It’s hard to enjoy travel when hassles like sneaky airline fees and snaking security lines seem intent on driving you up the wall, especially when you're flying for business, not pleasure. And while a waiting hotel room at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott can offset a torturous airport experience, there's no reason you can't enjoy both the journey and the destination. With the right tools, it’s possible to glide through security and get to your gate without sprouting grey hair. Who knows? You might even be able to have fun along the way.
The Boy Scout motto is no joke. The more prepared you are before heading out the door, the more time you have to play Candy Crush at your gate. The good news is, your smartphone can take care of all the boring details for you. Don’t leave home without downloading these helpful (and free!) apps:
- TripIt (iPhone & Android) pulls all your trip details into one itinerary. Since the app recognizes reservations from more than 3,000 booking sites, there will be no more hunting for confirmation numbers at the check-in desk. Just send your itineraries to a secure email and the app does the work for you.
- GateGuru (iPhone & Android) saves time and frustration by allowing you to check your flight status, find out how long the wait is at security, navigate to your gate with airport maps, or find food and other amenities in your terminal.
- AwardWallet (iPhone & Android) keeps all your reward points and login credentials in one easy-to-navigate app. If you’re not already milking airline and hotel reward programs, the time to sign up is now.
Always travel light and dress in simple clothing. Jackets, belts, and shoes — plus anything that’s in your pockets — should be easy to remove. And consider picking up a TSA-approved laptop case. When it comes down to the wire, you'll be thankful to have one less task to juggle.
If possible, bypass the main security line for a fringe checkpoint that’s less packed — just make sure it connects to your terminal. Frequent flyers should also look into TSA Pre Check and Global Entry, two programs run by the U.S. government that quicken clearance at security and customs, respectively.
If you do find yourself in a long line, keep calm. Slowpoke passengers and irritated TSA officers can be trying on your nerves, but grumbling about the passenger who forgot to take his keys out of his pocket could land you a secondary inspection. Instead of flipping out, get your zen on with the Smiling Mind app (iPhone) — the modern way to meditate.
There's more to a layover than eating at a schlubby sports bar and mindlessly scrolling through your Twitter feed. Pamper yourself with a shave and a haircut, pick up a duty-free gift for someone special, or increase your productivity with apps that are perfectly suited to the business traveler.
There are also a ton of apps that help pass the time without boring you to death. Keep sharp with a brain teaser like Clockwork Brain (iPhone), a fun app with a steampunk aesthetic that tests your memory as well as your spatial abilities. Or solve a puzzle — studies have found games like Sudoku (iPhone & Android) could help you improve your mental age and relieve stress.
And here’s a trick for those who need a Netflix fix before departure: if an airport charges for Internet use, some of the restaurants, bars, and cafes in your terminal might not. Why pay a $12 Internet fee when you were going to hit up the cafe for a cappuccino anyway? Wi-Fi Finder (iPhone & Android) can direct you to nearby hotspots.
Libby Zay is a Baltimore-based traveler and writer.