Airport Survival Guide : 10 Things Travellers Need to Keep in Mind

Airport LanternsPhoto Credit: Jim Epler

Have you ever been delayed because your hand-carry luggage was overweight, or because you forgot to pack your liquid essentials properly? Airport security has become much stricter than ever, so whether it’s to your fave local summer getaway or country-hopping around the world, you should prepare well for the trip, starting with airport ground rules. If we hadn’t followed these tips last spring when we went to the Grand Canyon dory, then things would have been a nightmare. These handy tips will help you make your comings and goings as stress-free as possible.

 1. Pack smart, travel light.

Sometimes international airport personnel will open your bags for further inspection, and when that happens, you don’t want your stuff spilling out for everyone to see! If you can barely zip up your luggage, you might want to reorganize its contents or take some items out. Check the weather forecast for your destination so you can plan your outfits better. Put your underwear in a discrete compartment and your loose items in one kit, then place your footwear–especially closed shoes–on top of everything. Gift-wrapped items may need to be opened for inspection, so it helps to wait before wrapping them.

 2. Hand-carry tips.

As a general rule, liquids, aerosols, and gels are only allowed in 100-ml, roughly 3 oz., containers each and should be placed in clear, resealable plastic bags measuring 20cm x 20cm. The bag must hold a maximum total of only 1 liter, or at most 10 100-ml containers. Just to be on the safe side, put your lip gloss, perfume, mascara, and other liquid makeup in one Ziploc bag as your temporary make-up kit.Take note that this rule only applies to carry-on bags; you can put all the rest in your check-in luggage. As for the rules regarding baggage dimensions and weight limits, they may vary from airline to airline, so it’s best to check with your particular aircraft carrier service for any specific policies. Keep in mind that sharp objects such as nail files and scissors are only allowed in check-in luggage, as are items like umbrellas.

 3. Declare all “questionable” items.

If you’re on prescription meds, always carry them in their labeled containers because many countries have strict laws against drug trafficking–and, yes, this includes medication. Also, if you really need to bring liquids in larger quantities in your hand-carry luggage, such as baby food or contact lens solutions, inform airport security. The United States Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)  has a very handy website that specifically lists the kinds of items that are allowed or not allowed.


Apart from one piece of carry-on luggage, you’re allowed to bring one more item on board. This includes any one of the following: laptop (plus bag), purse or small backpack, briefcase, or camera case. Laptops and other electronics may have to be removed from their cases and screened separately during inspection, so it’s best to put all of them in one compartment for easy reach. If you’re carrying undeveloped film, don’t put it in your check-in luggage because the X-ray machine will destroy it.


Aside from mini-toiletries, bring extra resealable bags for your hand-carry liquids, plastic or waterproof bags for dirty/wet clothes, an umbrella or jacket in case of bad weather, candy or dry snacks for hunger pangs during long flights, a foldable bag in case you have no more room for souvenirs, and a small wallet or coin purse for your airport fees and miscellaneous charges. If you’re bringing electronic gadgets with you, bring your own chargers plus a universal adapter plug. For international flights, activate your mobile provider’s GPS or roaming service before leaving, and make sure you have enough credits for emergency calls while you’re abroad.


It’s not a crime to look good, but you might want to save the bling and the lace-up boots for when you get to your destination. Airport security may need you to remove your belt, watch, and anything that has a substantial metal content. You’re also required to remove your shoes, so it’s better to wear something you can easily slip off and put back on. You don’t want to be stuck re-tying your shoelaces when you’re already running late!


Including travel taxes and fees in your budget is a must, especially for international flights, because these can cost you a lot. Familiarize yourself with the fees of the respective airports you’ll be passing through, and prepare the exact amounts in advance so you won’t have to rummage through your bag for change.



How many times have we narrowly (or worse, completely) missed our flights because we didn’t expect the heavy traffic or the long lines at the check-in counter? Now is not a good time to be late! Experts recommend arriving at least 2 hours before your flight. The day before your departure or at least a few hours prior, confirm your flight schedule and check if there are any last-minute changes or cancellations.


If you’re traveling alone, keep in mind that the security personnel in some international airports may be extra wary of lone female travelers. Dressing conservatively and maintaining an aura of poise and confidence will help you avoid awkward run-ins with airport security. Also, keep your passport, IDs, and boarding pass within easy reach.


Sometimes, travel plans get messed up because of various unforeseen circumstances–flight delays or cancellations, travel alerts, even natural calamities. Never board a plane without informing at least one person of your flight itinerary and contact numbers. If you’re stuck in an airport, make sure you can easily contact someone who can help you. Have your travel agent’s contact number on hand in case something goes wrong with your flights. But most of all, don’t let your paranoia ruin your whole trip! Bon voyage!