Traveling can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
1. Get preapproved. At some U.S. airports, enrollees of the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck Program ($85 for five years) can leave on shoes and jackets and keep laptops and liquids stowed on domestic flights. Global entry ($100 for five years) adds fast-track immigration and customs at many U.S. points of entry.
2. Ship, don’t schlep. For short trips, or when you’re packing heavy, shipping may be cheaper. Plus, tracking and insurance are better, and you avoid the lines. No suitcases required; a sturdy box will suffice.
3. Go premium. United Airlines’s fees for priority lines, for instance, start at $9. Business and first-class fares often include this perk, but you can get it by paying for extra legroom on airlines like JetBlue.
4. Go plastic. United, Delta, and American airlines offer credit cards that include pre-boarding privileges. The first year is often fee-free.
5. Check it curbside. If you simply must check bags, make sure to use the uniformed skycaps in the outdoor departures area. Lines are usually shorter than inside; just remember to tip a few dollars a bag.
This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveler. There’s a lot you can’t get online. Give the gift of inspired travel. Pick up a print or digital subscription for the curious traveler in your life.