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15 Airport Tricks To Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

15 Airport Tricks To Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

When you have to fly, you probably grit your teeth and prepare for a forgettable airport experience. You get ready for long lines, surly fellow passengers, uncomfortable seating, mediocre food, and embarrassing security procedures where you almost have to strip. Is there any way you can get around these problems? Happily, there is! Implement these 15 hacks to make your next airport stay a much more pleasant experience.

1. Book a red-eye flight

Not as crazy as it sounds. Booking a flight with a late evening departure time and early arrival time (red-eye flight) does have its advantages. First of all, you will be able to travel at a quieter time as the airport will be less chaotic. It makes the airport almost human. The best result however is that you can sleep during the flight and wake up at your destination. This does depend on whether you are travelling east or west but in many cases, it really is worth it. You can save also on the price of the air ticket.

2. Get Nexus/Global entry

Once you apply for Global entry, you can avoid the long lines at immigration. This is one of the most painful airport experiences. No frustrating waiting or filling out boring questionnaires. With Global entry, you go to the special kiosks, key in some details and they recognize you from your fingerprints. You are in! It only costs $100 for five years and if you hold an American Express Platinum card, they will pay the fee for you. This system is operational in 26 US airports. American, Canadian, Swiss, and Dutch citizens can apply. To do so, fill out an online questionnaire and be prepared for a background check which includes a 30-minute interview. If you are a frequent flier to Canada, apply first for the Nexus entry because that will automatically get you on to the Global one without re-applying (it will also save you $50).

3. Get access to the first class lounge

This can really make your stay at the airport more human. All you have to do is to ask someone going in if they would not mind signing you in too. There are quite a few first class lounges which allow this. If you’d rather not ask a stranger for a quick favor, you can pay to get access yourself. This can cost between $30 – $50. You may prefer to get annual membership and pay for each visit. Some plans allow you to have access to 700 lounges worldwide. If you have a long wait while in transit, this is really worth it. These lounges are usually very comfortable and you will have access to better food, showers and also quiet areas if you need to sleep.

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4. Cut down on walking

Airports tend to be large places and sometimes you have to walk miles. If you are elderly or have some disability, you can apply for wheelchair assistance for you or a family member. It makes life so much easier at the airport and also speeds things up considerably. You can apply for it when you purchase your ticket. Nobody is going to ask you for a medical certificate. Remember this is a great time saver if you have a tight connection. There are short cuts for wheelchairs!

5. Dine at the airport

If time permits or if you check in extra early, consider dining at the airport restaurants instead of having to put up with a doubtful plane meal. Airport restaurants are improving. It is also more cost effective and can help with jet lag. Just think, you can have a comfortable seat and plenty of elbow room for cutting your steak!

Another option is to bring your own food on board which is usually healthier.

Some people recommend bring frozen food on board so that they can have it during the flight. Apparently frozen food gets through security without problems, according to frequent fliers. Not for me!

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6. Find a quiet place

If you are not in a first class lounge, it might be difficult to find a quiet spot. However, look for a religious symbol and follow that. Airport chapels of various denominations are usually provided. They are almost always very quiet. You can sleep or meditate there. Airports in the Middle East tend to have public shower facilities near the chapels or prayer rooms. Frankfurt airport has several chapels catering to Jewish, Christian and Muslim travelers.

7. Bond with your kids

Get the kids off their gadgets. If you have kids and are worried about how to keep them entertained for the long wait, encourage them and your significant other to switch off all devices. Playing cards, reading books out loud, or playing simple games like I Spy, can help to bond with your kids. If everybody is on their smartphone, this is not possible.

8. Use your frequent flier air miles wisely

When you work it all out, business class flights are the best and most economical way to use those air miles, especially where long haul flights are involved. Redemption rates on a business class return flight Sydney/London/Sydney works out at 4.52 cents per point. The same flight in economy class works out at 1.33 cents for each point. It is well worth checking out sites like iFLYflat to make sure you are getting the best value. Also, going business class will make your airport stay much more pleasant.

9. Plan ahead

Planning ahead can make the airport experience a much more positive and hassle-free one. Check out the airline’s policy on carry on luggage and actually measure the case before you leave home. Better safe than sorry. Checking in online and choosing your seat either from your PC at home or your smartphone is going to make things a lot easier when you actually get there. You can spend that extra time relaxing, by going shopping and eating.

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10. Preparing for the security check

You know what is going to happen here. You can prepare for it with your choice of attire however. You can wear trousers which do not need a belt. Choose slip-on shoes and also remember that your socks should be in good condition so that you do not pick up a nasty foot fungus while waiting for your shoes to come through. Check out this guide for more details on making it all stress free.

11. Prevent luggage theft

One way to do this is to pack a gun and declare it. Another alternative is to pack a toy pistol (still needs a declaration) but no license, of course! It actually does not get special treatment because it just needs to be securely locked. So it really does work in stopping the airport luggage thieves at least. But think twice about this if you are travelling from or to a state which has strict gun laws. Examples are New York, Hawaii, California and Illinois. You could end up in prison!

12. Sleep at the airport.

You must be joking! Well, I am not actually, because there are passengers who prefer to do this, rather than stay at a hotel and get up at the crack of dawn. They are saving on the hotel bill. Also emergencies and bad weather may force you to have a long overnight layover. They say that London’s Stanstead airport looks like a refugee camp every night. People complain bitterly that there is not enough seating when they arrive at 10.p.m. If you decide this is for you, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Bring a travel mattress
  • You will be asked why you are there. Have your ticket ready.
  • Pack your eye shades and ear plugs
  • Ensure you have snacks and bottled water with you
  • Post its to stick on yourself to ask people to wake you at the right time
  • Dress in layers as some foreign airports can get too cold or hot

13. Watch movies at the airport

It’s a long wait so why not watch a movie. You will need your laptop and a USB flash drive. At the touchscreen kiosks, you can download your favorite film on the drive and load it on to your laptop. These are not available at all airports in the US yet. Digiboo and iTunes are the most popular ones at the moment.

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14. Enjoy some terminal shopping

Take advantage of samples of lotions and hand creams to hydrate your skin. You are going to need it if you have arrived from a long flight. Zero cost and gives you a chance to explore the whole shopping scene.

15. Relax and enjoy the airport

Head for one of the airport bars and grab a drink. This is great for people watching if you are travelling alone, and can be great fun. Just relax with a drink and help to pass the time. If you are feeling sleepy, you can always crash out for a few hours at a YOTEL pod or next-generation cabin. Not every airport has these but Heathrow at Terminal 4 has one. You can stay overnight for £56. There are also lots of other things to help pass the time such as visiting a spa, getting a massage or even visiting an art gallery. Now, who said airports were boring?

Featured photo credit: Prague Airport/Nicola via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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