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8 things to remember so you don't look like a rookie when returning to travel

June 14, 2021
6 min read
At the airport
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The return to travel is thrilling.

After more than a year of staying inside and around the house, travelers are hitting the road and taking to the skies once again, eager to reconnect with the world around them.

However, after so much time away and out of practice, we're noticing that as people return to the airport, many are forgetting the nuts and bolts of travel, causing frustration for themselves -- and those around them -- and lessening the thrill of being out and about again.

We're here today with everything you need to remember for your return to travel, so you're not the person on the receiving end of eye rolls and dirty looks from other travelers, and so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

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Put your personal belongings in your bag before security

Try to make the security checkpoint move quickly by coming prepared and minimizing how many bins you need. (Photo by SolStock/Getty Images)

As you approach the front of the line for the security checkpoint, make sure your personal belongings -- your wallet, phone, AirPods, passport, etc. -- are out of your pockets and either in your carry-on or placed in a tray that may be available. If you pass through the body scanners with items like these in your pockets, you'll set off the alarm and be forced to exit and go back through with nothing on your person. This slows not only yourself down, but others waiting behind you and will surely draw some judgment -- if not ire -- from those around you.

Get rid of any liquids before getting to security

Another rule that's easy to forget in the excitement of getting back to travel: You can't pass through security with large liquids in your bag (i.e., any liquid larger than a 3.4-ounce container, and these containers must fit into a single one-quart bag). Make sure you dispose of any opened plastic bottles and dump out or finish off the water or coffee that's in your reusable bottle. If there's a bottle with liquid of more than 3.4 ounces in your bag, it will have to be removed, and your bag will have to be rescreened, adding time to everyone's airport journey.

Make sure your expedited security tools are up to date

We at TPG swear by services like TSA PreCheck and Clear to get you through the security line faster. Before you head to the airport, make sure that your enrollment is up to date. You definitely don't want to find yourself in a situation where you believe you'll be traveling with PreCheck or Clear (or both) and arrive only to find out they've lapsed and you'll be passing through the "normal" security line and required to take off your shoes and your laptop out of your bag. Talk about feeling like a novice.

Keep your mask on

Airports are still a place you need to keep your mask on, regardless of state regulations. (Photo by izusek/Getty Images)

States across the country are easing mask restrictions (some have none at all at this point), but they're required for everybody when inside the airport and on the plane. It's a federal law, so don't try to argue with an airport employee or the airline crew about it. After more than a year of watching viral mask confrontations on the internet, people have grown tired of these and simply want to get to their destination with as few disturbances as possible.

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Don't crowd the gate

We know you're excited to get back on board an airplane, but experienced travelers know hovering around the gate desk waiting for your boarding group to be called does nothing other than delay the boarding process for everyone else. Remember, too, that any early boarding privileges you typically receive from an airline-branded credit card aren't valid if the airline is operating a modified boarding process.

Wait your turn to get off the plane

Nothing screams "rookie traveler" like passengers pushing their way up to the front of the plane after it lands. Any frequent flyer knows that it only makes the deplaning process more frustrating than it already is. Wait for your row's turn to deplane, and if you are worried you're going to miss a connection, speak with the flight attendants before landing to see if they can help.

Give people space at baggage claim

Allowing space at the baggage claim allows everyone to get their bags easily and safely. (Photo by izusek/Getty Images)

After so much time by yourself, it's hard to remember how to act around large groups of people. But when you show up at baggage claim after a flight, remember to give those around you adequate space. Don't immediately push to the front row if there are others standing there already. When you see your bag coming down the carousel, follow it to a spot with more open space or wait for some people to clear out and then grab your luggage.

Be kind and patient

Anyone who travels with any frequency knows that it requires a level of patience. There are many things in any given travel experience that are out of one's control, so reacting to things with patience is paramount. And, remember that if something goes wrong, airport and airline employees are simply doing their jobs and engaging in fights with them isn't productive for anyone.

Bottom line

As travel returns, there's more to remember than your passwords to all the awards programs you're enrolled in. There are so many things that happen on a given journey -- from the minute you step foot in the airport to meeting your taxi at your destination -- that many of us regularly did before the pandemic but may have forgotten since then.

When you're ready to get back out there, make sure you're dotting the I's and crossing the T's of travel, so you don't feel -- and look -- like a beginner and to better ensure you'll have a seamless return-to-travel experience.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.