Jetting off for a holiday abroad is an undeniably exciting time – but there’s a major hurdle to leap before you touch down on foreign soil and even think about unpacking your bikini or Speedos …
… the airport.
Typically, your classic international airport is busy, overpriced and about as welcoming as a hole in a lifeboat, with apparently never-ending queues and glumly hanging around an almost accepted part of daring to take a break.
In fact, according to research, nearly a quarter of those surveyed find an airport experience as stressful as moving house, with almost 50 per cent claiming a holiday doesn’t start until they’ve left the airport.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By taking a few simple steps, you can improve your airport experience immeasurably and ensure your holiday always gets off to a flyer …
fake taxi drivers waiting to con and rob you outside; so much for a romantic first impression of Rome.
Book your airport parking in advance
Realistically, one of the biggest stress inducers when rushing to the airport is the challenge to find a parking spot that doesn’t end with a four-mile trek to the terminal. To ameliorate this hassle, then, most major UK airports offer a valet service, allowing you to drive straight to the terminal where they will take care of you and your vehicle.
For example, Gatwick meet and greet will welcome you as you drive to the drop off point, unpack your luggage and hotfoot it to check-in with the minimum of stress. On your return, your car will be returned to you exactly where you left it. Easy!
Enjoy a smooth check-in
Nowadays, the majority of airlines allow you to print your boarding pass from the comfort of your own home, which means you can often avoid those tediously long queues as the check-in assistant fires off seemingly endless reams of paper for the unprepared among us.
Admittedly, sidestepping backlogs of travellers will only work if you’re carrying hand baggage. Otherwise, the best you can do is have your boarding pass ready and arrive in plenty of time in order to keep the stress levels at a minimum.
Breeze through airport security
Given that you can print off your own boarding pass, the queues at check-in have gotten shorter; however, it seems the lines at security have gotten larger. Interestingly, though, many airports now offer a security fast track if you’re willing to pay a fee, which can range from between £3 and £5.
If you’re reluctant to part with your hard-earned cash, the best advice is to ensure your carry-on baggage conforms to your airline’s size and security restrictions, as the rules on how many bags and the amount of liquid permitted can often vary depending on who you fly with.