1. Know where the airport is
Figure out where the airport is and how you get to it in advance. I find Google Maps travel planner useful but it’s always best to check directly with public transport sites for timetables.
Chris Sharp, Business Intelligence Administrator
2. Screenshot your boarding pass
If you’re using a boarding pass on your mobile phone, take a screenshot of it and save it in your pictures folder on your phone (rather than relying on the airline’s app or on a good internet connection at the airport).
Jon Thorne, User Satisfaction Manager
3. Always print out your boarding pass
Although we live in an age where you can check in with your smartphone and email, you never know when your phone may just run out of battery or pack in.
4. Get a flexible friend
Certain credit cards targeting travellers offer perks like free access to airport lounges. For example, I hold a card which gets me a priority lounge pass for two entries each year at Singapore (no minimum spending on the card required).
Another card I’ve got gives me free airport limousine transfer from my home to the airport as long as I’ve booked my travel on the card and I spend the minimum set amount.
5. Skip the check-in queue
During holiday times airports like London Gatwick can get EXTREMELY busy. You could be standing the check-in queue for ages.
The trick in that case is not to join the queue but to go and sit in a café and read a book. When the airport is that busy they call out the flights that are due to depart first and let their passengers through as a priority. You can therefore sit and relax while you wait for your flight to be called. When it is you can go straight to the front of the queue.
6. Skip the security queue
If you’re really cutting it fine for time, a polite word to an airport employee almost always results in a queue jump at security. Failing that, a plea to fellow passengers in the queue is your next best option.
7. Remove your Crown Jewels
At security, if you don’t want to set off the alarms after waving goodbye to your hand luggage, keys, mobile phone, laptop etc, make sure you remove all the Crown Jewels you are wearing. Apparently, my watch, earrings, necklace and ring MIGHT set off the alarms. On a recent visit to the airport, I was subjected to the most intimate body search of my 50 year-old life (bearing in mind I travelled back and forth to the Far East from the age of 10). And I was only travelling to the Shetlands!
8. Take a spare plastic bag
Take a spare ziplock bag or two to get your toiletries through security checks – it’s ridiculous and annoying that some airports will charge you a few quid if you forget one!
Rachel Evatt, Product Director
9. Never join the security queue with kids in
Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker.
Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer
10. Wear matching socks
I make sure I wear socks of the same colour and don´t look to old! Just in case I have to take off my shoes.
Angel Guirado, Market Development Manager, Spain
In the departure lounge
11. Fly at a time when it is socially acceptable to drink whisky
Try to fly at a time which means it’s socially acceptable to taste the whisky samples at duty free – i.e. not 6am.
12. Set an alarm so you don’t miss your plane
Set an alarm on your phone to go off at boarding time, it’s easy to get distracted in the departure lounge.
13. Keep the kids entertained
If travelling with kids, ensure you have their game consoles handy (and FULLY CHARGED) to allow you to have as stress-free a time while waiting to depart. Having three kids myself, it’s definitely on my MUST DO list for the airport. Each of the kids has a small backpack containing game consoles, pens, pencils and a pad of paper so they can draw etc. Plus it saves on the wallet if the kids happen to spy those £1-a-go arcade machines. I’m now a master at noughts & crosses, hangman etc…
Ronnie Walker, Senior Engineer
At the gate
15. Don’t queue to get on the plane
Sit comfortably in departures where you can see the boarding desk and (assuming you have a pre-allocated seat) read your book until the last possible minute. When the queue is down to one person, get up and casually stroll through the departure gate onto the plane. The plane won’t leave without you until they have at least called out your name.
Dom Porter, Software Engineer
On the plane
16. Bump yourself up to business
Always wait until the ‘flight closing’ announcement before boarding the plane. Then, if you see any empty seats in Business Class, as you work your way through to Economy, sit in one of them, on the basis that it must be available, given that the flight was closing. Hope that the flight attendants won’t question it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
Mark Logan, Chief Operating Officer (Mark says this is a tip from a ‘friend’. He would never do this!)
17. Make a good impression at immigration
I’ve had some very varied experiences arriving at immigration, particularly in the USA, ranging from being processed quickly in a few minutes to being asked to go off to the interview room for a secondary interview (that was a fun start to my honeymoon). Be smartly dressed, polite and well spoken, make good eye contact with the immigration official and have a clear idea of where you are going next (name of hotel, car hire). Never ever make jokes and do not use your mobile phone. Also make sure you have a credit card to hand and if possible local currency as you may be asked to prove you are able to pay your way If you are travelling on business, never say “I am here to work” as they will be concerned that you are going to be working illegally; a better phrase is: “I am here to have some meetings with business colleagues”.
Robert Smith, Technical Manager
18. Look before you leave
Whenever you get up to leave somewhere at the airport – in a café, a bar or at the gate – always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind – like your tickets.
Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
19. Travel with a fancy friend
That way you’ll gain access to the lounge as their guest, where you can stockpile glossy magazines, packets of biscuits and condescending looks.
1. Make a packing list
Passport? Check. Toothbrush? Check. Sunscreen? Doh! For peace of mind that you’ve got the essentials covered.
2. Avoid stains
Ever packed light clothes and found a stain on them when you arrived? Never have this problem again. Firstly you should always make sure your light coloured clothes are packed inside out, and secondly, hold on to hotel disposable shower caps and use them to cover the base of your shoes.
3. Roll and vacuum pack
Don’t arrive at your holiday destination and be faced with a pile of ironing. To save space and stop creasing, roll your clothes instead of folding them, then place them in vacuum compression bags. To use these bags, put your clothes in, seal the bag, then squeeze the air out. This will leave you with lots more space in your suitcase and will prevent creases.
4. Cube your clothes
Another good packing solution is packing cubes – these help separate your items and find things more quickly once you get there.
5. Fill dead space
When it comes to packing, make use of every little inch of suitcase space that you can. Roll tops, underwear, socks and other small items and stuff them into your shoes to make sure every possible space is filled.
6. Stay fresh
It’s important to keep your clothes smelling fresh, especially if you’re on a long trip. By taking a small bag of potpourri, fabric conditioner sheets or scented drawer liners, you’ll keep your clothes smelling sweet throughout the trip.
7. Ziplock bags
How do you usually organise all of your electronics, cables, those fiddly bits that take you ages to dig out at security? Stuff them in like the rest of us? Well, if you want to organise your packing then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – take extra plastic bags (the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories.
8. Cotton wool
To prevent your pressed powder or eye shadow from cracking during your travels, place a flat cotton wool pad in between the pressed powder and the lid.
9. Don’t Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi, or a dog-eared travel guide, download it before your trip. Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday. And don’t count on wi-fi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair. Make sure it’s on a water-resistent covered device (check out Otterbox for some serious protection for your cherished e-reader, phone or tablet).
10. Empty bottles and tubes
To avoid the worst case scenario of being robbed, it’s best to be inconspicuous: don’t flash cash or expensive jewellery. If you’re worried about valuable stuff in your hotel room, hide it in an empty sun tan lotion container. You could also use empty lip balm containers to hide rolled up notes.
TRAVELING WITH KIDS
1. Take it Slow and Leave Plenty of Time
Planning for extra time is exactly the opposite of what I do when I’m traveling alone. I typically leave so little time at my home airport that once I get through security and walk to my gate, I can usually get on the plane within 2 or 3 minutes. This is definitely not what you want to do if you are traveling with kids.
When traveling with your family, everything will take longer than you expect, including:
Checking in at the airport
Getting through security
Buying snacks and drinks
Boarding the plane
Be sure to get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for things to go wrong.
You definitely don’t want to miss your flight because it took an extra 10 minutes to get your stroller and bottles through security. Then you are stuck at the airport waiting to be rescheduled with unhappy children. Trust me, that’s not fun!
Flying is just one example of taking it slow, though. Leaving extra time applies to all parts of your trip.
When you have the kids along for the trip, you may not be able to squeeze 4 museums, 3 restaurants, a walking tour, and a bike ride all in the same day.
Keep your schedule loose and leave plenty of room for adjustment. A flexible schedule will create less stress for you and your family and lead to a happier trip overall.
2. Don’t Overpack
Families have a tendency to pack everything kids use at home. Bringing familiar items will keep your routines consistent and you’ll be sure to have everything you need.
Unfortunately, this is a terrible idea. At the end of a long travel day, there is a good chance you will end up carrying at least 1 kids, so you certainly don’t want to be carrying 100 pounds of luggage, too.
Instead, pack as little as possible. The act of traveling itself will mess with your home routines, so trying to preserve all of them isn’t going to work anyway. It will just lead to frustration and sore arms.
The great part about traveling is everywhere you go, children live there. If you find you’re missing something you need, you can always buy it at your destination. You do need to be a bit careful with this rule when visiting less-developed countries, but most places you would take your kids will probably have the essentials you need to care for them.
The less you bring, the easier it is to pack, the less you have to carry, and the more room you have for souvenirs.
3. Pre-Book Everything You Can
Of course you have your flights booked for your the trip, but your pre-booking shouldn’t end there. You might be used to showing up at a destination, getting a feel for the town, and picking a place to stay. This doesn’t work with kids.
When you arrive in a new place, you’ll want to go straight to your lodging, drop off bags, and give kids a chance to rest if necessary. This is especially true if it’s been a long journey to get to your destination.
You should know where you’re staying before you arrive. If you want a bit of flexibility in location, book the first night or 2 ahead of time, and decide where to stay for the rest of the trip once you’re settled.
Pre-booking doesn’t end with flights and lodging, either. Anything you can book ahead of time is 1 less thing you have to worry about while trying to keep your whole family fed, amused, and happy on your trip.
In addition to lodging and flights, items you can book ahead of time include private and public transportation, sightseeing tours, private guides, and tickets for museums, theme parks, and other attractions. Book as many as you’re sure you will need ahead of time and you will have more time to relax and enjoy your destination when you get there.
4. Explain the Trip
Introducing kids to the trip ahead of time is especially important for first-time travelers.
When kids are uncomfortable, they aren’t happy. If there are too many new things going on, kids tend to get uncomfortable.
Going over an outline of the trip and what will be happening can help kids understand their situation at each point in the trip. They will know what to expect next, and as a result, will be more comfortable with what’s going on around them.
Explaining the trip can include telling them what they can expect at the airport, on the plane, and once they arrive at your destination. Take this opportunity to go over your expectations for their behavior throughout the trip. Detail how they should act on planes, in hotels, and on tours.
Once your children understand what’s going on, they are less likely to ask questions while you’re trying to take care of travel logistics. They will be happier, more comfortable, and excited about what’s coming next.
5. Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
Hangry kids can take a fun family trip to miserable in a matter of minutes. I can’t emphasize this enough. Hunger can mean the difference between a happy family and cranky, hungry kids.
Always have snacks available for your kids!
You never know when the time between meals will get extended. It could be a delayed flight, unexpected traffic getting to your hotel, or a tour that takes a bit longer than you thought it would.
The food at your destination may be quite different than what your kids usually eat. They may happily order lunch and then eat 2 bites of it because it wasn’t what they were expecting. An hour or two later on your afternoon museum visit, you’ll have a hungry kid to deal with.
It doesn’t hurt to have snacks for you and other adults traveling with you as well. Adults can get just as hangry as kids can.
Having a few small and easily transportable snacks with you at all times can keep everyone happy until you can refuel.
6. Pay Extra for Good Gear
Investing in good gear doesn’t mean you need to have Tumi bags for your whole family. Our family travels with eBags Weekender backpacks and they’ve held up for years.
You don’t need to have the best and most expensive version of everything. Buying quality gear means if it’s a little bit more for the stroller that folds up smaller, weighs half as much, and will still carry your child all over the city, you should probably spend the extra money.
The same goes for a travel car seat. You want it to be safe, but if you can spend a few dollars extra for a seat that weighs 2 pounds instead of 5, you should. Look at the items you’ll be purchasing for your trip and figure out which features will make your life easier while you’re traveling. Also, take into account how many times you’ll be using that item.
If it will make things easier and you’ll use it a lot, it’s worth a greater investment.
You’ll be thankful for quality gear when you aren’t fighting to get a super-heavy bag in and out of a taxi at the end of a long day.
7. Ask for Child Discounts
Asking for child discounts can really save you a lot of money every time you travel. Some people have a tough time asking for discounts, but I promise, once you’ve done it a couple of times, it will be much easier.
You’ll be shocked when you see how many places will give you a child discount when you’re traveling.
Ask for discounts on:
Transportation including buses and trains
Attraction entrance fees
Restaurants (some have kids eat free promotions)
Sometimes you can find child pricing on the website of the company you’re dealing with, but just as often, there is no mention of a discount. Even when there’s nothing written, be sure to ask. A quick email ahead of time or a simple question when you’re buying tickets can save you as much as half of the cost when traveling.
You never know unless you ask. We’ve found that businesses are often willing to give us a discount for our kids. If we hadn’t raised the question, we never would have known. It pains me to think of how much extra I’ve spent on trips when I didn’t think to ask for discounts for the kids.
8. Accept Things Will Go Wrong
We touched on this when we discussed leaving plenty of time for the unexpected when traveling with kids. This point can’t be overstated, so we’ll address it again.
When you travel with kids, THINGS. WILL. GO. WRONG.
Maybe your little one has to go to the bathroom and you end up missing a bus. Maybe your son will leave his iPhone in a taxi in Barcelona with no way to get it back. Maybe you plan a great restaurant for kids at your destination, only to arrive and find it closed for renovations.
There’s really nothing you can do to avoid these situations. The sooner you accept the inevitable, the less stress you will feel when it happens.
Remember, travel is an adventure. Even if it has a few speed bumps, the experience you’re giving your kids is irreplaceable.
real Life Look
Our son really did leave his iPhone in a Barcelona taxi. It was the first day of a 13-day trip in Spain. We were getting to our first hotel, and our son didn’t notice until well after the taxi had pulled away.
This led to a bit of misery and complaining from him throughout the rest of the trip, but since we didn’t even know what taxi company we’d used, we had to accept the loss and move on.
It was a true test of parenting.
Safety and Security
here’s nothing worse than that feeling you get when you don’t know exactly where your child is when you are traveling. It’s easy to get caught up in logistical problems, but you always need to make sure you have an eye on your kids. You never know when one might wander off to check out a cool view and then not be sure how to get back to you.
9. Keep Track of Your Child
Keeping track of your child seems like it should be obvious, but it’s important enough to mention. No matter what you’re doing, whether things are going smoothly or you’re having a logistical nightmare, always make sure you know where your children are.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to get wrapped up in something like buying train tickets in another language. The next thing you know, your son or daughter has wandered over to the little shop at the train station to check out candy bars. If those candy bars are on the far side of a shelf and you can’t see your child, this could lead to a moment of panic.
If you’re traveling with another parent or adult, share duties. One person buys the tickets and the other watches the kids. If you’re traveling alone with the kids, be sure that they stay in view at all times. If necessary, hold their hands or have them sit in your line of sight.
Even the most vigilant parent can lose track of children. If your children are prone to wandering off, consider using a small GPS tracker that you can attach to their shoes or belt. The tracker will alert you if our child gets too far away and will let you track them to see exactly where they went.
10. Give Kids Your Contact Information
If a child gets lost despite your best efforts, you’ll want them to have your contact information.
Your contact information should include the following items for all of the adults on your trip so you have multiple opportunities for help locating your child.
For young children, the best way to share contact information is with a note in one of their pockets. If they don’t have pockets, tie a little card to their belt loop or stick it in their shoe. Don’t be afraid to get creative, but in any case, make sure your child knows where to find it.
Help older kids memorize your phone number and email address. If they need the local address where you are staying, write it down for them or have them put the information on their phones. We all know a teenager isn’t going to go very far without his or her phone.
11. Travel With Basic Medicines
One of the easiest ways to ruin a day of travel or possibly an entire trip is to have a sick family member. It can be even worse if the whole family gets sick. Whether your child has an upset stomach from the bumpy bus ride to your destination, or you find a new kind of tree pollen you’re allergic to, you want to be prepared to make the sick family member feel better as quickly as possible.
It’s always a good idea to take a few over-the-counter medications your family might need while traveling. Over-the-counter medications may include:
Medicine for upset stomachs
Motion sickness prevention medication
Other medication that might apply to your family or the specific trip
If anyone in your family is taking prescription medication, be sure to bring it along. Whenever possible, take your medications in their original packaging, especially prescription medications. If you can’t take the original package, take a copy of the prescription from your doctor so you can show exactly what your prescription is and why you have it for border crossings and if your luggage is searched.
Before your trip, check regulations for your destination and confirm you’re allowed to enter the country your medications without filling out additional paperwork or getting special permission.