Christmas and the New Year are stressful times of the year. Add air travel into the mix and it could be called the Meltdown Season (unlike these Santas, by daquellamanera). Follow our top ten ways to ease the stress of travel.
Book flights as soon as you can
Yesterday if you can manage it. Airlines may announce last-minute sales in the coming weeks but you can’t expect that they’ll have your exact route on the day you want to travel. If you see a good deal, pounce on it. That way you’ll have weeks and weeks to ensure that you’ve selected your seat and followed all the airline’s rules on baggage and checking-in online.
Pick your flight times carefully
There are a couple of benefits to selecting early morning flights. You’ll probably get cheaper flights and you’ll avoid the delays that can build up during the day.
Travel on the big day
Does the thought of flying on Christmas Day fill you with dread? It shouldn’t. Depending on the route, you could save big.
Consider alternative airports
Based in London? You have a choice of five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City. Birmingham and Manchester airports are a train ride away. Shop around and see where is the cheapest airport to fly from.
Connecting flights are tricky at this time of year. You may save money but then again, bad weather, lost baggage and logistical delays are just a few of the reasons why direct flights give you more peace of mind.
Make peace with the price
It’s a peak travel season. Everyone’s flying. Find the best price you can for your flight and try to cut costs elsewhere. Take public transport to the airport. Try to cut down on baggage charges by rationalising your wardrobe and/or wearing as many clothes as you can on the flight. Pack your own food.
Early to bed for two or three nights before you fly to keep resistance to bugs and colds high. Carry some antibacterial hand-sanitiser gel, and some fizzy Vitamin C tablets to plink into your in-flight drink. consider (with your doctor’s approval) taking immunity-boosting supplements, such as Echinacea a few days before your trip.
Prepare a sanity carry-on
Layovers, delayed flights and long in-flight annoyances require instant remedies. Play the game of “what would you bring to a deserted island” and carry it on your back. Bring nutritious food – nuts, dried fruit or cereal – and stay away from sugary things that won’t fill you up or keep you alert. Bring reading material (or an e-Reader), your iPod / iPhone / iPad (and don’t forget the chargers!). More importantly, bring a light change of clothing and any prescriptions you might need if you get stranded.
Leave earlier than you think you should
Really early – early enough to feel silly for doing so. Even if you’re waiting at the airport for a long time, at least you’ll be through security and can unwind with one of the many items in your sanity carry-on, or explore the shops and restaurants in the airport. The priority here should be getting to your destination with as little chaos as possible, and the earlier you arrive, the more likely it is that will happen.
Don’t underestimate Wi-Fi
Use it. Lots of airports offer free (or cheap) Wi-Fi and some airlines (especially in the USA) do too. Long waits and never-ending flights can be turned into a productive way to get work done or simply to surf the net and purchase last-minute gifts. For a small price (and the weight of your laptop on your back) you won’t be restrained to the book in your bag.