport waits in real time; it’s an underutilized service that can save you a lot of stress at the airport.
While it sounds like a no-brainer, be sure to also check your flight status. There’s no need to rush to the airport when you already know your flight is two hours late. Many airlines will text you in the event that your flight is delayed requiring no effort at all on your part. Easy.
5. Make your gear TSA-friendly.
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If you’ll be flying a lot in the near future, now might be a good time to invest in some TSA-friendly gear. Things such as a TSA-approved laptop cases or TSA-approved reusable toiletry bags can make all the difference in getting through a security line quickly.
Not sure where to start? These travel bottles are great for liquids while this clear quart-sized bag will make getting your liquids through security a breeze. In general, think about what takes you the longest to remove or deal with when you’re in the security line and go from there. If you’re notorious for spending time unlacing shoes, consider investing in some great travel slip-ons. If you tend to pack lots of electronics, TSA-friendly bags may be the way to go.