10 top tips for flying from frequent travellers

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, we all want to eliminate stress

Flying sometimes feels like the most stressful mode of transport - the waiting around, the things you absolutely have to remember to bring and the organising involved.

So LondonlovesBusiness.com has asked some uber-frequent flyers for their top tips for happy travelling, and we’ve added a few of our own too.

Munir Samji is the CEO of Blitz Communications which helps stage massive events for some of the world’s biggest brands. He’s a regular flyer, having taken hundreds of short and long haul flights in his career and, at his busiest, travelling five times a month.

We also caught up with Richard Ashforth, international creative director of Saco Hair, which has bases around the world, including Canada, the USA and Denmark. He travels regularly from Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport. He shared his tips on his way out to Brazil last week.

1. Arrive early

Getting from the airport to the plane can involve a number of lengthy waiting periods. Make sure you always leave plenty of time. This means getting to the airport at least two hours before the flight leaves. Note that security is especially busy at peak times such as morning and evening rush hour.

Ashforth says: “It’s always preferable to spend as little time as possible in transit - so I don’t like to arrive super early but, similarly, arriving late can be stressful.”

2. Arriving doesn’t have to be a strain

Who wants to start their trip by lugging bags around on often surprisingly costly public transport, before you’re even arrived at the airport? There are more options than people realise. Heathrow Official Parking, for example, allows people to pre-book short stay parking, which is often cheaper than a taxi and can be as close as 45 metres to the terminal.

3. Organise yourself

One of the biggest causes of stress while travelling is disorganisation. Ashforth says sorting out the things you carry around is important. “I try and be organised with hand luggage - it’s painful going through security at the best of times!”

Another good tip is to know where your boarding gate is so you know how far away you are. This can save panicky running through the airport at the last minute.

4. It’s OK to enjoy a drink, but don’t go wild

A lot of people like to have an alcoholic drink before they fly. Big airports like Heathrow have a huge number of fantastic bars and restaurants including two by Michelin starred chefs Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey to choose from - but make sure you don’t drink too much!

5. Use waiting time wisely

There’s always a bit of hanging around at the airport and, particularly when flying long-haul, hours to fill on the plane. This can be a great time to catch up on work with no distractions – and then to relax.

Samji doesn’t like to spend the time working if he doesn’t have to.

“My advice would be to don’t get too stressed – use the time to relax and avoid mobile phones and other electronics. There are some people who are moving around all the time. There’s no need to overdo it,” he says.

Ashforth says: “Invariably I do some work and then try and relax and enjoy the ‘downtime’ by reading or watching a movie. I make sure I have a book, some snacks and some music. I’m all good if I have those things with me.”

6. Check out the shops for things you’ve forgotten

If you’ve got time to kill at the airport there can be nothing better than browsing the shops. Heathrow, is almost a shopping destination in its own right, thanks to its award winning shopping experience, with a wide range of high-street and designer shops. Even smaller airports offer duty-free shops where you can buy items such as perfume, jewellery and bottles of spirits without 20% VAT.

“My wife loves going to the shops, particularly for cosmetics, clothes and shoes,” says Samji.

7. Speed through security and boarding

There are a few tricks that can help speed up the process. Make sure you know where your passport and boarding cards are because you don’t want to have to be going through your belongings at the last minute and potentially holding up a queue. Make sure you don’t put them in a back pocket as they can easily fall out or be removed by someone.

8. Pack sensibly

Gifts for friends and relatives are great - providing they make it back to Britain safely. A great tip for carrying bottles safely, as you can’t carry them in hand luggage, is to wrap them in socks and put the neck of the bottle in a toilet roll, making sure it doesn’t touch the sides of the case directly.

9. Keep your possessions safe

Abandoned bags can be destroyed, so always keep an eye on your belongings where you can.

Tags are vital and tracking tags inside bags can ensure your luggage can be found and identified easily.

When on the plane, if you need to step away from your seat, to use the toilet for example, ensure you make sure your valuables are not visible. The same applies if you’re sleeping.

10.  Eat before you fly

Unless you have particular dietary requirements, there’s no reason to bring food along with you. Ashforth eats at the airport, rather than on the plane.

“I try and eat before a flight so I can choose something a little healthier - sometimes the choices aren’t great for a vegetarian. Giraffe is pretty good and I sometimes treat myself to Gordon Ramsay if I’m at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.”


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