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Airport Travel Tips: How to Confidently Navigate through an Airport – Bags, Safety & General Guidance from Start to Finish

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In this post we share our top tips for navigating the airport from the time you check-in to arrival in a new destination.

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InAirport Luggage Check-In

  • Check the weight of your suitcase at home so you don’t have to repack in the airport. Many airlines allow a 50 pound weight limit, 75 pounds for oversized baggage. Check out the particulars of your airline ahead of travel. Having to repack your bags in the airport is stressful and can be avoided.
  • Ahead of your flight, check-in for your flight online and advise the number of bags you plan to of check. Many airport offer check-in kiosks that give passengers the ability to print out bag tags only (instead of boarding pass + ticket). Print on your bags and walk to the bag drop-only line. This is a big time saver.
  • Include contact information for every bag that you check or carry-on. Keep information inside the case and on an outside bag-tag.
  • Pack fragile items inside the middle of your bag, not the top or bottom as those beat the brunt of movement.
  • Get a TSA-safe travel lock to serve as a theft deterrent. While it is not pick-proof, you are less likely to be targeted.
  • Take photos of valuable items that you are traveling with, and include serial numbers for warranty or insurance purposes. The more information you can provide to the police and insurance in the event of theft, the better.
  • Remove old baggage tags before checking luggage. Old tags can confuse handlers and your bag can get routed to the wrong destination.
  • Make sure your baggage is in good working condition – no broken handles, zippers or wheels. If your suitcase handle was wobbly on the previous trip, tighten the screws, bring it to a repair shop, or replace it if needed.
  • Learn how to efficiently pack your bag, particularly if you plan to carry-on with a single bag. Military rolling clothing into packing cubes enables you to bring a few more clothing options than if you were to fold and stack them on top of one another.

Carry-On Bag

  • Most airports generally limit liquids, gels and aerosols are to 3.4 ounces/100 milliliters, placed in travel sized containers within a single-quart sized bag. Don’t place full shampoo bottles into your bag with a couple ounces of product left. This will be considered a violation of the rules.
  • Makeup products like cream-based blush or foundation products can vary in how they are categorized from airport-to-airport. Be mindful that if makeup and liquid products exceed 3.4 ounces/100 milliliters and you are in a stickler airport, you might have to ditch pricey products.
  • Check the legality of your prescription medications in other countries. Even with a doctor’s note, do not assume that what is legal in one country (for example, stimulant drugs to treat attention disorders) may be legal in another. Be pedantic about the types and amounts of medications allowed country-to-country.
  • Keep alcohol wipes/sanitizing wipes handy to wipe down items placed in security trays and for in-flight seat, tray table and spaces you might touch.
  • Leave house and car keys in your carry-on bag.
  • Keep medications and contact lenses in your personal item carry-on bag (not the one that goes overhead) and absolutely do not check it.
  • Have a change of clothes and a few toiletries in your carry on bag.
    • In the event of flight delays, travel changes or random mishap, keeping an extra change of clothes and basic toiletries will make for a more comfortable experience.
      • Wool socks
      • Underwear
      • Toothbrush and paste
      • Contact lenses
      • Medications
  • When moving throughout the airport, keep your passport or identification on your person at all times. Also keep a digital copy of your passport readily available for check.
  • During high season where there are generally more travelers placing more demands on electrical outlets, consider bringing a power bar. This enables you to use a single outlet to charge multiple devices for you and travel companions, or share with strangers.

In-Airport — Lounges

  • Many airports offer waiting lounges. These can be accessed by paying a fee or using credit card or frequent traveler reward programs.
  • You must present your passport and boarding pass to enter.
  • Lounges offer increased comfort, particularly for families and business travelers who may need additional services like more spacious baby changing stations, family bathrooms or small offices to conduct business meetings.
  • Water, (alcoholic) beverages, snacks and occasionally full meals are offered as part of the fee.
  • Check to see if a lounge is available in both domestic and international terminals.

In-Airport — Departure

  • Don’t get separated from your carry-on bags as they will hold your most important items – identification, medication, contact lenses and beyond.Put your leg through the strap of your bag/backpack if you’re going to be sitting down at the airport.
  • Be friendly with the check-in staff, TSA agents, gate agents and flight crew. Please and thank-you’s go a long way.
  • Do not show up to the boarding gate inebriated.

In-Airport — Security

  • Get TSA or Global Entry for faster security screening and identification.
  • If you are not enrolled in these programs, plan to remove items from your pockets, take off your belt, take off all of the jewelry/watches and remove your laptop before it is time to go through the screeners
  • Have your identification and flight ticket ready to go before you get to the front of the line.

In-Airport — Arrival

  • Consider arranging transport from the airport to your accommodation, particularly if you are traveling with a family, children or have many bags. This will give you insight into the costs, and reduce stress related to moving groups of people and bags.
  • Have an address in mind before you leave the airport so you spend less time looking for directions, your phone and feeling exhausted before you’ve even gotten out for the day. If you are using your phone and are distracted trying to pull up directions, you become a target for pick pockets and muggers.
  • Be mindful of your interactions with people who approach you with offers, tours, taxi rides etc. These offers are often more costly, half the quality and are pressure-filled interactions. And worse, they could be potential pick pockets who are looking to distract you while stealing.
  • Don’t feel compelled to interact with street sellers & hawkers. Politely decline with a “no, thank you” and move on.
  • Keep your wallet and passport separate so in the event of theft, you have some form of identification and money available.
  • Keep enough petty cash on your person for tickets, cab rides and a snack. Some places will not accept credit cards.
  • Research local dress culture and customs and attempt to dress like a local where possible.

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