Planning your Trip
Planning a trip can be very stressful, especially when organising travel arrangements for a large group of people or those with special considerations to take into account.
Planning ahead and catering for a wide range of eventualities should make your trip run smoothly, but there are certain things you can do to make planning your trip easier.
Before You Leave for the Airport
- Ensure that you have your passport, any necessary visas, tickets and money in your hand luggage.
- DO NOT pack banned items in your hand luggage.
- If packing medicines, ensure that they are in their original packaging as this will help avoid a delay or confiscation at customs.
- Do not gift wrap presents as they may have to be unwrapped by security staff or customs.
- Dress comfortably as sitting on board an aircraft can sometimes be uncomfortable.
- The Department of Health has dedicated a section of their site to health advice for those travelling abroad.
Getting to the Airport
- Always allow plenty of time to reach the airport so that you will be there two hours prior to take off for international flights and 90 minutes prior to take off for domestic flights.
- Plan your transport and, if necessary, the route you will be taking to the airport.
- If you are driving to the airport, ensure that you have booked airport parking in advance.
- If you are being driven by a friend who wants to see you off at the airport, ensure that he/she knows where the short stay parking is located.
- If taking a taxi, ensure that the firm you intend to use has taxis available for the time you wish to travel; ask them how long they expect the journey to take at that time of day.
- If taking a train or coach, ensure that you have the necessary tickets (if advance booking is necessary) and that there are no major engineering or road works that could lengthen the journey.
- If you have hired a car and need to drop it at the airport, check with your car hire company that they have a branch at the airport and allow one way drop offs.
At the Airport
- Be aware that increased security has considerably lengthened the time it takes to go through check-in and security.
- Make sure you keep your baggage with you at all times and alert any member of airport staff to any unattended package.
- Never look after baggage belonging to other people or carry anything onto the aircraft for someone else.
- Keep a close eye on the display boards announcing which gate flights depart from. Remember that Heathrow is a large airport so getting to your departure gate from the lounge can take up to 30 minutes. Check live flight departures online for any delays.
In the Air
- Try to relax and, if possible, sleep.
- If on a long haul flight, move your feet around, or get up and walk around regularly if you can.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Don't eat too heavily before or during a long flight as this will help avoid indigestion and hypertension.
- To reduce jetlag, have some extra sleep before the trip, get some sleep during the flight and try to synchronise mealtimes with the time it is at your destination.
- Wearing flight socks, taking a low dose of aspirin or moving about every so often during the flight can help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Travelling with Children
- Make a list of everything you will need. New security measures mean that you can only carry a limited amount of baby food and drink onto the plane in a clear plastic bag; the bag must be no larger than 20cm by 20cm. Make sure you prepare for this to avoid any problems at security.
- Pack extra snacks, drinks, colouring books, crayons and (if they're young) their favourite cuddly toy.
- Ensure all of the children's passports are valid and that you have a safe, yet easily accessible, belt or pouch to carry them in. It is not advisable to let young children carry their own passports.
- Invest in one or two large, sturdy carry on bags with multiple sections instead of using lots of small bags. This will allow you to focus on keeping your children safe and happy without having to worry about lost luggage.
- Many airports have special children's facilities. Have a look at the airport's website or phone their information number.
Passengers requiring special assistance can obtain information, tips, guides and support from:
- Disabled Living Foundation +44 (0)300 999 0004
- Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR)
- Royal National Institute for the Blind +44 (0)303 123 9999
- Royal National Institute for Deaf People +44 (0)808 808 0123
- Tourism For All +44 (0)845 124 9971