I love airports. I mean I really, truly, love them. My longest time in an airport was ten hours but I’m certain I could spend an entire day in one and never get bored of it. Airports are a beautiful place, they’re filled with some of my favorite things. Some people are departing on an exciting adventure and I am always curious as to where they’re heading and why. Others are returning from a place just as mysterious with a look of mixed feelings — happy to be home and in the presence of their loved ones, yet sad that their time away is over. Emotions run high no matter which way you look. People are embracing, seeing friends or family that they haven’t seen in a while. Young travelers have their backpacks strapped to their backs, looks of excitement and fear plastered on their face at the prospect of their first adventure abroad. People are tearfully wishing people a safe flight and others are joyfully greeting someone returning home.
For a lot of people, airports are the tedious part of travel. It’s something that is required, with all sorts of rules and restrictions that seem to get stricter every time you set foot in one. Not only that, but then you have to find your gate which can be a nightmare in a foreign airport, and then you have to wait. God forbid. Lucky for you, I do have a few things you can do to make your airport experience a little less stressful.
1. Check-in Online.
Checking in online saves you loads of time at the check-in counter. Once you make your way to the row of airline professionals ready to check your luggage and hand you your boarding pass, you get to go to the line designated for the folks who checked in online, before arriving at the airport. Checking in online is a simple process. You provide some information, all found on your travel itinerary that you receive after booking your flight. Get into this line, which is often much shorter than the regular line. Step on up, exchange your luggage for your boarding pass, and off you go to security.
2. Security Tips.
- You are not allowed to take any drinks with you through security. If you have a drink, chug it and leave it behind. You can purchase snacks and drinks on the other side of security that you are allowed to bring on a plane with you.
- If you are bringing any form of liquid with you through security, check before hand that it is in a container that is 100 mL or less. If it’s not, transfer some into a smaller container or pack it away in your checked luggage. Otherwise, it will be confiscated.
- Be prepared to take out all of your things and place them in the little bins for scanning. Shoes comes off, laptops come out, coats, belts, and anything that will react to the metal detector must be placed in the bins. When walking through the detector, it’s just you, your clothes and socks. If you’re traveling with a pet, you need to walk and/or carry your pet out of it’s carrier with you through the detector.
- Have your ID and boarding pass ready to show at security. Don’t have it lost at the bottom of your purse, have it in your hand so you can just flash your info and be on your way.
3. Dress to make yourself happy.
Okay, now that the most tedious aspects of your airport experience is covered, let’s talk about fashion. When I say dress comfortably, I don’t mean to dress like a slob. Dressing in your pajama pants and your hair all over the place never makes me feel good in public (maybe when I’m comfy and at home, but not in public). You can dress comfortably but still look good. Leggings with a cute shirt, a cardigan, flats or boots and a hint of makeup is a look that’s easily achieved and comfortable but also looks somewhat put together. Make sure that whatever you are wearing is breathable, allows you to move and sit comfortably for a long period of time, and is well suited to the weather that you are heading to. I live in Canada, so when I’m leaving in the dead of winter to somewhere hot, I wear something warm to the airport, pack a nice change of clothes in my carry-on and make a quick outfit change after security so that when I reach my destination, I’m not sweating buckets.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re new to an airport or this is your first trip out in the world alone (or with a friend), don’t be afraid to ask for directions! On my first trip abroad, I asked an airport worker which way my gate was after every turn. Who cares? You haven’t asked them before, they don’t know you just asked five people before them, and they are always more than willing to point you in the right direction. This is always so helpful if you feel nervous, stressed, or are completely lost in an airport, especially when you’re running late!
5. Give yourself time.
This is one of the most important things I can say. Give yourself lots of time!!! If you don’t give yourself enough time, no amount of organization is going to make your experience less stressful because you’ll STILL be in a rush! If you are going on an international flight, arrive 2-3 hours prior to your departure time. If it’s a national flight, I would arrive 1 – 1 and a 1/2 hours before boarding time.
6. Plan to have fun!
Airports can be a fun place, I promise. Whether you are with friends or traveling solo, there are always restaurants where you can grab food or a few drinks if you have time to kill — whether you arrived way too early or your flight was delayed. There’s tons of little shops to pop in and out of, browsing if you’re on a backpacker’s budget or buying a few trinkets or treats for the plane ride. If you’re feeling bare faced or grungy, take yourself into the duty free makeup area and the ladies and gents there will be thrilled to give you a mini makeover.. or you can do it yourself. Grab a lipstick, a swipe of liner, and a spritz of the newest perfume and you’re golden.
Sit and watch all of the beautiful planes take off. I love doing this: watching it slowly move it’s way down the runway, gathering speed and then off it goes, pushing off into the sky and disappearing before your very eyes, never knowing where it might be headed. If you’ve done this all already, do it again (at least the drinks, always have another drink) or grab the book you packed (because you were smart and planned ahead) and dive into a fictional world to speed up time. People watch — airports are probably one of the very best places for people watching. Catch up on some much needed “you” time. Meditate and be mindful, write in your beautiful new travel journal, paint your nails, have a nap, dare I say grab another drink?
Have you got any tips to add? Share in the comments below!