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The true test of any traveller is the ability to survive the human holding pen that is the airport. As a travel blogger I have spent a disproportionate amount of time in airports and I have discovered over the years that with a spot of forward planning and research, you can make your pre-flight time a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, so that you can travel like a pro! I should also add that a large glass of wine nearly always helps time in departures along.
If you are flying on a budget airline and don’t wish to pay an extortionate amount for an alcoholic beverage, why not pack a miniature and treat yourself to a mid-flight drink, you could purchase a soft drink from the airline and have yourself a budget mixer. Stock up on minis at duty-free and board with confidence that you have enjoyable flight ahead. Perhaps limit yourself to one or two miniatures to avoid face first onto the tarmac as you shakily disembark the aircraft.
Book the Airport Lounge
Think that airport lounges are just for the travelling elite? Think again my friend, many deals and discounts for lounges can be found on sites such as Groupon or Holiday Extras. Passes booked in advance are cheaper, starting from around £20 but it depends on what hacks so you book, in what airport and how nice their facilities are. Make sure you shop around online to get the best deals and start living the lounging dream.
Pack your own lunch
Food in the airport is notoriously expensive, so why not beat the system by packing your own sandwiches and snacks to eat before you board. Be warned though, from experience it can sometimes be tricky to find appropriate seating for snacking as many outlets won’t let you use their tables for your own food. This, unfortunately, means you might find yourself having a picnic in your lap in departures. I once had to board with the remnants of a chicken mayo sandwich all over my skirt.
Sleep at the airport
Where to try and catch 40 winks before a flight is the traveller’s dilemma. Do you pay for an expensive airport hotel, or do you try and snooze in the airport? If you choose a night in the airport, sleeping options can be rather limited. Your best bet is to pop an eye mask on and try and secure an armrest-free row of seating to curl up on. For obvious security reasons, try to use your bag containing your valuables as a sort of makeshift pillow if you are going to go down this route. It should be noted that Briefcases are largely unsuitable for this.
Wear comfy clothes
Resist the urge to be an airport fashionista and opt for comfy clothes instead of chic, especially for long haul flights. At the airport, layers are your friend as you can add or remove, tops, jumpers, cardigans and coats, dependent on how aggressive the air conditioning is. Don’t be afraid to pack a onesie in your hand luggage for when you need that extra bit of warmth. I have seen many a shameless traveller wandering around bleary eyes in their pj’s at 4 am in the airport, so it’s clearly an accepted practice.
Are you off on a weekend break? Try to take just a cabin bag if you can, you’ll be able to whiz through the airport and avoid the long lines at the check-in desk. Pick a lightweight case on wheels for optimal airport navigation. Bringing a laptop? Make sure it’s in an easy to access place so you don’t have to ferret around all your clothes mid security scanner queue to retrieve it. It’s never fun when a lacy thong falls out your case and is retrieved by bemused security staff.
Book airport parking in advance
Unless you want to remortgage your house, booking your airport parking is considerably cheaper than rocking up on the day. Websites such as Airparks allows you to book your parking in advance at a massive discount, meaning you have more pounds to spend on that beachside cocktail! another parking tip is to take a picture of where you have parked. I cannot stress how vital this is if you want to avoid wandering the never ending car park zones for all eternity.
Bring portable chargers
If you are an avid Instagrammer like me, having a portable charger for your devices can be a lifesaver when you are low on juice and there are no available power outlets at the airport. Keep all your devices charged when you are on the go by investing in a semi-decent portable charger. Technology website Tech radar has posted a round up on the best ones out there, so you can make an informed decision on opting for capacity or portability.
Sample the Duty-Free Smellies
Freshen up for your flight by having a cheeky spray of the perfume and aftershave samples at the Duty-free shops. I normally try and approach this in a confident ‘I am definitely interested in buying this expensive Gucci perfume’ manner. If you don’t feel comfortable having a covert spray you can always ask what the current offers on perfume and aftershaves are to see if you can grab yourself a bargain before you board.
Get all your documents in order
Always have your passport and boarding card to hand to save on emptying out your bag on the floor or having a complete meltdown that you have left in on the table in Starbucks. Try to fill in any travel documentation correctly to save hassle and carry printed copies of any car rental confirmation, hotel reservations, resort transfer details in case your phone dies, or if you are asked to show these details to airport staff. If you have any visas or documentation for your trip, organise it into an easily accessible folder. I found this out the hard way when I misplaced my J-1 Visa and was questioned by terrifyingly stern immigration officers in Miami Airport.
What do you think of these hacks, do you have any of your own that haven’t been mentioned? Let me know what you think in the comments below and let’s all share our top Airport survival tips.
Portia Jones is the voice of Pip and the City, a Travel and Lifestyle blog she created to share travel, food, lifestyle, and adventures from the most awesome places around the world. She is based in Cardiff, Wales and often documents her adventures with her husband Luke. Some of her adventures include hiking through the Australian outback, scuba diving off Thai islands, backpacking across Canada, and road tripping through America.