It’s that time of year again when we turn to overseas holidays. The thought of basking in guaranteed sun or sightseeing with family or friends is very enticing. It all used to be so easy, turning up at the airport, standing in an orderly queue, and even finding time to have a welcoming coffee in a cafe before boarding the plane. Sadly, at the moment everything seems to have fallen apart as companies cancel flights, and we watch in horror as scenes of overcrowded airports hit the TV screen.
Once, my niece, an air hostess at the time, said to me that passengers often leave their brains on the forecourt as they enter the airport. I do know what she means because flying can be very stressful but if we want to holiday overseas, often flying is the only way. And in normal circumstances negotiating the airport, the queues, and the suitcase scramble can be very stressful. However, while some of these frustrations cannot be avoided, we might be able to do something to at least mitigate them.
Some of the tips seasoned travellers have learned are:
- Even before leaving for the airport, how you pack your suitcases and carry-on luggage
is very important. Always pack your daily medicines, phone chargers, underwear,
toothbrush and toothpaste, and – most importantly – valuable documents like Passports,
Insurance, flight details and so on, in your carry-on luggage. Keeping them at the top of
the bag will also mean easy access when you have to take them out to go through Security
at the airport. An aside tip is to also have a doctor’s prescription for your medicines to
prove that any prescribable drugs you have on you are legal.
- There is nothing worse than losing your passport, cards, etc. when on holiday. A good tip to deter thieves is to have your passport, cards, money and travel documents kept securely in a neck pouch, or similar. Small and unobtrusive it’s close to your chest and gives that added protection. Also, quick and easy to produce everything when going through Security.
- Pack a small power strip in your carry-on luggage so that you can charge your phone, Airpods, laptop, tablet, etc., all at the same time. Also, carry a universal adapter so that it can be used at any airport.
- Download and print your boarding pass before you leave home. This will mean you can avoid standing in the long queues and head straight for Security. As you can book your seat when getting your boarding pass you often get a better position on the plane. For instance, if you suffer from airsickness opt to get a seat near the front of the plane for a more comfortable flight.
- If you are renting a car for your holiday, do this from the comfort of your home before leaving for the airport. This also means that you can choose the car that better suits your specifications and budget.
- Shrink-wrap your luggage destined to go in the hold. It will still go through the airport scanner and give added protection to your luggage when being moved by the baggage handlers, who can be pretty rough on suitcases as they are working against time to get the hold filled and emptied.
You’ve made it to the airport, and haven’t been told your flight is cancelled. This is where the fun really starts.
- Once at the airport and have dropped off any luggage you are not taking into the cabin, make your way straight to Security. Consider going left when you reach the queues because most passengers turn right automatically. Then pick the furthest checkpoint as it will have fewer passengers waiting to go through.
Going through Security can be a frightening experience and expect to be scanned if the alarm bell beeps. It may be something as simple as a belt buckle – better to take off any belts to add to the provided bins. Indeed, anything metal will set off the alarm and bear in mind that if you’ve ever had an operation with screws left in (some operations necessitate this), be ready to explain just why you’ve set off the alarm. Even then, you may be pulled aside for a search. Metal on shoes will set off the alarm. Even though mine didn’t, I still had to remove them once to be checked. Be patient and let the Security staff do their job. (If you’ve just come home from some countries you might even have your hands swabbed for drugs – my poor husband was very upset when they did this to him once! Fortunately, of course, they didn’t find anything but it was still unsettling for him.)
- The height of pleasure when at an airport is to pay to use the airport lounge, which is situated Airside (after Security) along with all the lovely duty-free. After trawling through the duty-free shops, you can while away the time with access to a TV, comfortable chair, fast Wi-Fi, and can usually even have a shower. This should be bookable before you arrive at the airport.
- If on a long flight, you will have to sit for some hours in the same seat. Consider flight socks which can help prevent deep vein thrombosis, although this is extremely rare. Even if you don’t use these put on a pair of ordinary socks so that you can remove your shoes before sitting back and relaxing. A blow-up or light pillow could help as well.
- Buying something to eat on the plane can rapidly diminish your hard-earned cash. So consider buying something to take onboard. You are allowed to carry on small bottles of booze (no more than 85 grams or 3 ozs) although it might be best to try and keep away from alcohol, which can be very dehydrating, and you may need to pay an exorbitant price for a small bottle of water. Another tip is to carry your own empty water bottle which you can fill up once you’ve been through security.
- Finally, once at your destination, having picked up your luggage and cleared security, if you need a taxi consider catching one from Departures, not Arrivals. There will be fewer people trying to hail a taxi and it might even be cheaper. But you have to be quick to catch the eye of a taxi driver before they drive off after having set down a fare.
There are many more tips and these are just a few. But might help you to plan and enjoy your next holiday no matter where in the world you are flying to. You may also have tips which would help to turn travelling into part of the holiday, rather than a necessary evil, so do add them in the comments section.
Please do share your travel tips below! We can’t wait to see the best hacks for enjoyable travelling!