- Scan visas, passports, and other important documents and keep them handy on all your devices – in the event that something happens to your travel documents, lodging applications for new documents will be far easier if you have your old ones handy. I had a colleague whose passport was soaked in the rain when we were camped out overseas, and his emergency passport took next to no time because he had electronic copies of all this documents saved on a flash drive, and a secure virtual server.
- Photo of boarding pass – again, if for some reason, you can’t find your boarding pass and need to be re-issued one, you’ll save the airline ground staff heaps of trouble. I picked this one up from a genius solo-traveller, who’d accidentally dropped her boarding pass in the toilet after arriving at her destination, but had taken a photo of her boarding pass. So, when it came to duty-free payment verification, her passport, and a photograph of the boarding pass (with the barcode) was all the lady at the checkout counter needed.
- Small carry-on – I know it sounds obvious, but please, please, please don’t be ‘that’ person. You know, the one whose
carry-ongrandmother’s rail travel trunk has taken up the entire breadth of space in the overhead lockers. Also bear in mind, if you’re a solo traveller, that your carry-on luggage accompanies you to the toilet cubicle. So, reduce space on your carry-on by: only packing essentials; swapping your laptop for your iPad; sticking to the ‘max. 1 litre in a clear plastic bag’ rule; rolling any clothes you might have; using a sturdy but lightweight carry on suitable for your needs (personally, I’m a fan of ze backpack- especially one with multiple compartments) but if you’re more of a purse gal / briefcase guy / strolley person, accessorise with a handbag insert or a grid organiser. Or if you’re like me (somewhat crazy when it comes to organising), use all three!
- Carry-on with all valuables– This is another obvious one to me, but you won’t believe how many times I’ve heard someone say the airline lost their suitcase with their family jewels inside (OK, I exaggerate). But you get the point – if you can’t risk losing it, pack it into your carry-on.
- Know thy airport– Did you know Amersterdam Schiphol Airport has a free-to-view museum, library, and Yotel Hotel? Or Singapore Changi Airport has free-to-view butterfly and sunflower gardens, free movies, and leg massaging chairs? I’ve found a lot of this out first-hand, but SkyTrax’s airport reviews have often been a godsend. Everything from ‘beware the grouchy immigration agents’ to ‘hidden charging sockets’ is gold. Especially if you’re going to be stuck at an airport for hours on end.
- Know thy aircraft– I use sites like SeatGuru to work out exactly what sort of seat I’ll be in by the time I’m checked in. Why? So you can rejoice if you’ve made it to the emergency exit row; or cry if you’re going to be sat next to the toilets. Especially useful on domestic flights. Other than that, I think it’s nice to know what to expect on certain routes. Ex. flight ABC000 to Necker Island has the most uncomfortable seats, and worst service ever. It doesn’t actually, and I’ve yet to be invited by Rich (OK, Sir Richard Branson), but I’ll keep you posted, I’m sure any day now I’ll get that invite… Jokes aside, if you have any advice to future travellers in your shoes, be sure to pass it on.
- Stay prepared for your security check– Gosh sakes people, don’t be the guy that removes his belt, his wallet, his bling, his iPad, and laptop only when he’s reached his turn in the queue. Take off all your bling-age (watches etc. include) and put it inside your carry-on, and keep your liquids and gels in a clear plastic bag. It’s not that hard!
- Always use the second toilet– This is another one you might find obvious– avoid using the first toilet you see when you get off the aircraft. The second one is usually less crowded, and cleaner.
- Smile and fake it till you make it when you reach your destination– I’ve found this to be particularly useful in destinations within Asia especially– if you look like you know where you’re going, you won’t be hounded by all those taxi company reps., and tour guides.
- Adapt– Flights get delayed, plans only go so far. I think as a traveller, in general, you need to be able to adapt to things not working out the way you’d anticipated. So, stay calm and avoid getting stressed unnecessarily.