10 airport hacks to keep you sane (besides having travel insurance)

Collage of couple rushing to the airport.

International airports have two energies. It’s about the journey, not the destination and dear God, are we there yet? There is no in-between. 

Navigating through airports is just part and parcel of an overseas trip. But if you’ve already packed your bags and bought your travel insurance (it’s nice to have a backup plan if you lose your luggage), then all that’s left to do is ensure your sanity. 

Here are ten tips to make the airport bearable.

The night before your flight

Collage of a woman meditating by her luggage the night before her flight.

An ounce of prep is worth a gallon of tears at the airport. (Although if there are tears, it’s fine. You’ll be relaxing on the plane in no time). 

Hack 1: Download everything you need

Airport WiFi and mobile reception are dodgy – so don’t rely on having either. Download everything you need, from your boarding pass to any IDs and itineraries, well ahead of time. Take screenshots in case your apps crash. Speaking of which…

Hack 2: Charge your devices ahead of time

Most international airports will have free charging stations throughout the terminal. But unless you feel like fighting for a cord and socket with dozens of weary travellers, make sure you charge your devices at home. This includes your:

  • Phone
  • Tablet
  • Laptop
  • Wireless headphones
  • Emergency battery packs/chargers. 

Mozo recommends the Snap Wireless Charger. It can be adapted for overseas outlets and charge most devices simultaneously – an absolute travel hack and lifesaver. 

Hack 3: Pack a snack and other sanity-saving essentials

Main reasons airports suck? You feel hungry, thirsty, tired, unclean, and impatient. We can’t really control the latter (although have you tried meditation?), but the other four are easy to solve.

  • Hungry. Plan where you can eat at the airport (especially if you have dietary restrictions) and pack snacks. Focus on food groups that will fill you up, like protein, fibre, and fat. 
  • Thirsty. Bring an empty water bottle. Hit the free refill stations. Booyah. 
  • Tired. Pack a travel pillow and cosy blanket. If you’re conscious about space, use a thick or fluffy coat instead of a blanket and roll up one of your scarves for a pillow. 
  • Unclean. Stuff a packet of wet wipes and some empty plastic baggies in your carry-on. Getting airport grungy? Wipe yourself down and feel refreshed. 

If you experience flight anxiety or aviophobia, make sure you pack some comforting or distracting things, too, including any medications. 

Hack 4: Get clever about your carry-on

Pack your carry-on so that you can lose your luggage and survive a few days. This doesn’t mean you need a whole wardrobe or bathroom, just some simple toiletries, three outfits, one or two pairs of shoes, and all your essentials like travel money, electronics, and travel documents

One clever way to handle your carry-on luggage is to put all your important documents and devices in a smaller, thief-proof bag on your person, then everything else in a tidy suitcase, satchel, or backpack. This way, everything you need to whip out, like your ID, is accessible, while everything else fits snugly in the overhead compartment. 

Hack 5: Research the airport

Did you know that some airport lounges have showers? T’is true. If you want, pay for access to an airport lounge ahead of time and get some TLC in between flights. Plus, airports usually have accessible spaces to hang out if you have a disability. You never know unless you do your research.

The day of your flight

Collage of a woman happy with her luggage because she's at the airport.

Now it’s time to go with the flow. If you’re travelling with kids – Godspeed. 

Hack 6: Wear what makes you feel best

Feeling best is subjective. Would you like to be comfortable? Stylish? Warm? Cool? Layers are generally the best way to go, with shoes you can run in if you’re late to the gate, but generally speaking, let the wardrobe spirit move you. Dress to feel your best, not to impress anyone. (The flight attendants certainly don’t care).

Hack 7: Get a friend, taxi, or the free shuttle

Airport parking is so nightmarishly expensive it is almost literally never worth it. If you have to drive yourself, prepare space in your travel budget. Otherwise, source another (preferably free) way to get to the airport. 

Some ideas?

  • Family member or partner drives you.
  • Friend drives you.
  • Public transportation.
  • Free airport shuttle.

A taxi or rideshare service like Uber will do in a pinch. Aim to arrive 2-3 hours before your international flight and 1-2 hours before your domestic flight.

Hack 8: Check in fast

Depending on your airline and destination, you may be able to check in through the airline app. Otherwise, aim for a self-check-in kiosk when you arrive at the airport.

Alternatively, head for the check-in desk furthest to the left (humans have a right-side bias) and closest to the business check-in as possible. If the business line clears up, they may ask the next customer from economy to the front, so be ready to pounce.

Hack 9: Set your clocks to your new timezone

If you’re heading overseas, there’s a good chance your timezone is about to change. Get ahead of the jet lag by setting your clocks, watches, and devices to your new timezone so you can start nudging your circadian rhythm in the right direction. Try these travel apps to get started. 

Hack 10: Get your steps in

Finally, after checking your bags and making it through security, it’s time to find your gate, stretch your legs, and maybe indulge in a little retail therapy duty-free. Now is the time to let your body tell you what it wants. Hungry? Eat. Sleepy? Sleep. Stressed? Relax and meditate. A walk can clear your head in ten minutes or less. 

MOZO HOT TIP: Listen to Brian Eno’s “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”.

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