Traveling via airplane can be hectic at the best of times, let alone after a global shutdown. With large crowds, so many people trying to make it to different destinations, security threats that loom seemingly at every airport, and grumpy immigration and customs officials, there’s always something that could go wrong, big or small, that can contribute to the airport blues.
Knowing how to prevent predictable problems can make your life much easier as a traveler. Here are a few top tips from seasoned travelers on how to ensure you have the smoothest transit possible for your next trip.
No one enjoys being stuck in visa limbo, but such misfortune befalls unprepared travelers every day. Although some countries, including many in Latin America, allow American visitors to cross their borders with no visa, many others require advanced approval before visiting. If you make the mistake of boarding an airplane headed to a country that requires a travel visa with no documentation in your carry-on bag or wallet, chances are you will be stopped and possibly refused at your destination’s port of entry. This could run up huge financial and legal costs. Prepare in advance by knowing the visa requirements of the place you are visiting.
Airlines generally do a decent job of keeping track of passengers’ luggage, but sometimes things fall through the cracks. Remember that any luggage you check has to get through the airport and onto your flight, too. If you check in at the last possible minute, your bags might not have time to be checked in, scanned, and transported to the plane. Try to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
It’s also common for similar looking bags to get picked up by the wrong passengers. Make sure that your luggage is easily distinguishable. Having a laser engraved luggage tag can help identify your baggage even if the airline’s paper tag has fallen off. If it has your name or address on it, it can help your bags be returned to you in the event that they do get misplaced.
If you travel fairly often, chances are you’ve seen a passenger face a tough decision at a security checkpoint: they have a flight to catch that they can’t be late for, but airport security has confiscated a valued item because it violates the rules. Most airlines and the TSA have sections on their websites detailing what items are prohibited. Visit them online before you pack your things to avoid this massive headache at security.
Many commercial flights have layovers in the itinerary, and they’re sometimes unavoidable. Avoid missing your next flight during a layover by knowing the flight number and departure time of your next trip. If you have a tight layover, alert the airline so they can make necessary accommodations to get you to your connecting flight. If you’re polite and explain the situation, your fellow travelers will also often be willing to help you disembark as quickly as possible.
Traveling is exciting, but it comes with its own set of difficulties. However, many of these are preventable. If you plan properly, you can eliminate the hassle of most travel troubles in airports.