In this episode, B and Jack start a new series about the best airport and airplane tips. They provide the first 15 tips as well as provide some general consideration about the topic.
1.1. The topic within the context of the Digital Nomad Life System
The Digital Nomad Life System is a 6-step meta-system created by us at Nomad Tactics that aims to explain how someone can go from living a non-nomadic normal life to living an optimized digital nomad life.
The sixth step of the system is called the “Departing Process”. This can be understood as the things the digital nomad needs to do just before and during the period in which he is leaving his current base to guarantee a smooth departure and transition to his next base (the city you will stay in). Airplanes and airports are things you will encounter when you are leaving a place. Thus, it makes sense to place this topic here.
To have a general overview of the Digital Nomad Life System you should listen to this episode.
1.2. General observations about the topic
This episode is part of a mini-series, which means we won’t provide all the tips in this episode. Rather we will divide those into a number of different episodes in order to keep the episodes under 20 minutes. Also, keep in mind that the whole thing will be somewhat chaotic. I will provide 15 tips per episode but might talk about an airport trick and then after that talk about an airplane tip and finally go back to an airport trick.
Remember that this is supposed to be a comprehensive list, thus it is likely, especially if you are a somewhat experienced digital nomad, that you already heard some of these tricks. Having said that I think this can be a good memory refresher and also I am sure at least one or two of the tips I talk about per episode will probably be new to you since I have come up with this list over many years by talking to different digital nomads, reading blogs, and talking to cabin crew.
Finally, one last thing that I would like to say is that some of the tips here might be considered sneaky by some. We do not necessarily practice or enforce all these tips. Also, Nomad Tactics should not be responsible for your applying this information, it is for educational purposes only. Thus the purpose of the episode is to simply provide you with the list and then it is your call what you are ok doing or not.
1.3. Airport and airplane tips
Be mindful about where you will place your carry-on luggage inside the cabin: If you put your carry-on luggage in a bin behind your seat row you will have two disadvantages. You won’t be able to keep a passive eye on your bag since in order to do so you would need to look back and forth when you are deboarding the plane you will probably be one of the last people to leave since you will need to go backward in order to collect the bags.
Have a photo of your luggage: If the airline loses your luggage during a flight, it is very useful for you to provide the airline with a photo of it. Thus it will be much easier for them to identify it and give it back to you. Keep a photo of the luggage on your phone for that purpose.
Have a tracker hidden in your bag: Nowadays, trackers are considerably cheap. You can simply place one of those inside your luggage in case the airline loses it or send it to the wrong place. This is only an issue when you are taking connecting flights. Also, I would hide the tracker instead of exposing it. This is because, if someone took your luggage intentionally, instead of the airline, you will be able to track it. The trackers I recommend are Airtags and Tile.
Ask for a fragile tag when you are checking in: By adding the fragile tag onto your luggage you can accomplish two things. First, it will be treated with slightly higher care. Also, they will try to place your luggage on top of all others, which means your luggage is likely one of the first to be available to pick up in the conveyor belt once you get to your destination. Also, in order to increase your chances of having your luggage first, if you have a connection to catch, you can tell the staff there and sometimes they will put a priority tag on your luggage (similar to the ones business passengers get).
If you are travelling with someone else book the aisle and the window sit: It is unlikely someone will book in the middle. If someone does you can ask them to switch seats, which they will likely comply with.
Be mindful of which seat to choose if you plan to do some work on the plane: If you intend to work on your laptop during your flight, and assuming you have your right arm as your dominant hand, you should try to book an aisle sit on the left side of the plane or the right seat on the middle of the plane. The reason for that is because you will have some extra space for your right arm to use the laptop since you will be able to place it slightly out to the aisle. This might sound like a very simple thing, but for long hours working it does make a difference.
Put very heavy items in your carry-on luggage: If you have very heavy objects that you think will exceed your checked luggage weight allowance, then you should place those in your carry-on luggage. Carry-on luggage is unlikely to have its weight checked especially if you take a full-service airline. Also even if they do check and place a tag on the luggage that was already verified you can still take out the heavy things, put those in a bag, have it verified, get the tag, and place all the heavy things once again inside.
Be mindful about where to sit if you intend to sleep: If you intend to sleep, the best seat selection is the window seat since you can support your head. Yet, if you cannot get a window seat, one really good trick for sleep is to roll a jacket onto the armrest and pull it up, you can use that as the support for your head.
Once you pass through security, ask how long it takes to the gate: Some airports are huge. So it is important for you to know how long it will take to go to the gate in which you need to go for your flight. Once you pass through security it is always a good idea to ask the airport staff for that information so you know how long in advance you need to start moving to the gate before your flight boarding starts.
For fast wifi use airport lounge wifis: There are three main ways to get lounge wifi. The first and most straightforward one is to get the lounge access. We will talk about how to get lounge access in different parts of other tips of this series. Let us assume that for some reason you cannot get inside the lounge then how can you get the password? The first way is to simply go to the lounge counter and check if the wifi password is there. What I have noticed is that in many instances the wifi password will actually be displayed on the entrance counter so even if you are not inside the lounge you will be able to see it. Another way to get the wifi password is by using a public wifi finder such as Wifimap or even more specifically use the app Wifox. Which is an app that exclusively deals with wifi passwords around the world.
Put a bag identifier to quickly find your bag: Bags are similar. You should put an identifying tag or stripe on your bag. Two reasons for that you will be able to identify quicker on the airport conveyor belt and also you can prevent people from taking your bag by mistake.
Book your uber from outside the airport area: Sometimes airports have surcharges for taxis and Ubers in order to get passengers there. Therefore one way to save money is, if you can, get out of the airport area a couple of meters and then ask for the uber or taxi. By doing so you won’t need to pay this extra airport fee.
Be careful with what you buy in duty-free shops if you have a connecting flight: If you have a connecting flight be careful with what you buy in duty-free since in many instances you will need to pass through another security control in the connecting airport and the usual limits for things will also apply, such as liquids below 100ml regardless of you buying the things in duty-free or not.
Don’t exchange money at the airport: The airport is probably the worst place of all to change your money due to the horrible exchange rates. So if you need to have cash from the foreign country with you either change in your home country or in the destination city center.
If you want to avoid turbulence go for morning flights: If you are a person that gets anxious or simply does not like turbulence opt for a morning flight since winds tend to be weaker.