Tips to travel with no worries
- Leave ample time for your connections, this way a small delay will not lead to stress and anxiety, or worse, a missed flight. We usually like to have 2 hours when doable.
- If possible, take early morning flights this will give you more options if a problem arises. When flights are delayed or cancelled because of bad weather, the delays start to add up and get bigger as the day goes on. Once the delays get beyond a certain level and the airport cannot keep up it’s likely that later flights will get cancelled. The grogginess of an early morning wakeup is still way better than missing a connection or having a flight cancelled leaving you scrambling to make arrangements amongst other competing travelers. Its rare today that airlines will help much with arrangements if cancellations are beyond their control (such as weather), so once again, best to avoid such a situation if possible.
- Check the state of the incoming flight that will be taking you. Applications like Flightaware or Flight Stats for example can show inbound aircraft tracking.
- In bad weather, if you do arrive earlier and there is a possibility of getting on an earlier connecting flight, take advantage of this and ask the gate agent. Typically if you have only hand luggage, this can be possible although airlines are starting to offer this less and less unless you are a frequent flyer on the airline. I’ve been grateful to make it home (even when in a middle seat) instead of being left behind.
- A good weather app, ideally showing radar and hour-by-hour weather can be handy if you are concerned about connections and/or weather in the area. If you have imminent bad weather look and see if you can get a same day earlier one.
- When traveling in the winter, if possible avoid connecting flights at northern airports. Some airports are worse than others, so check airport on time statistics available on line.
I’ve had to run many times at airports to catch my connecting flights. Once, my husband and I had to run between terminals at Los Angeles Airport because we were delayed for over an hour in Detroit due to freezing rain. As a result, we only had 20 minutes to make our flight to Tahiti. The next flight was 2 days later so we really had to be on that flight. We made it, but our luggage didn’t! We were leaving on a cruise the next day, so we ended up spending our first day shopping for toiletries, bathing suits and clothing instead of sightseeing. Luckily, we had taken the insurance and our suitcases were brought to us at the next port!
- When connecting to a cruise ship, best to arrive a day or more early and get a hotel. Missing the cruise embarkation can cause lots of problems. Why not add a day or two and enjoy the departure port at your leisure instead?
- When taking a cruise or an organized tour, get there early. If you can’t take a direct flight, try connecting at an airport as close as possible to your departure point or a main hub. That would give you access to alternative modes of transportation (car, train, ferry or bus) to get to your departure point in case of major flight delays.
For our cruise to the Baltic that sailed away from Copenhagen, we decided to connect in Amsterdam. That way, if we missed our flight from Amsterdam, we had the alternative to take the ferry to Copenhagen!
- Always pack essentials in your carry-on, especially medications, and make sure to bring extra along in case of delays. Add a bathing suit and easy to wash clothing (available at travel and outdoor stores) so you can make do if your luggage is delayed or lost. There isn’t always a mall nearby and sometimes the options can be very limited.
When we were traveling to Egypt, there was a mix-up and our bags were not transferred to our connecting flight even though we had a 6-hour layover in Charles de Gaulle airport. We were staying in Cairo for a couple of days before leaving on an organized tour so we had time to shop for a few items of clothing. There was a mall across from our hotel but sadly they sold mostly shoes and bags. It was very difficult to find decent clothes!
When we traveled to Thailand our bags were delayed for 2 days and again we were going on a tour, but this time we had all we needed in our carry-ons. We didn’t have to shop; we were able to visit Bangkok instead!
- When choosing your accommodations, do your research first to avoid disappointment. Also, stay near the area you want to visit. A good location is very important to avoid wasting time traveling back and forth by shuttle, taxis or public transportation to go sightseeing in the area you want to discover. A good location also helps you save money and does not limit you to transportation schedules.
The first time my husband and I went to Paris, we chose to stay at a beautiful hotel near the Château Versailles. The hotel was beautiful, but since we were in Versailles we wasted 2 hours everyday traveling back and forth to Paris. The second time, we stayed in a small charming hotel in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in Paris. We could walk almost everywhere, it was great!
- Bring snacks and water (bought after the security control) on your flight. The choice may be limited (and costly) on the plane. Also, it may come in handy if your plane gets delayed and stuck on the tarmac for a few hours. They don’t always deplane the passengers during delays.
- Wearing loose fitting or stretchy clothes during long flights will be more comfortable and I find that it’s easier to fall asleep, especially during an overnight ‘red-eye’ flight. Using earplugs and an eye mask also helps me to fall asleep and arrive at my destination feeling rested. This way we are ready to go sightseeing when we arrive instead of needing to go to the hotel for a nap.
- When traveling by plane, I find it best to wear closed shoes (like sneakers). Not just because there could be a cold draft but knowing you can run if you need to is a good idea.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way! Once, at London’s Heathrow airport, we did not realize the distance to the gate from the central shopping area and had to run to catch our flight. I was wearing flip-flops, which makes it very difficult if not impossible to run. To avoid missing my flight, I had to run barefoot in the airport. Since then, I only travel in footwear that I can run with. I also avoid high heels since I can’t run in them, at least not as fast…