9 airport travel hacks for the frequent flier

I travel quite a lot. In recent years, I’ve become accustomed to airport life as an integral part of my work routine, whether I’m traveling to the cities where I host Bossed Up Bootcamp or flying to speak at colleges and companies. As I prepare for next year’s Bossed Up Book tour, I’m sure my flight schedule will only pick up, too!

Lots of people complain about being a “road warrior,” and understandably so. Airports are stress hubs, hotel life gets lonely real quick, and there’s nothing actually glamourous about spending less than 24 hours in a new city. But over the years I’ve learned some MAJOR lessons on how to actually love work travel – even in the airport!

Here are my top airport hacks to handle work travel like a boss. And hey – don’t leave me hanging. Let me know what best practices you would add to this list, or if you try these out, how they work for you!

Always keep a packed bag …

… of toiletries! While I’m not one to keep a fully-packed suitcase (which seems like a bit much), I bit the bullet and bought two of all my must-have toiletries. How awful is it when you forget your toothbrush or bobby pins?! Going without while you’re on the road is a pain, and I got plain fed-up with running to CVS while on the go.

Now I always keep my dopp kit packed so I don’t need to think twice and can just throw it into my suitcase and rest assured that my must-have’s are all there.

Stock up on creature comforts

Along with my toiletries, I try to always have a few creature comforts on hand.

Trail mix or a protein bar is a total life-saver and instant hanger-helper when you’re desperate for food but stuck in airport terminal food deserts.  When I was struggling with sleep issues last year, I made sure to always have packets of my favorite SleepyTime tea packed, too. And I’m always stocked up on a small supply of extra medicine I might need on the road. Ibuprofen is a must for when my body’s aching from too much time in a cramped airplane seat. My allergy meds keep me sniffle-free when I’m speaking in a city where the pollen is extra pollen-y, too.

I keep all these comfort items in my suitcase and constantly replenish them each time I return home.

Scout out security lines

Many airports – including my main one here in Denver – have one or two security lines that always move a little faster. I started picking up on this after becoming a terminal regular and realized the security line farthest to one side was always a little more lax. There’s one line at DEN where you never have to take off your shoes and you can keep your electronics all packed up.

I’m no TSA expert, so I’m not sure why this is the case, but it’s become my most reliable time-saver in the airport by far. While the crowds head towards the center security lines, I make a beeline for the one furthest to the end and I always whiz through.

Make the most of your time waiting in line to really scout out the security checkpoints ahead and see if there’s a fast lane in your next airport.

My ‘Away’ luggage

Away is a brand that actually lives up to their Instagram hype. I was originally gifted my Away Carry-On(which retails for $225) while I was the co-host of the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast last year, but I’m already considering purchasing another one on my own, too.

The bag features a truly smart, sturdy design that performs better than any carry-on luggage I’ve ever had in the past. And that’s saying something because I used to go through at least a bag a year. I’m pretty tough on my luggage, dragging them through New York City cobblestone sidewalks in The Village, dusty, sandstone curbsides in Denver, and everywhere in between.

Not only does this piece of luggage hold up and have a lifetime warranty, it also charges my dang phone! It’s got a built-in rechargeable battery that’s a total lifesaver when you’re on the go (more on this below), and it just plain looks cool to be strutting through an airport while you’re charging your phone from you bag.

Bring your own (water) bottle

You already know how strongly I believe in the benefits of staying hydrated, right? Well, when it comes to air travel, this is especially vital. In such climate-controlled environments, where humidity can be as low as 10-15%, your body actually dehydrates just through respiration alone. According to Marie Claire, women can lose around 1.6 litres of water on an average 10-hour flight. Yikes!

As a total budgetnista, I loathe spending money on water, especially when I know there must be water fountains around. And with the booming number of water fountains designed specifically for filling water bottles, there’s never been a better time to bring your own with you. Just make sure you drain it before you go through security so you don’t look like a total travel rookie in the security line and hold everyone up.

I often use a small, lightweight, stainless steel travel mug to carry my morning coffee or matcha on my way to the airport, and then refill throughout the day with water from the fountain. All about that double drink deal!

Back-up batteries

I have a collection of spare battery chargers on hand from the many conferences I’ve attended. A few years back it was all the rage in corporate swag bags at conferences I was keynoting, and I stocked up! There are differing opinions on which are the best, but for me, it doesn’t need to hold some huge charge or have any fancy features. I just use mine as an emergency boost for my phone when I’m in-between outlets.

I use my mobile device a LOT more when I’m traveling for work. And you definitely don’t want to get stuck without a much-needed Yelp search or GoogleMaps directions when you need them. So whatever kind of battery you go for, the most important thing to do is to keep them fully charged while you’re home, and slip them into your backpack or purse on your way out on a trip.

Snuggle up with a Pashmina

I can’t express my love for my go-to Pashmina scarf enough. For those not familiar, “Pashmina” is technically the term for the fine wool textile that comes from Kashmir. But in the USA in recent years, it’s become synonymous for the popular design of a wide, long scarf made of almost any material. It’s especially used to describe those with the signature knotted fringe on either end.

A legit wool or cashmere pashmina is a lifesaver in over-air-conditioned airports and planes alike. When you need a blanket, it’s big enough to spread over your legs. Wish you had a pillow? Bunch it up and you’ll be dreamin’ before you know it. It’s a stylish scarf, relatively thin and compact, and yet it still keeps you warm in the changing temperatures involved with modern air travel.

Bose noise-canceling headphones

If you’re serious about travel, noise-canceling headphones are a total game-changer. As you might guess, I’m a big podcast enthusiast, and also find listening to downloaded Spotify playlists super soothing when flying. The difference between regular earbuds versus my Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones ($179 on Amazon) is like night and day.

And the best part? If the baby a few rows back is teething, or the bros one aisle up can’t stop discussing the details of their bachelor party, you won’t have to hear about it. Just don’t forget to pack a spare AA battery (which powers the noise-canceling function), because running out mid-flight is a bummer. These things spoil you pretty quick.

Commit to an airline

I went all-in on Southwest Airlines a few years back, and fly like a total VIP with them now. Their prices are unbeatable, flights run reliably on time or ahead of schedule, and I find booking through their site super easy. I think their boarding process is incredibly efficient (although it is certainly different than other airlines, so if you’re new to them, prepare yourself for a unique on-boarding). I especially appreciate their commitment to superior customer service, whether I’m on the phone re-booking with an agent or mid-flight with an attendant. They’re fun people who make a pretty un-fun industry much more pleasant.

I also earn tons of travel points with my Chase Rapid Rewards credit card, which I use for all my business expenses. That combined with my frequent flight schedule means I’m always earning “A List” status, which earns me auto-check-in perks and the ability to cut security lines like first-class ticket holders in most airports, too. For the past 2 years I’ve racked up enough points to earn their coveted “Companion Pass,” too! Whenever and wherever I fly, #BradTheBoo can tag along fo’ FREE.

Whether you choose Southwest or another airline, find the one you like best and do everything you can to stick with it. You’ll reap the rewards in a major way.

This article first appeared on Bossed Up.