You could prep for the Apocalypse, but getting to the airport on time can be a nightmarish experience dealing with traffic, unexpected delays and most importantly your own procrastination.
Many of these tips might seem obvious, but when you’re daydreaming more about your destination than how you’ll actually get there, you may end up making your life a little bit more stressful inadvertently. This is a good reminder of how to prevent a complete breakdown in front of a poor check-in attendant who woke up even earlier than you and is just trying to do their job.
Set two alarms
While setting your alarm to wake you up, also set one for five minutes before you have to leave. This gives you time to request an Uber or get those last-minute things done before heading to the car.
Check the traffic the day before
You can use Google Maps or Waze to check what the traffic is like at the same time you need to leave the day before. This will give you an indication if you need to account for daily traffic, especially if you don’t take the route to the airport every day. Related, make sure to plan out the route to simplify things and avoid the risk of encountering any unexpected (and unpleasant) surprises.
Try to always check-in online
While it may seem obvious, but you’ll breeze through the bag drop while waving at the grumpy non-checkinners, giving you more time in case you get to the airport in a rush. Trust us, the airports can be chaotic as everyone tries to fly home to their family for the holidays or abroad on that end-of-year trip. Skip the lines, avoid the craziness and do the simple thing – check in online.
Pack your bag the day before
You might be tempted to start packing for a late morning flight on the same day, but don’t fall for that trap. When you spend an hour looking for your laptop charger, you’re going to push your timing to the brink. It’s useful to make a checklist for yourself too so that you can feel at ease, calm in the knowledge that you haven’t forgotten anything.
Also be sure to check the dimensions and weight of your your luggage, particular your checked hand baggage. Economy class travellers bags must not exceed the total dimesions of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm with a weight limit of 7 kilograms. Business and first class travellers get the same dimension limits but an additional bag of the same dimensions. You don’t want to have to open your bag to lighten the load and have the kids spot those gifts you tried so hard to hide.
Set out your outfit the day before as well
It’s the festive season, we get it, you’re out late and hardly ever at home but do the smart thing and just spend a few moments putting out an outfit for yourself. It’s easier to work out your travel outfit when you’re not rushed, and it’ll save you quite a bit of time, especially for early morning flights, where you grogginess might have you leaving with two different socks or a shirt that’s got a nice big stain on it. Why not rock that Christmas sweater than Nan gave you that you thought you’d never have a reason to wear?
Sleep sleep sleep
Get as much sleep in as you can, especially if you’re a nervous flyer, then you need some extra sleep time to let you relax into your dreams. Telling yourself that you’ll sleep on the plane is not going to give you the same kind of rest than your own bed. Also, it is one thing to be tired and moody in the regular buzz of an airport but a whole different experience in the chaos that often characterises airports during the festive season.
When you have to meet up with fellow travellers
You have two options when travelling in a group that you don’t live with – either meet at one person’s home and travel to the airport together, or make a time to meet at the boarding gate – not the check-in counter. This depends on the kind of person that you are – if you have the patience to herd everyone together you can ensure everyone makes it, or if you’re a little more ruthless everyone has to make their own way – you snooze you lose.
if you’re with family, it’s a bit more simple keeping the group together and navigating the airport as a unit. Just remind everyone that their are Christmas snacks on the other end of the journey and hope everyone falls in step.
Arrive on time even for delayed flights
If you happen to receive a message that your flight is delayed, still arrive at the time you would have – airlines try to get their planes off the ground as fast as possible, and could leave you behind if you dilly dally. Also, a great way to preempt and deal with the potential stresses of delays during the holiday period is be ready for delays and issues before you even leave.
Bring your own entertainment
Related (kinda) to the above, a great way to mitigate the stresses of travel during the festive season is to ensure that nobody is bored and bothered. So pack in those books, iPads and handheld gaming devices to keep everyone occupied, entertained and not thinking about the chaos that is travel during the festive season.