The Best Hacks Airports don't want you to Know!
Secrets to an easy airport experience
Airports can be very stressful.
They are crowded, busy, fast-paced, and expensive. Travelers are running to catch flights, kids are screaming, and no one is watching where they are walking because they are looking for their gate.
It seems like no one knows what they are doing or where they are going, walking in every direction. You often need to walk very far or even take a train to get to different terminals, and it can be loud and chaotic!
This is no way to start or end a vacation. With these airport hacks, you will roam the airport stress free!
You may also be interested in reading the top airplane travel mistakes. Continue reading for more on the best hacks airports don’t want you to know.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
1. Exchanging money
This is one of the best hacks airports don’t want you to know. When going to a different country, you are likely to need to exchange money, unless you have an international credit card. But, still probably a good idea to get some cash out, just in case!
You will see currency exchange stations throughout the airport- do not use these! Instead, exchange your money at the ATM using your debit card.
The exchange rate and fees will be much better than if exchanging at a station at the airport.
You often will only be able to take out a certain amount of cash per transaction, but you can make as many ATM transactions as needed. You will save yourself a ton of money this way, and avoid the airport exchange traps! Plus, lines at the ATM will be much shorter.
Make sure you let your bank know ahead of time that you are traveling to a different country, so you transactions don’t get flagged as spam. Or, take out cash ahead of time at your local bank, but be careful not to lose it!
2. Lounge access
Many bank cards or airplane loyalty cards offer free or discounted access to lounges.
If you have never been in an airport lounge, it is amazing! You get free, unlimited alcoholic beverages, buffet style meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and there are often showers and sofas you can use.
Using the lounge can be much cheaper than getting a hotel for a night, so see what the hours are like at the airport you are at.
3. Don't eat airport food
If you decide not to use the lounge, try to avoid eating the airport food.
Food at airports are getting increasingly more expensive, and less tasty. It is understandable if you need to buy something to eat, however, if you decide to do this, shop around.
Find restaurants with fresh food and with many people eating there. This will give you a good indication that the food is at least half-decent. Check their faces too, to see if they are happy!
You may also want to bring your own snacks! We like to use this portable and stackable snack organizer, as it is easy to pack in your carry on, and holds all your snacks in one spot! Here are some other top carry on items you should bring to the airport with you!
You can also buy food on the way to the restaurant, and eat it once you get there to save some extra money.
4. Water is free
There is no reason you should be spending $5 on a disposable water bottle at the airport. Plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, are a waste of money, and are overpriced at the airport anyway!
Bring your own water bottle, and fill it up at the water fountain after you get through the security line. There are many filtered water bottle stations in airports nowadays, so you won’t have to worry about the water being contaminated.
Drinking water on a plane is especially important for your health, as it is very easy to get dehydrated on an airplane. Make sure you fill up your water bottle to the brim before you board! Here are some more information on what to do before boarding a plane.
5. Park at a nearby hotel
This is one of the best hacks airports don’t want you to know. Parking at the airport can be extremely expensive. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to park, book a nearby hotel.
The hotel does not need to be anything fancy, especially if you are not staying overnight. However, if the airport you are flying from is far from your house or hotel, staying a night near the airport can be a great tip if you have an early morning flight! Plus, they might have a pool or jacuzzi to enjoy the night before! Also, hit up the breakfast buffet (if available) before your flight, and put some fruit in your carry on bag for later!
Try to find a hotel that offers a free airport shuttle, so you can save on an Uber or taxi.
If you cannot find any good hotel deals nearby, you can get up to a 20% discount using Park N’ Fly!
6. Airport Parking Tips
If you do decide to park at the airport, take a picture of where you parked. Sometimes the shuttle driver will give you a card with information on where you parked, but this can be easily lost. Take a picture of this too, just in case!
Take a photo of the area around your car, the cars (and license plates) of cars next to you, and the row number. If your car has mysterious scratches, gets broken into, or has dents, you will at least have the information of nearby cars to reach out to.
You will inevitable forget where you parked at the end of your vacation, so this will save you from running around the parking lot on a wild goose chase! Additionally, if something happened to your car while you were gone, you have the license plates of those around you, just in case!
7. Find you own ride
When you arrive at your destination, there may be employees running up to you asking if you need a ride.
Kindly reject the offer, and save yourself a ton of money! These offers are often extremely more expensive than other companies in the area. Workers know tourists getting off planes are looking for quick rides (especially in big cities), so they will try to get to you first.
Do your research, and find the best reviewed driving service available. Check and see if your airport has a free shuttle ride, or if all else fails, take an Uber.
8. Check in early
Most airlines nowadays allow travelers to check in 24-48 hours in advance. Keep an eye on your email for an invite to check in. Checking in online is super easy, and only takes a few minutes.
This will save you time when you get to the airport, as you will already have your boarding pass.
You will not need to fumble around with paper copies of your boarding pass, with risk of losing them! Simply add them to your wallet on your iPhone. I also take a screen shot of the boarding pass, just in case the internet isn’t working, or maybe I’m just paranoid!
Additionally, checking in early gives you a better chance of getting good seats on the airplane with your whole party together, or as close as possible.
9. Avoid bag checking fees
This is one of the best hacks airports don’t want you to know. We personally suggest never checking a bag, as it can easily get lost or stolen. However, it is understandable why you might need to. Here is the ONLY carry on bag you will ever need, in my opinion!
If you have a bag that is slightly larger than a typically allowed carry on bag, hold onto it until you get to the gate.
Most of the time, if your bag is too large, they will check it for free at the gate. Most of the time, especially if it is a busy flight, your bag will just be overlooked. However, don’t do this if your bag is REALLY big, because then you will be stuck on the flight trying to stuff your bag in the overhead bin, and no one wants to deal with that.
Sometimes you will have to pay, but you would have had to pay anyway, so it is worth a try!
Here is a list of the top carry on items you should bring on the airplane with you!
10. Go left at airport security
For whatever reason, most people tend to go right during airport security.
If you have the choice, choose security lanes to the left as they will often be less crowded and get you through the lines quicker!
11. Bring zip lock bags
If you are going through airport security multiple times during one trip, your liquids bag might break.
This happened to me once and it was a disaster getting all my belongings together again.
Save the stress and embarrassment and have some extra bags handy just in case there is a mishap.
I have been using this liquids bag and it has held up very well so far!
I recommend this portable charger all the time (you’ve probably seen it on our other posts!), because it truly is awesome and something every traveler needs.
This charger goes on sale all the time, and is small enough to pack away when not in use.
Outlets at airports are often taken, as everyone wants their phone fully charged for a flight.
Get ahead of the game, and have your own charger! You can also use it on the plane if your phone dies, giving you some extra game or movie time!
13. Sneak extra luggage
This tip is especially great when coming home from your vacation.
Sometimes you buy too much and run out of room in your suitcase. What should you do? Simple.
Buy something at an airport store, and use that bag to store your extra stuff in!
Most of the time airport gate staff will think you just bought something and have no problem with you bringing it aboard, but you know the truth 😉
14. Get some peace and quiet
If your gate is getting crowded and noisy, and there are no seats or outlets left, take a look around the terminal to find an empty gate.
Make sure you are close enough to your gate to hear important announcements.
You will have the whole gate mostly to yourself, giving you a sense of calm before the flight!
You can lay down on multiple seats, charge all your devices, and do some stretching without bumping into anyone.
15. Be a clean freak
Bring a pack of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer so you don’t catch something before your vacation! Wipe down your seat at the airport, your tray table on the plane, and practically anything you touch in this germ-ridden place!
Thank you for reading the best hacks airports don’t want you to know! If you have any other tips you would like to share, please post them in the comments below- we would love to hear from you!