Top 14 Travel Tips + How To Navigate An Airport

Travel & Flight Hacks & Secrets

Not a pro? Never had to get through an airport by yourself before? Head to the bottom of this post to see the Absolute Beginner's Guide To Getting Through The Airport.

Packing

  • Bring the right bras for the dresses and shirts that you packed!
  • Roll clothes, don't fold when packing. Saves space & less wrinkles.
  • Ziplock bag all liquids. Shampoo all over your clothes? Not a good way to start a trip.
  • Pack your electronics in the same bag as the corresponding chargers. Yes, your laptop battery might last the full flight, but if your checked bag gets lots you're suddenly without a charged laptop too, whoops!
  • Don't forget the electronic adapters!
  • Stuff shoes with socks to maximize space in your bag
  • Pop a piece of paper with your contact info IN your bags. Leave phone number, email, a permanent address and a temporary one, as well as the dates you'll be at the temporary one.
  • Get a suitcase with spinner wheels. I don't care if you're a guy and it looks uncool to not pull along your bag like a "real" man, they're useful, especially for tight spaces if you're catching a train or shuttle bus after your flight.

Pre Flight

  • Take a photo of your passport, the front and back of your credit cards, and emergency contact info. To be extra safe, in case you get separated from your phone, email that all to yourself so you can go retrieve it from any computer.
  • Call your credit card company's to tell them you're leaving the country. If they see a transaction in a very unusual location, they might close down your card because they think someone else is using it.
  • Tell your country where you're headed. For Canada, there's a website you put your information in, where you're going, for how long, and if there's an emergency in the place you're visiting, your country will make every effort to get you back out safely. The good news is, if you ever do require this service, you've basically made back all the taxes you're ever going to pay for the cost and effort your country will put in to help you out! I'm assuming other countries have similar systems. Google to find out about yours!
  • Plan to wear your bulkiest/heaviest items on the plane, or pack them in your carry on, because they seldom weight it, whereas the always weigh your checked bag. That means if you want to bring Hunter Boots, you'll have to wear them on the plane or stuff them in your carry on bag. I swear those things weigh a good 5 lbs.

Flight

  • Take your flight entertainment item of choice, book, iPad, colouring book, etc. out of your bag before you put your bag in the overhead bin. You'll sit down realize "darn it" stand up to get it and block off the aisle for everyone else to get through and find their seat. Cue frantic rummage through bag for book.
  • If you order a vegetarian meal, it often comes out before all the other meals.

There's so many tips on travel, packing, and finding flight deals, but no one thinks about the obvious. If you're a first time flier, how on earth do you manage to get through the airport?!

The first time heading to the airport can be daunting. Where do I go? How do I find my flight? You want me to take off my shoes...?

My first solo trip, I was 15 heading taking a flight from Toronto, Canada to Frankfurt Germany, then found my way to a train headed to Nuremberg, Germany ... I only knew a few German words. My poor little teenage self was a little stressed at some points to say the least. Long story short, I got from Point A to Point B without any major incidents, and now with lots of travels under my belt, airports get me all excited about a new adventure, not stressed.

So here's the process: Check In - Security - Gate - Board - Fly Through The Sky (Ohhh Ahhh) - Arrive - Customs - Baggage Claim - Enjoy The New Place You're In!

Step 1. Check In at the desk, get your boarding pass, and drop off your bag(s). (Carry On Bag = smaller bag you keep with you on the plane, Checked Bag(s) = bigger bag(s) that go(es) in the storage bit of the plane which you pick up when you arrive at your destination.)

Step 2. Say good bye to loved ones and head to security. The security officers will instruct you what to do, where to put your bags, and if you're flying in the U.S.A., they're going to ask you to take off your shoes. Intense I know, but better safe than sorry. This would be a place where you would not want to make jokes about bombs or other things you think are funny about security threats.

Step 3. Find your gate. The gate number is on your boarding pass which they gave you at Check In. Look around for signs that have gate numbers and head towards yours.

Step 4. Hang out, go to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat, or do some shopping. Boarding the plane happens a half hour before the flight is scheduled to leave in most cases. So if you decide to do a little wandering around the airport, be sure to head back to your gate a half hour before your flight is to leave. When boarding starts, show your ID/passport and boarding pass to the flight attendant, head on to the plane and find your seat! You made it! Whew!

Step 6. When the flight lands, pick up all your belongings, and head off the plane towards the arrival gate. This time thankfully everyone is going the same way, so you basically never need to look for signs, just follow your planes massive crowd and some smartie at the front of the line will find the way out. (If you're getting on another flight from that airport, look at your next boarding pass, find the gate number, look for signs and head off on a hunt for it, then repeat steps 4 & 5, and then come back to 6).

Step 7.  If you're on a domestic flight (a flight within the country) you can skip this step. If you're on an international flight, you'll head to Customs. They ask you things like "why are you coming into the country?" and "do you have goods with a value of $10,000.00 or greater with you?" While I'm sure we would all love to be carrying $10,000.00 cash, that's probably not the case, which thankfully makes getting through customs easier. If you're staying in the country for a long period of time, this is where you'll show them all your travel documents. Visa, school acceptance letter, job contract, etc.

Step 8. Follow signs and head to Baggage Claim. That's where you pick up your bag that you dropped off at Check In. There will be a screen in Baggage Claim that says your flight number, and what Baggage Carousel your bag will be on. (Baggage Carousel = the giant conveyer belt that bags ride around on). Once yours comes out, pull it off the carousel, and head to the exit.  Be sure to hum this song in your head as you go.

Have the most wonderful time in the new locale my new travel-loving friend!

Loved the post? Pin the images so you can easily find your way back when the travel prep starts, and for friends to enjoy too!

Did I miss anything you think is a must-know when it comes to travel? Pop your thoughts in the comments below!