I know many of you may be traveling this holiday season so I know this blog post will be very helpful for you. I’ll be spending part of the holidays down south with my boyfriends family. I plan to use these hacks to make our airport experience seamless. The airport is often a hectic place, especially around the holidays. Here are 20 of the best airport hacks that savvy travelers use to make their travel experience smooth.

1. Bring an empty water bottle 

Since there is a 3.4 oz liquid restriction through airport security, I recommend packing an empty water bottle like the Finesse Fitness Water Bottle. Majority of airports have fill up stations where you can fill up your bottle. That way you can stay hydrated and save money because you won’t have to buy an expensive bottle of water at an airport shop.

2. Place your laptop in an accessible place

Unless you are a TSA pre-check member, you’ll want to have a very organized carry-on because you will be asked to take electronics out of your bag. I like to place my things in an organized sleek bag. To avoid being that person searching through your bag and causing a mess because you’re laying out everything in your bag on the table, store your laptop in its own compartment. That way you can take it out and put it back easily to keep moving swiftly.

Even outside of security, I enjoy having all the items I’ll want to use on the flight in their own compartment to avoid scrambling in the overhead bin on the plane.

 3. Place unique luggage tags on your bags

When I first started traveling with my boyfriend, he didn’t understand why luggage tags were necessary. After one trip with me, he realized that bright colored unique luggage tags make your checked bag easily identifiable, especially if you have a common color bag like black or red. No one will take your bag “by accident” with your unique tags. I also recommend using a hardcover suitcase because they are more durable, water resistant, and easy to clean.

4. Pack your portable charger

Portable chargers always come in clutch.  Whether you’re in a rush or unable to find an open outlet at the airport you will be happy you brought your portable charger. You can also it to charge your phone while on the plane just in case your seat doesn’t have an outlet. I’ve been caught on the plane with no outlet and a low battery; it’s not a great feeling.

5. Pack a scarf, neck pillow, hand sanitizer & wet wipes in your carry-on

These are my essentials for a comfortable flight. A neck pillow and scarf so I can sleep comfortably. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes for cleanliness. Use your wet wipes to wipe down your seat and table. I’m not sure how often surfaces in the plane are cleaned throughout the day so I prefer to clean the surfaces because airplanes are full of germs.

 6. Bring your own snacks 

You don’t know what they will serve on the plane and you may not have time to grab food in the airport. I always bring snacks. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t fly without lemon heads. They always helped with the feeling of my ears popping and were my favorite candy. Now I fly with healthier snacks but I’ll always cherish lemon heads.

7. When entering the security check, head to the left lane

Studies show that people naturally gravitate toward the right lane. So unless the left lane is much longer than the right, choose the left lane. Don’t believe me observe the security line next time you’re at the airport.

8. Get yourself prepared to go through security before you hit the front of the line

Don’t wait until you get to the front of the line to take your jacket off and remove your phone, keys, and loose change out your pockets

 9. Check in 24-hours before your flight

Check in beforehand and print your ticket out or download your electronic ticket on your phone. That way you can bypass the check in line. If you’re checking a bag, since you have your ticket already, you can simply print your baggage tag and leave your bag at the baggage drop.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free upgrade

Traveling alone or letting the airline staff know that you’re celebrating a special event, such as a birthday or honeymoon, can make it easier to get a free flight upgrade. Just ask, the worst they can say is no. Doing this, I’ve gotten free drinks on New Year’s Eve, gotten upgraded to extra legroom seats and flew first class once.

 11. Pack an outfit in your carry on

As someone who has had their luggage misplaced, I highly recommend packing a toothbrush and outfit in your carry on just in case. One time when I was going on a cruise, my bag made it to my destination but I didn’t because I missed the connecting flight due to delays. My family and I ended up having to meet the cruise boat at another destination the following day.

 12. Wear your extra luggage

If you’re worried about your luggage being over the weight limit, consider wearing your heavier clothing through airport security. One time I put on two sweaters, a coat and my heaviest shoes so that my bag would fit the limit. I even put some clothes in the pockets of my coat. Once I passed through security, I took off all the extra clothes.

 13. Fly red-eye

Evening flights are often cheaper than earlier flights, and the airport is usually less busy at this time. Red eye flights may be tiring but if you can get some quality sleep on the plane, you’ll land and have a full day ahead of you to explore your destination.

14. Always check your flight’s status before heading to airport

I always download the app of the airline I’m flying and set up text message alerts. That is the fastest way to learn about a flight delay or gate change. Checking your flight’s status before leaving home can give you a quick heads up of what to expect.

15. Take a photo of your checked luggage & make a photocopy of your passport

For safety precautions, I like to take pictures of my checked luggage and carry a photocopy of important documents such as a passport. That way if you need airline staff to locate your bag quickly, not only can you describe it but also you can show them. If you unfortunately lose your passport or it’s stolen, having a photocopy will alleviate a lot of issues when traveling back home.

16. Book an early morning flight to avoid turbulence

Inclement weather usually happens during the afternoon and night, so aim to book an early morning flight if want to avoid turbulence. Also, seats in the middle of the plane near the wing tend to experience the least amount of movement.

17. Identify where you should pick up your luggage when taking connecting flights

Your luggage does not always go directly to your final destination. I try to avoid connecting flights when possible. However when I do take one I make sure to ask the airline staff where I should pick up my luggage.

18. Have all your information organized for immigration

To avoid any unnecessary delays and have a seamless arrival, be sure to make a good impression at immigration. I like to have a hard copy of my flights, hotel reservations, visas etc. on hand to show just in case.

19. Sneak your stuff into a shopping bag

If you’re struggling to adhere to the one carry-on and one personal item rule, you could buy something at the airport store and stuff your extra items in that bag. Don’t worry about the agents at the gate. They won’t question the amount of bags you have when they see that your extra bag is a shopping bag.

20. Maximize long layovers by exploring the city you’re in

When my boyfriend and I traveled to Thailand, it was most cost efficient to have a 9-hour layover in Dubai. We hired a private tour guide and saw all the highlights during that time. This was one of the best experiences of my life. I highly recommend booking long layovers in cities you’ve always wanted to explore.