Don’t you feel like sometimes you’re playing some kind of insane TV game show whenever you go through airports? Except, thankfully, instead of being forced to eat frighteningly exotic cuisines, at airports, you’re forced to walk through security checks without your shoes on. That’s just the tip of the airport security check iceberg. Add the fact that you have to keep remembering the 3-1-1 rule: all passengers are limited to carry on one quart-sized zip-top bag of liquid toiletries no more than 3.4 ounces each, and you’ve got one less than enjoyable time at the airport. How do frequent travelers survive?

The first rule of airport survival is to come dressed accordingly. This means chucking the jewelry, avoiding shoes that will have you untying laces for minutes, wearing socks so you don’t catch bacteria off of the floor, and wearing jackets that do not require two other people to take off (yes, such fashionable contraptions do exist). In short, make your outfit as easy and simple so you get through security checks with your sanity intact.

The next thing you’ll want to do is arrive early. This is especially critical right around the holidays. You want to get to the airport before the security line gets populated by distracted travelers who are either too preoccupied getting a voicemail number from their mobile phones or digging into their bags for their tickets to realize they’ve gotten on the wrong security check line. Once the security lines slow down, you may just be faced with the possibility of missing your flight. So get to the airport early.

Be a 21st century traveler and avoid the lines at the check-in counters. Check-in online or ask your airline if they have self-service kiosks. Self-service kiosks allow passengers to view their itinerary, check their bags, and print their own boarding pass. You can do this by entering a reservation code, scanning a confirmation, and swiping an ID, credit card, or passport. The process should be easy and help you reach the gate early enough to get the best spot, which would be near the boarding door if you’re real excited about getting into the plane.

Always keep your IDs and travel documents within reach. You can put them inside your jacket pocket or use a lanyard that has storage for your passport, ticket, and ID. Keeping your travel documents within reach will prevent a frantic search in your bag. It’s also advisable to store your passport in wallets or holders that are designed with RFID (radio-frequency identification) blocking feature. As you know, most passports now come with RFID, which makes identification easier. Unfortunately, the technology has also made identity theft easier. Storing your passport and credit cards in RFID holders will keep you safe from enterprising people who go around airports with an RFID reader to steal identities.

Traveling is always a welcome opportunity. But the experience can sometimes be marred by a horrible time spent at the airport. Don’t let your well-planned trip get tripped up by long lines, embarrassing security checks, and missed flights. Use these survival tips.  Survive today’s airports. Ensure one happy trip.

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