Drew Binsky

I'm Drew Binsky

I’ve been to
ALL 197 Countries Now I want to help you become a better traveller & save money








Top 10 Tips to Find Your Way Around Any Airport

Top 10 Tips to Find Your Way Around Any Airport


Written by Drew Binsky

If you struggle with anxiety around traveling, haven’t flown internationally before, or maybe it’s just been a while since you had to navigate an unfamiliar airport—this post is for you! I want to share my expert airport advice with you, starting with checking in for your flight and navigating the airport and ending with pointers for the actual flight itself. 

These tips will have you traveling like a pro in no time!

Tip #1: Always Check In as Soon as You Can

Depending on what airline you’re flying, you may be able to check in online up to 72 hours before your flight, although 24 hours is always a safe bet. Check in as soon as you can in order to secure your reservation and look for upgrades (sometimes airlines will even offer you a bidding reward to get the first class ticket, which is not always as expensive as you may think!) 

Also, check out SeatGuru! I love using this website to check the seat map and ensure I get the seat I want. You can even check the website within a few hours before the flight takes off to find the best spot, then move your seat around as you wish.

Tip #2: Get to the Airport at Least 3 Hours Before Your Flight

I sometimes get to the airport up to eight hours before a flight. There are many reasons why it’s super beneficial for me. I’m a digital nomad, so I often use the airport as my office! I arrive early, and locate an airport lounge or restaurant to chill out, relax, and be stress-free. Some of the advantages of early arrival include: 

  • You don’t have to rush checking in for your flight or going through security! More time = less stress. 
  • You can go through immigration.
  • You can hang out in a lounge, get free food, and get work done.
  • You can walk around and explore.

Definitely try this tip out, and go to the airport early to avoid any hassle. Plus, airports are really cool! You are surrounded by people from all over the world, and you may even have the opportunity to make a new friend. Also, there are no rules—you can sleep at 3 pm or eat McDonald’s at midnight. Use your time in airports to learn how to appreciate the journey, not just the destination!

Tip #3: Be Friendly With Your Ticket Agents

Put yourself in their shoes: they see hundreds of angry, impatient, rude customers every day. If you are friendly, smile, and treat them with kindness, they will be far more likely to help you out! I start my check-in process by smiling and saying, “hi, how are you?” Sometimes I say something like, “your eyes are beautiful,” or “how’s your day going?” 

Just making some pleasant small talk can make a world of difference—you’re more likely to get excellent service, and you might even make their day!

Tip #4: Request a Seat Near the Front

If you’ve been nice to your ticket agent, they’re likely to help you out when you ask to sit near the front of the plane! (I’m not talking about asking to sit in First Class; I’m talking about the first row behind the First Class section.) 

Why ask for a seat near the front? 

I hate sitting at the back of the plane because when the plane arrives, people take forever. They stand up, stretch their legs, grab their bags from overhead, and you’re the last one out. Then you have to run to immigration because everyone is going to the same place, and there is likely to be a long line. 

Take my advice—ask to sit in the front of the plane, and the ticket agent will likely be more than happy to help you out!

Tip #5: Have an Outbound Flight Booked and Ready

I never enter an airport without having an outbound ticket!

The ticket agent will likely ask for proof that you have a flight back out of the country you’re visiting. I’ve been screwed before and had to book a flight on the spot, so don’t make this mistake! If you get stuck, Orbitz and Expedia both offer free cancellation within 24 hours. Use this if you don’t know when you’re leaving: you can book a flight to show at Immigration and then cancel it for free after you arrive (you can then rebook the flight whenever you want.)

(There’s also a service called Fake Flight Tickets that will generate a fake ticket for $5, featuring real flight numbers, etc, to show for this purpose. Do this at your own risk! I’ve had to do it a few times, but it’s technically illegal, so I don’t want to recommend it to you guys.)

Whatever you do, it’s crucial to make sure that you have some kind of proof of an outbound flight. Trust me; you don’t want to get screwed!

Tip #6: I Never Check a Bag

This is one of my best airport tips! Here are some of the reasons that I recommend you not check a bag:

  • Checking a bag is expensive! It’s $20-$50 every time you fly, which can add up really fast. 
  • You have to wait at the airport baggage claim to retrieve your bag after you arrive, which can literally take hours.
  • You run the risk of the airline losing your bag (which has happened to me more than once, so I never check one anymore!)

So, how do I travel without checking a bag? 

I have a travel backpack which I pack with all my clothes and wear on my back, and then I have a smaller bag that I use to carry my electronics (I have a complete breakdown of every item in my backpacks HERE!) 

I’ve learned some tricks to get away without checking a bag, even if it’s overweight! When I get to the ticket agent, I make a comment, make small talk, and tell them I’m not checking bags. I also try to prevent them from putting my carry-on on the scale; if they ask to see my bag, I just turn around and show them my backpack.

You can also have a friend watch your bag when you check-in.

Have your friend stand somewhere else in the terminal, not at check-in with you. Check in by yourself, just carrying your small backpack/bag, and say something like, “Hey, my friend is in the bathroom. They will be coming later; I’m just checking in for my ticket.” After getting your ticket, switch places with your friend to watch their bag while they check in. This trick almost guarantees that you will both get your bags on the plane as carryons, even if they are 20lbs overweight!

If you’re a frequent traveler and want to try to hack the system, you should definitely try to get by without checking a bag.

Tip #7: How to Avoid Long Lines:

There are multiple systems in place for US passport holders that help you skip lines. These include: 

  • Clear — This company uses biometrics like your eyes, face, and fingerprints to confirm your identity instead of the usual documents. Once they’ve checked to make sure you are who you say you are, they will take you to the front of the TSA line, and you’ll enter security right before the scanner area (instead of having to wait in the long line to show your ID to a TSA agent.) Clear membership renews annually.
  • TSA PreCheck — You’ve probably seen these dedicated lines when you’ve entered security at just about any US airport, but did you know that you can get access to this shorter line for a small annual fee? Not only will you spend less time in line, but you won’t have to remove your shoes/belt, take out your laptop, or show your quart-size bag of liquids. It’s much more convenient and will get you through security and into your gate or the comfortable lounge area faster. Purchase of TSA PreCheck lasts five years.
  • Global Entry — This program will help you get through US Customs faster when coming back from an international trip. This program allows you to skip the long customs lines, whether you’re crossing the border by air, land, or sea. Instead, you’ll go straight to self-serve kiosks that scan your eyes and your passport, and then you’re done. You will also skip any paperwork that would otherwise be required. Purchase of Global Entry lasts five years and now includes TSA Precheck.

    Global Entry is available to US citizens and select foreign nationals, including citizens of Argentina, India, Colombia, the UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexico.

I’ve purchased membership in all of these programs, and you should too! They do cost a bit of money, but it’s well worth it (even if you only travel a couple of times a year.) Sometimes the travel credit cards give you them for free as a bonus, so make sure you check with your rewards card company!

Tip #8: Bring a Water Bottle With You

An empty one, that is! 

If you carry an empty bottle with you, you can fill up your water at one of the filling stations after security, either in the airport or in the lounge. This is a must for me; I always get dehydrated on planes, and I always want to have water with me. Spending $3, $4, $5, $8 for water in the airport? Trust me, that’s not happening! 

Tip #9: The Priority Pass

Have you ever wondered how to get inside airport lounges? You need to get the Priority Pass!

Priority Pass is a badge or card that gets you into 1,300+ VIP lounges worldwide for free. These lounges often include free Wifi, comfortable couches, an open bar, a cafeteria or restaurant, and sometimes even massages, showers, and buffets—all for free! 

These lounges are also why I like to arrive at the airport so early: I show my Priority Pass to get into the lounge and then just chill, get work done, hang out, or have a drink. It’s like going to a cafe, but you’re actually at the airport! Having access to a lounge is especially great if you have a long layover: I’ve even slept overnight in several different airport lounges around the world because they’re so comfortable. 

Priority Pass also has an app that shows you the lounge’s location in whatever airport you happen to be in. Usually, there’s more than one lounge: for example, the London airport has multiple lounges.

How to get Priority Pass:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
    This is hands down the best travel rewards credit card. If you’re from the US, you should definitely get it. The Priority Pass is a bonus that comes with the card!
  • Check with your bank or credit card.
    Some credit card companies and banks offer the Priority Pass as a perk. It’s worth looking to see if yours is one of them!
  • Buy the Priority Pass outright.
    Priority Pass has three different membership tiers, from $99/year and $32/visit to $429/year and unlimited free visits. You can choose the plan that works best for you, whether you’re a frequent flier or only travel a few times a year. With the free food and drinks offered in the lounges, you can actually end up saving a significant amount of money in the long run. 

This pass has saved me thousands of dollars on food and drinks, and it has allowed me to work countless hours in comfort (which is truly priceless!)

Having gold or platinum membership in one of the airline alliance programs will also give you access to that lounge. For example, United is the main partner of Star Alliance, so if you can get gold status in United or in Star Alliance, then you will have access to the United Lounges.

Tip #10: Try to Get on the Plane Earlier

When the airlines do the boarding process by number, sometimes (honestly, more times than not), you can just get on whenever you want. The reason they do the number thing is just to organize people. Don’t be a jerk about it, but it’s always worth trying: the gate agent is unlikely to stop you from boarding with the wrong group. 

I like to get on the plane first because I can get comfortable, get everything set up the way I want it, charge my phone, and even lie down on some flights. It’s definitely a tip I can recommend!

Tip #11: Be Nice to the Flight Attendants

You want to start off on the right foot with the flight attendants when you get on the plane! Like the ticket agents, they deal with many rude, frustrated, cranky passengers every day. If you’re kind and do something nice for them, they’ll usually take care of you and spoil you for the flight. They may give you unlimited wine, or they may just be your friend. Something I’ve done a few times is offer them a lollipop or chocolate. 

Kindness costs you nothing, but it could earn you some nice perks!

Tip #12: Get off the Plane First

This one is really important: when your flight lands, you always want to get off first (or as quickly as possible) because everyone is going to the same place: Immigration. If you’re in the back of the plane, then you have probably three hundred people walking to the same line as you are, and you’re likely going to have to wait for hours.

If there is an open seat closer to the front, definitely move up there during the flight (and bring your bag so that you’re ready to hop off!). If you are stuck at the back, grab your stuff and jolt up the aisle as soon as the plane pauses at the gate, before the “ding dong” sound where you can officially get up and disembark. There’s a short window, like three to eight seconds, between the plane stopping and the “ding dong” when people get up. Use those precious few seconds to get to the front of the plane! Many people do this anyway because they have tight connections, so it’s normal for people to want to get off the plane first.

If you’re traveling to many places in one trip, or you’re a frequent traveler, or you just don’t want to waste time, then using these tips to get to the front of Immigration is vital. 

Happy Travels!

I love sharing everything I’ve learned while traveling around the world. 
Let me know if a tip from this list helped you out or if you have a first-rate travel tip that you think I missed. (And seriously, try out Priority Pass—it’s a TOTAL game changer!)

Top offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card



AMEX Platinum Credit Card



Chase Ink Cash Credit Card



Capital One Venture X Credit Card





Top Offers



AMEX Platinum Credit Card





Get Access To Exclusive Travel Tips &
My Travel Secrets In Your Inbox

Get Access To Exclusive Travel Tips &
My Travel Secrets In Your Inbox

Everything I Recommended

Sony a7R III A Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with FE 20mm f/1.8 G Full-Frame Lens and Accessory Bundle (6 Items)

Sony Alpha a7 III - 24MP UHD 4K Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only) - AC-UUD12 AC Adapter - ALC-B1EM Body Cap - Accessory Shoe Cap - Eyepiece Cup - Micro-USB Cable - NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery (2280mAh) - Shoulder Strap - Sony 1 Year Limited Warranty - Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS E-Mount Lens
Newly Developed - Full-frame 24.2MP Back-Illuminated Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
Wide ISO range - of 100 - 51200 (expandable to ISO 50 - 204800 for still images) and 15-Stop Dynamic Range at low sensitivities
World Class AF system - featuring 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of image area, 425 contrast AF points and fast and reliable Eye AF
Continuous Shooting - at up to 10 fps with either Mechanical Shutter or Silent Shooting and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking

2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch, Apple M1 Max chip with 10‑core CPU and 32‑core GPU, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD) - Space Gray - Z15H00109

10-core - CPU, 32-core GPU
64GB - Memory
1TB - Storage

TEVA Men's Hurricane Xlt2 Sandals with EVA Foam Midsole and Rugged Durabrasion Rubber Outsole

Quick-dry webbing - made from recycled plastic using traceable, verifiable REPREVE polyester yarn by Unifi supports your foot and stands up to abuse
Injection-molded strap - ends for quick and easy grip and adjustability, Easy hook-and-loop closure comes on and off quickly and gets the fit just right
Robust EVA footbed - for enhanced comfort built for all-day wear
Nylon shank - stabilizes and supports your foot on uneven terrain
Best for - day hikes, light hikes

Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Stuff Sack 3-Piece Set (2.5L, 4L, and 6.5L Ultralight Stuff Sacks)

Set of three ultralight - water-resistant stuff sacks for organizing gear and clothing in a backpack or bag, for any outdoor or travel adventure
Manufactured - from lightweight 30D Ultra-Sil Cordura nylon; slippery finish makes it easy to slide bags into tight spaces for better packing
Drawcord top opening - with durable pull tab for quick and easy access to bag contents
Round base - has a reinforced webbing pull handle for easy carry; stress points are bartacked and seams are double stitched for durability
Includes three stuff sacks - 2.5 liter (open dimensions: 4 x 10 inches, weight: 0.5 ounces), 4 liter (open dimensions: 5 x 12 inches, weight: 0.5 ounces), 6.5 liter (open dimensions: 6.5 x 13 inches, weight: 0.6 ounces)

LaCie Rugged USB-C 4TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD, Drop Shock Dust Rain Resistant Shuttle Drive

Compatible with PC & Mac Quickly and easily connect to the latest Windows and Mac computers with Rugged’s reversible USB-C cable, or legacy computers using the included USB 3.0 adapter
Fast USB-C Enjoy fast USB-C 5Gb/s file transfers, backups, and image browsing
Protection Confidently tackle any terrain with drop, crush, and rain resistance
All-terrain use Shock, drops up to 4 feet, dust and water resistant for all-terrain use
Privacy Password protection built in

OlimpiaFit Quick Dry Towel - 3 Size Pack of Lightweight Microfiber Travel Towels w/ Bag - Fast Drying Towel Set for Camping, Beach, Gym, Backpacking, Sports, Yoga & Swim Use

COMPACT DESIGN - This sports towel set is packable for the gym, beach, and anywhere else you need them. They can easily be condensed in size 4x smaller than a camping towel of the same size.
FAST DRYING - Made with fibers that are much thinner than a standard microfiber towel, our quick dry towels have 4x as much surface area, allowing them to absorb more water and dry up to 3x as fast.
MULTIPURPOSE - Each set includes 3 lightweight travel towels in the sizes 50"x30", 30"x15", and 15"x15". Use them as swim towels to dry off, gym towels during a workout, or small beach towels on vacation.
HIGH QUALITY - Every microfiber travel towel is made with premium material that shares the same smooth qualities as satin. They're also super absorbent, odor-resistant, and won't smell after drying.
SOFT - If you're looking for a packable beach towel or swim towel, give this one a go! It has a slip-resistant surface and extra plush microfiber that is oh-so-gentle on your face, body, and skin.

GoPro HERO10 Black

More Power. More Clarity - More Stability. Revolutionary Processor: Faster. Smoother. Better. The powerful new GP2 engine changes the game—snappy performance, responsive touch controls and double the frame rate for amazingly smooth footage. Designed specifically for the demanding nature of the GoPro, the GP2 “system on a chip” is by far our fastest ever.
MORE STABILITY - Groundbreaking HyperSmooth 4.0 is our most advanced stabilization ever. 8X SLO-MO. - HERO10 Black captures up to 240 frames per second for astonishing 8x slo-mo. MORE ACCELERATION. - Record mesmerizing time-lapse videos with LIVEBURST - Record 1.5 seconds before and after your shot. Find the best pic or share it as a short video.
KEY SPECIFICATIONS - SCREEN SIZE - 23MP GP2 Chip with Improved Performance - 5.3K60/4K120/2.7K240 Video, 23MP Photos - New Front Display/Rear Touchscreen - Cloud Connected, 1080p Live Streaming - Enhanced Low-Light Performance - HyperSmooth 4.0 Image Stabilization - 33' Waterproof without a Housing - Time-Lapse & Night-Lapse, 8x Slo-Mo - Built-In Flip-Out 2-Prong Mount - 1720mAh Capacity Battery
Night-Lapse Video - In-Camera Horizon Leveling; Live View Front Display & Intuitive Rear Touchscreen; Webcam Mode & 1080p HD Live Streaming. Standard, Activity, Cinematic, Slo-Mo & Custom Presets; Voice Control; Portrait Orientation; RAW Photo Mode; Built-In Mounting
Bundle Includes – 1 x GoPro HERO10 Black - Waterproof Action Camera with Front LCD and Touch Rear Screens, 5.3K HD Video, 23MP Photos, 1080p Live Streaming, Stabilization | 1 x Compatible Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery | 1 x Extreme Pro 64gb microSDXC Card | 1 x 6AVE Electronics TM Microfiber Cloth

Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

Meets carry-on size - restrictions for most domestic airlines - Dimensions 21.5h x 14w x 9d IN.
U-zip - zip access to main compartment with lockable zippers on main and laptop compartments - 46L total volume
Shoulder straps - and hipbelt can be tucked away when the bag is checked
Protected rear - panel zip laptop sleeve and front panel vertical zippered pocket for books or other documents
Tuckaway web loops - to attach a shoulder strap (sold separately)
StraightJacket compression - straps compress the bag to a smaller size when it isn’t full
Dual internal zippered - organization side pockets and front panel organization with zippered pocket and key clip
Reinforced cord loops - to attach an Osprey Daylite daypack (sold separately)

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones for Apple devices - Black (Wired 3.5mm)

Apple compatible devices - Applies to: QC 25 noise cancelling headphones Apple devices The remote and mic are compatible with the following Apple devices: iPhone 3GS or later iPad iPod touch 2nd generation or later iPod classic 120GB, 160GB iPod nano 4th generation or later
Deep, powerful sound - for the music you love
Lightweight, comfortable around - ear fit you can wear all day long
Control your music - and calls on Apple devices with inline mic/remote

Explore More Travel Tips

Hacks & Points, Travel Tips

Advertiser Disclosure

Drew Binsky has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Drew Binsky and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editorial Disclosure

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Editorial Disclosure

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.