Airport Travel Tips for Inexperienced Flyers

It’s the holiday season folks, which means peak travel, especially at the airports. In addition to the number of frequent flyers trying to rack up last minute miles to keep their elite status, you’ll also have plenty of inexperienced flyers taking on trips to see their families and friends. For the latter group who normally do not fly, anxiety trumps excitement, at least until your plane touches the ground, but ease your worries because here are some airport travel tips for inexperienced flyers to make your journey a bit more manageable and enjoyable.

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners

Arrive early

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Airport Monitors at Logan Airport, Boston
Airport Monitors at Logan Airport, Boston

Nothing good comes from being a procrastinator so make sure to allot plenty of time the day of your flight. Arrive early so you won’t stress out about the long security lines. At some major airports, the wait time can be as long as an hour just to get pass the checkpoint so adhere to the side of caution and follow the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) time allowance suggestion when flying. Arrive at least two hours for domestic flights and up to three hours for international flights. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to return your rental car, check your bag, and go to the loo before boarding.

Slip-on shoes

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Loafers
Loafers: Photo grabadonut / CC 2.0

George Clooney’s character on Up in the Air was right when he said that slip-on shoes were the secret to efficiency when trying to get through airport screening. I’ve seen many folks slip and tumble just trying to get their laces untied especially when feeling the pressure of a long queue. Do yourself a favor and wear something that you can easily slip in and out of especially since you’re likely to want to take the shoes off again if you’re in for a long haul flight.

Dress in layers

For some reason, airports can never get the temperature right. When the weather feels hot outside, it’s usually very cold inside and vice versa. The same thing goes inside airplanes, though they are usually more manageable thanks to the adjustable air pockets you can turn on and off when the airplane engine is on. In order to adapt to this ever changing temperature, make sure to dress in layers. You might end up wearing three to four shirts that give the impression that you’ve already gained those holiday pounds but at least you’ll be comfortable, right?

Choose an early morning flight

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Sunrise at 35k feet
Sunrise at 35k feet

No one wants to wake up at the crack of dawn to jump on an early morning flight anywhere but will yourself to do so because it might just be the smartest decision you’ll make when traveling this holiday season. Why, do you ask? Early morning flights almost always leave on time so the odds of you missing your connection or having to spend more time inside an airport than you’ll like to, will be slim. As a bonus, you might even catch the sunrise above the clouds.

Pack your own food

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Packed Lunch
Packed Lunch

It’s no secret that airport food is ridiculously expensive so if you’re a family of four traveling to see grandma and grandpa across the country, you might already be spending $40 just for breakfast at McDonalds. Some airports, particularly the smaller ones, also have very limited options so to save a little dough and eat healthier at the same time, just bring your own packed lunch. Just remember to keep the liquids at home since those aren’t allowed inside your carry on luggage.

Refillable canisters

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Refillable Water Bottles
Refillable Water Bottles: Photo SC Johnson

Another one of those money-saving airport travel tips for beginners involves bring refillable canisters. You can take them with you through security as long as they’re empty to begin with and then just fill them up with coffee or water from the fountains available throughout the airport. It’s a good way to minimize your travel cost and help the environment at the same time.

Now for families traveling with children…

Take out baby food and liquid formula

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Baby milk
Baby milk

There are exemptions to the no liquid over 3.4 ounces rule at airports and a couple of them apply to baby food and formula. If you’re traveling with young kids who still use bottles or sipping cups, go ahead and take them out of the baby bags and place them in plain view to expedite the screening of your bags.

Keep young kids off the belt

This might seem common sense to many, but one of the most important airport travel tips for inexperienced travelers, particularly those with young children will be to keep them off the x-ray belt. Luggages weighing 15-25 pounds are sliding down continuously on the rollers so it’s very easy for children to hurt their fingers on them.

Collapsible strollers are your friends

Airport Travel Tips for Beginners: Travel Strollers
Travel Strollers

Traveling with kids is challenging enough with all the additional screening you have to go through so to lessen the stress, travel as light as you can. Leave those fancy strollers at home in lieu of the collapsible ones because the latter can fit through the x-ray machines and are easier to carry anyway. Finally, they are easier to store when boarding the plane.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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