Starting with the airport, research everywhere you’re going. Look at the layout of the airport with regard to the ticketing area, security area, and your gate. Plan enough time to get from place to place. It’s also helpful to look at the food and beverage selections near your gate, so you’ll know whether you need to eat before going to the airport.
It’s also a good idea to read up on all the ground transportation services at your destination, decide which you will be taking, and make reservations if necessary.
2. Security Screening
Pack your carry-on with security screening in mind. Being prepared for this procedure greatly lessens travel stress. Keep your carry-on bag neat and be prepared for security to open it and examine any items you are taking with you. Be prepared to show your identification with your travel documents.
Take a look at the TSA’s updated security requirements, especially if it’s been a while since you traveled by air. This will let you know what kinds of liquids and electronics you’re allowed to bring, along with prescription medications and other items.
Be prepared to remove your shoes, belt, keys, and phone from your person for screening. Put all your liquids and prescriptions in separate bags, keeping the liquids in a quart size zipper bag. Lastly, don’t try to bring prohibited drinks or items on board. This will speed up security for you and for everyone around you.
If you travel frequently, it may be worth signing up for TSA’s PreCheck program.
3. Pack Light
Unless you’re moving across the country, you don’t have to bring everything you own when you take a trip. To avoid overpacking your bag, plan on using laundry facilities at the hotel where you will be staying. Pack light and pack for comfort. It helps to bring some empty plastic bags in your checked luggage so you can store wet or dirty items on the way home. It also helps to leave some room in your checked baggage for anything you might purchase during your stay.
It is also wise to assume that the overhead bins will be full when you enter the plane. Try to pack a small enough carry-on to fit under the seat in front of you. Also, make sure you have all your medications as well as a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your baggage is lost.
4. Be Aware of Your Airline and Credit Card Policies
In case of trouble, it’s wise to know what your airline’s policies for changes and cancellations might be. Also, find out what the airlines are offering in case of denied boarding for overbooking. Look into your credit card’s purchase and travel protection programs – your credit card company may be an unexpected ally when you’re trying to solve a problem.
5. Know Your Flight Stats
When booking a flight, look up the statistics for that flight number before booking. It is easy to do this with Google. It may be worth finding out that your chosen flight has a high percentage of delays over 30 minutes. You may wish to choose a different flight, especially if you are traveling with children or have a connecting flight afterward.
6. Use the $10 Rule
Travel blogger Chris Guillebeau coined this rule. He says that if a service that costs $10 will improve your experience, the money is worth spending. You could use $50 as the benchmark for a whole family. Sometimes going through curbside check-in is worth it, as is taking a shuttle service to the airport instead of driving and going through the stress of finding a place to park.
7. Avoid Getting Sick
Especially if you are prone to becoming ill when you travel, be aware of touching germy surfaces. Carry hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes with you. Make sure you are properly hydrated, avoid drinking too much alcohol, and be careful with overindulging in foods you aren’t accustomed to. Being ill is not always an avoidable source of stress when you travel, but it makes sense to take any precautions you can.
8. Many Bags Look Alike
This is an unbelievably easy trip that could save you a great deal of trouble. As the signs at most baggage claims say, “Many bags look alike.” To prevent your bag from being mixed up with someone else’s, attach something to it that is bright and stands out from the crowd. It could be as simple as a ribbon tied around the handle, or a bright piece of duct tape. Getting your bag back from someone who has it by mistake can be extremely difficult.
9. Use an Airport Shuttle Service
Leaving your car in an airport parking lot comes with risks. The airport doesn’t insure against theft, loss, or damage. Struggling through the airport parking lot with your bags in the middle of the night is a recipe for stress. Leave your car at home in your own driveway and use an airport shuttle service. Door-to-door pickup and drop-off takes the strain out of getting to and from the airport.
10. Remember to Have Fun
Especially if you are traveling for pleasure, remember that travel is supposed to be fun. Do something nice for yourself, whether on your travel day or when you arrive at your destination. You could buy yourself a new book or watch a favorite movie on your phone. If you’re traveling for business, take some time to yourself and do something fun while you’re away.
These travel tips will help you make your next trip your best yet. Plan ahead, be aware of rules and regulations, pack light, and have a good time.