Over the years I’ve made several mistakes and picked up some tips on what to do and what not to do when travelling. No one is perfect and with more adventures and experiences I’m sure there’ll be more mishaps but it’s all part of the learning experience!
Here’s some do’s and don’ts with a few of my memorable silly travel moments:
1. Keep track of time at the airport when you’ve checked in and are in duty free
You’d think that anyone with common sense would know to do this. Well there was a time when my family and another completely lost track of time. Many years ago, we went on a joint family holiday to Spain. After making it to the airport, we checked in our luggage, went through security and were shopping in duty free as we still had time to spare before our gate opened. Or so we thought. Next thing we knew, an announcement on the tannoy was made – all our names were called out and we were told we needed to get to our gate immediately as it was closing. The sprint we all did to the gate was like no other, there was no way we were going to miss that flight if we could help it. Imagine the scene – 4 adults equipped with 2 babies and 4 kids rushing through Gatwick. Mad. When we finally made it on the plane and did the walk of shame to our seats, we were greeted with dirty looks from some of the passengers 😦
Most airports no longer offer the courtesy of making an announcement if you’re late to board a flight so make sure you keep track of time.
2. Don’t over pack and invest in a luggage scale
I’ve had one for years but made the stupid mistake of forgetting to take it with me when I went to Nigeria a few Christmases ago. When I was getting ready to come back home my family out there gave me loads of things to bring back and I also bought and packed my bag with Nigerian snacks like groundnut, chin chin, gurundi and even knorr cubes! When I got to the airport and was checking in I realised I was way over my luggage allowance. The fee for the excess weight was over $600. $600. When they told me the price I had a sudden urge to vomit. I held my tears in throughout the check in process and let it all out when I got on the plane.
So yeah, don’t do what I did. The money I wasted could’ve gone on a holiday or 2. Avoid over packing, buy a luggage scale and don’t forget to take it on holiday with you – they’re small, cheap and every traveller should own one.
3. Try and avoid partying the night before an early morning flight
I don’t even need to say too much for this one. Me and some of my friends from uni spent a few days in Amsterdam. On our last night we decided to go to a club even though we knew we had a flight to catch the following morning at 8am. We got back from the club at 4am and needed to be at the airport by 6am. We weren’t sober either. Never. Again.
4. Avoid early morning return flights
See point 3. Also, it’s always a bit sad when a trip comes to an end but a lie in, time to have breakfast or perhaps even lunch before you fly home can always help ease the pain a little bit. Can you do those things with early morning flights? No.
5. Don’t come from a holiday straight to work
I don’t know why I thought I’d be able to do this. I’d used up my remaining annual leave and I needed to be back in the office on the 27th December. My return flight from Lagos was on the 26th and after a stopover in Dubai, I would arrive at London Gatwick airport on the 27th at 6am. My job at the time was 10 mins away from London Heathrow airport and going from Gatwick to Heathrow isn’t a straightforward journey. I also hadn’t slept very well or showered 😩 Some people can handle going straight to work from a holiday but issa no from me dawg.
6. Get compensation for delayed or cancelled flights
A few years ago I had a flight scare. I was on my way to Florida for Christmas and a few hours into the flight, the pilot announced that we needed to turn back and land at London Heathrow as there was a hydraulic fault with the plane. Upon landing, we were left on the plane for a couple of hours whilst they tried to fix the fault. Eventually we were put in a hotel and scheduled to fly the following day as it turned out the problem couldn’t be fixed that quickly. Frustrating, yes, but safety comes first and I’m thankful that the issue was picked up sooner rather than later as that day could’ve ended differently.
Some years later a colleague told me they claimed compensation for a delayed flight and got about £200. I did my googles and found out that if you’re delayed by more than 3 hours or your flight’s cancelled, then under EU rule 261/2004 you’re entitled to between £110 and £530 in compensation. You can find out more here. Through this, the airline offered me £530 as compensation for my cancelled flight to Florida (our flight was rescheduled for the following day so we still didn’t miss out on the holiday!) so if you can think of any flights you’ve had that have been delayed or cancelled and fit the criteria then collect your coinsss.
Peace, love and flights.