3 Tips to Make Your Airport Experience a Breeze (Guest Post)
Travel is great. It takes you to new and interesting places, where you get the chance to experience new cultures, try new foods and drink and make new friends.
What’s not to like? Well, there is one thing a lot of travelers do not enjoy – spending time at the airport. Many people find the process of booking themselves in and getting on the plane quite stressful.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the process of going through the airport go smoothly. All you really need to do is to follow these three simple guidelines.
Arrive early and be organized
Airports are busy places. Even if you try to travel at quiet times they can still turn out to be manic.
It only takes a couple of flights to be canceled, to turn the terminal into a heaving mass of confused and frustrated humanity. Suddenly, you can’t find a parking space, and the check-in process that normally takes you 30 minutes to navigate, takes an hour, sometimes more. When that happens, your leisurely stroll to the gate turns into a frantic race to get there before it shuts.
When flying, you need to allow yourself plenty of time. It is far better to arrive early and enjoy a relaxed lunch at the airport than it is to turn up with only minutes to spare.
As much as possible, sort things out before you arrive. Little things like pre-booking your parking and planning your route from the car park into the terminal building will make a world of difference. You will arrive knowing where to go, and will not waste 30 minutes driving repeatedly around the airport looking for your car park or getting lost in the airport.
If you are traveling in a group, put someone in charge of the booking-in process. Give them all of the documents everyone needs to get through check-in before you go into the airport building. The last thing you need is to be unpacking your hand luggage on the floor of a busy airport in a frantic search for your passport, visa and boarding pass.
Find somewhere quiet to wait for your flight
Very few people like crowds. Some people are used to them, but nobody really enjoys them.
Once you have booked yourself in, and have worked out which part of the airport your flight leaves from, try to make your way to a quiet spot close to your gate. With a bit of research, you can usually work out where these quiet areas are before you get to the airport. Travel forums, review sites, and the airport’s own websites are all good sources of information.
Many of the bigger airports have wellness centers and exhibition spaces. These are both great places to kill time. The fact relatively few travelers know about them means that they are usually some of the least crowded places in the airport. Just be sure to watch the time and listen out for announcements about your flight.
If you have the budget, consider booking yourself into the lounge area. In some places, this will be prohibitively expensive, but in others, it is surprisingly affordable.
Plus, there are also lots of ways to reduce the cost. For example, some credit card companies offer airport lounge access as a complimentary perk to their customers. It is often possible to buy a day pass or join a lounge membership club that gives you access to lounges in many countries. This is a particularly good option if you travel regularly.
In most airport lounges, you get at least some free food and drink as part of the deal. Once you factor the cost of what you consume into the equation, the overall cost of booking yourself into a lounge falls drastically.
However, be aware that, at peak times, they too can also be busy places. As a result, they are not always an oasis of calm.
Find a way to keep yourself occupied
Perhaps the worst thing about being at the airport is the boredom. You can only enjoy so many cups of coffee and shopping is not for everyone. Therefore, it is always a good idea to take something to keep yourself and the other members of your group occupied. This is even more important if you are traveling with kids. The last thing you need is to get on the plane with three bored and ratty children in tow.
Again preparation is important. Try to find out what facilities are available at the airport itself before you arrive. That way you can head straight to the kid´s favorite fast food joint, or the kiddies play area. If there is a spa or exhibition, and you are travelling alone or as a couple, you can potentially spend the waiting time there.
It is especially important to think about the possibility of delays when deciding what type of entertainment to pack. For example, you will really regret not having a magazine to read when the battery on your e-reader dies. Something as simple as having a pad and paper in your bag will make the world of difference if you need to keep the kids occupied for an extra couple of hours. At least they will be able to draw, play tic-tac-toe or battleships and much more besides.
Before you leave home, fully charge all of your electronics are fully charged. If you can afford to do so, equip each member of the family with a keychain power bank. That way there will be no arguments over whose phone gets recharged when the batteries start to die.
Bear in mind the laptop ban, when you are working out how to keep everyone occupied at the airport. If your flight is one of those affected by the ban, you will not be able to take anything bigger than a smartphone airside. All of your e-readers, tablets and laptops will be taken off of you as you go through security.
Provided you follow the advice above, you will be able to relax more, and may even end up enjoying being at the airport. The less stressful your journey is the more likely it is that you will enjoy your holiday.
Adam Chapman, a former tour guide and the owner of England based meet and greet parking agency. A family man and a big football fan.
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