16 Airport Hacks for Smooth Travelling
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my fellow Canadians! 🦃 🍁
From Instagram and Snapchat stories, I can see that quite a few of my friends are travelling places - taking advantage of that long weekend and Reading Week. Being an avid traveller myself, I've compiled a list of airport travel tips so that you can fly stress-free.
1. Invest in light luggage
You probably have one gigantic suitcase lying around the house, and chances are, it is catching some dust because it is simply too heavy for flights. Airlines have a strict weight limit policy on luggages, so investing in a lightweight suitcase made of polycarbonate or polypropylene (like the Samsonite Firelite we have) will save you a lot of stress in the long run, especially if you're a frequent flyer. Also, be sure to check your airline's baggage allowance before you start packing.
2. Purchase a luggage scale
Don't pay that extra fee for having an overweight baggage! Before we discovered the luggage scale, we used to go through the hefty process of weighing ourselves with the packed-up suitcase, and then subtracting our weight from it. Not ideal, but it worked. A luggage scale is a handy little tool that will ease the weighing process. All you have to do is turn it on, attach it to the handle of your packed suitcase, and lift.
3. Vacuum your clothes
Save space in your suitcase by using compression bags. We like to use the ones where you just stick your clothes in, seal the bag, and then push down on it to release the excess air (as opposed to the ones where you actually have to vacuum the air out). And then you just stack them up, or mold them to fit - it's all fairly flexible. Mighty helpful with organizing too.
4. Pack extras in your carry-on
Airplanes can get chilly at times, so it's always a good idea to pack an extra sweater. Some airlines provide blankets on their longer flights, but I personally prefer to use my own clothing to warm up. In the event of your flight being delayed overnight, or if your luggage goes missing (or if you get airsick, like I used to be), always have an extra change of clothing on you, as well as anything you need immediately. For me, it would be my contacts, makeup, chargers, medications, and anything else that is of value or irreplaceable.
5. Review restricted items
Sometimes when you're in 'packing mode', you forget about the restrictions on items for air travel. Common items that may cross your mind are: aerosols/sprays, liquids and gels, and sharp objects including scissors and nail clippers. It's best to double-check what you've packed, for both carry-ons and checked baggages. Also, if you're bringing water to the airport, remember to finish it before going through security.
6. Check in the day before
Avoid those long lines at the check-in counters on the day of your flight. Many airlines now offer advanced online check-in, where you can print off your boarding pass immediately at home the day before, or have it sent to you via email (remember to screenshot your boarding pass). I personally prefer having a hard copy on hand, just in case there are any technical surprises that come up. Now, you can bypass the line, and go straight to the baggage drop-off area.
7. Always arrive early
The rule of thumb for arriving at the airport is typically 2 hours for domestic flights, and 3 hours for international ones. This gives you enough time to get through security, find your gate, grab some food and goodies, and deal with whatever mishaps that could occur.
8. Photograph your luggage
In the event your luggage goes missing, having a clear photo of your bags will help the airport staff in identifying and hopefully retrieving your belongings. On a similar note, remember to attach a luggage tag to your bag (we have Harry Potter ones), and any other piece of identifier. We like to use colourful ribbons to set our suitcases apart.
9. Bring a backpack
For most airlines, each passenger is allowed one personal item and one carry-on. Use a backpack as your personal item, to store more of your travel items, rather than a purse or messenger bag. It also helps if you have an easily-accessible pouch or pocket to store your travel documents.
10. Ziploc bags are your friends
Get through security quickly and hassle-free. Have your liquids and gels (in <100ml bottles) accessible and sealed in a Ziploc bag. All you have to do is take the entire bag out and put it in the bin, rather than fumbling around, gathering up the items. The security line is already long and stressful enough as it is.
11. Keep laptop easily accessible
Like your liquids and gels, you're going to have to take this out of your bag during security. If you're travelling with a small carry-on suitcase, place your laptop at the top. This goes for any electronics as well, like your phone, iPad/tablet, and even cameras.
12. Board the plane as early as possible
Especially if you're on a flight where passengers have to pay for their checked bags. The earlier you board the plane (dependent on your seat), the better chance you have of securing a spot for your carry-on in the overhead bins.
13. Avoid drinking tap water on the plane
Not entirely sure about the validity of this one, but a flight attendant claimed that they would not drink the tap water - hot nor cold - on airplanes due to sanitary/health reasons. Read and watch more about it here. In terms of drink options, I tend to go for apple juice (TL;DR: I used to get air-sick, and apples are supposed to help with nausea, so it's kind of become a habit).
14. Bring earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones
The engines, fans, chatty passengers, and crying babies can be fairly distracting when you want to catch some z's on your flight. Combat this by bringing earplugs, or better yet, noise-cancelling headphones - get sleep AND listen to your favourite songs. Just remember not to wear them during take-off and landing, unless they are connected to the aircraft's entertainment system.
15. Eucalyptus or peppermint oil helps relieve pressure
Don't you just hate it when your ears start plugging up during the descent, and then once you land, start popping? It can get pretty painful. A flight attendant once taught me to use Tiger Balm, or any other 'refreshing' essential oil (such as eucalyptus and menthol/peppermint), to relieve that pressure. Apply some behind your ears - just below the lobe - and allow it to work its magic. Since I've started doing this, I've never had to experience the unwanted ear pressure again.
16. Apply for Nexus
If you travel often, I highly recommend you apply for a NEXUS card (for Canadian and American citizens). Basically, it allows you to speed up the security screening process, and save time at borders - skip the lines, or minimize the waiting time. For more information, visit the site here.
Enjoy your adventures, travel safely, and stay tuned for more travel tips in the near future!