How to take your airport experience from zero to hero

Anna Allgaier

Millions of people around the world travel over Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. In 2022 alone, 77,000 flights took off on Christmas Day globally. That may sound like a hefty figure, but Xmas Day is actually one of the quietest days to hit the airport.

Airports can be a lovely experience; the pre-trip buzz, using every free sample in Duty Free, and the going home buzz if you've just spent a week with your family. But the festive season has a few travel setbacks.

131 American adults will travel for the holiday’s and 59% of them are expecting delays and cancellations. Dealing with extended airport time is a situation we’re all familiar with.

Disruptions aside, this time of year is a busy one for travelling, and we don’t want you queuing or missing out on the unexpected joys of airports. From Terminal Spa’s to laughing at liquid restrictions, here are a few tips for your trip.

**Tip 1: Don’t go to the Bureau de Change, that’s so 2010 (pre Wise years, obvs). **

Go global with your money

1) Turn travel woes into wows with apps

Whip out your passports darlings, we’re boarding a flight to organisation station.

While we can't predict the unpredictable, we can plan for it. And there are a multitude of apps out there that can help you make memories, not mistakes while you’re heading overseas.

Airlo: eSIM Travel & Internet

When you download Airlo onto your phone you can download eSIM and roam like a local in over 200 countries and regions worldwide. They help you to avoid roaming charges which are generally, offensively high.


Colibra pays for your flight ticket whenever it gets delayed by over 3 hours or gets cancelled. You read that correctly. Yes, you can pause reading this to go have a little dance.


CozyCozy compares EVERYWHERE you can stay: hotels, rentals, cabins, cottages, hostels, Air bnbs’.


You knew it was coming. Hello, use Wise. We’re the most international money transfer app around - complete with debit card and money management tools, of course.

2) Airport guides

Wise has helped millions of people to create a home away from home, setting them up for a life without borders one card tap and transfer at a time. Translation: making sure you’re cosy, wherever you go is a VIM (Very Important Matter).

Airport guides are a fabulous way to do just that. I didn’t know they existed, which would have saved me from multiple food envy sighs and disappointing purchases.

Treat your airport experience like a holiday. Find the lushest lounges, the best-kept dining secrets, bask in the glory of a souvenir shop away from the crowds. On a more boring note, it’s good to know where the toilets and parking lots are.

Secret map 1

Secret map 2

3) Prepare for smoother skies: pre-booking and fast-tracking


A lot of airports offer fast track security now. Some charge a small fee, but other airports like Berlin Brandenburg Flughafen let you book a time slot for free so you can glide through security like the superstar you are.

If fast-track security isn’t on offer, fear not - there’s still a way to unlock the secret of airport wizardry. How, you ask? Veer left. Why? Most people are right-handed so naturally, they go for the line on the right, and even though people want to avoid queues, we’re more inclined to naturally follow the crowd. There’s a chance the lines on the left will be quicker for that reason.


Pre-book your parking!

That’s all I have to say on that one.


I cannot emphasise the importance of doing your research before you set off. I had no idea that click-and-collect was available at Duty Free’s and Pharmacies across 14 UK airports. This is REVOLUTIONARY. Bye liquid restrictions, hello overpriced shampoo I didn’t need to buy.

Click-and-collect isn’t just available in the UK, and a lot of airlines offer pre-ordering your flight nibbles, too.


On average, waiting for a checked in bag can range anywhere from 30 minutes to, well, more. So if you’re in a rush and it’s at all possible, stick to hand luggage. Rolling up your clothes is an easy way to hit the packing light criteria. I say this, but I will never not travel with at least one 23kg suitcase.

If you’re packing gifts to take with you, use gift bags instead of wrapping paper to avoid tears and keep airport security happy. They’re foldable and if you only have hand-luggage, you don’t want security having to unwrap your prezzie.

Oh, and pack your Wise card lol

4) Treating others and yourself - Gift giving and checking in bags

If you want to save on VAT and buy your presents before boarding, you can still pack gift bags so you don’t have to hand your gift over to friends or family in a plastic Duty Free bag.

And with that left over cash, treat yourself to a spa day. JFK, Amsterdam Schiphol, Fairmont Vancouver Airport, London City Airport and Dubai International are just a few of the many locations with spa facilities.

That’s a wrap on my airport survival guide. Get it? WRAP. Like a present? I’m too good.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location