Airports are one of my favourite places in the world. I love sitting in the cold metal chairs in the arrival hall, waiting to pick a loved one or an old friend up. I love watching the reunions, the hugs, the smiles that appear on the weary faces of travellers as they spot their family and friends waiting for them, or as they breathe in the exciting air of a foreign city.

Yet, with millions of people and heaps of flights going through an airport each day, airports can be chaotic, complicated and a little messy – especially for first time travellers.

I’ve got your back, with some hot tips for a smooth travel experience.


#1. Check-in online. Whoever came up with this idea deserves a pat or two on the back. It cuts down waiting time by 78%*.

#2. Arrive early. Because, well, duh.

#3. Keep your documents, passports, tickets and boarding passes in an easily accessible place. You don’t want to be the person that holds up the queue as you dig through your bag for all your things. Put them neatly in a separate compartment, or get one of those travel document bags!

#4. Get ready for the security checks. Try to avoid belts, shoes with metal buckles, boots that take forever to take off. Take off any chunky piercings, jewellery, belts, jackets and shoes beforehand.

#5. Check the rules for what you can and cannot take in your hand luggage. You don’t want to end up throwing out your new 200 ml perfume – and there’ll be no getting around it!

#6. Don’t lose your patience or your temper. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re cutting it fine for time and the security staff is taking forever to check your bags. Be patient and know everyone is just doing their job to ensure safety is a top priority. Rules – no matter how trivial you think they are – are there for a reason. Follow them!

#7. Hoodies. Hoodies are great for everything. They keep you warm, can be folded into a little pillow, used as a sort of mini blanket, tied around your waist to cover up that unfortunately placed coffee stain…  A sarong works amazingly too!

#8. Find out where your gate is, then get food and drinks, or go shopping. Prioritise, people! The duty free make up palette or overpriced sandwich can wait, but your flight won’t. Make sure you know where to go first, then you can explore the airport a little.

#9. Put luggage tags/ribbons/any other identifying features on your suitcase, so you can easily spot it on the bag carousel.

#10. Charge all your electronics. Finding an empty power socket can be a real challenge during peak travel times, so make sure you have your phones, Kindles, iPads, laptops all charged up. Make good use of the free WiFi at airports but keep your online security in mind! (More on that soon…)

*Not a real statistic, but sounds legit enough. It really does save you time and frustration!


Student Travel is brought to you by YHA New Zealand.

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