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How to actually enjoy your time at the airport, according to a travel host who flies 100,000 miles a year

Joey Hadden   

How to actually enjoy your time at the airport, according to a travel host who flies 100,000 miles a year
  • Travel expert Samantha Brown has tips to help you enjoy waiting in airport terminals.
  • Brown, a seasoned traveler, emphasizes stress reduction by arriving early for flights.

Enduring the airport is an essential part of air travel, and I think I speak for most when I say it's typically not a great experience.

From navigating busy terminals and security checkpoints to waiting for your plane to board at a packed gate, going to the airport is possibly the least enjoyable part of any trip.

But it doesn't have to be that way, travel expert Samantha Brown told Business Insider.

Brown has hosted several travel shows worldwide over the past 25 years, including Travel Channel's "Great Vacation Homes" and her Emmy-award-winning PBS show, "Samantha Brown's Places to Love." She recently partnered with Klarna on a summer travel trends report with packing essentials and a trip itinerary based on hot destinations.

Brown estimates she's been to more than 90 countries and flies 100,000 miles a year on average. Unlike most, she said she loves airports and has four tips for making the most of your time in terminals.

Being stuck in an airport is inevitable for air travelers, so you might as well enjoy it.

Arrive early to eliminate stress

Although she loves airports, Brown expressed that, like most of us, she dislikes the pre-terminal check-in and TSA experience. But she said this is mostly due to stress, which can be avoided by arriving early.

"If you do not allow enough time, you will be stressed out," she said. "However, that stress goes away when you actually plan."

For example, during peak travel seasons like summer, she arrives at the airport three hours before boarding time.

Once she gets through security, Brown said she walks to her gate to ensure it's correct. Then, she can relax until her boarding time.

"I have never regretted how much time I've spent in the airport," she added.

Think of the airport as a mall

"Airports are my teenage mall," Brown said. "Some feel like cities in themselves, like the Denver airport is bigger than Manhattan."

With miles of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and gates to explore, Brown said she likes to put on AirPods and take long walks through terminals before a flight. After years of doing this, she said she feels "at home" inside an airport.

People-watch to pass the time

On her long terminal walks, Brown said she loves to people-watch.

"I love to check out the different gates, and I will play a guessing game of who's waiting and where they look like they're going?" she said.

Help others in need

In airports, you tend to see other travelers keeping to themselves, only worrying about getting where they're going.

"So many people are traveling, and they forget how hard it is for other people to be in these massively overwhelming terminals with thousands of people," she said.

Brown shifts the tone by helping other travelers — especially when flying solo.

"When I am solo traveling, I'll look around and see if there's a mom who's busy with kids, or a caretaker with someone who's elderly, or if there's someone with a walker," she said. "And I will go up to them and say, 'I'm getting a cup of coffee. Do you need one?'"

Brown added that she has also helped families board with strollers.

Brown said that people are grateful for her assistance, which makes her feel good.

Brown's tips may help you avoid stress and enjoy your time at the airport by changing your perspective.

"We're all in this place for a short moment," she said. "We're all going somewhere else. It's magic."



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