The holidays are upon us yet again. As beautiful a time of year as this may be, it is also one of the most hectic in terms of travel. Everybody is busy trying to get home or to their holiday destination for Christmas.
If you are caught in the melee, there are a few holiday travel tips that could help makes things that much smoother. Here are 10 useful tips for Christmas travel in Africa:
1. Shop Around for Better Deals
During every Christmas period, it’s easy to get frantic and worry that you may not find any available flights to your preferred destination. Yes, this concern is warranted since most flights are often fully booked well in advance.
That, however, doesn’t mean that all are fully booked and simply booking the first available flight you come across might be short-sighted and expensive. The best way to go about this is to shop around using a reliable platform that will give you a host of options. Not only are you more likely to find more available flights this way but you are also more likely to find good holiday travel deals as well.
2. Avoid Tight Connections
Remember, almost everyone is trying to get somewhere during this period and connection flights are going to be just as problematic as ever. What’s even worse, the airport is going to be full of frustrated people who are in just as much a hurry as you are so tempers might be flaring from time to time. To make your life easier when it comes to connecting flights:
- Try not to force tight connections.
- Book non-stop flights whenever possible.
- Avoid booking flights on separate airlines as much as possible.
Here is an excellent article on how to deal with connections delays and tips that will help you make that connection almost every time.
3. Arrive Early at the Airport
Most local flights advise you to arrive at least an hour before your departure time while most international flights require you to be at the airport at least 2 hours in advance. While these timelines are usually practical, they deal with ideal conditions. You know, when people aren’t as rowdy, as numerous and as frustrated by holiday plans.
During the Christmas period, it’s best to arrive for your flights even earlier. Say for example you booked a flight from Nairobi to Lamu for the holidays. There is a good chance that this flight is fully booked and so are the next five. If you miss it because you were stuck in traffic, you might not be able to go to Lamu until after New Year’s.
Leave for the airport at least 3 hours before your flight is due to depart. This gives you a good allowance for other delays such as rain, traffic jams and airport security checks.
4. Take as Many Shortcuts as Possible
Today, most airlines allow you to check-in online. This allows you to print your boarding pass save you so much time when you get to the airport. The other option is to ship all the presents you bought directly to your destination as opposed to carrying them with you to the airport. This way you won’t have to waste ten or twenty more minutes during the security check or risk your luggage getting lost during this frantic period.
5. Book the Early Morning Flight
Here is a dirty secret you might not know about air travel: early morning flights are almost always on schedule. This is because most people tend to avoid them and the staff have enough time to prepare for it during the night. What this means is that, not only will it most likely be still available but you won’t have to muscle your way through a jam-packed airport to get to it.
Another excellent reason to book the early morning flight is that should you happen to miss it or need to have it rescheduled, the staff are better positioned to put you on other flights during the day as opposed to pushing you further into next week.
6. Stay as Calm as Possible
That flight attendant or any other airport employee has considerable power over how your day will go – don’t give them a reason to wield it to your detriment. However, this fear shouldn’t be your guiding light. Just think of it this way, these are people who have families and friends just like you. They would also probably love to be home for Christmas but can’t because they have to work. Imagine the kind of frustration they feel because of that and be kinder with your words and actions.
7. Consider Booking Business Class Tickets
You might be wondering why in the name of everything that’s sane and good would you want to do this considering the fact that you are probably trying to save money since the holidays are so expensive? The logic behind it is simple: most business travellers are also taking a break from travel to be with their families. This means that fewer business tickets are sold over the Christmas period and as such, these seats are almost always available and at a discounted price.
Most economy travellers don’t even bother to check the availability of these seats because they assume they will be too expensive. Yes, they won’t be as affordable as economy class seats but think about it this way, economy class airfares have already gone up anyway due to demand so they aren’t as affordable as they usually are anyway. Why not pay just a little bit more, get that available seat and enjoy the good life in business class?
Holiday travel can be as frustrating as it can be impossible thanks to lack of flight availability. This, however, doesn’t have to be your life year in and year out. With these tips, you can plan better and make your life much easier during this Christmas holiday.
Do you have any other useful tips for Christmas travel in Africa? Share them with us in the comment section below.