by Sarah Wu
Photo Courtesy of Flickr
Whether you’re traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or Boston to Seoul, you expect hours of dreaded packing and waiting in line at security—and later, when you are woken up every five minutes so that someone can use the restroom, you’ll regret choosing that aisle seat.
Travel almost always requires some hassle, but with a few preventative measures, it doesn’t have to be so bad! You’ll be on your way to paradise...or back to school.
Register for TSA Pre-Check
Instead of planning your flight times around airport crowds, you can invest a bit of time before your flight to enjoy shorter lines. It’s almost as good as having a Fastpass at Disneyland, but the ride is several hours instead of a mere two minutes. Simply visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website and create an account to apply online for TSA Pre-Check. After completing the process, sign up for an in-person appointment at a participating airport. The application fee is $85, but your membership lasts five years. It’s worth investing—a missed flight due to long security lines is worth much more than $85.
Make sure that you book your appointment ahead of time as the appointments book up quickly. Once you’re registered, head to the airport for your next trip, and after check-in you’ll be directed to a special line that will not require you to take out your laptop, take off your light jacket or remove your shoes.
Purchase a Luggage Strap
Instead of purchasing a completely new suitcase to stand out from the sea of identical black bags, you can purchase a luggage strap instead to save money and help easily identify your belongings! They usually fall between $5 and $15. It will save you the stress of missing your luggage as it moves around the winding carousel. For a DIY alternative, you could cut a piece or two of durable ribbon to tie to the zippers or handles on your luggage.
Reusable Water Bottle
Most airports in the United States now offer water bottle filling stations so you no longer have to fill up your water bottle at an awkward angle at the water fountain, which could put you at the risk of being sprayed and getting a mysterious wet spot on your shirt.
Airports—just like Disneyland and other tourist attractions—put ridiculous markups on your favorite products, taking advantage of travelers who don’t want to purchase on-board snack boxes or meals. During a recent airport trip, Bare Apple Chips were priced at $7 and usually fall between $2 and $3. Instead of paying these high prices, pack a meal for your flight. Sandwiches, nuts and fruit help keep you full on the long journey. If you’re traveling with family and one person has room in their carry-on to spare, consider bringing a snack bag with the family’s favorite munchies.
Rechargeable External Battery
Several airports, like Boston Logan, have installed outlets and USB ports between chairs outside the gates so you can charge while you wait to board your flight. However, not all airports have this function and not all airplanes have outlets on board. Instead of worrying about your phone dying, invest in an external battery pack that can be used when you’re running out of juice. These can usually be charged using a micro-USB. Netflix recently added a function to its mobile app that allows you to download select movies and shows for offline viewing, so instead of paying for DirecTV or whatever in-flight entertainment is available for purchase, you can plug in your phone to the external battery pack and put in your headphones to drown out the screams of that baby behind you.