There’s really no need to get to the airport looking like you have all the world’s troubles on your shoulders
THERE ARE two kinds of international travellers.
There are the ones who look like every time is their first flight – selves overdressed, bags overstuffed, and content falling out all over the place when airport personnel begin the checks. They’re constantly glancing furtively around and asking questions; looking like they won’t be leaving the airport anytime soon.
It can be amusing or irritating depending on your patience quotient, to see this group, arms flailing, body in constant plea motion – it doesn’t matter how many times their visas have been stamped. And no, they are not going shopping; they’re just visiting for two weeks in fact.
Then there’s the other set: worldly-wise, jaded; armed with an impatient look that has no time for airport drama. Even the immigration personnel know to them alone.
This set knows exactly where to go, what to do, and they check in with minimal drama. They look and smell like they have been traveling right from when their umbilical cords were cut. And, despite the fact that the wealthy form the bulk of this group, it has nothing to do with wealth. They just know how to travel right. They’re the travel bourgeoisie.
Admit it; everyone wants to look like old money. Respected – and respectable. So we all want to look like that latter group – confident in the airport, knowing all the rules, cool like the ‘big boys’.
Well, if you really get down to it; smug though the second set may look, that’s the best way to travel.
Much of the baggage – physical and mental – we take along with us on international trips are unnecessary. If you think style and functionality, you would end up with only the needful and the useful. That way, you, your baggage allowance, your foreign exchange, fellow passengers and even the airline, will be the better for it.
How to do?
It’s not rocket science really.
Truth is, there is little you really need when you travel – after all, isn’t the point of travel about leaving home and all that comes with it in the first place?
First tip: pack just a few clothes. And even with those clothes, a couple complimentary, solid colors — no patterns. That’s always a good start.
Black is a good idea if you need to be able to dress up and be casual. Then, it is always better, when you can, to pack only what you can carry onto the flight.
It might seem impossible, but do this: put everything you want to take along with you in a pile and then begin to slowly – and, yes, maybe painfully – strip away things that aren’t necessary.
Don’t be lazy, do a little research; find out if it the things you want to drag along are things you can buy at your destination more cheaply or almost same cost as home. If they are, then don’t take them along (especially things you don’t already have). Tissue paper? Tampax? Since there are human beings existing in the country you are visiting, most toiletries can be found easily at your destination.
Another tip-to-be-thankful-for? When you have reached your destination, use travel as an excuse to get rid of old stuff. Dispose of old clothes and underwear each day, leaving more room for mementos (or shopping!) to take home if you choose. It also cuts down on items that need frequent washing while away.
Wearing it lightly
Still on clothing, try to pack only high-tech fabrics, the kinds that dry quickly so that you can do a wash in the sink. You can get away with 2 pairs of socks for a two-week trip by rinsing out the dirty pair at night.
High tech fabric also means it’ll dry by the next morning. Cotton for instance will stay soggy for days. Even if you stay in a hotel, you might want to do your laundry yourself at some point. Say, when you get broke? Baby wipes are also good in your bag or backpack; you know you can clean up nicely whenever you want.
And then for those souvenir purchases or even good old shopping, get one of those bags that fold up into a small package to slip into your backpack. You can use this to collect your souvenirs. This reduces what you must carry around with you, what you have to list for customs, amongst others.
The smarter way
As for all the travel protocol, try not to be like everyone else who keeps refusing to learn from experience. Don’t travel with anything in your pockets except your passport and wallet. This ensures that you won’t have to dig everything out of your pockets every time you go through security. Why are you going around with small naira notes? This also ensures that sitting in the plane is a lot more comfortable (By the way, make sure your wallet is in your front!).
Prepare for security check in: Wear slip-on shoes where you can; don’t wear a belt with metal; put your jacket or sweater in your carry-on before you get to security (by the way if you must travel with a suit, wear it to and from the airport so you save that space in your bag); have your electronics on the top of your carry-on along with your liquids so you don’t have to search through your bag to find them (and then repack after you go through security).
Most importantly, arrive earlier than you think is necessary — try to arrive at least three hours before flight time. This reduces the stress of waiting in a long security line as the time of your departure inches ever closer, and avoids those desperate rushes to your boarding area.
Besides, you know should know, a relaxing, leisurely drink at one of the airport restaurants is a lovely way to start a vacation!
Think about it. Life doesn’t have to be so hard. Y!