Skip to Content

10 travel hacks to avoid airport stress

10 travel hacks to avoid airport stress

I have a confession.

Despite taking hundreds of flights in my lifetime, I still get really stressed about the airport. I’m fine with flying, flying doesn’t bother me in the least, but the airport turns me into an anxious, stressed wreck.

I get stressed about printing my boarding pass vs using a mobile boarding pass, getting to the airport, airport parking, being on time, about queuing to check-in my bags. I get super stressed about security – especially as a travel blogger because I have so many gadgets in my case I need to remove virtually everything to get through security. I then hate that anxious wait before you board the plane and then the fear you’ll be squished between two space hoggers or, even worse, children! (Anyone who doesn’t know, I do have two children who I fly regularly with and I love children but I flipping hate flying with them!)

Just writing this is making me feel stressed. I’m actually writing this sat at the airport waiting for a flight because I need to get this stress out somehow!

But then the plane doors shut and we all fasten our seatbelts and watch the safety demonstration and, ahhhhhh, relax. I made it. I’m on the right plane and I got through security and I’m going on holiday! It’s time to order a G&T and a four-finger KitKat and watch a film.

If you’re anything like me and also get stressed about the whole airport experience, then this post is for you. Read out to find out my top tips to make getting through the airport and onto the plane as easy as possible!



Be aware of what you need to remove from your case and what you’re not allowed

It always amazes me how many people have no idea that you’re not allowed liquids in bottles bigger than 100ml. Or that people don’t realise you need to remove those liquids from your case when you go through security.

I regularly fly from Manchester and I find that they’re the strictest here so I’ll tell you what I normally need to remove from my case to get through security:

  • All liquids
  • I’ll repeat that – you need to remove your liquids. Yes, that guy with the bottle of water. That’s a liquid.
  • Any liquids you do have need to be 100ml or less
  • That’s not a rule they’re kind of relaxed about and if you give them a cute smile and flutter your eyelashes they’ll let you get away with something bigger. 100ml or less or it’s going in the bin.
  • Lip balms
  • Any make-up that vaguely resembles liquid – like mascara
  • Hair straighteners
  • My DSLR camera
  • My GoPro
  • My laptop
  • My laptop charger
  • My power banks
  • My coat
  • My boots

Travel Hack Tip: Also be aware that you may get pulled aside if your case is messy so it can be worth organising things into packing cubes.



Organise your hand luggage

With the above information in mind, make sure you organise your hand luggage so you can easily remove all the items they’ll want out of your case at security. Not every airport is the same but at Manchester they rush you through so aggressively that people panic and often leave things in their cases.

This is why I really love The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case – the case I designed with Cabin Max. The bag has a large top compartment and a laptop compartment so you can keep everything you need to remove separate and it’s easy to whip everything out of your bag when it’s time.


Get there early

OK, this is an obvious one but it honestly makes such a difference. I used to be one of those travellers who got to the departure gate by the skin of their teeth and only just made the flight but these days I’m much more organised. I don’t get nearly as stressed if I have plenty of time to get through security and I really enjoy going for a drink before the flight and browsing the books and magazines in WHSmith!



Use Meet and Greet at the airport

I always use Meet and Greet airport parking. Unless there’s a really quick, easy and affordable public transport option I prefer to just drive because it means I don’t need to wait for anyone else. Oh God, the stress of waiting for a taxi is too much! I use Meet and Greet airport parking (the official one at airports, not budget ones as you do hear horror stories about the cars being parked on housing estates!) because it’s often not that much more expensive than the budget car parks. And if I’ve got an early morning flight or I arrive home late at night, I’d pay any amount to have my car right next to the departure doors waiting for me!



Consider an airport lounge

Did you know you can pay to enter an airport lounge – even if you’re not flying business or first class? Yes, you can be on a super cheap Ryanair flight and still use a lounge. Check out the airport website to see which lounges are available. It usually costs about £25 to enter and you get to relax in a quiet lounge where there’s usually unlimited food and drinks, newspapers and magazines, wifi and a much more relaxing atmosphere!



Download an airport map app

Check out an app like airport maps for maps of individual terminals within airports. It can get you get to your gate faster but also show you which shops, bars, cafes and restaurants are available.

This is a new tip for me because I’ve never seen the point of an airport map app before. But I regularly fly from Manchester Terminal 3 which is a horrible terminal and there’s just one coffee shop – a Costa which is always super busy. And then one day I was flying with the kids so took them for a little walk around the airport to tire them out and I realised there was a lovely little independent coffee shop just a little further along. I had no idea it was there and if I’d used the app I would have found it sooner.



Be prepared for them to take your luggage

It’s becoming more and more common for budget airlines to take your hand luggage and put it in the hold. It’s because on some flights you’ll find almost every passenger is travelling with just hand luggage and there simply isn’t space in the cabin for everyone’s bags. It doesn’t cost anything and sometimes it’s a welcome relief to get rid of a bulky case, but it can be annoying if you’ve got lots of things in your case you’d like on the plane. Which leads me to my next point…



Have your little ‘plane bag’ ready

If you’re travelling with a large cabin bag, have a bag within it with your ‘plane stuff’. So if they do take your cabin case you’ll be able to whip out your little cabin bag so you have all your things with you. I usually have my purse, phone, Kindle, water bottle, headphones and a snack in my mini cabin bag.



Use The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case (obvs)

OK, you knew I’d have to get this in here. The idea for the design for The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case started when chatting with Cabin Max about travelling. Yes, really. We went for lunch and just chatted about travelling and what we love and what we hate and what’s great and what’s stressful and what’s tough. I got chatting about basically all the things above that stress me out and it got me thinking about a suitcase that eases this stress.

The Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case has a large top compartment that has two uses:

  1. It can be used as a handbag compartment for those airlines that don’t allow a second piece of hand luggage – so it’s where you’ll store your ‘little plane bag’ with all the stuff you actually want to access on the plane.
  2. This is where you can put all the things you want to remove when going through airport security. It’s so easy to just open up the top, remove all your liquids and gadgets, and then place the whole case onto the security belt without having to rummage through the main body of your suitcase.

It’s also really big so you’ve got plenty of space for everything you could possibly need and you know it’s the perfect dimensions to fit in the overhead locker – there’s nothing worse than worrying your suitcase will be too big and you’ll have to pay for it!

There’s also a water bottle holder that conveniently doubles up as a document holder – perfect for keeping your passport and boarding pass handy.

And then there’s a back laptop compartment which is really handy too because you can access your laptop without opening up your case – so you can get it out without removing your case from the overhead lockers.

Seriously, we thought of everything!




Load up a tablet with plenty to keep you entertained

I might just be one of the only people in the world who actually loves it when my plane is delayed. I love long layovers too. The reason for this is because it gives me loads of time to do all those things I don’t get time to do at home.

I love reading books and magazines, watching films and Netflix series but I barely ever get time to just sit down and read a book. The airport is the only time I can do this without feeling guilty I should be doing something more productive.

So if you’re plane is delayed, don’t stress about it because there’s nothing you can do. Just make sure you have a tablet with loads to keep you busy and enjoy some relaxing time to catch up on your latest Netflix obsession!



7 Must-Have Travel Essentials

Thursday 27th of February 2020

[…] is stressful and at times, intense. So, it’s good to be able to shut everything off for a while and hear your own thoughts. That’s […]

Airport anxiety: 15 ways to stay calm. - Travels with Albertine

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

[…] all have different stressors that contribute to airport anxiety. Reading other bloggers such as the Travel Hack some are different from mine and others similar. Some people love to shop and have a meal, they […]

Meghan Oaks

Thursday 27th of September 2018

Great tips! I hate the airport too and can get crazy stressed.

Random question, but the stroller in one of the pictures above - which brand is it? Do you like it? We are looking to add a compact stroller to our travel gear and trying to find one that's sturdy enough for European city tours, and compact enough to travel with easily is difficult. I like the look of the one you're pushing and was wondering if you would recommend it?


Friday 28th of September 2018

Hi Meghan, I'm actually going to write a full review of this pushchair as it's great for travelling. It's the new SilverCross Jet and it folds up to a similar size to a small hand luggage suitcase so it's brilliant. It's very small and lightweight and folds beautifully. It isn't as sturdy as a bigger pushchair and doesn't handle cobbles as well - but like you - I've never found a small, lightweight pushchair that can deal with European cities perfectly but this is the best I've found. We mostly use it for my 2 year old who is always jumping in and out so it works perfectly.


Tuesday 18th of September 2018

It's amazing how different one airport can be from the next. I never remove my camera or chargers from my bag and I've never been told to. I'll have to remember not to fly out of Manchester.