With so many variables playing out before your flight even leaves the alights from the tarmac, it’s good to keep some time-saving tips in your back pocket. Here are eight tips to help make prep and departure day just another date on the calendar.
Choose a less popular day/flight time
Choose less popular days and times to fly. These are generally on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after 10 am and before 5 pm, which couple cheaper airfare and less airport/traffic congestion. Use this calculator to figure out costs.
Weigh bags before leaving
Weight limits have become stricter, baggage fees higher and some of us just can't pack less no matter how hard we try. Avoid any unnecessary stress and time by weighing the bags beforehand, using a weight scale or a device geared for it.
Cut out the hassles, suitcase Jenga or tears.
Use that phone
Not only is it possible to further streamline the check-in process at the airport by using the various free mobile applications offered by the airline, but the entire travel experience can be made that much easier by putting all important reservation info (hotels, flights, car rental etc.) into one app like TripIt or WorldMate, which gives you flight updates and gate changes in real time.
Take it a step further iPhone users with Apple Wallet. This mobile app stores credit cards, plane tickets, movie passes—virtually anything—all in the palm of your hand and at the swipe of a finger.
Give yourself plenty of time
Just because the bag is all packed and you’ve checked-in doesn’t mean you should leave at the last minute for the airport—even if this it's not your first rodeo. Traffic is unpredictable! Avoid that stress first by properly budgeting travel time to the airport, for bag-drop and security clearance.
Have an alternate route
They do say don’t put all the eggs in one basket. This also rings true for travel methods. Maybe it’s traffic; maybe it’s construction or even frustration at paying expensive tolls (especially if you are out of state and don’t have an EZ pass). Whatever the case, mapping out at least two alternate routes to the airport will allow you to always have a quick solution should an unforeseen transportation hiccup arise. (But you're not completely screwed.)
Arrange parking ahead of time
The mobile app Best Parking not only searches available convenient parking near the airport (or city for that matter), but also finds the most cost-effective options and offers in-app purchases. Cruise up to the lot and leave your vehicle without worrying about cash, cards or delays waiting in line.
Join a TSA trusted traveler program
If you haven’t heard about Global Entry or PreCheck yet, get with it. It's the best option available to take the hassle and wait times out of airport security (which we all hate). While PreCheck itself available on all airlines, there are still quite a few that are part of the program, so it’s ideal for the frequent business traveler.
Big tip: Just sign up for Nexus or Global Entry instead of PreCheck. It's a better deal.
Connect to your next flight without going hungry
Strange flight times might also cut into your normal meal times. Take care of it all at the gate before your first flight by using the B4 you Board app (it’s free and available for iOS and Android). For instance, at some airports it's possible to take advantage of dining while in a rush. Then, even if it's a short layover, you’ll still have time to pop by the restaurant to pick up some food (thus avoiding that overly-priced and not very delicious airplane food).
This may not seem like a hugely important tip for stress-free travel, but making sure the body gets quality nourishment plays a huge role in keeping happiness/energy levels high and stress/anxiety levels low. Don’t underestimate the power of crappy food – or no food for that matter.