I have always hated waited for things. it’s not that I’m impatient, I just don’t understand why you have to hurry up and get to the airport, only to wait hours to board the plane. Or why do you have to check out of your hotel so early when your flight doesn’t leave until 3 or 4 in the afternoon? Well, after travelling a ton, I have found ways to make the most out of what I am going to call “Waiting Time.”
Getting to the Airport or train station early
This is the worst. My goal in life is to show up to the airport, wait in security, and arrive at the gate and be the last one to board the plane, never once needing to sit at the gate or stand in line to board. I don’t need to walk up and down the airport buying magazines, gum, and snacks for no reason. I don’t need to eat a meal at the airport. I don’t need to get a massage at the airport. I want to spend as little time as possible in the airport. Am I alone? Everyone always says something like, “I’ll just feel a whole lot better if we get there early so we can relax,” but I have yet to discover how to relax in a busy airport with no place to sit and with a heavy rollie suitcase towing behind. This is an unfortunate side effect of air travel, but I think I have some tips to minimize your time at the airport:
1. Travel by Train whenever possible. The benefits to the environment, your own health, and stress levels are too numerous to count. You can get anywhere in Europe, even Moscow, within 24 hours by train. And what’s more, you only need to show up minutes before it’s ready to leave. The Man in Seat 61
2. Don’t assume the worst. For some reason, when people think about getting to the airport on time, they think, “What if there’s traffic at 5:30am on a Saturday?” or “What if the train gets stuck in the middle of the tracks?” or “What if the cab driver gets lost?” Think about the frequency with which these things occur when you’re on your way to anywhere else. If your answer is never or hardly ever, don’t leave an extra hour earlier than you normally would. Google map it or City Mapper it. If it says it’s going to take 1 hour to get there, allow yourself an hour. City Mapper
3. Catch up on your correspondence. How often do you sit down and write a post card anymore? Do this at the airport, because chances are, you aren’t going to take my first two pieces of advice and you’ll still end up waiting 2 hours to board, so you might as well be productive.
Downtime between Check-out and departure
Just like waiting at an airport, the other cause of unnessary waiting time is the time period between the time you must vacate your hotel and the time that your flight or your train leaves. Why is it always that checkout seems to be at 11am, but your flight or train doesn’t leave until 3pm? That leaves kind of an awkward amount of time to be hauling your baggage around with you. Here is our £1 travel tip:
Use Lockers! In almost every European city there is some type of art museum near the train station. In these art museums are luggage lockers that cost £1 or 1 Euro to rent and leave your stuff indefinitely. Go there first, drop off your stuff, either look around the museum or go have lunch. Convenient lockers:
1) Rene Magritte Museum: This is only a few minutes walk from Brussels Midi, so if you have a long connection on the Eurostar or if for some reason you’ve decided to have a trip in Belgium, this is a very convenient option. 2 Euros for a large locker.
2) Scottish National Gallery: This is a whopping 6 minute walk from not only Waverley Station, Edinburgh, but also from amazing restaurants and shops. £2 for large lockers £1 for small.
3) Gare du Nord: It is quite frustrating that a city with all of its museums is lacking in luggage lockers near Gare du Nord. The good news is that you can shell out 7.50 Euros for one in the station and then go on your way.
Please note, policies on large luggage change all of the time, so please call ahead to confirm. Some museums such as the British Museum and Musee D’Orsay have size limits on the luggage which is why I did not include them here.