How to airport like a pro

By Carmen Recavarren
Posted on 12 May 2022

Hostels - Heathrow Terminal 5
© Copyrights: Curt Smith

What stands between you and fun

If your hostelling adventure isn’t going to involve airports, well… lucky you. They’re travel’s ultimate necessary evil, and with a few exceptions – Munich, maybe? – there really isn’t much of an upside to being in one. It’s all about keeping those stress levels down, getting through as quickly as possible, and getting out and hostel-bound at the other end.


Cabin, not hold

If you can, keep that packing tight [INTERNAL LINK: 5 MUST-BRING ITEMS YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T THOUGHT OF] and take your bag as hand luggage. It does mean you won’t be able to pack certain toiletries, but how hard is it to pick up some shampoo when you arrive? If you pack a hold-sized bag for a multi-flight trip, you’re going to get mighty tired of checking it in – as well as mighty stressed about the odds of an airline losing it.


That’s one bag. ONE

Watch closely at a security line and you’ll notice the number one issue is choice paralysis. Where do I stash the belt I just took off? Where did I put those bagged-up cosmetics? What to do with my keys? That’s the beauty of travelling with a backpack – there’s only one answer. Cut out that extra handbag, even if the airline allows it.



You’ve de-cluttered, refined your packing and got everything down to the one bag. Now start making the most of those extra pockets on your backpack. Group together everything that’ll have to come out at security check – laptops, mobiles, cosmetics, keys. Pack your maps, tickets and passports together too.


Plan your travel

…and we don’t just mean working out your route and timing. Check ticket validity too – try to get to London Gatwick using an Oyster card, or to Paris CDG or Orly using a Mobilis ticket, and you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.


Invest in some plastic bottles

Plastic bottles designed for taking fluids and pastes through airport security have been around for a while, and they’re a steal – cheap to buy, and reusable too. Perfect for small amounts of toothpaste, moisturiser, and anything else you might need while you’re flying.


Don’t muck around landside

When you arrive, get airside. Just do it. Do it as quickly as physically possible. If you need to thank the people who dropped you off at the airport, do it in words of two syllables or fewer. Once security is out of the way you can start to relax a bit.


Bring a snack

Most departure lounges are like a high street, but more expensive. So unless you’re a huge fan of being juiced by chain stores and restaurants, come prepared. Sandwiches, snack bars and fruit are all good, but avoid liquids or anything gloopy. They won’t make it through security.


The bar is not your friend (but you can hang out a bit)

By all means toast the start of your trip. But don’t get plastered, because plane hangovers are The Worst. There’ll be plenty of time for partying when you arrive – and your first drink will feel much better if you aren’t already groggy, tired and dehydrated.


It’s too late to charge that

The hunt for a spare charging point is stressful, and usually futile. If you have no juice at this point, suck it up and read a book. You’ll be rinsing the in-flight entertainment before you know it.


Research the other end too

You know how you’re getting to the airport. But what happens when you arrive? Don’t just check routes into the city centre – try to work out how you’re getting to your hostel’s front door, and how much it’ll cost.