With 12 trips in as many months here’s what SJ learned from travelling last year.
I’m a true believer that travel teaches us more than most other things in life can. Last year I went on over 12 trips, involving 15 flights, 16 trains and more buses than I care to recall, and I learnt plenty. So, in the spirit of sharing and caring, here are the top takeaways from my 2016 travels. Hopefully, my mistakes and lessons – usually learnt the hard way – will help with your future travels.
1. Don’t wait
Not once last year did I get a cheaper fare by waiting. I know statistics show that Tuesdays are the cheapest day to book a flight but my bank balances shows that waiting, even a few days, does not pay off.
2. Always carry an empty water bottle
This sounds strange – shouldn’t it be full? Well, technically yes, but you can’t take a full one through most security points. So, rather than throwing the whole thing out and then buying another one on the other side, take an empty one and fill it up later. The same goes for planes – forget having to harass air hostesses for 10 ridiculous thimbles of water, just ask them to fill your bottle instead.
3. Lock in your accommodation ASAP
No one needs the stress of wondering where they will sleep at 3pm the day before they fly. Booking.com is a great way to secure accommodation as early as you like, with many places offering free cancellation up until a day or two before. Worst case scenario, you can cancel.
4. Paper beats phones
There are some rare times when technology does not come out on top. Boarding passes, accommodation confirmations, tickets, maps and itineraries are all said scenarios. A piece of paper has never run out of battery, mysteriously wiped something else or lost signal. Rather than fiddling around trying to zoom in so some poor soul can see your information, just press print before heading to the airport.
5. Heroes come in all forms …
… namely, noise cancelling headphones and eye masks. What screaming baby? Which light was on all night? Long transfers? Oh, you mean that great nap I had.
6. Limit your liquids
As someone who’s had far too many shampoos, moisturisers, sunscreens etc. thrown out at security, I feel like an expert in what not to do when it comes to liquids. For instance, did you know you’re actually only allowed one of those bags? And it must do up? I recommend sticking to the one bag and buying travel bottles, if necessary, once through security.
7. Some extras are worth every cent
I used to hate people who lined up way ahead of time for the flight. Until I ended up stuck at the back of a ridiculously long queue only to have my carry-on bag sent to the hold. Get the best of both worlds by paying to choose a seat with priority boarding and a handbag. It’s a small price to pay to get a guaranteed seat and baggage space.
8. Plan your transfers
I’m all for being spontaneous but planning your transfers makes any trip feel more like a VIP experience. Not only do you not have to worry about it, you can have peace of mind that you’re going to get to the airport and your accommodation as seamlessly as possible.
9. Always carry your chargers
Gadgets are only as good as their battery life. And battery life is only as good as the cords you have with you! This applies to adapters as well when travelling internationally.
10. The early bird gets the plane …
… train, bus, whatever it may be. The perfect example of this was on my most recent trip to Majorca when, as I was strapped into my seat on the plane, we learned a fire alarm had gone off at security and we were still missing some passengers. After a few minutes, the plane took off sans missing passengers. Thankfully, I was already through security. Passenger transport waits for no one.
I could go on and on and on, but instead I’m throwing it open to the audience. What did travel teach you in 2016?
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