There’s a reason they say get to the airport at least two hours early. From checking your luggage to getting processed by customs, catching an international flight can be a tedious, at times frustrating task, particularly when pressed for time in a crowded airport. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. We’ve put together a useful list containing five handy airport tips to help you get to your gate faster.

1. Check in online

This can be a major time-saver, particularly if you’re not checking bags. Most airlines have now made checking in online a relatively simple, fool-proof process and even offer automated check in services when you arrive if you can’t get to a computer. Airlines these days also generally have an easy to use flight status feature, so you can be aware of any unexpected delays before you actually rock up.

2. Weigh your bags

The person who’s been standing in line for 20 minutes only to suddenly realise when they’ve reached the counter that they need to frantically move clothes from one bag to another to make the weight limit isn’t the most popular person at the airport. Make sure you know the weight of your bags before you arrive. Many airports have scales installed near the entrance for a last minute check.

3. Have your important documents ready

Make sure you’re ready to go when you hit the front of the line by having your boarding pass, ID/passport and credit card stored in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. This may seem like a small detail, but it means you won’t waste time rifling through your possessions when you get to the front of the line and decreases the chance of leaving something important at home.

4. Passing through customs and immigration

These processes can be streamlined by just being a little bit cooperative. Have your documentation ready, fill out any paperwork and answer any questions the officials may have in an honest, clear manner. Making sure you pay attention to little details like this also decreases your chances of having to face a grilling from a surly customs official, which is just as fun as it sounds.

5. Figure out the gate your flight is departing from

While you generally have plenty of time to pick up a nice duty-free bargain after customs, don’t be complacent. Even if it’s just a quick glance at the departure times, make sure you know the actual gate your flight is departing from. Nobody likes to hear their name over the airport loudspeaker, particularly if the voice is directing you to a gate that’s on the other side of the terminal.

Don’t let long, potentially mood-killing lines at the airport derail the start of your trip. With a little bit of advance planning you can get through the airport quickly and avoid the unnecessary stress.

Image credits: Getty Images

This article first appeared on Over60.