In the spirit of the holiday season, I have put together great tit bits I discovered and learnt across four continents that will come in handy whether your destination is Abuja or Abu Dhabi… going on a family trip or you’re a business traveller.
Comfort & Style
There’s always the argument of comfort over style when choosing the right outfit for travel, most especially for long haul flights. T-shirts and Jeans are comfortable but so are maxi dresses. Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds.
The Ease of the National Carrier
More often than not, you’re better off flying with your destination country’s national carrier. You get faster immigration service, fancier terminals and various other preferential treatments. I arrived Johannesburg the day of the yellow card saga but had no issues because, you guessed right, I flew with the national carrier.
Bag Accidents Down the Aisle
When walking down the airplane aisle, please keep your bags in check. You’re the one moving while the other passengers are sitting still. My head has been knocked by a couple of wandering bags in the past and it could have been prevented.
Keep It Moving
When you see your best friend, smile, grin or even exclaim but please keep it moving. Stopping to chat is rude, there are several other passengers behind you. After take-off, you have all the time in the world to chit chat.
Spot the Window or Aisle Seat
To locate your aisle or window seat, please note that the alphabet with the diagram of a window right next to it is the window seat while the alphabet of the aisle seat has a human image next to it. I always thought this was apparent but there have been one too many fights on this issue that has left me wondering.
Long Legs, No Cramps
If you have long legs, request for “exit” seats. This seating area gives you ample room to stretch. Of course you know this choice of seat comes with its own responsibilities in the event of a plane crash. Do I hear an ‘I reject it?’ (Amen)
Keeping An Eye on Hand Luggage
Now, this one is my dear little secret. I never put my bags in the overhead locker above my seat, never! I always put them in the locker opposite me because I need to monitor every activity that goes on where my bags are located and when it’s in the locker over my head, that’s impossible. Now that we have “air robbers” , I advise you follow suit.
My Arm Rest is Mine!
Your eligible arm rest by default, is the one with your adjustable seat button and control panel attached to it. PS to the passengers who have the window seats: Haba! Have mercy on the passenger beside you now. How can you have window seat and also want to use two arm rests.
If you love soft butter spread on bread like I do, you’ll find the frozen butter given to you on flights annoying. To melt your butter, put it under your hot “main meal” and leave for 2 minutes. The result…. nice melted butter just the way I like it. This also works well for hard bread.
Toilet Breaks without Disturbing Your Neighbour
A sure way to exit your seat without disturbing the sleeping passenger next to you is to take a leap facing the passenger, not backing them. This way you can match your body movement while watching out for theirs. Warning: If you know you have a condition that causes you to visit the rest room frequently, an aisle seat is your best option (besides, you never look out the window anyway).
No Luggage Stowaways For Connecting Flights
If you have a connecting flight and need to disembark from the plane as soon as it lands, never let the air hostess store anything away for you else, you may be the last to leave, causing you to miss your connecting flight.
Be Aware of the Immigration Policies
Always ensure you read the immigration policies of your travel destination no matter how frequently you travel. Kenya for example just reviewed their visa policy to include an online visa application 10 days before travel and Uganda has reviewed their visa fees upwards to $100.
…And Custom Laws
The previous point also applies to custom laws (In this case you can even print it sef) The officers sometimes forget their own rules. Bans are made and lifted from time to time on several items but these items are still confiscated by the officers because they aren’t up to date on their own laws. I’ve been to a few countries and my bags have never been checked. It probably has something to do with the confidence I exude, having read (and even printed on some occasions…yes, I get time o) the custom laws and assured that I’m packed within my rights.
Something Extra to Wear
Make sure you have an extra outfit or two in your hand luggage in the event that your checked in bags don’t arrive your destination with you. I wore the same dress to a workshop in Moshi for two days because of this oversight. That town is centered around tourist Kilimanjaro mountain climbers so shopping for clothes was more challenging than climbing the mountain.
Be Familiar with Local Lingo
Learn a little bit of the local language, you’d be amazed at how a simple ni hao will make the difference. Actually, you need to do better than that for bargain shopping in Shanghai though, but jambo in Nairobi will suffice at the Masai market.
When you need information on tourist attractions, restaurants or the most economical transport services, avoid asking the concierge for recommendations. Hotels get commissions on bookings, making them less objective. Most major cities have travel websites with information on every tourist attraction available and of course you can get reviews from fellow travellers on Trip advisor. Alternatively, you can use Google blog search to find bloggers in whatever city you’re visiting who are experts on their resident cities and contact them for recommendations.
Back up Money
Always ensure you have a back-up credit card, cash or any other form of currency. I almost got stranded on my first solo trip to a city in the middle-east due to issues with my card. For the first time in my life I was in a city where I had no family, friends or even work colleagues and this happened? *insert bewildered face smiley*. I would have been toast if the issue was not resolved in 24 hrs.
Get Out of Your Food Comfort Zone
Stay away from your regular food as much as possible. This is a holiday, be adventurous. Don’t go looking for Nigerian restaurants on the first day. Eat with the locals, taste a bit of everything. You’ll find great intercontinental dishes when you travel to melting pot cities. The best Roti and lamb curry I ever tasted was in Toronto. The best chicken and corn soup was in Amsterdam and my best Belgian waffles was in London. I must admit, the best jollof rice I ever tasted was in London sha! So again, a little bit of everything…including Nigerian cuisine.
It’s summer (In most countries at least) so a sling bag and sun glasses for your trip are non-negotiables. A hand bag is a no no for tourists. It gets in the way…a lot.
Experience the City
Relax! Don’t fill your calendar with too much activity. Go for an early morning run, sit in the park, make friends at the local pub, watch rush hour traffic, stroll through unique alleyways, get lost, watch the sun set. Essentially experience the city in it’s full glory.
You never know who you’ll sit next to you on the plane. On an eight hour flight last November, I was sandwiched between a middle aged Trinidadian and Palestinian. We talked about everything… Ebola, Boko Haram, Fela’s music, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Obama’s score card, Christine Lagarde, ISIS, Arsene Wenger and on and on we went for over 5 hours. It’s my best flight till date and we have since remained friends. I’ve even had a business referral from one of them. Broaden your horizon, learn about everything from current affairs to tech, enough to enable you have an engaging view point worth listening to. Oh! And by the way, did you know Donald trump jr flies commercial? So don’t forget to prepare your 2 minute business pitch; as you could bump into a billionaire or his son.
I hope the tips were helpful. Do you have any tips we can also learn from? Have a great holiday and don’t forget to “bring something for me o!” You have my email up there so no excuses.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Stephen Coburn