You’ve been counting down the days until you’re able to depart on your luxurious week-long vacation, but there’s one thing you’re not looking forward to… Navigating the airport!

Airports are busy places and if you’re not a seasoned traveler, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. But instead of sending yourself into a panic, let’s make traveling by plane a bit easier for you.

Today we’re sharing nine essential airport travel tips to ensure your next vacation is as stress-free as possible and so you can become an airport pro.

1. Know Where the Airport is Located & Plan Your Route

If you aren’t a frequent traveler, there’s a good chance it’s been a long time since you’ve been to the airport (if you’ve even been at all). Since you don’t want to risk being held up and missing your flight, it’s smart to know where the airport is ahead of time. This way, you can plan out your route and know how long the drive will take.

Plug the airport’s address into Google Maps and check out the different routes available to you. Which one will be best to get you to the airport on time? Is there one you’re familiar with and thus more comfortable driving? Your commute doesn’t have to be stressful — the easier and more efficient it is, the better.

2. Double-Check the Size of Your Luggage

The size of the luggage you bring along will likely depend on where you’re traveling to and how long you’ll be gone. Some trips will just require more luggage than others. And one of the most important airport travel tips to offer up is knowing the size and weight of your luggage ahead of time. 

If you’re going on a short trip and hope to just bring a carry-on, make sure you check with the airline’s regulations regarding luggage. Each one is just a little different and you want to make sure the carry-on you bring won’t wind up needing to be checked instead. It’s also smart to weigh your luggage with a digital scale so you can ditch some stuff or be prepared for overweight fees.

3. Pack Liquids Accordingly

Speaking of your luggage, you also need to make sure you’re appropriately packing any liquids that you’re bringing along. According to TSA, passengers are allowed to bring one quart-size bag to hold gels and liquids. This includes your toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. Not only does everything need to fit into this quart-size bag, but your liquids also need to be in bottles that are 3.4 ounces or less. Make sure you get travel bottles and decant your products beforehand!

Also, don’t bury your liquids deep inside your suitcase. Put them on top or in an outside pocket when you go through security. It’ll be much easier on you and the TSA agents.

4. Check-In Beforehand Online

Many airlines will allow you to check into your flight online 24 hours beforehand. Create a notification on your phone to remind you to do this if you’re worried you’ll forget. This way, you’ll be able to check-in and, depending on your airline, choose your seat for the flight early.

5. Wear Something Comfortable

Whether it’s a short or a long flight, you’re still going to be traveling for a while, so you might as well be comfortable. Think about it… You have the drive to the airport, waiting to board your flight, the flight itself, and then the trip to your final destination. It’s probably not the best time to wear something uncomfortable, like a suit or formal dress.

Wear something that you’re going to feel good about being in for hours while sitting in a small chair. You don’t want to be fidgeting with your clothes or trying to change on the plane. Come prepared with a comfy, cozy outfit instead. Having a hoodie on hand is a great idea as well since it’ll come in handy if the plane is cold.

6. Arrive at the Airport Early

You never know what could be standing in the way of you making your flight. Traffic might be bad, you may have trouble finding parking, or you could get stuck in long lines. To ensure you arrive with plenty of time to prepare for your flight, make sure you arrive early.  

Ideally, you’ll want to arrive 90 minutes early for domestic flights and about three hours early for international flights. Then, you’ll have plenty of wiggle room should something take longer than anticipated. Plus, you may have some time left to grab a bite to eat before your flight takes off.

7. Always Have Your Boarding Pass Ready

Thanks to technology, it only takes a few taps on a smartphone to pull up just about any information we need. As a result, many people rely on their phones to present their boarding passes at the airport. But what do you do when technology fails? What if the Wi-Fi at the airport isn’t working correctly or your phone battery dies?

One of our airport travel tips is to be prepared for situations like this. Have your boarding pass printed out just in case of a technology fail. If Wi-Fi isn’t cooperating, a screenshot of your boarding pass saved on your phone will work too. And it never hurts to have additional screenshots of your identification like your license or passport.

8. Have Something to Keep You Entertained

If you’ve listened to these airport travel tips, you will have arrived at the airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure and then you have the flight itself. You’re going to need something to keep you entertained, otherwise you’ll wind up staring at the seat in front of you for ages. Bring a book or download a movie to keep yourself busy before (and during) the flight.

9. Always be Polite to Airport Employees

Kindness really does go a long way. While it may not always get you an upgrade or some sort of perk, other people do appreciate a smile and a compliment. Airport employees deal with a lot of grumpy passengers on a daily basis and it never hurts to have a positive attitude.