Airport Tips: 10 Hacks to save time and money

Security, check-in lines, finding the right gate, losing luggage… Airports are probably the least interesting and most stressful part of travel. Still, they are also something most backpackers will have to deal with on every trip.

You can’t avoid them but you can avoid paying more than you should and wasting time, with these Airport tips.

10 Airport Tips

1. Check-in online and screenshot your boarding pass

Avoiding check-in lines by already having a boarding pass will save you time. It also means, if you are traveling with other people that you should get seats allocated together. Being the last to check in at the airport means you get what you get.

As we travel we don’t always have 3G access (due to roaming charges) and airport wi-fi is also sometimes unreliable or comes at a premium. Finding out that your boarding pass email, that you thought you downloaded, actually is still on the server, is a shitty situation.

Once you have checked in online, take a screenshot of the full pass so it is in your photos. If you have access to a printer then a printed copy is often more convenient anyway.


2. Re-confirm your flight on the day

Finding out that your flight time has been moved could mean a lengthy wait at the airport. Always double check the flight time online for last minute changes.


3. Never lose your luggage again – Get a GPS tag.

Don’t rely on the airlines to get your luggage to your destination. Get a QR code luggage tag. When the tag is scanned, the device scanning it sends a GPS location to the internet that you can log in and track.

GPS QR code Luggage tag

For a more advanced product that has constant GPS contact with the internet, take a look at:

Trackdot Luggage Tracker



4. Go Carry-on only and skip check-in and baggage drop altogether

In January 2015 we ditched the big backpacks and finally went carry-on only. No more check-in lines. Less weight on our backs. A more streamlined and minimalist travel experience.

Now we get our boarding pass online and just walk straight to the security line when we get to the airport. This saves us time, effort and baggage fees (for budget carriers that charge checked baggage fees). It also means we always know where our stuff is and we don’t have to wait to collect from the carousel at the other end.

There are also some unique challenges to carry-on only. Read our complete guide to becoming a travel minimalist (Coming Soon).


5. Fold up water bottle.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the ban on taking water through security is more about airport revenue than it is about safety. With bottled water inside the departure lounge costing a fortune, having a fold up bottle means you can easily slip through security and then fill up the other side.

Some budget flights also charge for water in the air, so fill up before you board.

In airports without drinking fountains, you can ask at the fast food places to fill your bottle or head to the bathrooms (check there is no sign saying the water is unsafe).

The Vapur Element fold up water bottle packs down incredibly small and is made of durable material.


6. Take your own zip lock bags for liquids.

They sometimes charge for these at airports now. Also, having all your liquids pre packaged and near the top of your bag, ready to whip out quickly, will save you time and stress in the security line.


7. Don’t queue to get on the plane – unless its Ryanair

With most airlines, standing in line to board is unnecessary effort. Sit back, relax, get some wifi time in and wait until the plane is almost full before going to board.

The only time where this won’t work so well is if the airline has a quota on cabin bags – then your bag may end up in the hold.


8. Look before you leave

I left a coat in Sydney airport. A hat on a flight into portugal and almost two sweaters on a flight to Marrakech (I had to run back out on the tarmac – security were not impressed!)

It can happen to anyone. When you are being pressured to run to the gate, or everyone is cramming to get off the plane, it’s easy not to double check you have everything. Take a breath and do a scan in the overhead bins and on seats before you leave.


9. Make security a breeze – have a process

Put everything from your pockets in your bag except your passport and boarding pass. Have your laptop and toiletries bag ready to pull out easily. Make a mental note of everything like belts and sunglasses that you have to take off.

Then, bam! Straight through the security scan first time, in seconds.


10. Airport apps

Of course there is an app! Actually there are two great apps every air traveller should have.

FlightAware Flight Tracker (free; iOS, Android) – Tracks flights live. Real time locations of all commercial flights. Know if your flight is delayed before the airport even announces it.

GateGuru (free; iOS, Android): from tripadvisor, help plan your airport experience automatically. From gate and check in information to weather conditions at the airport and restaurant reviews.



Airport sorted? Whats next…

Get more backpacking travel tips that will help you travel like a pro once you touch down.


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About The Author


Tommo is a world nomad, pizza addict and travel pro. A bus ticket and a backpack are all he needs to get by. From kissing a crocodile in Thailand to dancing on tables in Greece, Tommo is living the dream and then writing about it.

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