The Art Of Travelling - Hassle-Free Tips To Avoid Unnecessary Travel Dramas
Hope you are enjoying the last days of the Summer 2019.
It has been a long, long time since I last wrote here. So a catch up is due, but for now, I will share the highlights.
My leg is recovering well. I have done months of physiotherapy and now I just need to continue doing the exercises at home. I can already walk and dance better, but it will take a couple of months more to be able to run like for life.
The summer has been full of travel and events. I have been to Bristol, Lisbon, Southampton and I have some few more trips coming up. When I have time, I will share more about these adventures here.
My family came to visit me in London and we had good moments together. Sometimes, I don’t realise how much I miss my loved ones until I have them around. It just feel good to be pampered by them.
This year has reminded me about how much I love travelling.
The Art of Travelling
Travelling in itself is an art and involves lots of energy and sometimes money in planing and getting to the final destinations. That includes some hassles along the way.
3 weeks ago, I was flying from London Heathrow and I saw things that made me laugh but at the same made me feel empathy towards my fellow travellers who had to go though the below:
#1-Everything , but not my bottle
A lady had forgotten to empty out the liquid from her thermos bottle and was presented with one of life most hardest decisions: to let go of the thermos bottle with whatever liquid was inside or to miss her flight.
You would think she would pick the most reasonable option.
To my amazement and to the amazement of the security staff and other passengers, she ran quickly in search of a liquid disposal station.
After few minutes, she came back panting and said:
I need to go through fast because I am about to miss my flight.
Yep. We all looked at each other puzzled.
#2-Find me if you can
The queue I was in got hold for almost 20 minutes because the people who went before had something that beeped and required the security staff to search them.
It turned out to be not bombs, but hair pins and other pretty little things.
After witnessing the above, I felt compelled to write this post. So I spent most of my waiting time frenetically typing on my mobile.
I thought I could share some things I that can help avoid the same pitfalls and make your trips hassle free. Some of things were learned the hard way. Of course.
I have created a timeline to make it easier for you apply these tips.
So let’s get started .
The Hassle-Free Tips To Avoid Unnecessary Travel Dramas
1 month – 1 week before departure – Get the basics sorted
Get a travel list to keep you on track. You can create your own or download from travel websites and blogs
Check your dates, again and again. I lost count of the amount of times I saw people arriving at the airport just to realise that they read the date wrong. Hello American date format.
Buy travel insurance. Even if a cheap one is better than none. I know we like to think positive while travelling, but bad things can also happens and it's usually in countries where Healthcare costs a fortune. Hello America , China and Co. I have two friends who got ill and stranded in remote parts of the globe and the insurance basically made a difference between being able to get care and rebook their flight and staying stuck and God knows what would have happened.
Write a “in case of emergency” piece of paper. Write your name, date of birth, blood, passport number, expire date type and your emergency contacts and any medication you are taking and the name and contacts of the place/people you are visiting - one day you will thank me for this. Cheers.
Save a copy of your travel document so that you can access them in case of emergency. You can write a draft email. Attach the copy and save it.
Remember to exchange currency if the destination uses a different currency.
Buy a scale, if you haven’t got one yet . I used to go through an immense of stress worrying about exceeding the baggage allowance. That all disappeared the day I bought a hand held luggage from Poundland. Bye anxiety!
2 Weeks (weeks if you are travelling with kids and pets) – 1 Week before departure – Get smart and organised when it comes to packing
Set a packing station where you can dump the things you will need to take with you. This helps you assess if you need to buy something or do some laundry to take on your trip. Also separate what goes in the hold/checked in luggage and things what goes in hand luggage
Hold/checked in luggage – pack for convenience and resistance to spillage and breakage
Wrap fragile items with bubble wrap or roll them in a paper and then in a piece of clothing.
Seal liquids bottles and containers with cellar tape and then put into a plastic bag before putting inside the toiletries bag also called necessàire –literally “what is needed” in French.
Write a tag with your contact details: “ if found, please contact...”. this can help you recover your luggage quicker if you ever get separated from each other
Have a very distinctive tag on the outside of your suitcase to make it easy to spot on the luggage claim belt.
Don't close the bag until leave home. Trust me there is always something to take out or add on.
Hand luggage – pack for comfort and speed
Choose a medium bagpack as hand luggage. I’ve noticed that most traditional airlines now give priority to passengers without trolleys. I boarded quickly on my last 3 flights - just after priority and premium passengers- because they called people "without trolley" first.
Take a cardigan or/and a scarf- planes can pretty cold.
Take a pair of underwear and 1 change of clothes. It’s helpful if you need to change for whatever reason (hi mothers) or if you luggage gets delayed/lost.
Earplugs/headphones/earphones are a must - There are babies, loud people and all kind of possible noises on the plane.
Refillable water bottle- please drink everything before you have past the security and then refill (mostly in UK airports).
Put all your documents in a pouch which you can access quickly.
Put all devices in one case to avoid the “now the laptop, next the tablet and then...”.
Prepare a clear bag with liquids and cosmetics- don't forget to add toothpaste, toothbrush and mini sun protector here
Pack anything precious that you would mind losing in here : jellwery, expensive gifts, sex toys, children toys, etc. I have witnessed massive tantrums on board because “Teddy bear” didn’t make it.
Put a cloth bag for any extra thing you might need to buy or carry. You can also use it later for dirty laundry.
Pack a snack - something light and nutritious like a protein bar and also a tea bag of chamomile or lemon balm/Melissa to help relax. Flight attendants probably will hate you for asking for hot water in the end. Cheers.
Remember to have a pen and paper. Sounds old fashioned, but you know what is old fashioned too? To have to go around the entire airport or plane asking for a pen or paper to take note or sign something.
Pack any medicine you might need. Make sure you get enough.
3 days - the night before departure - Pack like a pro Traveller aka Globetrotter
Start putting everything inside the luggage. The goal is to pack light and effectively.Most of us tend to either take too less and end up having to buy things at the destination or too much and then end up paying excess of baggage for things we will bring back unused.
I once paid £350 for excess of luggage and still I am not the best person when it comes to light packing. However, living with two friends who mostly travel with hand luggage had taught me a lot. Also, instead of beating myself up, I choose to travel with traditional airlines and buy a ticket that allow me to have 1 piece of hold/checked-in luggage. No wahala.
If you are a frequent flyer, some of the airlines might look away if you have extra 1-3kg. In my opinion airlines should base your luggage weight allowance on the number of days your trip will last. Someone travelling for two months should get more allowance that someone travelling for 3days. I am just saying...
Travelling solo or with kids and no chaperone? Then stick to 2 pieces of luggage. Bagpack and a trolley, because “Ain’t nobody gonna have time to help you.”
You would be surprised at how many times I panted or saw others going through the same nightmare of dragging several pieces luggage. I once carried 3 bags on a multi-city journey and my friend who hosted me kept asking me while dragging my bags up the hills of Prague:
What the ‘eff’ you are carrying in these bags?
In those bags were mostly gifts for family and friends I would visit just to later being informed that they now had deli counters in their city selling the same Portuguese wines and olive oils I was carrying. I am pretty sure my legs, knee and arms won’t forgive me for this.
2 Days – The Night before – Set the mood
Always check your email for any last minute messages from your airline. Check also the spam folder.
Do online check in to save time.
Prepare some cash to have in hand if you need to pay something. Once my friend phone got blocked while she was travelling in the night with two children and had no cash to use the phone booth.
Sleep early to feel rested. If you are going to a place in a different time zone, start adjusting to the new time.
Prepare what you will wear on the travel day. Choose a comfortable outfit that helps you feel good. Altitude/pressure has impact on the human body, especially if you suffer from a health conditions. Forget belts and hairpins because they will delay you on the security check and avoid wearing high heels and boots on the travel day. I will explore this to detail on Security fast track.
I also like to get my house cleaned and my bed linen and towels changed and laundry everything. So that when I come back my house look cosy enough to welcome me in style. I used to even write myself a ‘'welcome back’ note, but that is just another level of my craziness.
#Plan your route to the airport
Unless you are taking a cab/Uber, please check at least 2 ways to get to the airport. Not wanting to sound like a tube announcement, but in big cities, a small incident can resulted in severe delays everywhere.
Allow yourself enough time and aim to be at the airport 2 - 3 hours before your flight departs. I used to do a lot of " last minute " -arriving at the airport 30 minutes before check-in closes. Bu then, there was a month when I was travelling a lot and I witnessed 3 people missed their flights because they arrived late and despite the plane still being in the gate, they weren't allowed to board. Ouch! On one of the occasion it was a mother with her 2 young children and a baby on her arms. She shouted, banged on the window. She then started crying and the children followed her crying. I felt so sorry for her and the kids and right there I knew something like that could also happen to me. Now, I stopped doing last minute when I am travelling.
Set two or three alarms - Just in case you miss the first one or your hit snooze by habit.
On the day - Leave gracefully and on time
Allow enough time for your morning routine so that you can leave without stress.
Have a power breakfast and avoid things that can make you feel ‘bloated’ because gravity and altitude have no mercy.
Take a last look at your travel list to make sure you have everything you need - on my last trip, I was carrying 3 devices and then halfway through the flight, I noticed that I forgot the adapters at home.
Put the piece of paper with emergency contact in your pocket. If you ever have a mishap, you have everything you need to move on without bag or mobile.
Inform your host or the person picking you up from the airport that if anything happen, they should meet you at the arrivals meeting point instead of both of you endlessly searching for each other around the airport.
Say goodbye to your loved ones, pets, house and plants. I don’t mean to be tragic, but you never know …
I always look at myself in the mirror smile and say reassuring words to msyelf before I leave the front door.
#Fast tracking your way through airport security check
Avoid high heels and boots. Not only because you will walk a lot, but also because you will go through the performance of removing them and walking barefoot to pass the body scanner
Use headbands instead of hair scarf and turban. If you wear veil or any other item that restrict the possibility of identification, you will be asked to lift/remove it either in public or in a private room assigned for that purpose.
Take out your devices from cases and put them on the tray along with the liquids clear bag
Be courteous and remove your empty tray when you pick your things. I lost count the amount of times the queue gets hold because the security staff need to stop and clear trays left behind
Make sure you pack back everything. Tons of valuables are left at airports after security checks.
If you have enough time left before boarding, you can browse Duty Free shops. Sometimes you get amazing deals, especially on Cosmetics and Fragances.
On board the plane
Remember the cloth bag? Take it out and put all the things you want to have close to you during the flight.
Drink water regularly, because altitude can make you feel dehydrated
Move (check plane exercises online) and go to toilet regularly. I used to be so self conscious that I wouldn't move the entire flight and was even afraid of going toilet. Then I realised that I was damaging my health and stopped. Now sometimes you can find me doing yoga moves on the plane and doing my drag race catwalk on the way to the toilets.
If you have kids - Please be kind to both your kids and fellow passengers. I understand that you can’t stop children from screaming or wanting to walk around the plane, but at least do something to mitigate the noise and disturbance. My last flight had at least 15-20 kids , half of them were toddlers so you could imagine the choir of cries left, right and centre. At some point I just plugged my earphones deep in.
Going though luggage claim, Border Control and Customs
If you made it alive until this stage, congratulations. You are just a few steps away from starting to enjoy your trip.
Go toilet before going through luggage claim and border control. You never know how long you might have to stand and it’s also an opportunity to refresh your appearance ( one can look really tired after a flight) and prepare the things you will need for the next steps such as passport, petty cash, etc.
When passing through the electronic passport gates, sometimes the reader gives error. The trick is press the passport page firmly. Also don't smile at the camera and take anything out of your face.
If you have to deal with the border agents - Stay calm and cooperative. In some countries a misunderstood word or behaviour can spiral into long hours of interview and checks. Trust this coming from a black person who got stopped many times.
Stand back at the luggage claim belt. It gives you better view of the belt and you can spot your luggage quicker, especially if you have a remarkable tag – Neon are the best.. Always double check the wheels and zipper to make sure the luggage didn’t arrive damaged. Needless to say, if you luggage arrive damaged, don’t leave the airport without reporting it to the airline desk or representative.
If everything is alright, just slide your way through “nothing to declare” - assuming you have really nothing to declare.
And last but not the least: enjoy your trip.
There you have it Life-Lovers.
I Hope these tips can help make your next trips hassle-free.
Feel free to share your own travel tips and tricks in the comments.
See you soon.
Feel Good. Enjoy Life