Skip to Content

Top Airport Mistakes Travelers Should Avoid

Top Airport Mistakes Travelers Should Avoid

Airports can be very hectic and stressful, especially if you don’t like being around a lot of other people. Everything is overpriced, all your belongings are in a tiny bag, and you might be in a new city or country that speaks a different language. All these factors make traveling quite stressful, so it is important to know some things before going. This list of the top airport mistakes travelers should avoid will help save you stress, time, and money.

Many travelers make these mistakes simply because they are not frequent flyers, and don’t know any better. Others may not be familiar with these mistakes, or didn’t know they were doing anything wrong!

Whether you are a newbie flyer or a frequent traveler, these airport mistakes will help you stay mindful of your choices next time you are at the airport!

For a list of general common travel mistakes, take a look at our guide!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

worst airport mistakes

1. Don't put anything beside the garbage cans

I had to start with these top airport mistakes travelers should avoid, mostly because it has a funny story attached to it, but also because you can get into HUGE trouble. 

We were in the London airport and had an old outlet adapter from the 80s or 90s when my parents traveled there. We had bought new ones, so we went to through this old one away so we didn’t have to carry it around. 

Well, Colin decided to place the box NEXT TO the garbage can, instead of inside it. In his defense, he said he thought other people might need one. 

About an hour later, we see airport security by the garbage can looking at the box all skeptical. We debated telling them it is ours and decided we should. They were about to call in the bomb squad! Colin went to show them it is just an adapter, and when he went to touch the box, they all jumped back in fear. 

We were glad we spoke up because if we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t have been allowed on our flight and would have been taken in for questioning. 

Moral of the story, just place your garbage INSIDE the garbage can, because you might have the bomb squad called on you

2. Not wearing socks

Not wearing socks to the airport is one of the top airport mistakes travelers should avoid! Most airport security lines require passengers to take their shoes off for inspection. If you do not have socks on, you will be barefoot on the dirty airport floor!

It is understandable you might be wearing flip flops or sandals if you are going to a tropical destination. However, most airplanes are cold anyway, so you might want socks either way. 

If you really want to wear your cute new sandals, that’s okay! Simply pack a pair of socks to slip on during security. Make sure you pack them in an easy to get to place, so you are not holding up the line. 

As far as socks go, I am a huge fan of compression socks for air travel. They will keep your feet and legs circulated during flights, and help with muscle recovery! 

Additionally, avoid wearing complicated shoes that are difficult to take on and off. You don’t want to be that person holding up the security line because your shoes are difficult! My go-to is typically just a pair of comfy sneakers, which are easy to take on and off, and are comfortable to walk around in. 

3. Not having a pen

If you are traveling on international flights, make sure you have a pen packed in your carry on!

Here are some other top carry on items you should always have.

Many times on international flights (depending on where you are going), flight attendants will hand out immigration paperwork that you will need when going through customs. 

Usually, airplane crews will not provide pens to passengers, but you can always share with a neighbor if they have one. 

If not, you will have to wait until you get inside the airport. This can cost you a lot of time because those who have already filled out their paperwork are headed straight for the customs line. You, who forgot a pen, are now stuck filling out your paperwork as you watch the line get longer and longer. 

Make sure one person in your party has a pen, to save time in the customs lines!

4. Using USB to charge phone

Using the USB to charge your phone is one of the top airport mistakes travelers should avoid. I get it, outlets are often all taken, and you want your phone to be fully charged for your flight. 

However, using the USB to charge your phone could allow hackers to get into your phone. While this doesn’t happen all the time, its a risk you just shouldn’t take! 

Do your best to look around for empty outlets. Try a nearby gate that is empty or almost empty, for more access to outlets. 

If you cannot find one anywhere, make sure you have a portable charger! We always bring a few of these when traveling, as they are super useful when you are taking pictures and using your GPS all day. 

5. Using the airport WiFi

Using the airport WiFi is often a necessary evil. You might have a deadline approaching, a conference call to make, or an important email to send. With these things, you should be okay. 

However, avoid making any banking transactions or any other work that involves personal information. Hackers love public WiFi, and the airport is a hotspot! The last thing you need on your trip is for someone to steal your information. 

If you are trapped at the airport and are using your computer because you are bored, there are a ton of ways to kill time during a long layover!

Do your best to avoid using the airport WiFi, unless you absolutely need to, or are certain you are not doing anything that involves your personal data. 

6. Buying water

It’s true, you should absolutely hydrate more than usual before a flight. However, if you are buying water, you are wasting your money! 

Water bottles at the airport are ridiculously overpriced, just like everything else. Instead of buying water at the airport, bring your own collapsible water bottle in your carry on bag. 

Make sure it is empty before going through the security line- this is something I always forget! Once you get past security, you can fill it up for free at the water fountains! This will save you a ton of money.

Plus, you don’t want to drink the water on airplanes, so make sure you fill up your water bottle before getting on the plane. 

Here is a list of other things you should do before boarding a plane

7. Checking in at the airport

Another top airport mistakes travelers should avoid is checking in at the airport. Unless you don’t have a phone or internet, there is really no reason not to check in ahead of time!

Most airlines allow passengers to check-in 24-48 hours in advance. Doing so will save you time once you are at the airport- you won’t need to stand in line to check-in or use the automated check-in booth. These can also cost you money, so make sure you check in early!

Additionally, by checking in early, you have a better chance of getting a good seat, with your party sitting together. Think about it- if you check in the last minute, all the seats will be taken, and you might end up in a middle seat. 

When checking in on your phone, save your boarding passes to your wallet. We also always take a screenshot, just in case the internet won’t work for some reason. You can also send them to everyone in your party, so there is no way they will get lost! With each person having access to their own boarding pass, you will save time in the security line as well.

8. Sitting

This mistake might not apply to everyone, but try your best to avoid sitting as much as possible at the airport. By sitting for long periods of time, such as on an airplane, you put yourself at risk for developing blood clots

On an airplane, you don’t have a whole lot of options in terms of moving your body, but you do at the airport! 

Take some time to walk around the terminal, peruse the gift shops, or even hit the gym! Find an empty gate and do some stretches, jumping jacks, squats, whatever you have to do to get your blood flowing. 

Your body will thank you for getting some movement in, and you might even get tired enough to fall asleep on the plane!

Here are some simple exercises for any long flight, to help get movement in on the airplane!

9. Forgetting where you parked

This is a very common travel mistake, as you are so excited to be going on your trip, you don’t care where you parked, you are just ready to go!

Try to stay mindful when parking, and take note of your surroundings. Take a picture of your car and the cars around you. Include their license plates, in case anything happens to your car. If there is a row letter or number, take a picture of that as well.

The shuttle drivers often give you a card with your parking information, but that can easily be lost throughout your trip. Take a picture of that too, just in case you lose it.

In order to save money on airport parking, check out our guide of budget travel tips to save you hundreds!

10. Ignoring carry on size limits

Airlines are not what they used to be. They don’t mess around with carry on sizes anymore! I used a suitcase that (at least I thought) matched the size limits for YEARS with no problems. Within the last few years, all of a sudden it is now too big. 

If your carry on bag is too large, you will get hit with an unexpected fee, which is not cheap by the way. The last fee I paid was about $60, and we had 2 bags, and two flights with them, which equaled $240. Ouch! 

Additionally, carry on bag size limits are different internationally (also learned that the hard way)! The best bet is to find the smallest size limit of any of your airlines and make sure your bag meets those requirements. Make sure you don’t overstuff your bag, which can make it bigger and not fit. 

I recently got the ONLY carry on bag you will EVER need, and it is seriously life-changing!

11. Being a slow-poke in security

I think most people know the general rules of airports, like needing to take out your liquids at the security line, right? 

Wrong. The amount of crazy things you see in the security line is mind-blowing, to say the least. Take out your dang liquids people! 

While waiting in line, get all your belongings out that you will need: ID, boarding pass, liquids, laptop, etc. Take off your shoes and jacket, and empty your pockets. You mostly always have time in the line, so be prepared!

It is very irritating to other passengers when we have to wait for you to get ready for the security belt when you’ve known this was coming for 10 minutes in line. 

If you have liquids, place them at the top of your carry on bag, for easy access so you will not have to dig through your entire bag to get them out. You can always rearrange afterward! 

This is the liquids bag I use, and it is great for holding ALL my liquids, with no spills!

12. Taking rides from anyone

The final item on our list of the top airport mistakes travelers should avoid involves getting rides from the airport to your hotel.

Often times in high tourist destinations, you will be swarmed by transportation companies asking if you need a ride to your hotel. It can be pretty overwhelming but calmly say no.

Do your research, and find the most reputable and budget-friendly transportation company available. By taking the first offer, you are probably being scammed! 

If all else fails, see if your location has Uber, or anything similar. If your hotel is close enough, they might even have a free shuttle!

You are probably exhausted at this point, but stay strong and make the right decisions!

Thank you for reading the top airport mistakes travelers should avoid! What are some of the craziest things you’ve seen people do in an airport? Leave a comment below, we would love to hear your stories!

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Sunday 4th of February 2024

Regarding check in, I would suggest you read up and observe the policy and algorithm of your airline. In my part of the world, budget airlines have the nasty habit of filling the rear of the plane first. So those who check in early gets the worst seats (IMHO). Thankfully, they have stopped their bonehead policy of deliberately splitting up parties who did not buy their seat in advance. This was a major issue just prior to the COVID pandemic...


Monday 25th of December 2023

Some airports no longer require you to take the liquids out at security. Also, frequent travels should consider getting TSA approved. Those lines are much shorter!

3m 8210

Friday 3rd of April 2020

Hello. This post was extremely interesting, especially because I was looking for ideas on this subject last Thursday. Best regards, Harrell Duke

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.