Airports, we love them, well most of the time.
Granted that they can be tricky to navigate at times, especially if its an airport you are not familiar with. As any traveler will and should tell you, its all part of the journey. What better place to meet and engage with new people from all over the world.
My cities main airport is King Shaka International, in Durban, South Africa. It is only eight years old and was opened just a month before the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. I recall this, because I worked on the Local Organizing Committee on the Media Team, during the World Cup.
I still have memories of visiting the old airport with my father, as a child. My parents traveled quite a bit when I was younger, I loved watching the planes take off and land, which you could still do then. As a traveler, there is something so electric inside your soul when you arrive and something so sad when you leave.
I was recently at the airport to drop someone off and then again to pick them up. It was so bittersweet, that elating, overwhelming comfort and content of being in a place, that could transport you anywhere.
So I want to share some of my airport tips with you. Enjoy.
Make it your business to be early. Not only do airports require you to be checked in by a certain time, but there are quite a few hiccups that you may or may not run into when you check in. Including, missing documents, delayed flights, changed flights, baggage checks, or anything as simple as not being able to find parking. Luckily my local airport has A LOT of parking space, but the cost of missing a flight or being delayed or any of the above could be a lot more than just buying a new ticket.
No one likes missing meetings or connecting flights. Furthermore, I don’t know about you, but I love people and plane watching at airports. I want to be checked in early so I can walk around, have a hot chocolate, and let the excitement build. I intend to use the Bidvest Lounge, the next time I travel. Jamie from Explore Ed, shared with us, his love for the open gardens and spaces at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Your boarding, shouldn’t be a rushed or a frustrating process and often us travelers are just as responsible when things go wrong at airports as the airlines. So let’s do our part.
What is the point of traveling all over the world, if you cant make friends with the person sitting next to you? Okay, maybe small chat with the person next to you on the plane is a little different, but you have an entire airport of individuals that are going or coming from somewhere.
Someone may be traveling to the same destination, they may be returning from it, they may even live in it. Which means there is an untapped amount of information and resources at your fingertips, you just have to tap into it. I am not suggesting you share your home address and social security number, or even your full itinerary with a stranger, but a smile, and a few kind words can go a long way. Furthermore, who likes a 6-hour layover, with no one to talk too but themselves?
One of the benefits of making friends with someone on a delayed or layover flight is that you have less of a chance of missing your connecting flight. If they miss it you do and visa versa and it is a lot harder for an airline to take off with 2 of its connecting passengers missing from the roll call.
Read A Book
A couple of years ago, when I had an eight-hour flight to the Middle East, I was quite distraught that I forgot to pack any of my books. I know with the advance of technology and saving the environment, there is a huge focus on just downloading e-books. There is something about a paper book in your hand though. Something about going on a mental adventure as well as a physical one.
My local airport has an amazing bookstore, called Exclusive Books which literally has any kind of genre of writer you can imagine. And whether you buy something or just spend a couple minutes before boarding, wandering through the store and checking out new titles, it is a great way to mentally prepare for the journey you are about to go on.
Especially if you are a nervous flyer. There is nothing more relaxing than wandering through the aisles of a bookstore.
I also like to buy a book from the local SPCA or shelter, read it and then trade or donate it to someone else on my travels. That way keeping the book in circulation, where many people can share the story, while also giving to a worthy cause.
And if you want to relax in style, Glen Gilmore, from Travel Esquire, suggests that membership programs when flying can be worthwhile, in some lounges you can even find, beds to catch up on sleep between flights.
These are just a few of my tips to make your airport experience a fun, friendly and enjoyable one.
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And As Always
In collaboration with TravelStart SA.