Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Travellers Tales

Manchester Airport - and the fun begins
I first flew way back in 1971 - a student traveller trip from London to Zurich - it was all very novel and exciting - the whole thing made you feel a bit special. Nowadays the whole travel experience has become a bit of a chore, with lots of queuing, crowds everywhere, security checks and the general feeling that you are less of a valued customer and more of a bloody nuisance.

So what tips and tricks have we picked up over the years to ease the whole process?

Checking a hold bag? Common sense maybe but don’t put your ‘essential’ stuff in there, just in case it gets lost or delayed. So money, pills, travel documents, car and house keys (on the way back home) and a pair of rock shoes should stay with you.

Hiring a car? Don’t use the airline’s recommended provider if you want to avoid a big queue on arrival. Sending the main driver on ahead while someone else collects the bags can be a great way of jumping the queue, just make sure the rest of the team know which desk, or if the company is off site. If you travel more than a couple times a year consider buying an annual policy (around £35) to cover you in case of damage - much cheaper than short term cover, though you do have to actually pay any bills then claim it back. Check the prices of some of the main stream providers (via a price comparison site) against the bargain basement guys, you might be surprised. Avoid Goldcars.

Stay well? How often do you go on a trip and fall ill within a couple of days? Airports are dirty places full of dirty germ ridden people - or maybe that’s the best way to think. We carry a small antiseptic hand soap and a nasal spray and use them before and after every flight - it might be kidology but we appear to get less bugs than we used too. The cooling air vent above your seat is a great idea - for spraying everybody’s recycled germs in your personal space for a couple of hours, so turn it off.

Queues? One of my personal bugbears is queuing, I know it goes against the dirt-bag climbers code but paying a few quid for fast track certainly eases the start of a trip.

If you are driving to the airport and have to pay for parking (we use the train a lot nowadays which is often cheap and very convenient) it might be worth looking for  hotels that offer ‘free’ parking with an overnight stop. That way you avoid both a pre-dawn start and the rush hour motorway for a more civilised start.

Go light? It isn’t usually possible on a climbing trip, but travelling with just hand luggage is very liberating - more like catching a bus than a plane. Today the plane from Manchester touched down in Kos at 15.55 and by 16.21 we’re on the ferry - folks who had to wait for bags missed it.
If you do check a bag in we learnt a nice little trick with a rucksack. Get it as near the weight limit as you dare then check it in. Normally it then has to go to a separate conveyor because of the straps, so once away from the desk you can add all the bit and pieces you had stashed in your pockets!

So there you go, hope some of the tips help - Happy Trails

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