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Time-Saving Ideas for Air Travel

When you're on your way to catch a flight, a million little things can slow you down. However, plenty of those variables are within your control. Here are some easy and effective ways to streamline your path from home (or hotel) to boarding:

Budget plenty of time to get to the airport: Better to spend a few extra minutes waiting at the airport than to experience that sinking dread of sitting in traffic as your departure time creeps closer. Budget plenty of time to get to the airport, check traffic conditions, and, if you can't spare the extra time it takes to park, consider taking a cab, shuttle, or catching a ride to the airport.

Check in online: Even as more people print their boarding passes at home, check-in lines at the airport remain long and can add anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour to your check-in time. Whenever possible, check in online and print a boarding pass (or download it to your phone if you're flying on one of the many airlines that offers mobile boarding passes).

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Don't check a bag: Pack light and you'll avoid needing to check your bag as you depart and won't have to wait for it when you arrive. Note that this is not a suggestion to bring your larger-than-carry-on-size bag with you onto the plane, though, since that slows down the boarding process for everyone.

Get through security faster: The priciest way to speed through the security checkpoint is to use the shorter lines sometimes reserved for business- or first-class, or be an elite member of a frequent flyer program. But you don't have to shell out to get through security as quickly and efficiently as possible. Wear easily removable shoes; know the 3-1-1 restrictions; and stow your belt, large jewelry, change, keys, and other metal items in your bag. And, don't forget to choose the line most suited to your traveling type.

These ideas seem like common sense, but it can help to review the basics when you're readying yourself for a big trip. What are your other tried-and-true tricks?

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