For the tired and weary, a vacation always sounds like a good idea. But getting to that beautiful vacation spot will require plenty of clever planning, keeping track of your bookings and reservations, wading through crowded airports, braving neverending wait lines and security checks.
We’ve asked the Internet gods for some of the best travel hacks to make your journey as pleasant and as smooth as possible. No matter if you fly a lot for pleasure or leisure, here are some of the nitty gritty travel and airport hacks from insiders, airport staff and seasoned frequent flyers that may do you some good.
Be nice to the flight crew when you’re boarding, and you might get better-quality in-flight service.
A few things to note when picking seats:
With the aisle seat you get aisle space, one arm rest, relatively uninhibited access to the loo.
With the middle seat you get two arm rests.
With the window seat you get one arm rest and a great view. If you are on a red-eye flight and you can sleep on flights, pick the aisle seat too.
Battery packs are worth investing in, especially if you stuck in long transit periods or your flight carrier gets delayed often.
Invest in laptop stands so you can work on your laptop in reclined seats.
When booking flights, book on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for better deals.
You CAN bring booze on board, so long as it is under 3 oz. You can bring multiple bottles, all in a zip-lock bag.
Don’t want to waste a day at a new spot, catching up on sleep when you should be sightseeing? Then catch a red-eye flight which lets you catch up on sleep. It arrives at your destination in the morning, and you can hop into tourist mode fresh and rested.
Red-eye flights also cheaper and you arrive during times when airports are less crowded.
Tie something identifiable onto the handle of your baggages to help you better identify your luggage. Cheapest option is probably brightly colored ribbons.
To add to the previous tip, don’t opt for long-dangling tags or ribbons though, they might get caught in the conveyer belt and workers have to forcefully yank it out, which may damage your bag.
It may help to have a photograph of your luggage in case you lose it in any of your flight. Makes it way easier to locate it in Lost & Found too.
Wear shoes with socks so you can take the shoes off during long-haul flights.
If you haven’t weighed your luggage before you get to the airport, don’t head to one of those weight checkers that you have to pay for. Use the weight checker at any of the unattended check-in counter instead.
To minimize scratches and dents on your checked-in luggage, shrink wrap your luggage. There are wrapping stations in some international airports. Make use of it.
If you have young kids travelling with you, have some gum or water ready near takeoff and landing. Swallowing helps equalize ear pressure fairly easily. For babies, have their pacifier or milk ready. Yawning helps, sometimes.
The front side of the plane doesn’t shake as much. Plus, it’s also quieter.
If you can avoid it, don’t wear a belt. You will need to remove it during the checks. Put it on only once you’ve cleared all the checks.
Store away all jewelry into a ziplock plastic bag inside your purse, carry-on or laptop bag. You can drop your phone in there too.
Sign up for the TSA PreCheck program to expedite screening and cut down waiting time.
Apply for Trusted Traveler Programs to expedite travel checks. It’s a program by the US Customs and Border Protection that allow faster clearance for low-risk travelers upon arrival in the US.
If you have someone picking you up at the airport upon your arrival, meet them at the Departures lounge instead of Arrivals. You can also hail a cab more easily there, since they are dropping off travelers anyways.
Don’t bring all your cash with you. Store some emergency money (spare change) in obscure places, inside rolled-up socks, coat pockets, toiletry pack, or in a book. Be creative.
Ask for free things or upgrades, especially if it’s your birthday or you’re on your honeymoon.
If you do get an upgrade, don’t tell the world about it, you might get someone in trouble and reduce the chances of this working for somebody else.
If you fit the bill, take the seat near the Emergency Exit, and opt for the 2nd row instead of the 1st one. Both rows have plenty of leg room but only the 2nd row has reclining seats. You can also ask to be relocated there after boarding is complete and if there is a free seat, no extra charge.
FLIO is an app (available for Android and iOS) that gives you the low-down on airport amenities (washrooms, charging hub, shortest routes) plus deals on lounges, ground transportation, food and shopping in over 800 airports in the world. It also helps you save your data, skip the form filling, and connect to the airport WiFi in seconds.
To get extra time on the airport WiFi, roll back the time on your device. All impending problems related to messed up time will ensure, so try at your own risk.
You can find many WiFi passwords for many locations like restaurants, airports, even VIP lounges, on Yelp and Foursquare in the comments section.
Check the local weather at your destination, prepare ahead with a foldable umbrella, a hoodie, a plastic raincoat, and the right shoes.
Don’t change all of your currency, keep some for when you head home. You may need to use cash to grab souvenirs at the airport or to pay for your cab fare home.
Keep a photocopy of your passport and other important documents, separate from the originals in case you lose them if your luggage goes missing or if you got robbed.
Call your bank before you head overseas so your card won’t get blocked if you decide to use it during your travels.
Things cost more at the airport. If you travel with children, it’s more economic to pack some snacks and tit bits from home to prepare for emergencies like delays.
Travelators are only faster if you are walking while you’re on it. Otherwise, it just lets you rest while getting from Point A to Point B.
Taking the stairs rather than the escalators between floors will get you there faster. Most people would take the escalators but if you are travelling light and don’t the exercise, the stairs are definitely faster.
Bring empty bottles and refill them from the drinking fountains at the airport rather than buy overpriced bottled water there.
If there are no drinking fountains, ask a woman in your travelling group to get water from the baby care or nursing rooms. There are drinking water dispensers in there.
Upon arrival at your destination, keep your flight tickets with you, and destroy them before throwing them away. The barcodes on your tickets carry important information about you and can actually easily be read by mobile apps that scan bar codes.
Don’t post your tickets online with the bar code clearly seen too.
Morning flights experience less turbulence.
Compression socks help with jet lag, but only if you wear them for more than 5 hours in a stretch.
Being without Internet while flying allows you to concentrate on work that requires you to be free from distractions. Use the time well rather than buying in-flight WiFi to look up cat memes.
Use your phone to snap a copy of your boarding pass, just in case.
To keep yourself hydrated during long flights, have some hand cream handy, a sleeping mask or facial mist, and cut down on alcohol or coffee unless you want to go to the toilet a lot.
Instead of charging your phone at the aiport charging hub, charge your battery pack instead, then charge your phone on the plane.
If you have long waiting times between flights, bring a power strip or outlet splitter. It opens up more charging ports (face it, you need more than one but don’t like to hog) at the charging hub and you makes friends fairly easily.
If you don’t need to store anything at the overhead compartment, you don’t have to board so soon and add to the crowd. Being the last to board also means a shorter wait towards takeoff.
If you have a lot of carry-on luggage, board as soon as you can. Otherwise be prepared to be separated far from your luggage which is not only inconvenient, it’s pretty unsafe these days.
If you have a lot of luggage with you, send it by courier instead to your destination point. Some services offer prices competitive to your baggage fees.
Don’t fly on the eve of major holidays. Everyone is grumpy, the airports are packed and delays are imminent, especially on Thanksgiving eve.
Sign up for frequent flyer programs, rewards programs. If you fly often, flying loyal will get you more perks and benefits in the long run. Take advantage of the amenities. They also work wonders when you have to reschedule a cancelled flight — they throw in upgrades, free hotel stays, compensation vouchers etc, depending on the Status you signed up for.
Depending on how long your trip is and how long the parking fees are, it may be cheaper for you to park your car overnight at the airpot parking bay rather than take a cab to and from the airport. You might want to snap a photo of where your car is parked before you leave.
Book parking bays at discounted prices at this site.
Sometimes your luggage may get delayed (or totally go missing) so if you have something important (like medication, that gadget you cannot live without, presentation/speech notes) that you need with you in the next 24 hours upon arrival, put it in your carry-on.
Have a change or two of underwear in your carry-on.
Some travel insurance reimburse you for the things you need to buy in case the airline loses your luggage. Some insurance are worth it.
If the children outnumber the adults in your travelling group ask for ground staff assistance.
If you have a medical condition where you need wheelchair assistance, use it. In larger airports, staff can take you through secret shortcuts through areas that are only accessible to staff. Your family can come along.
If you experience a cancellation, rather than rush to the counter, call the airline’s customer service to get help booking the next flight out of there.
If you still want to talk to someone over the counter to book the next flight out, be nice to them and you might get the best out of the situation compared to those who screamed at the nice agent.
The carry-on weight limit passengers are allowed on board do not extend to items you bought at the airport stores. Drop some of your stuff in if you’ve made a purchase or ask for one from the salespeople.
If your luggage is overweight, put on some of the clothes (layer them) and swap out your sandals with sneakers or boots you packed in.
Pack jewelry in pill containers; carry necklaces in plastic straws so they won’t get tangled up; store cables and chargers in your spectacle cases.
Traveling with kids can be tiring. Bring along a beach ball, the kind that is inflatable. Blow it up and let the kids play ball at an empty terminal gate to tire them out. Enjoy the flight.
You can google your flight carrier, the airport you’re leaving and your destination and Google will unleash upon you your flight status: what time it took off, what time it is estimated to land and at which terminal. This is handy info for whoever is picking you up at the airport.
If you need to rent a car, book one via their website rather than join the queue. You can pay them when you pick up the car.
Keep a copy of all your travel details eg travel itinerary, receipts, booking numbers and reservation details in your email. This keeps the info within reach, as long as you don’t lose your phone.
Eating at the airport staff canteen can help you save on your travel budget but only if the canteen is open to the public.
If you are traveling with children, take a group photo with everyone’s attire clearly seen. In case any child gets separated, flash this photo to security or ground staff to help with the search.
If you own an unlocked phone, one that is not pinned down by any carrier, get a local pre-paid SIM card at your destination.
When traveling with children, always carry over-the-counter medication that is suitable for the age of your kids. Prepare for fever, coughs, flu, stomach pain, diarrhea, anticeptic cream for cuts and grazes. Possibly because of the pressure changes, it is painful to fly with a flu.
Don’t have a plastic bag to pack your dirty shoes with you? Use a shower cap, the complimentary kind you find in hotels.
With all the items that you add-on (in-flight food, baggage fees, taxes, seats assigned, etc) sometimes the all-in fare from full-service airlines come up lower than if you travel on a "budget airline".
Have a jacket or scarf with you when you fly, something you can take off if it is a bit too warm, and put on if it is too cold.
Instead of a carry-on suitcase with will, opt for a backpack which is easier to stuff in the overhead bin or under the seat in front.
If you wear contacts, switch to glasses when you are in the air. Contacts dry out quickly, and makes your eyes uncomfortable.
Traveling with an infant and ran out of hot or warm water? Ask the crew. If they can make coffee, they have hot or warm water for you.
Need to keep something cold in your zip lock bag? Freeze sponges and put them in with your contents.
Suffering from jet lag? Run it off in the hotel gym or jog around the neighborhood and note places to eat, convenience stores, bus stops or taxi stops etc.
Take a selfie of yourself or your travelling group, and set it as your wallpaper. In case you lose your phone, there’s no refuting "that’s my face on the wallpaper" when you are there to claim it.
Have some candy with you, in case you are stuck sitting in front of a feisty kid. Then, bribe the child with candy for good behavior aka not kicking my seat. Helps soothe crying kids real quick too and the parents will be grateful.
To speed up the final pre-boarding check, slot in your boarding pass into the page where your picture and details are. If everyone does this, the wait will be a much shorter one.
Pack a small amount of washing detergent for ad hoc laundry day.
Airport lounges sell all-day passes and sometimes it is worth getting one if your connecting flight are hours away and if you are traveling with young children.