The airport is a minefield for people who don’t travel very often. From the parking lot to checking in to security to trying to find your gate before the doors close, it makes sense why some may feel stressed ahead of a trip. Luckily, there are ways to make your airport experience smoother and less stressful. Much of the preparation can be done before leaving your house and only takes minutes to do.

Going through the airport doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. Whether you’re flying solo or going on a family trip, remember these tips and thank us later.

Have a Transportation Game Plan

Half the stress on a travel day is simply just getting to the airport. In fact, Forbes reports that over 60 percent of survey respondents say their biggest stressor is getting stuck somehow on the way to the airport.1 Highway traffic, public transit delays, unreliable rideshare programs — there’s a lot that could go wrong.

Plan ahead for your transportation to the airport no matter how tedious it might be. Download multiple ride sharing apps, check out the traffic ahead of time, and know the public transport schedule in case your ride bails last minute. Knowing your options will give you some peace and mind on travel day.

Check-In Online

The mission of a seamless airport experience starts before even leaving the house. You can give yourself one less thing to do at the airport by checking in online. Most airlines have an app you can download on your mobile device and allow check-in 24 hours before your flight time. You can select your seats, download or print your boarding pass, and anything else you’d typically have to do at an airport kiosk.

Look Into Security Lines Ahead of Time

There’s no way to rush through security when it’s busy. You could get to the airport just early enough to make your flight, but end up missing it if security lines are long. That’s why you should always check out how long the lines are on the airport’s website. Just look for which checkpoint you’ll be going through to find out how busy it currently is. If wait times are longer than usual, then you’ll want to leave for the airport earlier.

Opt for Carry-On

One of the biggest pieces of advice you’ll hear from avid travelers is to carry-on whenever possible. This is to save you from the chaos and stress that can potentially happen if the airline loses your luggage. BBC reports that around 25 million bags get misdirected or lost every year.2 This can be due to things like flight transfers, complex handling systems, label system mishaps, and other technical difficulties.

Carrying your bag onto the flight ensures that it stays with you wherever you go. It can also prevent you from overpacking and bringing too much to your destination. Plus, you’ll save time by not having to wait for your stuff to come through at baggage claim.

Qualify for TSA PreCheck

If you’re a frequent traveler or going somewhere in a large group, then you’ll want to qualify for TSA PreCheck. Around 94 percent of enrolled passengers waited less than five minutes at airport security.3 Approved individuals can save a ton of time at security by not having to remove their:

  • Shoes
  • Laptops
  • Liquids
  • Belts
  • Light jackets

This perk is available at 200 airports and 81 airlines. To sign up, you apply online and schedule an appointment at an enrollment center. You will be fingerprinted for a background check that takes about 10 minutes. Add your Known Traveler Number to your airline reservation and you’ll enjoy a better screening experience on your next trip!

See If You Can Get a Lounge Pass

Just because you’re not riding first-class doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some luxury at the airport. Many airlines sell one-day passes that give you access to something a lot nicer than general seating in the terminal. You can inquire directly with your airline to see if passes are available or sign up for something like Lounge Pass.

Through Lounge Pass, you can access over 600 lounges at over 350 airports worldwide. Pricing starts at just $19 per person.4 Passholders can enjoy a quiet and relaxing experience with facilities like wifi, free light refreshments, alcoholic drinks, and more.

Take a Breather

The airport and flying in general can be overwhelming and scary for many passengers. The Washington Post reports that about 40 percent of the general population have some fear of flying. About 2.5 percent have what is considered a clinical phobia that makes them distressed or avoid flying altogether.5 To ease your mind, be mindful of relaxation and de-stressing techniques available.

When prepping for your flight, bring things that will make you comfortable like a sleeping mask or pillow. Download your comfort show onto your phone and cue up a playlist of songs that help you chill. You can even download an app such as Calm that can help you meditate and make you feel better. Taking the time for self care on travel days will go a long way!

Forbes, Revealed: The Most Stressful Aspects Of Airport Travel 2
BBC, Why do airlines still mislay 25 million bags a year? 3
TSA, TSA PreCheck 4
Lounge Pass 5
The Washington Post, Lots of Americans have a fear of flying. There are ways to overcome the anxiety disorder.