Planning your Trip
We are all different – some of us like to leave everything to the last minute, including trips and holidays. This may work for some, but for others planning in advance is an absolute necessity.
Here are our tips for getting everything organised before your trip:
Before You Leave for the Airport
- Check and double check that you’ve got all your paperwork. Even triple check if that works for you – standing at the check-in counter and remembering your passport is on the kitchen table is really not very helpful. Ensure you have your passport, any visas that you have had to apply for (nowadays these can be electronic, so you may not have a paper copy), tickets and money, and make sure these are easily accessible in your hand luggage.
- They have signs everywhere for a reason – keep any banned items out of your hand luggage!
- If packing medicines, ensure that they are in their original packaging as this will help avoid a delay or confiscation at
- You might think you are saving time by wrapping your presents for your friends and family, but think again – these will often need to be unwrapped by security or customs staff. Leave them unwrapped and do this at your destination to ensure smooth travelling.
- Think about your attire – and no, we aren’t talking about the trendiest airport outfits – we are talking about dressing comfortably. Airports can involve a lot of walking, and the plane itself can be pretty chilly. Comfort first!
- Think ahead to your trip and any concerns you might have there – the Department of Health has dedicated a section of their site to health advice for those travelling abroad.
Getting to the Airport
- The time that you need to be at the airport before your flight can often change due to changes in security measures, so it is best to check with the airline before deciding what time to leave. Check-in for international flights opens two hours before the flight. Also remember that boarding finishes 40 minutes before the flight is due to depart.
- Plan your transport and especially the route that you will be taking.
- If you decide to drive, make sure you have booked your airport parking in advance so you avoid any last minute stress and save some money too. You will also want to check any planned roadworks and check the time you want to travel in case there will be heavy traffic on the roads.
- If you are being dropped off by a friend make sure you check out the short stay parking options – for now dropping off is free at Luton Airport (if you are brief!) but other airports are bringing in a small charge for dropping off passengers.
- Taking a taxi? Ensure that the firm you want to use has a taxi available – booking in advance is the safest and often the cheapest option. It is also worth asking them how long they would expect the journey to take at that time of day.
- If you are taking a train or coach, book your tickets in advance if you can and double check that there are no engineering works or roadworks that could disrupt your journey.
- You may have hired a car to get to the airport, in which case you will want to check with your car hire company what their procedure for dropping off the car at the airport is. You will want to leave enough time for this and to transfer to the airport.
At the Airport
- Getting through security can often be a timely affair, and airports can often increase security measures without any warning. It is best to check with the airport website before leaving to ensure you leave in adequate time.
- Never look after baggage or items that do not belong to you for other people.
- Keep your luggage with you at all times and if you see any unattended packages alert airport staff immediately.
- There are lots of things to do at the airport but make sure you check the display boards frequently because these will announce your departure gate. Getting to your gate can often be quite a walk so you don’t want to have to rush. You can check live flight departures to check for any delays, although these should also be announced on the boards.
In the Air
- Once you are settled, try to relax. If you can sleep, even better.
- If you are on a long haul flight you will want to keep mobile, so move your feet about and try to get up and walk around if it is safe to do so. There is often a leaflet provided by the airline with some exercises to help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis, so it might also be a good idea to look at these. Flight socks can also help.
- Keep hydrated! Drink lots of water or other non-alcoholic drinks.
- Move your watch and other devices to the time of your destination as soon as possible, and try to synchronise your mealtimes too. Get some extra sleep on top of this and you should minimise the effects of jet lag.
Travelling with Children
- A reasonable amount of liquid baby food can be taken through security outside of your liquid bag if you are travelling with a child. It is probably best to double check this in advance with the airport.
- Pack items to keep your children occupied on the plane, it can be very boring for little ones so, colouring books, snacks, and a few quiet toys would be a good idea.
- Ensure that all passports for the children are valid and that you can carry them securely with your own documents – it is probably not advisable to let your child carry such an important item for fear of it being misplaced!
- Pack wisely – one large bag with multiple sections is probably a better idea than lots of smaller bags, keeping track of children and items of luggage can be a little stressful!
- Check out the airport’s children’s facilities in advance – there may be specific areas where you can occupy the children whilst waiting for the flight.