Traveling to a new city or country is fun and exciting — but dealing with the hassle at the airport is not. From expensive flights and annoying fees to long lines and unexpected delays, traveling via plane can be one huge headache.
But frequent travelers and airport insiders know the secrets to saving money, time and stress when flying. Here are 23 travel tips from the experts.
1. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck Are Totally Worth It
While many travelers are enduring long waits to get through security these days, insiders are taking advantage of Global Entry ($100) and TSA PreCheck ($85) for faster screening.
“Global Entry is a must for anyone who travels internationally and includes TSA PreCheck for your domestic flights,” said frequent traveler Lee Huffman, founder of BaldThoughts.com. "Because you are what's known as a Trusted Traveler, you can skip security lines at the airport and don't have to take off your shoes or remove your 3-1-1 liquids bag."
2. Sign Up for Airline Rewards Programs
Even if you don’t fly often, you could benefit from signing up for an airline rewards program. After just a few flights, you might have enough miles or points to score free or low-cost travel. And you might not even have to use the same airline to redeem your miles.
“You can often fly on partner airlines using your airline's miles,” said Huffman. “In some cases, using Airline A's miles to fly on partner Airline B requires less miles than if you used Airline B's miles for the same flight."
3. Take Advantage of Airport Lounges
Airport lounges aren't just for the rich and famous.
“Many credit cards and airline loyalty programs provide free or discounted access to airport lounges,” said Huffman.
Not only do these lounges allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport to relax before your flight, but you can also enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks. Call your credit card company ahead of time to see if you're eligible for entrance.
4. Pack an Empty Water Bottle
The best airport travel tips save you both money and time.
Instead of having your water bottle thrown out by the TSA, or having to stop and buy a $5 water bottle at the food court, pack an empty bottle to stay hydrated. Airports have water fountains where you can fill up before your journey — for free.
5. Clear Your Cookies Before You Book a Flight
If you've ever searched online for a flight and then waited an hour or so to purchase, you might have seen the price increase. The culprit could be your cookies. After all, internet browsers track your activity online, and some booking sites might increase the price depending on demand.
To avoid this situation, travel pros suggest clearing your cookies or using a private browser when booking a flight. You might just be able to score a lower rate on your next trip.
6. See If You Can Gate-Check Your Bags
More and more airlines are making baggage fees the norm — and charging $25 or more per checked bag. One way to avoid baggage fees — and the hassle of flying with carry-on luggage — is to check a small bag at the gate.
Most airlines don't charge to check carry-on bags at the gate, but you should check before heading to the airport to avoid surprises. Along with saving you money, this airport tip can help keep you comfortable during the flight. Instead of stuffing a bag under your feet, you can save this valuable space for a more crucial commodity — your legs.
7. Fly on a Tuesday for the Best Deals
The weekend is prime travel time for many people, which can mean higher prices and larger crowds. For the best travel deals, fly on a Tuesday. Additionally, you should consider booking a flight that leaves at a non-peak time, such as early in the morning or late at night.
8. Four Wheels Are Better Than Two
The luggage you travel with matters, and having four wheels can be better than two. This way, you can avoid dragging your bag and push it in front of you instead.
Additionally, bags with four wheels allow you to navigate tight spaces and maintain better control over your luggage. The end result is that you can get through the airport faster.
9. Download Your Airline’s App
One easy travel tip that can make air travel easier: Download your airline’s app. In most cases, you can enjoy paperless boarding and get real-time updates on any flight delays, changes or updates. As an added bonus, having a mobile boarding pass can help you save time — and some trees.
10. Spend Money to Save Money
While airport shops have a reputation for jacking up prices, travelers can occasionally score good deals. Some states, such as Oregon, have no sales tax. If you’re thinking of shopping at the airport, compare prices online and check tax laws before you travel.
11. Pick an Aisle Seat
Planes can be cold, and the temperature tends to drop even lower by the window. In fact, cold air can leak right through the window glass at high altitudes.
Opt for an aisle seat to stay warm on your next flight. As a bonus, you won’t have to climb over anyone to go to the bathroom.
12. Get Social
One of the best travel tips for saving money is to get social. Follow various airlines, airports and airline booking sites on social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to score promo codes, discounts and insider tips.
13. Know Your Airport Code
Before arriving at the airport, learn your airport code or the three letters that refer to your destination, such as LAX. After all, some cities have multiple airports, and your luggage tags can get mixed up if you’re not sure where you’re headed.
Read More: The Best Time to Book Your Travel Plans
14. Get a Rewards Credit Card
If you like flying with a particular airline, it might make sense to get an airline rewards credit card. Often, these airline-based cards can have generous sign-up bonuses and offer perks like discounted travel, early boarding and access to airport lounges.
“If you have great credit and do not have any spending problems, you can sign up for credit cards to earn hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles, so your upcoming trips are all free or heavily discounted,” said Eric Rosenberg, travel hacker and founder of Personal Profitability.
15. Don’t Wrap Your Gifts
If you're going home for the holidays, think twice about wrapping your gifts ahead of time. After all, airport security might decide to unwrap your items to get a look inside. Save yourself the hassle by putting your family's presents in gift bags.
16. Volunteer to Go on a Later Flight
If you’re not in a rush to get to your destination, consider volunteering to get bumped off a crowded flight. Many airlines offer vouchers to people who give up their seats. In some cases, these offers are worth more than the original flight costs.
17. Mix and Match Flights
To get the best deals on flights, consider nixing the round-trip ticket in favor of two one-way tickets. One airline might have the cheapest departing option, while another might offer the most affordable return. You can purchase two one-way tickets on different airlines to save cash for souvenirs at your destination.
18. Make Copies of Important Paperwork
Travelers need to keep track of various documents, including airline tickets, passports, itineraries, hotel reservations and driving directions. As a result, it's easy for important items to get lost in the shuffle.
To ensure you have all of your required documents, make copies of the most important pieces of paperwork and keep them in your luggage.
19. Bring a Spare Plastic Bag for Toiletries
Per TSA guidelines, your toiletries should be stowed in a separate bag for screening. However, those bags can break or get dirty during your travels. Bring a spare resealable plastic bag for toiletries for your next flight.
20. Keep Your Laptop Easily Accessible
When you go through security, you typically have to take out your laptop for screening. To move through the line quickly, keep your laptop in an easily accessible location, so you’re not digging for it while in line.
21. Check for Free WiFi
If you have time to kill at the airport, you might start browsing on your phone to stay busy. Instead of eating up all your data, check the airport website ahead of time to see if it offers free WiFi. If not, you might be able to browse for free while visiting one of the airport restaurants or bars.
22. Bring a Portable Phone Charger
Your smartphone could be your No. 1 travel tool. After all, it lets you access directions, view your mobile boarding pass, answer emails and communicate with others before and after your flight.
While most airports have charging stations, they can often be crowded. Instead of fighting the crowd, bring your own portable phone charger so you’re never out of juice.
23. Use the My TSA App
Using the My TSA app, you can get answers to your most pressing travel questions and assess what items you can and can't bring on flights. Additionally, you can get updates on delays, find out about cancellations and check wait times in the security line.
This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.