A Survival Guide To Airports

Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

I have never flown and not been stopped by security. Maybe it’s due to my too ‘innocent’ baby face, maybe they’re just starving for riveting conversation, but regardless, security guards LOVE to stop me. It’s almost become a joke at this point, as I see them nod to each other about my “suspicious” items (aka headphones or a charger, usually). Brilliant.

In light of my extreme expertise in this field,  I thought I’d give y’all some tips for traveling through airports. I’ve made quite a few mistakes while flying, so here are some de-stressing tips!

1. Bring a refillable water bottle and empty it when you’re going through security, and then fill them up on the other side: If your water bottle is full of liquid when you go through security, it will be confiscated and, depending on the niceness of your security person, you might not ever see it again (regardless of whether it’s reusable). To ensure that you don’t lose your favorite water bottle, pack it empty and then fill it once you get on the other side of security.

2. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and slip back on: I generally travel in lace up boots, which is the worst idea ever. But, if at all possible, try to wear shoes that are easy to take off and slip back on so when you go through security you’re not the girl sitting there trying to re-lace your leather boots for 20 minutes  *like this girl*.

3. Don’t try to bring back jam for your grandmother in your luggage. It is a liquid – and therefore a terrorist threat.

4. Always go to the bathroom in between flights: To save yourself from having to cram in an airplane bathroom, I always advise going to the bathroom in airports during layovers, even if you don’t “need to go” (my nannyness is coming out). Believe me, it will make flying so much more comfortable.

5. Pack an extra pair of underclothing if you’re flying connecting flights/out of the country: If you’ve signed up yourself for a 26 hour flight, make sure your only underclothing isn’t in your luggage, which you probably won’t see again for the next 26 hours. Making sure you have a pair of undies/bra in your carry on can be the deciding factor to holding you together until you’re reunited with your luggage again. Just do it.

6. Bring snacks on the plane: We all know airplane food is less than kosher. One of my favorite fun facts is that the one time  I’ve ever had food poisoning was when I was flying to a third world country – when they warned me about eating the food there. Bring your own favorite snacks. Save money, eat watchu want. Win, win.

7. Bring more than one thing to do on the plane/headphones: Mostly this is for longer flights, but running out of things to can ruin a flight (especially if the movie that’s playing is Wolverine…number 2). Usually I fly with a book, a notebook/journal to write/draw in, iPod, and some kind of activity book (Suduku, Crosswords etc.)

8. Don’t ever buy pre paid phones in international airports: NEVER EVER EVER buy electronics in the airport when you’re traveling internationally. You’ll probably end up paying 3x the actual value of something. Make sure you pre-plan on things like prepaid phones before you leave, or look for a shop that sells them after you leave the airport.

9. Make sure you know what customs line you’re standing in: This is brilliant. I repeatedly get put in the wrong customs line. Probably because people just have no idea “what” I am. In India, I was Indian. In Ireland, I was French. People just can’t get it straight. Just make sure you let the airport workers know what country you’re from when you ask what line to do in – and before you end up wasting 30 minutes of your life.

10. Never let your belongings out of your sight: I’ve never had anything stolen from me, probably because I watch my belongings like a hawk. But friends of mine, have. Just remember to keep your belonging close to you when you travel. Especially if you’re backpacking and you’re carrying all your belongings on your back – Don’t. Lose. Them.

11. Make friends with strangers that know larger airports: I love making friends with people I sit next to on planes…mainly because they can’t leave if I try to talk to them. I make it a personal mission to find people who have been where I’m going and ask them questions. It’s the best way not to waste time in airports, and you get to make new friends. Yay!

12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when trying to find a connecting flight: I don’t really like talking to people in general, but when I travel I force myself. You can get extremely lost, miss your flight or get stuck in an airport if you don’t have some kind of information. It’s not worth it. Just ask people for help when you don’t know what’s going on.

13. Two words: Window. Seat.:  If at all possible, I ALWAYS get a window seat. It’s so much more fun than being squeezed in between two people. Not only can you fall asleep against something, but you get to see the country you’re going to from the sky. Glory.

14. If you get pulled to the side while going through security, don’t freak out: Like I said before, I’ve never NOT been stopped by security and (in my opinion) I’m not very intimidating looking. Security personnel are just trying to do their job. If you happen to get pulled to the side, think of it as a good thing. You stood out from the crowd *cyber high-five*! But, really, keep calm and just be nice to the people working there. You’ll be fine. 🙂

15. Be nice to the people who are working there: People who work in airports have to see people traveling every day while staying where they are. Personally, I think that sounds like some kind of hell. So, throw a smile someone’s way. Ask them how they’re doing. And always say ‘thank you’ when someone helps you out! Let’s spread a little courtesy no matter what continent we’re on!

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