If you’re fretting over the inevitable Christmas travel chaos, why not spread a little cheer—or at the very least our travel tips—to help us all stay merry (and sane!) this festive season.
The Grumpy Traveller offers their perspective on how we can all just get along.
So you’ve booked your Christmas holiday, that treasured end-of-year break, fleeting as it is. As you finalise your booking, you can almost taste the first cocktail. Then you go to select your seats on the plane, only to discover there aren’t many options—it’s November, but where have all the seats gone? Why are you about to spend the first nine hours and ten minutes of your precious recovery time sitting next to a stranger while your beloved is three rows behind, in the middle seat? The middle seat!
And then it hits you. All the delusions you’d rebuilt over the past 11 months come crashing down with the painful thud of realisation. Tis the season to be jolly, they say—well I say ‘jolly good luck with that!’
While children around the globe might have an endless array of toys topping their Christmas list (an unhealthy proportion of these weighted heavily towards anything from the Frozen franchise), many of us yearn for life’s simpler miracles, such as flights that leave on time and a security queue that flows freely.
To help every traveller enjoy a little peace this Christmas (especially and selfishly me), I’m asking you to spread the goodwill with these simple tips. Trust me—if you follow them, Santa may even put you on the nice list!
It’s inevitable, whether you’re visiting family and friends, or holidaying solo, the festive season tends to evoke a tidal wave of gift accumulation. Rather than hold up the check-ins with oversized and overly heavy baggage, how about this year we all agree to anticipate a few ‘Christmas surprises’. It’s ok—they will still come.
Take the risk and travel as light as possible, leaving space in your bag in the rational hope that you will likely return with a few more items.
Use the Internet
Recently the entire Sydney airport was sent into disarray when one chap was far too preoccupied with his use of the Internet, so I make this suggestion with some hesitance. There are good uses for the Internet as well as bad; but here are some good ones which will help relieve a little of the Christmas airport craziness.
Use the Internet to save time, avoiding aimless wandering and lines, by using it to plan transport on arrival, take advantage of online check ins, meal bookings, seat allocations, currency purchases, etc. There are few things you can’t arrange in advance and have stored on your smart phone—even travel insurance—so why not explore both your airline and the airport’s webpage, to be well prepared for a smooth arrival or departure.
Airports today are like shopping malls. There are plenty of ways to shop and dine away your pre-boarding time if it turns out that arriving early was highly unnecessary. However, most of the time—especially during peak travel periods—you (and your fellow travellers) will be thankful for a little extra time. Consider it your gift to the travelling community.
If we all arrive on time, there’s no need to hold up planes with late passengers, security checks flow evenly and there’s a little less panic in the air. Now, I’m not suggesting that we all need to crowd around the gate like we’re no longer allotted an individual seat number, but just be present.
Carry a Pen
This one may strike some as a touch archaic, but a writing instrument can be decidedly useful at an airport. Especially when travelling international, for when those pesky customs passenger cards need to be completed.
With your own pen at hand, not only can you complete your forms without waiting for a spare one on the desk, you can also complete arrival cards while on the plane. It’s a win/win!
For those of us who travel frequently, it can be frustrating to suddenly find ourselves among masses of seemingly lost passengers (you know the ones). But remember, Christmas often means that people who don’t travel often are at airports, and it can be overwhelming. A little courtesy and kindness goes a long way, and unlike everything else at the airport, it doesn’t cost you one inflated thing.
Five quick ways to make grumpy travellers like me even grumpier:
- Standing still on the travelator (or blocking both aisles)—for the love of Pete, it’s supposed to help everyone get from A to B faster. It’s not a fairground ride! Unless you suffer from limited mobility, please keep moving.
- Willfully defying boarding by seat numbers—don’t think you’re a superhero if you get through the gate before your section has been called. There’s a logical reason the airlines board by seat numbers; it makes it more efficient for everyone! If you get past, at some point we’re going to have to squeeze past you in the aisle, and I’m just not that into sharing my personal space like that.
- Carrying on with the carry on—yes, I know baggage is costly, but cramming all of your worldly possessions into the overhead luggage isn’t just selfish, it’s dangerous. The weight limits exist to stop dangerously heavy objects falling on unsuspecting souls when the overhead compartment is opened. And you know what’s more expensive than paying for luggage? A personal injury lawsuit.
- Taking your shoes off—we know you like to be comfortable, and maybe you don’t think your feet smell. You may think you have scentless, even floral, feet. No, you don’t—science will tell you that not only are you unable to smell your own smell, your feet are often the most odourous. So please, please, please keep your feet covered at all times in the cabin.
- Accept the rules—whether it’s keeping the toilet clean or not carrying too many liquids, please just accept the rules are there, abide by them and whatever you do, don’t act surprised—or worse, outraged—when the good staff at the airline or airport hold you to account. You might think you’re a winner when you get away with something, but ultimately, your win is a big loss for every other traveller. Unless you’re a Kardashian, please leave the diva antics for your Instagram profile and bring your best behaviour onboard.
Sadly, if you’re reading this, it’s likely that others too frustrate you. At least, by sharing this article, the wonderfully viral nature of the internet may see it infect those less aware and air travel might just be that little more joyful for you and I.
Wherever you’re heading, may you and yours have a safe and Merry Christmas.
Grumpy, perhaps, but they have a point. Travelling at peak season can come with some unwanted surprises. While we can’t protect you from nasty scents, Travel Insurance Plus can help keep you covered for flight cancellations, delays and injuries. To find our more, visit Travel Insurance Plus.
1. This is plainly not true. I lied, and have thus secured my place on the official 2014 Naughty list.