Air travel can make the most seasoned and tranquil travelers tired and bored out of their mind, treading a weariness we most often associate only with the DMV.
Between the Starbucks-long security lines that don’t end with our favorite treat to the flight delays or cancellations that make you want to pull your hair out — it’s no secret there is a lot out of our control when flying.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience at all. Whether you’re traveling on your own or with the kids, jet setting to the destination of your choice can be a smooth ride with clever airport hacks ideal for any day of the week.
Research daily parking rates
Who says you need to pay an arm and a leg for parking when heading to the airport? All it takes is a little bit of research to find what the significant difference is between paying $30 a day and less than one-third of that rate via one of the discount park and ride lots. When you figure out where to park, snap a photo and keep it handy to remember where you left your car.
Consider travel-sized items for carry-on
Worrying about the TSA rules can be a headache even for the most experienced traveler, but search for “travel” on websites like Ulta or Sephora, and you will come upon a beautiful bounty of travel-sized toiletries and cosmetics that you won’t need to throw out when at checkpoint. Today, many items, including tech gear have TSA-approved seals to help you figure out what you can and cannot carry for easy, efficient travel.
Enroll in expedited screening programs
If you find yourself flying more than a few times a year for work, you will definitely want to consider enrolling in the “Trusted Traveler” program. While there a few to choose from depending on the destination and method of travel, the program allows expedited travel for pre-approved, low risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. To help you make an informed decision, the Department of Homeland Security outlines each program to best suit your needs.
Check in online
Checking in online prior to your flight not only saves time, but just takes a few minutes. In those minutes, review flight time, print boarding passes, and ensure tickets and itineraries are safe on your phone using trusty travel apps. In case you didn’t know, TSA allows boarding passes to be scanned right from your phone, so having all this ahead of time will save you a lot of grief.
Moreover, consider checking My TSA App for wait times. Simply add airport information and within seconds, you get updates on your airport’s security checkpoint wait time from one to 10 minutes, and information on general departure delays.
Wear a go-to travel outfit
You know that person who holds up the line because they have a million-and-one things in their pocket? Don’t be that person. While you pack those suitcases, take time aside to contemplate what you might want to wear the day of. Avoid difficult jewelry, problematical accessories, shoes with laces and trousers or dresses with pockets — you might be tempted to dump something in there without realizing it before checkpoint.
Instead, choose comfortable pants or leggings, a dress, a cozy sweater or cardigan to keep you warm and slip-on shoes, booties or sandals — with sheer socks of course because, gross airport floor. Thinking about your outfit not only makes travel easier, but you also won’t be the reason the line’s held up.
If you want to get the most out of your airport experience, stay loyal to one airline. It might take years to find out which best suits your needs, but being with one has its rewards. While most will want to book the cheapest flight, if it costs a few dollars more on your preferred carrier, go with that one. Acquiring elite status makes life easier with loaded benefits, like status starting at 25,000 miles in one calendar year and perks that allow you to get bags checked for free, use shorter lines and even get upgraded when seats open on new flights.
To help make travel easier and navigating through that airport in a breeze, check out our Womanista Approved fashionable carry-on suitcases with detailed information on where to buy them and why they're our editors' favorites.