Getting over the awkward first time

For virgin travelers, the first trip abroad can be overwhelmingly intimidating. If you’re a veteran, you probably remember the feeling well. The panic you experienced when going through security. Do I take off my shoes? Remove my sweater? Can they see me naked?

But just as you overcome new obstacles nearly everyday, you will emerge at your new destination as an experienced traveler. So in an attempt to avoid standing out as a rookie jet-setter, here are some tips to effortlessly blend in.

Pack wisely

There are innumerable airlines, each with a luggage policy different than the next. It’s important to pack wisely (i.e. as little as possible) to avoid paying overage charges. Does the airline charge for checked bags? How much? How many carry ons are you allowed? These are important things to know before you board. Make sure you check the airline’s website for specifics. Just as important to understand are the carry on policies. TSA guidelines are strict. I’ve made the embarrassing mistake of forgetting to put my liquids into a bag, only to have the security officer rummage through my bag (and underwear) to pull out my facewash and throw it away with gusto, angrily telling me to do it right next time. Buy airline friendly products (found in any travel section) and remember to put them in a ziploc bag.

Check in early

As big a pain flying can be, it really couldn’t be simpler these days. We can do everything online, from buying our ticket to printing the boarding pass, so take advantage of these opportunities. This advice is especially important if you fly Southwest, which has a sort-of “sit where the person looks least angry” policy. The later you check in, the later you board the plane. Check in early to get a better position and print your boarding pass in advance to save time at the airport.

Be prepared

There is one inevitable truth you will come across when galavanting through an airport: people are impatient. From the guards to the travelers to the check-out clerks, people just want you to be on your way. When going through security, be prepared. Have your boarding pass and ID or passport ready when you are called forward. Have items that need to be placed through security stored separately, such as liquids and laptops, in an easily accessible place.

Rack up those frequent flyer miles

Now that you are traveling like a pro, it’s time that your frequent flyer account reflect it. Always remember to redeem your frequent flyer miles no matter what airline you fly. And if you want, take advantage of credit cards that award frequent flyers.

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