Making your airport experience bearable

By: Selina Nadeau, Costa Rica: Ecotourism Destinations Winter ’16, OGO Global Correspondent

Plan ahead. As with any travel experience, planning ahead is the name of the game. Plan what you will need to bring and where you will go if you have a long time to spend in an airport. Check in for flights in the morning or the night before departure. As part of your packing list, think ahead about what you will do in the airport. The average airport trip involves no less than two hours of waiting, whether it’s standing in lines or sitting at a gate, and sometimes delays or long layovers can mean a lot of hours sitting in an airport. My personal entertainment suggestions include:

  • A deck of cards
  • A novel
  • A book of short stories
  • Headphones (plus an extra pair)
  • Handheld game
  • Music
  • Knitting (If you get into that sort of thing, simple stitches are easy to learn online. Invest in wooden needles which are much less likely to cause problems in security)
  • Netflix now allows you to download certain shows and movies to your phone to watch when you don’t have internet. Careful you don’t use up too much space on your phone.
  • Download some lectures about some topic you’re curious about. If you’re going to a place where you don’t know the culture or the language, download some videos talking about that, or bring a book or article on the subject.

Bring your own food. If you want to be sure that you will not be starving in the airport, and you want to save a buck by foregoing overpriced airport food, pack your own snacks. Most food items, if properly packaged, will give you no trouble when you go through security. Just be aware that you might have to eat in a tight space, so don’t bring anything too smelly or loud to eat. Some of my go-to’s for airport snacks include:

  • Trail mix
  • Dried Fruit
  • Fresh fruit
  • Sandwiches
  • Jerky

If that list seems like a list of trail snacks, that’s no coincidence. Food that is easy to transport and eat on the go without making a mess is great for traveling of all kinds.

Don’t forget the water. When traveling, it is easy to get dehydrated. Bring a refillable water bottle, preferably something large, so it will last you long flights and you don’t have to fill it up as often in the airport. My personal preference is a Nalgene that holds more than a liter. Just make sure you bring it through security empty and fill it up after you find your gate so you’re not stuck in a “chug it or chuck it” situation. Even if there’s less than the 3 fluid ounces allowed through security, you’ll be safer if it is completely empty.

Other tips:

Make sure both you and your bag are ready to go through security as smoothly as possible. Have your laptop and bag of liquids near the top of your bag. Consider an outfit that won’t involve removing a bunch of layers. If you must carry a lot of small items on your person, keep them in a jacket that will get sent through the x-ray machine. Keep those pants pockets empty.

Board last. Avoid lines during boarding and get some work done at the gate. Additionally, if you’re the last person to board a plane, most flight attendants will let you make any switches you want to available seats.

Bring a power splitter. Sometimes there will be limited outlets available. If you’ve got a power splitter, you’ll be able to make better use of the available outlets, and might make a friend or two at the charging station.

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