1. Airport hotel before an early flight
This removes the rush to the airport before a flight, at a time of day when most of us are sound asleep. Avoiding feeling tired at the start of your journey is a worthwhile idea.
2. Take a picture where you park
If you choose to park your car at the airport, photograph your space or the section sign. After a week or so you may not remember as clearly as you think! It’s not the same as finding your way back to the car after popping into a shop for milk and bread. This way, you can go straight to your car and head for the comfort of home.
3. Online check in
Checking in online will save you time when you arrive at the airport. If this seems like a hassle, imagine 10 people in line between you and your laptop/mobile, all doing the same process. Take the chance to skip the extra wait, especially if you aren’t taking hold luggage.
4. Save or print out your ticket
Some airlines only provide online check in and you can print or download your boarding pass at the same time. You may be charged extra if you don’t have your boarding pass with you. Have it handy with your passport and you can get through security as soon as possible.
5. Make your bag stand out
Recognising your luggage while moving on the conveyor belt may be tricky, especially if 20 other people also have a black bag just like yours. You could tie a ribbon or zip tie to the handle with your favourite colour, and make it match your carry on bag too.
6. Have liquids in a clear bag
You can get a free plastic bag at airports, but some may charge £1. Let’s avoid this and the fuss of bagging items, checking your bag is liquid-less. You can easily lift out your already bagged liquids and get through security quickly – perhaps from the outside pocket of your backpack?
7. An empty bottle
As water won’t get through security, bring a bottle you can fill at the other side. Many airports have water filling stations or drinking fountains – save a few coins.
8. Keep electronics handy
As these are scanned separately from your bag, have them well protected but easy to access. Keep these items switched off, such as cameras and laptops, and you can keep them in their individual case.
9. Minimise accessories
You can have your belt, watch or jewellery handy in your carry on bag, but wear these after you have gone through security. You may set off the alarm when walking through the scanner, so avoid the extra checks or pat down and save some time too. In the busy environment, you may not spot your favourite ring that is loose on the tray. By the time you realise with a coffee at the gate, you can’t pop back to retrieve it.
10. Remove batteries
If your electronics are battery operated, like a travel toothbrush, take out its battery even if in a suitcase. If the button is pressed it may cause a security alert. Avoid delays for you and your luggage, as the plane won’t wait for either.
11. Medication labels
It is most sensible to travel with medication in your carry on or personal bag. For medication to be clearly identified and belonging to you, it’s best to keep these in the original packaging. Suspicious tablets won’t get through security and will cause delays. A prescription slip may add further reassurance and proof you have what you need with you.
12. Portable charger/ battery pack
Even with a full charge you may be running low on battery before you arrive at the destination hotel. A charger in your carry on bag gives the reassurance you can top it up, even if your checked luggage is delayed. A battery pack safe to fly may also help if a socket is hard to find.
13. Bag the important stuff
You can have travel documents and money for the airport/taxi in a handy wallet, or compress a change of clothes in an airtight bag. This could be a large zip lock food storage bag, or a designed for purpose vacuum pack. Just keep an eye on the weight allowance even though you can fit more in.
14. Quiet music
With 2 headphones in and the volume up loud, you may miss announcements such as boarding calls, get changes or delays. You can easily loose track of time while enjoying music so keep the volume low or leave an ear free to listen out.
15. Airport lounges
You could have a more relaxing time at the airport in the lounge by booking this ahead of time. There are comfortable seats and often food and drinks available.
16. Find out your gate and how far away it is
Sometimes you are caught up in the shops or getting something to eat, then realise your gate closes in 10 mins at the other side of the airport! Your gate can be further away than anticipated, perhaps with a shuttle or escalators to get these. If you book airport assistance with reduced mobility, staff will assist you to the gate. Otherwise it may be worth walking to your gate before finding coffee.
17. Avoid rushing onboard
Join the queue when your section or seating is announced, otherwise you’re standing about when you don’t need to. Even if the overhead storage is a bit tight, cabin crew can move things around or find space for your bag.
18. Bring snacks
Onboard food and drinks will only be available at certain times. Bringing your own means you can quench your thirst or feed your rumbly tummy at any time.
By layering clothing you can adjust your temperature throughout the flight to stay comfortable. Also leaving a warm holiday destination in shorts and a t-shirt may be unwise, if you arrive home to cold and rain. This might be unavoidable if there is a short walk from the plane outdoors before meeting your checked luggage. A jumper can also double as a blanket or be folded to make a pillow.
20. An inflatable pillow
Although neck pillows can also provide comfort, even clipping this to your backpack is an extra thing to carry. An inflatable option can become more compact, our use a folded jumper as mentioned in Tip 19.