DO have PASSPORT, MONEY, HEADPHONES.
*Second tier importance: Sweater (for in-flight pillow and warmth), carry-on change of clothes (in case they lose your luggage it’s good to have some back-up stuff with you. Include bather if you’re headed somewhere warm)
DO- Actually, I can’t lecture you on the importance of being there hours before your flights because despite how often I travel, I still have not remotely begun to acknowledge this advisory.
“Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (re: distractions) you bring with you”
When I'm not moving, however, I have mastered the art of packing light with NO checked bags. #clutchAF
SO if I check in online, I can just cruise right over to customs.. Which brings me to my next tips..
DON’T be afraid to ask people to skip ahead if you have a legitimate chance of missing your flight. It’s Do or Die in those lines. The stakes of your trip are way too high, plus you’ll very likely never see these people again. Flash them your ticket and pump up the flustered-ness.
Have you passport and boarding card ready. You can put your passport away once you get in security line. (See: Step 5)
In most terminals now, much calmer machines have replaced the borderline-petrifying customs agents. However, if the machine senses any red-flags, or a ‘random selection’ then you will be sent to a special line that will add another 20 minutes at least to your time. Factor this in if you have any history of trouble, or share a name with a serial killer from the 1800s (happens to a friend of a friend of mine). When speaking to the agents: No joke making! (I don’t care if you’re effing Amy Poehler- do NOT). Also no small talk, no smiling or breathing… JK JK.. kind of, but not. They want quick, simple answers so give them what they want and nothing more. You can add a lot of time on here so don’t test it!
DO be SWIFT in that security line. Not nobody has patience for a glacial n00b up there. All countries’ airport laws vary a bit so I always go with being better safe than sorry. This means TWO bins:
DO find your gate first thing. No matter how much time you think you’ve got. Gates change, departure times change and even get cancelled. Head right to your gate and take note of the line-ups for refreshment stands along the way. Then calculate your boarding time vs distance to said line ups vs a rough estimate on the wait for each vs the quality of refreshments at said stand and make an educated decision on where is the most feasible place to stop.
*Now would be the time to pause your stop-watch and log how long it took you to get through the airport.
At this point, you’re calm about the fact you’re at your gate. You know there’s a guaranteed seat waiting on that plane, you can take your time… WRONG.
If you’re like me and fly with carry-on… unlike your seat, that overhead space is NOT guaranteed. Because of this, I’ve had my luggage taken from me at the gate and TWICE I’ve had them not there when I landed (both times US Airways, weird! ((Alas, other tales for other times)).
DO go to the loo before you board- especially if you’ve nabbed that window seat! It’s very important to drink water while airborne, but equally as important to not disrupt your entire row for constant bathroom breaks.
If you’ve got a tight connection to make, DO warn your flight attendant in flight. They will notify your next flight and help you de-plane ASAP. Otherwise, don’t be one of those people who stands up as soon as the seat-belt sign is turned off. It stresses everyone out and you won’t be going anywhere for at least 10 minutes. When the doors open in the front, just calmly get up and in one chill, swift motion, grab your carry-on (that you’ve stored in the bin directly over or ahead of you), and give the pilots and staff a cool head nod as you strut out like a bau$$.
The race is on to get to the front of that customs line. DO go go go! (four-wheeled suitcases are a necessity if you care about your time.)
If you have checked bags however, you’re just going to have to chill. You can sprint past as many passengers as you like but you’ll end up waiting at the baggage carousel with all of them, and their discerning glares.
*sunglasses would be mandatory here.
Once you’ve got everything you need and you’re allowed out of that building and enter your beautiful destination, DO head to the nearest beach or bar and treat yourself.
 Ferriss, Timothy. The 4-hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Chatham: Vermilion, 2011. Print.