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Airport hacks every traveler should know

With these 9 tips, you'll travel faster and have a more pleasant time in the airport on any trip.

With plane travel, you've got to be prepared for anything that could go wrong, and self-reliant, with everything you need in easy reach. Take the stress out of your next trip with these airport hacks. 

1. Download airport maps to plan the best layover 

Layover? Flight delay? The GateGuru app will help you find anything you need in the airport, whether it's a last-minute snack or a tip-off on where you can nab free (and safe) wifi or find comfy lounge seats.

With GateGuru, you can scroll through lists of amenities by airport, plan out where you want to go, or find the shortest path between terminals when you are crunched for time when making a connection. 

2. Wear layers on travel days

Wearing layers is a simple travel tip that bears repeating for multiple reasons: One, you never know how hot or cold the airport or the plane will be, and two, it's smart to free up some space in your luggage.

So whether your bag is close to the weight limit or you need to make room for souvenirs on your way home, layering up is the simplest way to handle things.  

3. Take along extra plastic bags

Resealable quart-sized plastic bags are magic for busy travelers: They can store anything from leftover snacks to toiletries, jewelry, and children's toys. You'll need at least one clear quart-sized bag for toiletries, if flying with a carry-on, but you'll want to bring several more. You never know when you'll need an extra bag. 

4. Snap a photo of your parking spot 

If you're using airport parking, don't rely on your memory to recall that you parked in A18. Take a photo of the sign closest to your parking spot, so you can scroll back on your phone and refresh your memory when you return from your trip. 

5. Use the check-in line closest to business travel 

On busy travel days, check-in counter lines can add stress. Some frequent flyers believe in getting in the check-in line that is closest to the line exclusively reserved for first-class and business travelers.

If the regular queue gets long, the counter agent may wave over a few standard travelers to expedite the check-in process, so proximity to that line means that you will get served faster. There's no guarantee, as this depends heavily on airline, airport, and traffic levels, but it never hurts to try. 

6. Sneak a few extra items on in a shopping bag 

With checked baggage fees standard on many flights, travelers are trying to bring more stuff than ever onto the plane. If your carry-on and personal item are full to bursting, one travel hack is to grab a shopping bag from one of the airport shops. Put your extra items in the airport shopping bag and sneak them by the gate agents, who will think you've got last-minute souvenirs or snacks.

7. Book the best seats with Seat Guru 

Do you always seem to get the eats at the back of the plane or right over the wing? Use Seat Guru to find out what are the best seats on the plane. If you're a window-seat flyer headed somewhere with great views, the app can help you determine which side of the plane will give you the best views. It will also show you the seats with a touch more legroom or power outlets, which can be an invaluable asset for students. 

8. Always take an empty water bottle 

You can't carry liquids through the security line with you, but you can take along an empty water bottle. Never chuck your bottled water at airport security. Instead, drain out the water and hang onto the bottle, then refill at water fountains once you're through security. You'll save money by reusing the water bottle, and you'll also help save the environment by reducing single-use plastic consumption. 

9. Pack your own snacks 

Why pay through the nose for a bag of trail mix at the airport when you can pack your own snacks at home and save money? Packing snacks and meals for travel days isn't just something you should do for toddlers. Every dollar you spend at the airport cuts into the amount you'll have at your destination, so it makes financial sense to plan ahead and cut costs where you can. 

Place all your travel snacks in one bag or in an easy-to-access part of your carry-on, since many security officials now want to screen your snacks. Snacks in solid packaging may be subject to extra screening or opened by airport security, so to get around this, pre-portion snacks in clear plastic bags.