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20 Airport Hacks to Make Every Traveler's Life Easier

When you hear the term ‘airport hacks’ you might think of something illegal. However, the following 20 tips aren’t against the law – they are designed to help make your next trips out of town a breeze. Use these tips to help your vacations or business trips sail along smoothly:

1. Get Cheaper Parking Before You Head to the Airport to Save Money

A little bit of research about airport parking lots might be the difference between paying $33 per day at a JFK International Airport parking lot and less than one-third of that rate via discount park and ride websites designed to help you discover better rates.

2. Buy Travel-Sized Items in Advance to Avoid Worrying About TSA Rules

Search for “travel” on a website like Ulta to uncover products like this “Travel Size Bed Head Hard Head Hairspray” to load up on properly sized toiletries that you won’t have to pour out or throw away at the TSA checkpoint if you’d like to pack them in your carry-on bag.

3. Use the Family Room in the Club Lounges to Watch TV and Use Wi-Fi

If you’re a frequent traveler with children who likes to arrive at airports early, the family rooms within lounges like the United Club lounge can be worth their weight in gold. Not only can Mom and Dad grab a glass of wine and help the whole family to fruit, hot chocolate, and other snacks, they can take those goodies back to a private family room that includes a TV, DVDs, Wi-Fi and more. It can make a big difference in calming down the clan prior to a long flight.

4. Update Yourself on the Newest Items Designed to Make Travel Easier

Manufacturers are coming up with new products all the time to help travelers lighten their load. Whether it’s a strap to attach a car seat to rolling luggage or improved folding hair dryers to help you not over-pack, it pays to keep up with the latest inventions.

5. Get a TSA Pre-Check for Speedier Screening

Visit the TSA Pre-Check website to get through airports in the United States in a faster fashion.

6. Go for Global Entry for Faster International Travel

Use the Global Entry program when traveling internationally to experience expedited clearance back into America.

7. Check the “My TSA” App for Current Wait Times to Plan Your Trip

Pop on over to the My TSA app and place your airport information within the search box to discover that, for example, the Chicago-O’Hare International Airport currently has a security checkpoint wait time from one to 10 minutes, and general departure delays due to volume.

8. Find the Best Seats on the Plane Before You Buy to Have a Better Flight

If you love legroom or sitting near a power outlet – yes, some planes have them and USB ports – use a site like Seat Guru to pick out your best spots before you book your flight.

9. Bring Booze in Your Checked or Carry-On Bags to Get the Party Started When You Land

Surprisingly, the TSA allows alcoholic beverages to be brought onboard flights, as long as you abide by their rules. The only trouble is, FAA rules mean you can’t drink any alcohol on the plane that’s not served by the airline, so you’ll have to wait until you land to celebrate.

10. Snap Photos of Your Parking Space to Help You Remember Where You Parked

Taking a quick series of photos with your smartphone to remind you that you parked in section D on level 3 of the airport parking lot can save you plenty of hassles when you return home from your trip and want to quickly find your vehicle.

11. Hydrate Inexpensively Before, During and After the Flight

“Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up after you get through security,” suggests Ben Mordecai, an automation controls engineer. While on the plane, drink orange juice and club soda to keep well hydrated.

12. Move All Contents from Your Pockets to Your Carry-On Before Security to Prevent Delays

Instead of fumbling around with loose change, jewelry and belts, place all those items in your carry-on or purse prior to going through the security checkpoint to have fewer items that may cause the line to pause.

13. Ask the TSA for a “Hand Scan”

Inform security in advance if you have special health concerns, like an implanted defibrillator or any other physical conditions that necessitate not going through the magnetic scanner. They will direct you to the proper place.

14. Weigh Your Bags at Home to Prevent Extra Charges

Plop your packed suitcase on your scale at home and compare that weight to the limit imposed by your airline in order to avoid paying more fees.

15. Book a Private Jet to Avoid Commercial Flight Crowds

Apps like JetSmarter are being called the Uber of airlines. And although some flights are uber-expensive, others – like a flight to Arlington from Houston for eight people – cost only $365 per person.

16. Secure Your Luggage with Trackers

Instead of just slapping a pretty bow on your bag to distinguish it from the other luggage in baggage claim, invest in advanced technology like Trakdot luggage tracker and crush-proof, locked bags to help avoid theft.

17. Bring Frozen Solids on the Plane to Keep Your Meds Cold

Don’t fret if you have medications or other health items that you need to keep cool while traveling. “Accessories required to keep medically necessary items cool are treated as liquids unless they are frozen solid at the checkpoint,” says TSA.gov.

18. Go to the Left Because Most Travelers Steer to the Right-Hand Checkpoints

Since most folks are right-handed, studies show that lots of people naturally veer to the right when choosing a security checkpoint line, leaving fewer people in line on the left.

19. Avoid High-Cost Airport Food and Pack Dry Snacks

As long as you don’t stuff your bag full of wet foods, you can place lots of good dry snacks like nuts or candy bars in your carry-on bag to prevent hunger headaches and overspending.

20. Take a Rest in the Chapel During Flight Delays

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful place to get away from the noise of busy airports during delays, hunt down the nearest chapel – but make sure to keep abreast of your flight changes whilst waiting.

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