First off, I’m going to assume you don’t have access to a first class lounge at airports. Although, you could get access fairly easily. For instance, the two most common ways of doing so are by being someone’s plus one or using your credit card.

Being someone’s plus one is pretty simple. On most airlines, first class flyers are able to bring in one guest. What you can do is make a friend who will let you in. It’s free for them, and most people like helping people out so there you go.

The other way to gain access is via a credit card. Many credit cards offer access to certain first class lounges. However, since this is such a great perk, most of these cards come with annual fees in the hundreds of dollars. Most around $400. But if you fly often enough, it’s definitely worth considering this option. It may be a worthy business expense. Remember, these lounges often have food, showers, a concierge, quiet and plenty of plugins. A paradise!

But let’s assume you aren’t too concerned with getting in the lounge. The following post will tell you how you can get work done while waiting for your flight. Once you know how, having a flight get delayed won’t be such a big deal. You’ll have plenty to keep you busy.

Before leaving, I bring a water bottle, snacks and have my electronics fully charged and easily accessible in my carry on. The water bottle is for filling once I get through security. Paying $10 for a bottle of water is just not something I can make myself do. The snacks are so I don’t have to be interrupted and walk anywhere to get a snack. I like having my stuff charged so if I can’t find a plugin right away, that’s okay.

Once I get through security, I find my gate. Then I look around – get my bearings. I look for a spot that’s quiet, fairly close to the gate and has free plugins. Many such paradises can be found a bit away from the gate. But that’s okay since you can use an app or a monitor to see what’s happening with your flight. You will also find like-minded people in these spaces. This helps you keep your working mentality. You’ll be around other freelancers and high achievers rather than around families who are just trying to make it to Disney World.

Have a backup spot in mind. Then I go to the restroom. It’s a pain having to pack up your things when you need to use the restroom. It’s best to get this out of the way. And yes, I realize I sound like an old man. Even though I’m 26.

Go to the plugin paradise. Set up camp. Get to work. For me, having noise-cancelling headphones is a must. I don’t like sound when I work.

Most airports have limited use free internet. Once you run out of that, you must pay. It’s expensive. While I have paid for it before, I try to avoid it. To get around this, I aim to do offline work in airports. This isn’t too much trouble if you plan it well.

Stay focused as long as possible. It’s easy to get concerned about when you’re about to board. But it’s okay. There’s always plenty of time between when they begin boarding and when the plane actually leaves. Stay focused on work.

If you follow these tricks, you can work in an airport just about as efficiently as working at home. My goal is always to see how little time I can spend actually doing the whole travel routine. That is, how much time does it take where I’m actually twiddling my thumbs in the airport: security, boarding, waiting for takeoff when the laptops must be put away and landing. It’s pretty cool living as a freelance who can be a digital nomad. You can often waste less than one hour and before you know it, you’ve arrived at your destination.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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