How to Streamline Your Airport Travel

Find yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious at the airport every time you need to travel?  I used to be the same way.  I've narrowed down my system and strategy for a streamlined stress-free airport flow and you need to do the same! 

1. ] Sign up for Global Entry!

Global Entry costs about $100 USD is so worth it if you travel internationally more than once a year!  This saves you that miserable immigration line when re-entering the USA and instead redirects you to a row of automated machines that send you on your way after about 5 minutes of identity confirmation.  And, it comes with TSA PreCheck!
As soon as you're fully approved and in the system, you can enter your known traveller number into the airline site as you book your flight.  This is important because if "PreCheck" isn't printed on your ticket, they will not accept the card or any other verification to let you through that line.  The most common problem with this is forgetting to enter the known traveller number at the time of ticket purchase! TSA PreCheck can save you so much time! I've never spent more than six minutes in line with my PreCheck.  

2. ]  Check in 24 hours before your flight!

This ensures that you get a seat on the flight.  I once showed up to the airport for a flight without checking-in online beforehand and was bumped to the next flight, which wasn't for 5 more hours! The flight had been overbooked and since we arrive on time to check-in at the desk we were the last on the list and got immediately bumped.  Checking in ahead of time also gives you peace of mind knowing where your seat is (on most airlines) and that your boarding pass is ready. 

3. ]  Schedule it out 

Scheduling isn't for everyone, but if traveling is a stressful experience for you or you're traveling with kids or a dog, I highly recommend!  Before a day of travel, I sit down with my iCal and estimate how long each step will take and plug it into my daily breakdown.  How long does it take to get to the airport? How early do you want to be for your flight? What time do you need to leave to beat traffic? Writing it all down and plugging it in gives me peace of mind that there certainly is plenty of time to get everything done and allows me to relax knowing that I'll make my flight if I stick more or less to my schedule.  

4. ] Print a boarding pass or add to your iPhone App

Printing your boarding pass or adding it to a phone app (either the apple wallet or an airline app) is any easy way to prepare for a stress-free flight.  

5. ]  Think before you check! 

Traveling for a weekend? Don't check a bag! Pack one carry on and one backpack to bring all your stuff in a simple way.  Traveling for a longer time or transporting a lot? Check everything that you can and only bring a small backpack with the necessities.  Make sure all of your liquids or other prohibited items are in your checked bag so you don't have issues at security.  I recommend putting all of your most valued possessions in your carry on backpack! That being your laptop, phone, passport, wallet, medications, cash, and anything else particularly expensive you're transporting.  Though I've never had a problem with my checked bags, they do get lost on occasion, people accidentally grab the wrong suitcase some times (one of my friends did this), and some airline employees sometimes can be less-than trustworthy when presented with certain opportunities.  

6. ] Organize your backpack!

I designate one pocket for the high-importance items.  My cellphone, wallet, passport, and boarding pass are always right in the same easily-accessible pocket.  The items I'm least likely to use during the flight are stuffed in the bottom of my backpack.  Items I might want on the flight are stored in the side or outer pockets, so I can easily grab them without disrupting my neighbor or opening my whole bag up.  

7. ]  Bring snacks 

Nothing will get you stressed and grumpy like being hungry and not having time to grab food.  Right? Or is that just me?  I always pack some kind of snack, graham crackers, peanut butter sandwich, protein bars, or trail mix in my backpack.  If you run into an issue, a long line, a delayed flight, or traffic and don't have as much time as you expected, you will be thankful for this stash! Another bonus is you'll save money if you can feed yourself through packed food and not spend $$$ on subpar airport food!


Questions

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