Top tips for making the most of airport lounges

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Whether you paid for access via a first class ticket, credit card perk, or snuck in behind some friends, there's nothing better than relaxing in style in an airport lounge while waiting for your flight.

It totally beats spending the 3 hours you have to kill trying to get some shut-eye crunched up like a busted piece of human origami in a tiny seat with armrests on both sides. Or worse... sitting at an empty bar paying $15 for a mediocre gin and tonic.

I've flown 27,181 miles in the last 6 months and have seen my fair share of airport lounges. Sure, the bottomless food and booze is wonderful, the spacious couches for snoozing are divine, and the plethora of power outlets is enough to make any digital nomad's heart sing. But, are you only taking your lounge access at face value?

There are so many more ways to get the most out of your airport lounge access. All it takes is a little creativity, preparation, and maybe a willingness to bend the rules (just a little bit).

Take the food bar for all it's worth

Seriously. Take everything you can carry. 5 sandwiches? Sure, why not. 3 bottles of water? Absolutely. Here are my top tricks at the food bar:

Poor Man's Trail Mix
Move over, peanuts... Stuff an empty Ziplock bag in your carry-on and get creative mixing the cereals, nuts, and fruits to bring on the plane. If there's no cereal you can crumble up some granola bars.

Cheapo's Charcuterie
Deconstruct a couple pre-made sandwiches for a DIY protein-packed meat and cheese 'board'. Ballin' on a budget, yo.

Adios Airline Food
Make space for an empty Tupperware in your carry-on to pack a decent meal for your flight. Curry chicken vacuum sealed in plastic? Hard pass. Fresh, hot meal to-go? Yes, please.

Speaking of bars... drink up, me hearties

Food isn't the only thing you can enjoy buffet-style in an airport lounge. I like to get creative with what's available at the bar to make my own delicious drinks:

Fruit Fusion Water
Raid the bar for garnishes like lemons and limes to add to your water bottle. You can get real fancy with it using the breakfast bar to find strawberries and the like. I'd stay away from blueberries, though... choke city. #truestory

Budget Bloody Mary’s
All you need is a few bottles of tomato juice from the cooler, a quick squeeze of a lemon, and a few shakes of pepper. And vodka, of course.

Coffee with a Kick
Just got off a red eye? Say goodbye to jetlag and use the espresso machine with more buttons than the plane's cockpit to make a double shot, top with hot chocolate until 3/4 full, then add some Bailey's Irish Cream for a tasty pick-me-up. 

Recharge literally and figuratively

These seem pretty obvious but can be so easily overlooked, especially in a large international lounge. The lounge is for, well, lounging. Do it up right:

Catch Some Zzz's
Lots of lounges have sleeping areas; use them! They're usually tucked around a corner in the back. Always remember to lock your bags and attach them to your chair or your person, just in case. And don't forget to set an alarm so you don't miss your boarding call!

Juice Up
Post up next to an outlet and get your charge on. Don't be a power hog, though. If you have a power strip like mine, share the love. Otherwise, find another seat after you're back at 100% so someone else can power up.

Sayonara Plane Stank
Those toiletries in your carry-on will come in handy for getting a quick scrub on in the lounge shower. Just don't forget to wear the shower shoes. Because, ew.

You paid for it, so use it

If there's one lesson that can be gleaned from this blog post it's this: you likely paid top dollar for access to the airport lounge, so USE IT. Take everything. Seriously. Anything you can fit in your bag. Food, drinks, toiletries, cups, the cute desk attendant... everything.

I'd love to hear your favorite airport lounge hacks. How do you maximize your bougie travel perks? Tell me in the comments!


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