In the past, stress about flying overseas usually involved worrying about the flight itself, or whether you’d forgotten to pack some essential item.
These days, however, people worry more about getting picked for that in-depth bag search and getting through airport lines in time to make a flight. It’s a sad but true fact that navigating airport security is more of an ordeal than the flight itself.
So how can you get through the airport quickly and easily? Is it still possible to get to your destination on time and with all your bags? Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully make that dream a reality!
Getting through the airport easily begins with packing. Before you fold your first shirt, visit your airline’s website to check current restrictions. Then abide by them! If it says no liquid carry-ons, don’t try to sneak in some facial cream because it’s not “really” liquid. Also check to make sure that your bags are the correct size and weight. Remember to check again a day or two before departure, in case anything has changed.
Your next concern will be to ensure that all of your bags arrive at your destination. Tighter security and more frequent baggage checks mean that there are going to be more mistakes– lost baggage, or (if you’re fortunate) bags that are temporarily misplaced. More and more travelers are even reporting finding items in their bags that don’t belong to them! Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to increase the odds that all your bags will arrive in the right place:
1. Make your carry-on as small as possible. In fact, if you can, carry everything in a clear plastic bag. This says “I Am Not Dangerous,” loud and clear.
2. Use plastic freezer bags to consolidate smaller items in your checked bags, and use a permanent marker to write your name and destination on the outside. This will help any baggage searchers in the event of a mix-up.
3. Include your itinerary in every checked bag, complete with names, dates, and phone numbers where you will be staying.
4. Mark the outside of each bag with something that identifies it as part of a group. I have been with groups that used red pom-poms (easy to pick up at a craft store), and I myself have used colored canvas straps. Think about it: if that baggage handler sees five bags with yellow pom-poms going to Rome, and he’s holding a bag with a pom-pom, he’s probably not going to accidentally toss it on the pile going to Kathmandu!
Now you’ve done your best to make sure that your bags end up at your destination; but the best laid plans of mice and men are not always foolproof. What if the worst does happen and your bags are lost or delayed?
This is where the carry-on comes into play. I realize I just recommended taking as little as possible… But if you’re really worried about lost bags, I’d recommend taking one change of clothes (don’t forget socks and underwear!) along with a few essentials. In the past this is where you would buy some little bottles of toothpaste and shampoo to pack in your carry-on. Sadly, those days are gone. The good news is, in spite of carry-on restrictions, there are some viable alternatives!
1. The one thing nobody wants to be without on a 14 hour flight is toothpaste. You can get pre-pasted brushes at http://www.dentakit.com/prdito.html“>Dentakit.com for about 50 cents each and toss them when you’re done. Powdered toothpaste is also a great way to go. http://toothfresh.com/“>Toothfresh.com has the product itself and some very interesting information about the health benefits associated with this method. You may end up using it all the time!
2. Did you know you could get non-liquid shampoo? Consider yourself informed. http://www.jrliggett.com/“>J. R. Liggett’s has been selling organic bar shampoo since 1985. In addition to being very friendly to hair, it can be used on the rest of your body… and even your clothes! Best of all, it’s environmentally friendly.
4. Lastly, if you have any medications that you need to carry-on, make sure they are clearly labeled with your name. Liquid medications are usually restricted to 4 or 5 oz.
Well, your “stuff” is going to make it… now what about you? Do you have a plan for getting through the airport quickly and worry-free?
Airport Security Etiquette
The key to getting through airport security quickly and without a lot of hassle is to play by the rules. Don’t get angry; if you’re offended, write a letter to your congressman when you get home. But for the time being, if a man in a uniform asks you to do something, do it. Here are some other tips to make sure you’re not the one selected for a pat-down:
1. Arrive early. They tell you to get there about three hours early, so do it!
2. Keep your ticket, ID, and passport all in one place for quick access. I recommend getting something like a passport wallet or an around-the-neck ID holder. Remember to keep an eye on it at all times.
3. Wear comfortable shoes that slip on/off easily. You’ll be asked to take your shoes off at least once at the airport, so I recommend slippers, sandals, or flip-flops. They’ll be more comfortable on the plane as well.
4. Don’t wear lots of extras; avoid earrings, watches, belts, and pocket change if you can. If you can’t, remove them ahead of time and place them in your carry-on until you’re through the line. Trust me– everyone else will appreciate it!
5. The last and perhaps most important tip for “flying through the airport” is to dress smartly and simply. Don’t wear t-shirts with ambiguous messages or anything that others might view as “creepy” or “scary.” These days, it’s likely to get you stopped for a search!
Following these tips may seem a little tedious and detailed when all you want to do is get to your destination. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that a little hassle ahead of time is worth it to get your holiday off to a quick and anxiety-free start. That way the only thing you’ll have to worry about when you get there is whether you should spend your time exploring or just laying by the pool!