I previously wrote a piece on here about debunking some of the myths around business travel being fun and it appeared to resonate with people. I have recently had an increase in the frequency of that travel for a variety of reasons and as such I have noticed a marked increase in the sheer number of people travelling progressively week on week but also have noticed the number of people travelling for non work related reasons increase. What is noticeable about these less frequent fliers is that things that have become second nature to me in terms of negotiating the airport and flying experience in a stress free manner are sometimes not all that clear to the infrequent flyer. So, given that holiday / vacation season is upon us, here are my top tips for less stressful air travel….
– Enough is enough
There are 2 types of people in this world when it comes to time keeping, those that like to be just in time and those that like to be well in time. The reality is that when travelling through airports you need to accept that your time is not entirely within your control. Yes, give yourself time for the unexpected, such as long queues, busy periods due to things like charter flights but also recognise that airports handle lots of flights to different places not just your flight so, at certain times of the day & parts of the year, the airport in going to be busier than other times – past performance is not an indicator of future performance and all that..
Bear in mind that some people just find the experience of flying and negotiating an airport a little stressful and as such aren’t as “clued-in” as they might otherwise be. In this respect the top tip is expect to be a little delayed at some point in the journey and pre-plan in terms of getting through the pinch points. A really good example of this is at security screening, you will have to go through this so think about that when packing your carry-on bag so that you can get at what you need to easily and also the type of clothing…the most regular holdups at security that I see are ladies trying to take off boots and blokes rooting for washbags underneath all their other stuff, those kinds of things invariably add to stress levels with others waiting impatiently behind in the queue!
Expect queues everywhere, airports excel at creating them for everything…its a fact of life and once you accept it things become much easier! Patience is your most underestimated ally in airports!
On the flip side, those who like to give themselves lots of time can suffer the challenges of the airport too. Whilst I do advocate giving a little extra time, there is nothing fun about being in the airport 3-4 hours ahead of a flight. Invariably being too early means that check-in desks are not yet open, security sometimes will restrict how soon pre-flight you can go through and increasingly (in an effort to get you to spend more money on stuff you don’t need at over inflated prices) boarding gates are not displayed until just before the flight closes and there is less and less seating around!
Technology should be about improving your life, making things easier and creating more options for you, my top tip for when you’re travelling? – Use It!
Most major airlines now not only allow you to check in remotely using a mobile device but also allow you to get a mobile boarding card, this means you can carry less scraps of paper and in reality you are also far less likely to misplace your phone as a scrap of A4 paper! In terms of your mobile boarding card, a shout out to a former colleague who’s top tip was to take a screenshot of your boarding card so you are not relying on mobile data connections to retrieve it while a queue forms behind you at a boarding gate! Do make sure your phone is charged however if you are depending on it and obviously if your battery is dying avoid Candy Crush!
Google your flight number or use flightradar24 to keep an eye on your flight (or indeed the inbound one that your flight will become), it will absolutely keep you better informed that he airport screens or PA system will. I have no idea how it works (voodoo or black magic i suspect!) but it never fails to give you early warning of any likely delays!
My Personal “Must Haves”
At some point it is likely that you will be bored, and your tech should be something to help keep the boredom at bay at least for a while. My current armoury of stuff to keep boredom at bay is as follows, iPad with; kindle app and books downloaded for future reading, spotify app in offline mode with few playlists synced, SkyGo app or equivalent with some stuff stored to watch later, simple games – Bejewelled, Angry Birds etc. In ear headphones, airlines will always ask you to remove over the ear ones and to be honest they take up loads of room in your carry on anyway. A paperback book for when your tech battery dies (and it will!), and lastly using your email in offline mode, dont worry, it will all send when you are back in internet coverage and you will have the benefit of being ahead of the game!
Peace of mind…
Travelling causes incremental stress levels for everyone, no matter how experienced at it you are so here are some handy hints that I suggest to help minimise it and keep you on an even keel!
– €5/€6 quid is cheap for peace of mind – use the fast track if nervous about, queues, travelling in groups etc
– Everything is premium priced – accept it. You probably don’t need whatever you are eying up in the duty free and it is more than likely cheaper elsewhere!
– You honestly don’t need all your clutter immediately accessible at the top of your carry-on bag or handbag – keep only the essentials accessible in a particular section (passport, boarding card, money) everything else is only going to get in the way when you are looking in a hurry for one of the aforementioned!
– Airports are highly regulated places for safety and security reasons, don’t expect anyone working in that environment to bend any rules for you or even to be woolly with the interpretation, they simply can’t do it and all it will cause is additional stress and holdups for everyone else!
– Write your parking location (section, row number etc) on the car park ticket, you wont remember it a week later, and having walked around the long term carpark in Dublin airport in the dark for hours dragging a bag behind I can attest that it is no fun!
Got any top tips? Please share them in the comments below! Bon Voyage!