Not sure if it is me or not, but I’ve noticed that the average person dumbs down quite a bit as soon as they arrive at the airport. Here are 5 tips to make your trip a little easier.
Tip #1: Pack light and know what is and isn’t allowed onto the airplane.
Let’s face it, people pack too much shit. Pack light and only bring what you need. You don’t need a large suitcase full of stuff for a weekend trip. The lighter you pack and the fewer bags you travel with, the easier your airport experience will be.
For my most recent trip to Dallas, where I was expecting stay for two weeks, I packed:
7 or 8 tshirts
7 pairs of underwear
3 pairs of shorts
1 pair of khaki pants
1 light jacket
toiletries (toothbrush, small toothpaste, contact fluid, body wash, shampoo, etc.)
I was easily able to stuff all of these items into one of those half height rolling suitcases (underseat carry-on luggage). Instead of carrying two weeks worth of clothes, I decided to carry a weeks worth and use the local washer and dryer to wash my clothes for the second week. The short of it is that you need to be smart about what and how you pack. Don’t bring more stuff than you need and don’t bring anything you don’t need. No point in bringing a heavy jacket to Dallas in July.
If you are terrible at Tetris, consider checking out these packing cubes. These definitely help in keeping things organized.
Last note: Know what you can and can’t bring onto the airplane. TSA’s website outlines what is and isn’t allowed and what must be packed in checked bags. And don’t forget about liquids and gels and the 3-1-1 rule.
Tip #2: Print Out Your Boarding Pass and Carry Your Government Issued Identification
You’ll need a government issued ID to get through the security check-point. A photocopy or a picture on your smart phone WILL NOT work. When I travel, I carry my drivers license and passport.
As convenient as smart phones are, it takes too much fumbling to pull up the boarding pass for the TSA officer. I opt to just print out my boarding pass. As I get to the front of the line, I have my boarding pass and ID ready for easy passage through the first security station. You wouldn’t believe how many people are searching through their phones for their boarding pass or how many people are fighting with the scanners to read the barcode.
Tip #3: Check-In Your Bags
If you are flying Southwest, check in your bags! First two are FREE! F-R-E-E! Why bother lugging them through the airport, through security, and on/off the plane, when you can check them in and meet them at your destination? Afraid of losing your bags?? That’s why you put an owner information tag onto it. Bags do get misplaced time to time, but they can’t grow legs and walk away.
Your airline charges you money to check-in your bags?? I get it… I wouldn’t want to fork over money either. Check with your frequent flyer program or credit card to see if you get your first bag checked in for free. If not, consider checking your bags in at the gate. Most airlines are more than happy to check your bags in at the gate at no charge!
If you are one of those people who like to travel with oversized luggage, don’t be that a-hole that thinks that they are special and the rules don’t apply to them. If your luggage doesn’t fit in the carry-on baggage template, it shouldn’t be carried on.
Tip #4: Follow the Instructions at the TSA Screening
Pay attention at the security screening. Expect to remove your laptop and your toiletries from your luggage for screening. And prepare to take off your jacket and shoes. Don’t be that guy or gal that gets to the front of the line thinking that he/she doesn’t have to do any of this. You are holding up everyone behind you.
Sub-tip: Pack your bags so that it is easy to remove your laptop and toiletries. While in line for the security screening, empty your pockets and throw everything (keys, wallet, phone, etc.) into your carry-on bag. This will save you time from fumbling with x-ray bowls. Once you get through the metal detectors, grab your bag and make your way through the rest of screening avoiding the clusterf***.
Tip #5: Prepare at home and not at the airport
Do all your preparations at home. If you adequately prepared, you’ll have an easier time at the airport. Print out all the necessary documents (boarding pass, rental car confirmation, hotel info, etc.) prior to heading to the airport. As convenient as smartphone and email are, they are not the quickest way of keeping and providing travel information. I like to use a small coupon folder/envelope to store all my travel documents, not to mention a great place to store my receipts.