Travelling is exciting, but the planning required to get yourself packed, to the airport, through security and on the plane can feel a little overwhelming – let alone with the family in tow. Whether you want your next family flight to be a breeze, you’re flying long-haul for the first time, or you want to perfect your airport strategy ahead of your next business trip, here’s how to travel like a pro.
The most common packing mistake we make? Taking too much. Not only will the extra weight make lugging your bags around a little harder, but you might be charged more if your suitcase ends up being heavier than your luggage allowance. Here are a few things you can do to help lighten the load…
• Wear your heaviest clothes for your flight (like jackets, jeans and jumpers).
• When it comes to your holiday packing list, be as ruthless as possible – will you really need five shirts when you’re only going out for dinner twice? Plan your outfits for each day/night and only bring what you need. Being realistic and eliminating those ‘just in case’ items can save you a lot of space.
• Roll your clothes instead of folding them – they’ll take up less space and it’ll keep items crease-free.
Top tip: Make sure you set aside enough time to pack. Rushing might make you more anxious and you may end up packing too much – or worse, forgetting something – out of panic.
Clever packing isn’t just about savvy travel checklists. Lots of research has gone into developing luggage that’s better-optimised for travelling, so finding the right suitcase or bag for your needs can make things far easier.
Top tip: Flying with kids? Giving them their own suitcase can make them feel grow-up and, most-importantly, should occupy them long enough for you to get on with your own packing. Ride-on luggage with wheels is a great option as it’ll keep them entertained at the airport and give them something to sit on when they get tired.
It’s not just your checked bags that you need to think about – getting your carry-on bag right can help ensure you have a stress-free flight. Here’s how…
• Pack anything you’ll want access to during your flight in your carry-on bag. Think: toiletries (although bear in mind you won’t be able to take any liquids over 100ml), medicine, electronics, chargers, valuables and anything too fragile for the hold area.
• Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes if you want to freshen up before you land.
• Check the maximum carry-on size allowance with your airline before you fly. Styles with plenty of pockets and compartments can help make it easier to find those must-have travel items as and when you need.
• Planning on getting some shut-eye? An extra layer or blanket and an eye mask can help you feel more comfortable during your flight. It’s also worth investing in a good pillow – particularly if you travel a lot. The Snoooze travel pillow is easy to clean and transport, plus it won’t take up too much space in your carry-on.
Top tip: There’s some great wearable technology out there that can help make your journey more enjoyable. Noise cancelling headphones, for example, are a great option on busy flights or if you travel regularly.
It sounds obvious, but sometimes in the busy lead-up to your holiday, it’s easy to forget planning your journey to the airport.
Allow plenty of time for busy traffic or public transport hiccups. Your airport or airline can advise exactly when you should arrive based on your flight time, but as a general rule of thumb, aim for two hours before your scheduled departure if you’re flying within Europe, or three hours if you’re going long-haul.
Top tip: Flying from Heathrow Airport? The Heathrow Express service runs every 15 mins and takes just 15 minutes (a little longer for terminals 4 and 5). You can catch it from London Paddington. If you want to be extra-organised, book ahead online.
There’s no two ways about it – airports involve a fair bit of queuing and waiting around. But it is possible to make it to your departure gate without too many tantrums (from you or the kids!).
Top tip: Make the most of the airport Wi-Fi and download a Google Map of your destination. You’ll be able to view it offline without any data charges when you land and work out where you’re going next – great if you’re travelling alone for the first time.