Autumn Adventures in Essaouira, Morocco: Travel Guide

Essaouira Morocco Travel Image

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The port city of Essaouira is the perfect place to enjoy some warm autumn sunshine, while absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of one of Morocco’s more low-key – yet undeniably beguiling – cities. Since EasyJet stops direct flights from Luton outside summer months, reaching Essaouira requires a little more planning in autumn, but combining flights with EasyJet, Ryanair, Transavia and/or Royal Air Maroc will do the trick.

From Marrakech

Essaouira is also the ideal chill-out location if you’ve already been exploring Morocco’s more high-tempo tourist targets: when the hubbub and hard-sells of Marrakesh get too much, it’s time to hop on a bus to Essaouira. Located just two-and-a-half hours away, this laid-back seaside town is Marrakesh Lite: You get the buzzing medina and cafe lifestyle – but without the hassle.

Things to do

Known as “Africa’s Windy City”, Essaouria is buffeted by stiff seawinds – which take the edge off the warmer days. These dependable gusts have made the city’s beaches a mecca for wind and kite surfers – although they’re not ideal for swimming. If you enjoy a dip, you’re best off booking a riad (hotel) with a pool.

Other popular activities include sailing tours (10:30 to 14:30) from the port, but these are weather dependent. Spice shopping is another big draw, with saffron topping the shopping lists of many tourists (although it’s still tough to track down!). And if the aroma of all those spices get you in a culinary mood, why not book a cooking lesson at ’Atelier Madada, where Chef Mouna will show you how to create mouth-watering tagines and patisserie delights.

But if you’d rather someone else cooked…

Essaouria offers many exciting dining options, ranging from French-Moroocan fusion to vegetarian. The famous tagine is available everywhere, based around meat, fish, poultry or vegetables. If you love your seafood, head to the Port Grills where you’ll find a tantalising selection of catches: shrimp, langoustine, sardines and giant crab are on offer for as little as 120 dirhams (£10).

Essaouira Building Travel Image

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Things to see

The Ramparts – Explore the pink-red hues of the ramparts, a defensive wall built by the Portuguese, complete with old cast iron cannons. Game of Thrones fans may already be familiar with the walls – they provided the backdrop for scenes in the third season. Take a look at the arts and crafts for sale in the archways underneath.

Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Museum – Explore the history of Essaouira through ancient pottery, jewelry, tools and weapons, showcased in a beautiful former riad from the 19th Century.

Music

Essaouria’s relaxed atmosphere is made all the more so by the plaintive sounds of traditional Gnaoua music. Heavy iron castanets known as qraqeb and three-string lutes are the chief instruments. You can hear this music played in cafes and on the street.

Costs

Essaouira is cheaper than much bigger cities like Marrakesh and Rabat, not least because you’re less likely to face inflated prices at the hands of taxi drivers, street vendors and barbers – since the locals are more genial than in urbanised parts. In general, Morocco remains a low cost holiday destination, despite the pound’s ongoing wobbles – and a hugely rewarding one.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Kids are covered for free on some of our policies!

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A Quick Guide To Staying Safe Abroad

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Take a quick look at this little list to maximise enjoyment on your next break abroad!

1. Don’t Get Robbed

  • Invest in a slash-proof backpack.
  • Keep valuables locked up in a hotel safe.
  • Or better yet – leave valuables at home unless they are essential for your travel plans.
  • Research travel scams for your destination.
  • Carry a second “fake” wallet or purse.
  • Beware of what you wear, it could be a sign of wealth even if you don’t think it is that valuable or just scream “tourist”, making you way more vulnerable to scammers and opportunistic thieves.
  • Keep your bag attached to you at all times, either with a carabiner or with a strap wrapped around you.

2. Don’t Get Lost

  • Make sure all maps are available offline.
  • Take a hardcopy map in case you lose your ‘phone or it runs out of power.
  • Tell someone your itinerary and keep friends and family updated with travel plans.
  • Pay attention to where you are going!
  • If you are travelling on a package holiday have the helpline number handy.
  • If you aren’t on a package, make sure you have a phrase book to help you ask for directions and/or help.

3. Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance – it can cover you for:

  • Medical costs in case of illness or injury.
  • Repatriation.
  • Cancelled or missed flights.
  • Lost or stolen passport.
  • Lost or damaged belongings.

At worldwideinsure.com we can tailor a policy to suit your needs and situation – whether that is travelling with expensive equipment, or an existing medical condition, or making sure you are covered for specific activities and excursions.

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4. Don’t Get Injured or ill

  • Pack a first aid kit.
  • Use a filtered water bottle.
  • Check any bottled drinks you are given have not been previously opened.
  • Only eat peelable fruit.
  • Avoid salads, opt for fully cooked food.

5. Be Prepared

  • Write down emergency contact numbers.
  • Have digital copies available somewhere of all essential info such as passport info and travel insurance emergency number.
  • Hide emergency cash in a chap stick/hairbrush/underwear.
  • Learn basic self defence.
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Why Autumn Breaks Are Better: 4 Amazing Destinations

Summer is wonderful, but if you haven’t managed to squeeze in a holiday this year, fear not – autumn is a fantastic season to get away. In fact, you won’t experience the blistering temperatures of midsummer, and you’ll pay less for flights and hotels. What’s more, autumn in the northern hemisphere is a beautiful time to travel – with fallen leaves of red, gold and brown blanketing the landscape.

Here are four amazing autumnal experiences for your short list….

Seville, Spain

Seville Travel Image

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If you had visited this unique Spanish city in July or August, you may well have found it too hot (40 degrees is not uncommon). But arrive in October or November and you’ll be rewarded with warm, pleasant temperatures and the fragrance of orange blossom in the air. The city’s flat topography makes it a walker’s dream: saunter between shaded plazas, taking coffee and tapas when the mood grabs you.

Don’t miss:

  • The Moorish architecture – particularly the Royal Alcázar of Seville.
  • The Plaza de Espana: this opulent landmark square has far fewer tourists in the autumn months.
  • Relax in the autumnal beauty of the city parks – Parque de Maria Luisa is one of the largest.

Ontario, Canada

Onrario Travel Image

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For a more intense autumnal visual experience, consider Ontario, Canada, where the leaves change colour in eye-popping style from September to late October. Visit the vast Algonquin Provincial Park near Toronto for fiery autumn scenes that stretch out for hundreds of kilometres. Here you’ll also find lakes and rivers, where you can hire a canoe and glide through cool waters that reflect the soul-calming colours of the season.

Don’t miss: The Niagara Parkway (aka Niagara Boulevard) – You can hire a car and take what Churchill called “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” – to one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world. Expect a dazzling impressionist landscape of bright reds and yellows, and with a speed limit of 37mph, you can take your time enjoying it.

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Fuji Travel Image

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If a summer of work – and no holidays – has left your coffers full, then why not head to the Far East and enjoy views of the iconic Mount Fuji framed in foliage of deep reds?

The colours of the maples and cherry trees are so intense they even dreamt up an event to celebrate it: the Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival.

Don’t miss: Ascending Fuji. Deservedly one of the best-loved vistas in Japan, it’s worth making time to climb Fuji itself. Rise up through Lake Kawaguchiko’s haze as you move up the perfectly formed (and assuredly dormant) stratovolcano and be mesmerized by the dark rock as it gives way to the blazing whites of the snowy peak.

Iceland

Iceland Travel Image

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If you prefer even fresher temperatures and the freedom of unpeopled landscapes, then Iceland could be your perfect autumn destination. Visiting in October and November will be decidedly cheaper than summertime, and the vistas no less stunning.

If you visit in November you can experience kaleidoscopic colours day and night: Thingvellir National Park presents dazzling autumnal shades, while trips to see the Northern Lights will fill your evenings with awe-inspiring light shows.

Tip: While there are plenty of Northern Lights trips, these are essentially only taking you to locations where light pollution is low enough to see the light displays – which means if you have a hire car you can drive out by yourself. You’ll save cash and you won’t have to keep to the tour guide’s schedule!

It can get rather chilly in autumn, so pack plenty of warm layers. But you can retreat to the cosy cafes and bars of Reykjavik if it gets too cold.

And if you’re a light sleeper, an autumn trip here could be perfect: the nights are long and, as Björk might say, oh-so-quiet.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Make sure you are covered before you jet off on your next trip!

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Skyscanner App Review – Travel App of the Month August 2019

skyscanner travel app review logoCheap flights, alerts on upcoming deals, no booking fees… it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not – welcome to a flight, hotel, and car hire app that is used by more than 70 millionpeople worldwide!

 

What is the Skyscanner App?

It’s a portal that promises to make finding and booking your holiday, or various parts of your holiday, really easy. It covers flights, hotels, and car hire, and is known for presenting some of the best deals going. It’s also a wonderful tool for tracking prices, with a handy alert if what you are looking for comes up at a bargainous price!

What does the Skyscanner App do?

  • Connects you with best deals on flights, hotels, hostels, apartments, resorts, and car hire
  • Lets you book your whole trip in the one app
  • Suggests activities for your destination
  • Provides travel inspiration with an “explore” feature
  • Shows price comparisons between hotel, flight, and car hire providers
  • Has a custom search function
  • Has a loyalty option in profile for collecting miles

All with no booking fees, sweeeeet!

skyscanner travel app review

skyscanner travel app review

Who is the Skyscanner App for?

Its multifaceted functions means that it ticks the box for just about everyone who is looking for a deal, but it is those who like to travel often that will probably get the most benefit – especially the tracking feature for securing the best prices on flights, and insights on the cheapest times to travel.

What do the Skyscanner App Reviews say?

The fact that 70 million people are using this app says it all. Sure, there are a few glitches here and there, and some features that people would like to see added, but the app certainly seems to do what it says and is well maintained!

skyscanner travel app review android

skyscanner travel app review iOS

 

Get Skyscanner in iTunes

Get Skyscanner in GooglePlay

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The Safest Holiday Destinations in the World 2019

New Zealand Beach - Safe Holiday Destinations

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Can’t decide where to go on your next holiday? Why not take a look at the Global Peace Index? It is used to rank the safety of 163 countries worldwide, a great tool for picking your next family-friendly holiday spot! Here are the top 10.

Iceland

For the 11thyear in a row, Iceland has been declared the safest place in the world to be. For family fun, we recommend heading to this glorious country in the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy a healthy dose of fun-filled outdoor adventures around the clock as the sun barely sets this time of year.

New Zealand

While the long haul flight might not be child friendly, New Zealand has plenty to offer for families with young children. Top tip: head to Ngarunui Beach where the kids can learn to surf on some of the most gentle waves going in full view of the life guards.

Australia

With deadly critters roaming on land and sea, you might be surprised to find Oz in the top 10 safest places in the world, but here it is. Why not head to Kangaroo Island with the kids to enjoy getting up close to a diverse range of wildlife on this secluded island, over a third of which is a nature reserve.

Australia Safest Holiday Destinations

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Portugal

Head to central and western Algarve for all the best kid-friendly family fun. From Lagos in the west through to Vilamoura in the east, you’ll find plentiful zoos and waterparks that will keep the kids entertained the whole holiday. Its popularity with families does however mean that it is a pretty chokka place to holiday during the summer break!

Denmark

If you are heading to Denmark with the kids, there is no way you can’t stop for a bit in Billund, the birthplace of Lego and home of the original Legoland theme park and resort. Billund also has an impressive activity park, Lalandia, and Givskud Zoo, making the place a perfect paradise for kids of all ages.

Canada

For a winter break the kids will remember forever, book a stay at Whistler. This place has a ski-scene like no other, and the vibe will definitely impress older kids in the group, especially if you are there during one of the many ski and snowboard festivals or competitions. Plus, if the older kids are entertained, you might find time for a bit of après–ski fun or relaxation without them!

Canada Safest Holiday Destinations

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Czech Republic

Another great winter destination for families, especially near Christmas. The Christmas Markets in Prague are some of the best in the whole of Europe, lit up by thousands of lights, and selling everything that makes the festive season magical, from gingerbread treats to glorious gifts.

Singapore

This is the most family-friendly destination in Asia. It is sparkling clean, the public transport is great, and it seems that everywhere is buggy friendly. The place is packed with eye-catching attractions, lots of activity parks, and of course a Universal Studios Theme Park, but our must-do is Singapore Night Safari, open from 7.15 pm to midnight daily.

Japan

Give the kids a high-tech holiday in Tokyo, it’s packed with futuristic fun. If your kids enjoyed Spirited Away or Howls Moving Castle, go to Studio Ghibli, it has a museum guarded by a 5 metre robot! A trip to Honda Plaza and the kids can meet ASIMO, the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. Or take a trip on the bullet train, which connects Tokyo to most major cities at speeds up to 200mph!

Ireland

With a culture steeped in fairy tales and folklore, Ireland is the perfect place to wow the little ‘uns on holiday. Top Tip for parents is to become National Trust members. While most places, such as the fantastic Giants Causeway are accessible to the general public, you have to pay to access the visitor centres. This is where you can find out the folklore and facts behind such amazing natural wonders in an array of interactive displays.

KIDS GO FREE! Did you know that on some of our family travel insurance policies, the kids are covered for free? Call us to find out more!

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Driving in Europe Post-Brexit – Advice for UK Holidaymakers

Driving in Europe Post-Brexit – Advice for UK Holidaymakers

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Without a withdrawal agreement, no one is really sure what driving in Europe might mean for UK holidaymakers later in the year. However, it is almost certain that there’ll be no more hopping in your car in the UK and driving off the ferry or Eurostar the other side without additional paperwork in place. As such, UK holidaymakers planning to enjoy the scenic routes of Europe by car or camper after 31st October are being advised to look into getting a Green Card, and an IDP (International Driving Permit). Here’s what you need to know.

Green Cards For Driving In Europe

A Green Card is a certificate issued by your motor insurer that provides proof to authorities that you have adequate motor insurance cover. It is required in a number of countries worldwide, including all the countries in the European Union. Drivers should apply for a Green Card from their current insurer a month before the planned travel. Be aware that there may be a small admin fee.

Travelling Without A Green Card

At present, it is not a requirement for UK drivers to have a Green Card to travel in Europe, but in the event of a no-deal Brexit (or should a last-minute deal go ahead that states Green Cards are required), it would be wise to have one just in case.

In the event you don’t have a Green Card when you do need one, authorities could seize your vehicle and/or issue a heavy fine.

Green Cards and Car Hire

It is thought that if you hire a car in Europe, then the rental from the hire company should cover you. However, if you hire a car in the UK to take over to Europe, you will need to get a Green Card.

Car Hire Excess Insurance

While we are on the topic of car hire, we should remind you that it would be prudent to take out Car Hire Excess Insurance. This insurance means you don’t have to take out the excess insurance from the car hire company, which usually provides extremely limited cover, and comes with an array of exclusions that almost guarantee you have to pay something when you return the vehicle. For more insights on why you need Car Hire Excess Insurance and other top tips when renting a hire car for your holiday, see our Car Hire Travel Tips post.

International Driving Permits

It is likely that UK driving licences will not be recognised in the European Union Post-Brexit, which means that you will have to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Europe.

IDPs are available from the Post Office, and if you are traveling through more than one country you may need more than one IDP. For example, a 1968 IDP is valid for France and Germany, but if you plan to head to Spain, you’ll also need a 1949 IDP.

Having said all that, there are quirks and anomalies across the board – for example no IDPs are needed for Switzerland, and won’t be even in the event of a no-deal withdrawal; also in Spain, you wouldn’t actually need one until 1stAugust 2020, and only if you are staying for more than 6 months.

Do be aware that IDPs are only valid for a limited period, and this varies between countries – the Post Office online IDP checker gives full details, as does the .gov website.

 

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16 Secrets To Booking A Cheap Flight

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If you save money on your flight, you’ve got more to spend on holiday right? Here are 16 superb tips that might just help you secure yourself a cheap flight for your next holiday!

  1. Follow the airline’s social media, it is a great way to hear about upcoming offers and deals.
  2. Search the airline’s website direct, it can often show tickets at a very different price to third party travel websites.
  3. Get on your airline’s mailing list, anothergreat way to hear about the latest deals, discounts and promotions.
  4. Always search incognito,sometimes you can get a better price if your search history doesn’t show you’ve been shopping for holiday clothes!
  5. Erase all search history before doing a new search, because believe it or not, repeatedly searching for a particular flight/destination can actually cause the price to show higher!
  6. Choose off-peak travel times, it might be less convenient to travel at 5am, but the savings could make it worth it.
  7. Sign up to a frequent flier programme, so you can work towards those elusive perks.
  8. Get a credit card with air miles, because indulging in a bit of retail therapy and to then get rewarded with cheap flights is a solid win-win.
  9. Don’t fly direct, just one short stopover can make a huge difference to the ticket price.
  10. Mix (don’t match) airlines, sometimes the return flight is the costly one, but booking two one-way tickets with different airlines you could save a pretty penny.
  11. Search one ticket price at a time if travelling in a group, that way if there is one cheap spot it will show up.
  12. Check prices of nearby airports, as it may be cheaper to land a little further out and pay the transfer.
  13. Use a flight booking app, Skyscanner and Hopper are both great tools to analyse and predict flight prices.
  14. Sign up for email alertsfrom cheap flight websites and apps, so you know about the best deals before they are gone.
  15. Consider going all inclusive, as bundling hotel, transfers and flights with just one provider is often cheaper than booking the separate elements.
  16. Wait for last minute deals, it is a risk that just might be worth taking to save a few quid.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! The emotional and financial impact of missed flights, delays or a cancelled trip can be huge – make sure you are covered before you jet off on your next trip!

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Tripcast App Review – Travel App of the Month July 2019

tripcast logo Don’t want to lose best bits of your travel adventures in your social stream? Get a digital travel journal! It’s a great way to document the places you’ve been and keep family and friends in the loop too. 

What is the Tripcast App?

It is billed as a living journal for your friends back home, designed to document travels with ease. Compared to the likes of Facebook and Instagram Tripcast provides an ego-free platform for choosing to share with your nearest and dearest, and of course building an awesome travel journal for posterity while you’re at it.

What does the Tripcast App do?

It allows real time updates of images and notes. It can be linked to other users, so great if you are travelling in a group, and it allows you to put everyone’s posts in one album. The only people who can view it are those you invite – so you are free from the prying eyes of the public masses or your 10,000 social media friends. Those you invite can comment and ‘like’ on any post made and can interact through the website. Lastly, the app automatically tags the location, so you can later view posts by where rather than when and download the whole lot when you get back home.

 

tripcast screenshot

Who is the Tripcast App for?

This app is really great for young adults going off on their first solo trip, or on a backpacking adventure with mates, because it will help parents trying not to feel nervous feel connected. Obviously, the kids want to share their amazing time with the folks back home, but they will also like the fact they don’t have to check in every 15 minutes to let the folks know they are safe!

 What do the Tripcast App reviews say?

All in all, lots of praise for this app and it’s simplicity. iPhone users are definitely happier with how the app works for them, but it appears that the developers have ironed out a range of issues that were affecting Android users, so maybe there will be better reviews from the Android crew soon. The app is free, so definitely worth giving it a try!

 

Get it on Android

Get it on iTunes

 

 

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Best Places For Backpacking in 2019

Backpacking travel insurance Image by Pexels CC0

Image by Pexels CC0

Here are the top places to head in 2019 with a pack on your back and just enough money in your wallet for a hostel. Idyllic whether you are backpacking for gap year giggles, travelling on a budget, or you just fancied having a wholesome adventure!

Philippines

Seeking adventure? Tick! Seeking tropical beaches, with crystal clear sea? Tick! A unique honeymoon location? Tick! You’ll need to think of things to add to your bucket list after backpacking in the Philippines.

backpacking Philippines Image by my000693 CC0

Image by my000693 CC0

Made up of over 7,000 islands, you’d expect a taste of paradise, adventure and excitement and that’s exactly what you get. Go scuba diving, swim with great white sharks, indulge yourself under the tranquil waterfalls or relax with a beer by a lagoon. It’s also cheap – a pint of beer is about 75p at the going rate.

Iceland

Spectacular, rugged, breath-taking, glacial – it’s hard to describe Iceland within a limited word count. You’ll be able to honestly hashtag #nofilter when you snap the majesty that are the northern lights in all their prancing, dancing, ethereal beauty.

backpacking Iceland travel insurance Image © 43kcreative.com

Image © 43kcreative.com

Hire a car to tour the glaciers and ice fields, bathe in the geothermal springs for a unique getting back to nature experience and take in the local Reykjavik culture, with its charming Nordic nightlife. Be warned Iceland isn’t cheap, but this small island nation packs in more natural beauty per square mile and you get more than what you pay for.

Nepal

Nepal is a mountain nation. Get your head around that for a moment and think what that can offer. You don’t even have to climb a mountain (only recommended with proper guidance) to have a life changing experience in Nepal. Paraglide through the soaring valleys, take a plane ride across the Himalayas, visit temples, national parks and stunning monuments.

backpacking insurance nepal Image by Squirrel_photos CC0

Image by Squirrel_photos CC0

Nepal is a true adventure. If you do choose to trek around Everest, put at least a week aside and go off season – it gets extremely busy. If you’re after an experience that doesn’t require as much extra oxygen, take a trip to one of the national parks and observe tigers in their natural habitat.

Turkey

If you’re looking for a unique backpacking experience at a low, low cost, you can’t beat The Shoestring Cave House in the Cappadocia region. From just £7.00 a night, you can sleep in a cave, relax at the outside pool and even enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon.

backpacking turkey Image by adibalea CC0

Image by adibalea CC0

With views that are going to set your Instagram alight, balmy Turkish evenings and a once in a lifetime opportunity to sleep below the ground, this is a perfect stop off for any backpacker. Be warned, Turkey is politically unstable at the moment and this may not be the time to go. If you’re determined however, the people are some of the most charming on the planet and a joy to share a shisha pipe with.

Worldwideinsure.com Longstay Travel Insurance has been tailored to meet the needs of those on extended breaks and backpacking adventures! It has greater flexibility than standard travel insurance, and you can add activities as you go.

 

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Airport Travel Hacks – Tiny Tips To Save Your Sanity

Airport Travel Hacks Image by skitterphoto CC0

Image by skitterphoto CC0

Air travel is a mixed bag of experiences. Waiting, rushing, mild panic, boredom, elation, feeling travel sick… Here are a few things you can do to even out those highs and lows and be a bit less stressed next time you travel by aeroplane.

Hacks for before you check in

  • Customise your hold bag – bright tape is perfect for making your luggage stand out at baggage collection.
  • Pack all essentials in your hand luggage – just in case your hold bag goes missing, you’ll still have your chargers and toiletries to get you through the first day.
  • Download all your tickets and passes – just in case you have no connectivity make sure you can access them offline!
  • Have a hard copy of all essential travel documents – just in case your phone gives up altogether.
  • Take a photo of where you park – bay 6B is not memorable after a week in the Bahamas.
  • Wear your bulky items – to avoid paying for extra baggage.

 

Hacks for before you go through security

  • Pack your devices and liquids at the top of your hand luggage – it saves time!
  • Empty your pockets before you get to security – it saves time!
  • Finish up the water in your bottle – so you can get a cheap refill the other side.
  • Choose the security queue with business travellers – they tend to be more prepared so go through faster.
  • Never queue behind families, hen parties or stag dos – they tend to faff more and be less prepared so go through slower.
  • Choose the left queue – apparently most people are right-handed so will go right as it is easier. Left hand lanes should therefore be quicker.

 

Hacks to get you through the wait the other side

  • Use headphones for noise cancellation – not for music so you don’t miss important announcements.
  • Connect to the airport Wi-Fi – or risk maxing out your data allowance before you even get to your destination.
  • Brush up on key phrases – Duolingo is an addictive language learning game and will make the time fly while you actually boost your language skills!
  • If you haven’t already got it, get your travel insurance! A call with the lovely team at worldwideinsure.com will make the time fly while you’re waiting for your flight.

 

Hacks for on the plane

  • Board last – if you are the last on, you may well get that elusive upgrade.
  • Sit over the wing – you are less likely to feel turbulence. Morning flights are less likely to be turbulent too.
  • Don’t sit by the bulkhead – that’s the safest place to secure babies in bassinets, so more likely to be where the screaming is.
  • Ask for seconds if you are hungry – not all passengers take their meal so why not have what’s leftover if you are still hungry.
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