You’ve followed my money saving travel tips and nabbed yourself a bargain, you’ve counted down the days and now it’s time to go get yourself to the airport.
What to Wear
A matching trackie and fresh white kicks aren’t the only option of travel wear, even if athleisurewear now represents 90% of your wardrobe (I ain’t judging). It makes sense to travel in comfort though and you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but layers really are key. A cashmere blend cosy cardie would be my ultimate comfort multi purpose item. Soft and cosy cashmere, my picks are all under €100 and they basically double up as a blanket when it gets chilly in-flight. Paired with smart side stripe joggers that are everywhere at the moment, a white cotton tee and shoes you shouldn’t need to take off at airport security. Something like this that doesn’t crease is essential if you want to arrive looking somewhat human and put together on the other side. And if you ever want to be considered for that elusive upgrade, then it no harm dressing the part (Airlines do actually have dress codes, remember the two teenage girls in leggings denied boarding in 2017?).
Footwear is a toughie, if you’d rather not have to take your shoes off going through security go for flats with no metal buckles (varies between airports). I feel like wearing sandals, pumps, or anything else small and light would be wasting valuable space and weight in your luggage so go for your comfiest classic trainers that’ll go with everything when you arrive.
You might be noticing a bit of a colour scheme going on. I’m a lazy dresser, so I stick to a monochromatic palette of black, white and grey the majority of the time, mixed with denim. It certainly makes packing for a trip easier because you just know everything will go together and you can throw in a few coloured accessories to liven things up.
A couple of essentials to complete the look…
I’ve never really lusted for many designer things, but maybe one day I will own a full set of Louis Vuitton monogrammed luggage. Perhaps.
Until then, though, I’m keeping it practical with IT-luggage. They claim to be the ‘world’s lightest’, I can’t say if that’s true but I do know I’ve crammed an awful lot of heels and statement necklaces in for a weekend away and not been charged excess so they’re not heavy that’s for sure. I bought my cabin size bag in Primark (they’ve got them in Penneys too and it’s the right size for Ryanair flights) or you can order online. They’re frameless for more packing space and are made from an “unbreakable foam structure”. Sounds good, right? I use the large size for longer trips.
Tips and Time-Savers
I already mentioned the security shoe-bacle, but there are more ways to save time going through security. Make sure to choose your queue wisely, obviously avoid kids and OAPs, business men have too many gadgets so they’re not even a good bet any more. Look for solo travellers carrying little hand-luggage. Speaking of gadgets, you’ll have to take your laptop out of your bag and out of its case, so opt for hand luggage with easy access like these bags.
Girls, clip-in extenos can and will trigger the metal detectors, so save yourself the embarrassment. Belts have to come off as well, plus who wants to be restricted in jeans while flying.
From my experience, it really depends on who you get at security when it comes to liquids. I’ve had officers let me keep bottles of water I forgot about and some who wouldn’t let me through until my clear plastic bag was completely sealed. Consistent they aren’t, so you’re best to expect the most strict to avoid delays. Liquids need to be under 100ml each and all fit into one sealed clear plastic bag, have this in the front pocket of your case or top of your handbag so it’s quick and easy to grab. Or if you’ve planned to have a bit of time at the airport, pick up cheap minis after security to save yourself bringing them through with you.
Seat selection and Upgrades
Most airlines offer the option of choosing your own seat, although some charge extra if you want to do it well in advance. Unless you really need to be sitting beside someone, I say leave it up to chance. You may be warned that you’ll end up with a middle seat, but I’ve never paid to choose my seat and I still get a window or aisle seat maybe 7 out of 10 times. On longer flights, or if there are free seats available, you can ask the gate staff, or even swap seats once on board.
Upgrades are really rare nowadays, but if you’re brazen enough it’s usually only an option for solo travellers and make sure you’re well dressed and not carrying a tonne of crap with you. I’ve been moved up front due to my TV screen not working before, it’s luck of the draw.
Hand luggage and boarding
Most airlines won’t allow you to board with hot drinks, so don’t bother unless you have time. The ‘gate closes’ time on your boarding card is usually when they’ll open/start the boarding process, but arrive at the gate with plenty of time. Only a certain amount of hand luggage bags are permitted on board. Budget airlines have quick turnaround times, so they’ll limit wheelie bags as passengers tend to waste lots of time trying and failing to fit them into the overhead cabins. As a result, they’ll tag some bags and check them into the hold for free, you’ll have to collect your case at the luggage belt on the other side. To avoid this, there are a few options. You can pay for priority boarding, arrive and queue at the gate early, or travel with a soft bag which can’t be checked (they just take the cases). You’ll be asked to remove electronics/breakables such as laptops and cameras, so be prepared.