Whether you’ve just booked your dream trip abroad or decided to hop on a domestic flight to visit family, making sure you’re prepared for travel can feel overwhelming. One of the best ways to ensure a smooth trip is by preparing in advance. Things like securing your passport, making sure you are going through security with the right amount of liquids, and checking in at the airport can all be done ahead of time. Bags packed and ready to go?
Here are seven things expert cabin crew members and travel bloggers say you should never do at the airport to make sure you have a safe and prepared flight, and smooth trip after you land.
Pack travel documents in your suitcase.
One of the biggest concerns for travelers is security of personal belongings. “Keep your boarding pass, ID, passport, and phone in your pocket or an outer compartment of your bag so you can easily grab them when needed,” recommends Miguel Teixeira, director of cabin crew at French bee airlines. “The main thing is to bring the required travel documents, which you should research in advance of your trip. What’s required to travel to this destination? Consult your destination’s official website (take France, for example), as it will list all travel documents required,” he says.
Spend a bunch of money at airport concessions.
Try to purchase snacks and nibbles at the supermarket instead of the airport to save money, advises Teixeira. “Bring your own water flask and pack your liquids together in one easy-to-remove bag. Some airports do not sell plastic water bottles, but there are free filtered water stations across the terminals.”
Board the plane without a transit plan.
Having a transit game plan ahead of arriving at your destination is essential. “Inform yourself about specific pick-up and drop-off points for Uber or Lyft travelers,” says Teixeira. “These may vary depending on the country and legislation. Sometimes it’s not directly at the airport curbside but at a parking lot.”
Buy day-of travel insurance.
Rather than booking your travel insurance at the airport just before your flight, instead buy it at least one day before your departure. “If you choose to wait until the last minute, not only are you unlikely to receive a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy or one at all, but you will also be limited in your ability to cancel your flight for any reason or receive a waiver for pre-existing conditions in some cases,” says Brett Estep, chief operating officer and a founder of Insured Nomads, an insurance company for digital nomads. Purchasing travel insurance can easily be done from anywhere online and is a smart investment to ensure you are covered and protected as soon as you walk into the airport.
Exchange your currency inside the airport.
Be careful about foreign currency exchanges at the airport. “In the U.S., prices are often more expensive and include an exchange rate fee,” says Stephanie, creator of the travel blog Adventures with NieNie. “This not only costs you more to exchange currency, it’s not a fair exchange rate and it will leave you with less than what you bring. I suggest doing a foreign exchange outside of the airport if possible, such as at some hotels or possibly with your bank. The other option would be to use your ATM card and pull out cash at an ATM abroad — there still may be fees, but they are substantially smaller than what the airport may charge.”
Arrive just in the nick of time.
Don’t get to the airport too close to your flight. “With COVID checks and regulations at the moment this is a terrible idea due to the time it takes to check documents, especially when traveling internationally,” says Lauren Scott, blogger at Freedom Not Fate. “Flight schedule changes are also [frequent] right now due to short staff so it’s advisable to check in earlier and give yourself more than enough time.”
Have a cocktail before takeoff.
Be careful of drinking alcoholic beverages at the airport. “The pressurized airplanes contain less oxygen than when they’re 38,000 feet in the sky, making that one cocktail feel more like five,” says Corey Walters, founder of Here, a vacation property rental platform. He suggests ordering a ginger ale instead, especially for those who easily suffer from motion sickness. Save that cocktail for once you’ve reached land.