Might sound easy, or perhaps it sounds daunting to the unseasoned traveler. But I assure you, once you master the art of travel, you will have a much easier time getting from point A to point B, while enjoying yourself in the process. We all hate waiting in long lines, but what if it was possible for you to avoid them? Having something as simple as Global Entry (as an American) or by carefully selecting your seat in advance can be the difference between getting off or on the plane in a matter of minutes, or hours. 98% of the time, I'm the first person in line for border control. Find out what I do to stay ahead of the game in order to be able to enjoy a drink in the lounge prior to departure or an earlier nights rest upon arrival.

  1. Global Entry/Priority Pass. I'm not sure about other countries if they have something similar, but for Americans, Global Entry is key to saving yourself time with arrival and departure for domestic but especially, international flights. I find it fascinating how few American travelers actually have GE... it's free and easy to obtain, and saves oodles of time! On my Expedition, I also bought myself a Priority Pass, which cost me $100/year and granted access to hundreds of lounges around the world for $27/entry. Even if you're a backpacker, I highly recommend investing in this. It could mean the different between a missed flight, and also... doesn't it feel good to use a nice shower before your flight? Stock up on snacks and water and use the free wifi to connect with friends/family before takeoff? Trust me, it's useful.
  2. Book your seat in advance. Most flights give you the option to check in 24 hours before. Do it. Check in for your flight the day before and have your ticket on your phone and/or printed to make for a smoother process. Also, reserve your meal if you're not bringing your own... usually those who reserve a meal get theirs first, and it's also a healthier option. If you book your seat, I'd book aisle to be safe. If you've read my Health & Wellness tips, you'd know that I'm a huge advocate of hydration while flying. The more you drink, the more you have to relieve yourself which also in turn requires you to move your body and walk around. Plus, with an aisle seat you are the first one to grab your luggage and go! Some love the window, it used to be my favorite, until I started taking my health more seriously and hydrating as well as becoming more of a speed traveler.
  3. Know your weight limits/pack light. They have these great devices that you can pack with you that weigh your bag to ensure that you won't face any problems once you get to the airport. They rage anywhere from $6 bucks to $300+ . But a simple one like this one will do just fine. I've been the victim of arriving and needing to throw out a bunch of things even in my carry on because it was over the weight limit. Don't be that person. It is a hassle for you, for the flight attendants and for everyone else. Be prepared and know your limits in advance.
  4. 45 minutes for domestic, 1.5 hours for international. I like being early just as much as the next person, but I don't like being so early that I'm hanging out for an hour. On the other hand, I have missed one flight in my life due to being late, so they will leave without you. As someone who's flown over 300 times in her life, you can say I've mastered the art of travel especially when it comes to flights. The magical number I've found is arriving to the airport 45 minutes before a domestic flight (if you do not have any checked bags), and an hour and a half before an international flight. The only thing that stands between you and a missed flight, is the security lines, which is why if you're not flying business, it's important to have something like the Priority Pass for a swift TSA process. 
  5. Speed walking/stair taking. It's a race! Well, for me it is. When I've been on a 14 hour flight all I want to do is get to the hotel and shower, like most people. But the difference between them and me is I see the finish line in plain sight. Getting off the plane, even if I'm sitting all the way in the back, is a race. Once I'm off, I'm running to border control. I do not want to wait in that long line for 2 hours, so... I sprint, and I don't care. I'll run up the stairs and be the first one in line. Besides, what's a quick sprit after sitting for 14 hours? Wakes me up and feels good to get the blood flowing.

The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.

- Carl von Clausewitz

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