Do you like travelling? I’ve always loved going to different places and seeing the world but must admit that travelling can often take the edge of the excitement. Airports in particular can be very busy, stressful and tiring places especially at this time of year.
I think I possibly struggle a little more because of my MS. Journeys have to be planned to the letter with time built in for breaks, extra consideration given to amount of hand luggage carried and contingency plans set up in reserve in case it’s all a bit too much. I tire easily at the best of times, never mind when I’m out of my comfort zone in the hustle and bustle of the airport. This year I’ve decided not to brave the airports and apart from being His Lordship’s taxi service to and from Heathrow in his pre Christmas trip, I’ll not be stepping foot inside a terminal.
However for those of you that are, there are some little tricks which always help so here are my 7 top tips to keep you sane if you’re travelling by air this Christmas.
Never carry when you can pull
There are numerous different sizes of bags available nowadays, which are suitable for carrying on board and many of which come on wheels. There is nothing worse than traipsing around the airport lugging your body weight in hand baggage. If you can find something to pull then it’s so much easier to transport and also to store in overhead compartments when finally on board.
Don’t bring everything but the kitchen sink ‘just in case’
In my stewardess days, I lost count of the number of passengers who appeared at the door with enough hand baggage to form their own luggage outlet. Often mum would board with the children and then dad would appear a few seconds later weighed down with all the bags. It’s not the best time of the year to struggle through the airport or down the aircraft aisle with excessive, oversized and unnecessary bags. The more time planning what you really need to take before you go can save you time, energy and sometimes, even money if you are already close to the baggage limit.
Check out airline lounges
Up until recently, I’d always assumed that lounges were just for business or premium ticket holders but there are lounges in every airport, which are also accessible to the everyday traveller. Sometimes discounted bookings can be made as add-ons to car parking, car rental or ticket bookings. Check your reservations when made for any useful links and do some research before you travel to work out what your options are. On a recent trip to Belfast, I was lucky enough to be able to try out the No1 Lounge. It was so relaxing and I will definitely book to go there again.
Wait until queues die down until you board
After all the waiting before you board, it’s so tempting to be up like a rocket and on board asap to get a good seat and all that. However if you’ve been allocated a seat and you’ve got minimum hand baggage, then what’s the point in rushing? I tend to hold back until initial queues have died down and then pootle casually on board. Saves queuing to board in often drafty and narrow jettys too.
Keep all-important documents and numbers handy
This is something, which I always endeavor to do and then fail miserably at. When you have a handbag of doom like I do then whatever is placed safely and close to hand is inevitably impossible to find when you get to the gate. If you ever find yourself queuing behind someone who cannot find passport, ticket, phone etc then no doubt it will be me! My New Year resolution is to get myself a Lady J doc wallet and attach it around my neck instead.
In the event of a delay, think clever
What’s the point in queuing endlessly at the customer service desks trying to find out information from those who probably know less than you do. Make the best use of social media to check out what’s happening and tweet/ DM airlines and travel companies from the safe sanctuary of a bar in the airport.
Install travel apps such as gateguru and traveltime.
Another useful trick when travelling is to have travel apps installed on your phone so any delays can be picked up upon and updates to your journey easily notified. They also enable you to easily find out amenities about your chosen airport so that you can be prepared about what services are available and how much they cost. Knowledge is power.
Happy Travelling this Christmas!