It’s no surprise that summer is the most popular season to travel, so it’s no surprise that weekend traffic and airport security lines are as unpredictable as ever. When we’re traveling to the airport, there’s no question that there are a lot of factors to take into account—many that can either slow us down, or speed us up.
Some people spend extra time packing their luggage that they cut it close. If you’re down to the final seconds before you need to hail a cab, you can expect to be more panicked about unknowns like traffic jams and long TSA-check lines. Sure, the extra packing time is a huge help. What if you left the house early and realized you forgot your nice suit before your business trip? Leaving later means having more time to collect your prized items, but what happens if you take TOO much time to get to the airport? When travelers take this risk, it can unfortunately result in the plane leaving without them.
Other globe-trotters are so petrified of missing their flight that they make sure to leave at the crack of dawn, even if it’s for a 9 a.m. takeoff. Sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry. BUT, let’s take into account how much waiting this means. If you have too much time on your hands, you can end up spending a ton of money on food (—and let’s be honest, we know how painfully expensive airport snacks can be). Also, if you’re at the terminal early and you can’t find any open outlets to plug your phone into, you’re looking at more time to drain your phone’s juice before you get on the plane. We all want to have ample amounts of battery to listen to our music and podcasts, so the early traveler faces his or her own set of problems as well.
So when IS the right time to leave for the airport? The truth is, it will always be a dice roll. There are certainly pros and cons to being both the early and the late traveler. It’s important to monitor traffic jams and flight delays before leaving for the airport. Reading the airline’s check-in requirements would be another helpful item to check off your traveling to-do list. That being said, you should always make sure to be conscious of airport protocol before your trip, so that you can be relaxed once you’ve reached your vacation destination!