11 must read tips for stress-free travel

Travel brings boundless joy to many, whether its travelling near or far. Since the world turned upside down with Covid, some aspects of travel have changed. Here are my 11 must read tips to help make your next trip stress free.


  • Fly on one ticket: When I plan travel for my clients I try where possible to select flights all on the one carrier or their affiliates and have it all incorporated into the one eticket number. Booking one airline to your destination, and then another different airline back is a recipe for disaster when flights cancel, or schedules change. Booking on one ticket, keeps it simple and clean with only one airline to deal with for any changes or cancellations. Travelers must be careful in booking on an online flight search site as these sites can sometimes combine multiple tickets onto the one itinerary which can be a problem down the track.


  • Skip the queues: Wait times at airports for check in are long, tedious, and frustrating. I advise my clients to get themselves a great airline frequent flyer membership and climb the status tiers. Higher status tiers get benefits like priority check in and priority boarding. A wonderful way to super charge frequent flyer memberships is to pool points from family members on to the one parent membership. A parent with a high-status membership, travelling with family, can get all the benefits for the whole family when travelling together.


  • Leave more time to connect: Leaving around 2 hours to connect from an international to domestic flight would have been ample pre-covid, barring any lengthy delays. Currently the time needed is blowing out due to staff shortages in baggage services, customs, immigration, security, and check in. I am now leaving more time for my clients’ connections. If travelers are booking direct on the airlines’ website, it will only provide options based around minimum transit times. As a travel planner I can bypass the airlines suggested connecting flights to give a greater period to transit.


  • Online check-in: Airlines are trying to find more ways to lift revenue. One of the ways is to charge for pre-selected seating. Not knowing where you will sit can be stressful, especially when you are travelling with a family or group. The best way to relieve stress is to select seats using the online check-in which opens with some airlines up to 72 hours before departure. Travelers can take the booking reference and log in to the airline’s website in the “Manage my Booking” section and pre-select seats. This little task, ahead of time, can avoid much stress.


  • Be polite & courteous: During these unusual times, many people working at airports and airlines are physically exhausted and mentally stretched. Showing empathy, kindness and compassion can get you a long way if things go a little wry.


  • Documents Ready: There are far more documents required for flying than in the past. The checking of paperwork by check in staff slows down the check in process. Having all your documents, in paper form, ready to go at check-in to show saves a great deal of time for you and the persons behind you in the queue. Whilst it might seem cool and funky to have them digitally on your phone or laptop to show, having it to show on paper saves the check in staff time.


  • Tag your bag: With operational staff at airports stretched, I have been hearing increasingly of luggage going missing or delayed. There are simple steps that can help your bag get to you at the other end. Firstly, have your own luggage tag with your name and contact details on your bag. Secondly, there are two stickers with a barcode which identifies your bag. There is the larger long tag that sticks together that goes around the handle and then there is the other little sticker that comes off the larger tag which is stuck on the fabric of the suitcase. If the larger tag comes off, then luggage staff can still identify your bag by the little sticker. Without the barcode, your bag could go anywhere. These simple steps can mean the difference between walking around in jumper and jeans or shorts and t-shirt for the first days or your summer holiday.


  • Ask the airline to fix the problem: With so many flights cancelled, the demand on airline call centre staff and travel agents is high. If you are at the airport and a flight has cancelled, then head straight to the service desk and ask the airline staff to re-schedule your ticket. An involuntary change, which is a change instigated by the airline, can be handled by the airline on the spot. Travelers need not come back to the travel planner to fix an involuntary change.


  • Need a passport? The current wait time on passport renewals in Australia is lengthy. The general wait can be up to 6 weeks but in recent months this has escalated to be sometimes far greater. If travelers are due to fly and have waited for greater than 6 weeks, then I would suggest they contact their local federal member of parliament to assist. Passports come under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade responsibility which is a federal authority, and the local member can assist. I have used this numerous times already for clients which avoided a costly holiday cancellation.


  • Do not miss your flight: It may seem logical to suggest that you should not miss your flight but missing a flight can lead to a mountain of woe. As an example, a traveler is in Europe and has a flight from Brussels to Frankfurt, which is a flight sector on a larger ticketed itinerary. The traveler plans to stay in Frankfurt for two days then fly home. Whilst in Brussels however a friend suggests that the train ride from these two cities is breathtaking, and it should not be missed. It is not commonly known, but if the traveler fails to board the Brussels to Frankfurt flight, then this triggers an event that voids all remaining flights on that ticket. Travelers cannot simply not show for a flight if it is part of a larger ticketed itinerary. If you do not wish to fly or cannot make a flight, then speak with your trusted travel planner or the airline.


  • Book with a reputable travel planner – It may seem simple and easy to book flights or a holiday online but using the expertise of a travel planner may be the difference between having a great stress-free holiday or a stressful holiday or even no holiday. There are many complicated aspects that I work through on behalf of my clients. Having someone on your side, knowing all the rules, is the key to seamless, stress-free travel.


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Anthony Lee is an award winning travel designer. With close to 10 years designing high end travel, and a lifetime of travel experiences, it is a love of history, geography and cultures that drives his passion for travel. Anthony grew up in Australia but spent a good portion of his life immersed in Europe, living in the Netherlands, Germany and England. His greatest experiences have come from exploring what is around the next corner, getting off the beaten track and experiencing the local way of life in different cultures.