Today I’m busy packing for my flight to Melbourne early tomorrow morning and I’ve gone into pre holiday mode. I’ve got my list and I’m gradually ticking things off.
- Cat food ready for my cat minder – enough to last the two weeks – and then a bit more, just in case the cat’s extra hungry, or I’m late getting back or … whatever.
- The bill’s are all paid, so the electric and water don’t get cut off while I’m gone.
- The pool’s been super chlorinated – it’ll probably still morph into a lovely shade of green before I get back though.
- Maya, my feline friend, has been well & truly cuddled and assured that I will return and that her pseudo parent, Mr S, will take good care of her.
I’m an organised, list type person and getting everything sorted well in advance means that tomorrow morning I shouldn’t have anything to do except chuck the last few things in my suitcase and head out the door.
Which is just as well - I managed to book myself on a flight that leaves at the crack of dawn, actually, before dawn! The sun might just put in an appearance as we fly over the suburbs towards South Australia.
Airports – how do you feel about them?
I fall firmly into the first category and it never ceases to amaze me how some travellers get so frazzled and confused when it comes to checking in and navigating the airport.
So, I thought I’d share my top 4 tips for stress free airport check-in and a successful start to your holidays.
1. Check …. then double check.
Check all of the details before you get to departure day and then again before you leave home.
Check the DATE and the TIME of your flight. This may seem self explanatory but I know of people who’ve turned up at the airport on the wrong day (luckily they were a day early, but still …)
If you’re heading overseas check that your visa (if you need one) is all sorted and that you’ve got local currency if you’ll need it for any taxes.
A cautionary tale.
I have a very well travelled relative – she shall remain nameless but she’s been backpacking around the world for the last fifteen months – and she was catching a flight from Adelaide to Christchurch. She’d been travelling around Australia and arrived at Adelaide airport 20 hours before her scheduled flight and …. she still missed her plane.
She hadn’t realised that she needed a return ticket before she’d be allowed into New Zealand and it wasn’t till she went to check in that she found out.
It was a frantic hour or so with phone calls to travel agents and emailed tickets before she was able to catch the next flight
As I said, CHECK EVERYTHING. Even if you think you have, do it again.
2. Be organised.
I am an organised person, always have been (some may say that I’m too organised, but I don’t see it) and it frustrates the hell out of me if I’m travelling with those who are organisationally challenged. It doesn’t take too much and can make a travelling life so much easier.
If your airline allows it (and most now do) check in the day before – it’s time saved.
Whether you have to check in at the airport or just do a bag drop, make sure all your documents are together – passports, tickets, visas. Get them all together in plenty of time and put them somewhere that’s easily accessible. There’s nothing worse for you, or the person in the queue behind you, if you’re having to zip open bags or rummage through your carry on to find your passport.
If you’re travelling as a family, nominate one family member to hang on to everyone’s documents as you head towards check in. The counter staff will thank you for it if you can just hand over everything in one go.
3. Be early.
Getting to the airport early does make life easier.
If you’re driving to the airport or catching a cab or even public transport you need to plan for any dramas you may encounter along the way. With a bit of luck there won’t be any but you never know when a tyre is going to blow or a taxi not arrive.
When we were in England a few years ago we were flying from Heathrow back to Perth on a late morning flight. We stayed the previous night a few kilometres from the airport and just needed to drop the hire car off on our way. We left the B & B in what we thought was plenty of time, but we didn’t count on the accident on the M25 that held up traffic and contributed to my near panicked state as we finally made it to the airport with very little time to spare before check in closed.
So yes – leave home or your accommodation with plenty of time to spare (and a bit more!)
I’d rather get checked in nice and early and then spend time relaxing in the departure lounge reading, people watching and having a coffee or a glass of wine (possibly not the wine at 5.00am tomorrow) than arrive at the airport in the nick of time.
4. Don’t load yourself up.
Nothing gets me more frazzled (except possibly being late getting to the airport), than having too much stuff to juggle and cart around as I check in and negotiate boarding.
I try and stick to one suitcase and one carry on and not load myself up with anything that won’t fit into these two pieces of luggage.
Try not to overdo it with camera bags, handbags, loose magazines, computer bags – make sure your carry on will take all your bits and pieces. Then, once you’ve checked your suitcase it’s just a matter of grabbing one bag and not having to check all around you to make sure you’ve picked everything up.
Another thing that I like to do is put all the things that I’ll actually need on the flight – boarding pass, purse, book, notebook & pen – into a small bag and then put it inside my carry on. Once settled on the plane I can put the bigger bag in the overhead compartment and just have the small bag with me by my feet.
So, I’m almost packed, I’m organised and I’ve checked everything – several times.
All being well, and the gods of technology allowing it, my next post will be coming to you from the Melbourne suburb of Highett.
Anything in particular that you’d like me to write about while I’m there?