Dawn was awakening over the Bulmers factory as I left Clonmel this morning.
My destination of choice was the NEC in Birmingham for Cycle Show UK which opens with a trade day tomorrow and runs until Sunday. I’ll be spending most of my time on the Onda stand, G21 (clothing not motorbikes) so be sure to drop by and say hello if you’re about.
Always allow extra time. This morning there was a crash on the M50 that turned it into a Northbound car park. Taking the slip road for Ballymun and skirting the back of the airport knocked 20 minutes off the M50 electronic notice board estimated arrival time luckily or I would have been under pressure.
Tip 2 – Checking in.
If travelling alone I usually wait to be allocated a seat rather than paying beforehand. 8 times out of 10 I get allocated an exit seat.
With Ryanair online is better than in the airport but on the app is best. If you check in using the Ryanair mobile app less than 24 hours before departure you automatically get priority boarding. This may not last forever but is working at present.
Tip 3 – Security
Unless you have hours to kill wait until you have cleared Security before grabbing a coffee or using the loo.
Try to pick a que line with the most suits. Regular business travellers have everything ready as they approach the X-ray machine. Families and less experienced travellers can sometimes forget about security until they are 2 inches from the machine when coats go flying, belts whip across the aisle and their best bottle of shampoo heads for the bin.
Tip 4 – Boarding
I used to be one of the cool gang. Slung down in a metal chair sucking a cappuccino as those first time travellers qued for ages. That was until I noticed a very well travelled acquaintance joining the first timers. This piqued my interest and I soon became one of them when I discovered the reason why.
The first slew of passengers to board get to place their bags right over their heads. The last often have their bags either placed in the luggage compartment beneath the plane or down the back. You only get caught once waiting for the entire plane to disembark so that you can retrieve your bag.
If you use the app priority boarding will get you on with your bag in close proximity, so you can still be cool for a little while longer.
Tip 5 – Carry on
Everyone now tries to avoid checking in a bag so how you pack your carry on matters. Pack it once, take out exactly half of what you packed and you’re good to go. But watch the helmets.
Cycling helmets take up a lot of space so like many Cyclists I often clip it on to the outside of the bag.
This is never a problem leaving Ireland but occasionally the airlines like to catch you for an extra €40 on the way back if they spot you at the gate and you can’t squash the helmet into your carry on. A simple way around this may not suit those who are self conscious.
I once got caught and quickly explained that I was a nervous traveller and felt safer wearing it on the plane. I had to wear a black and flip yellow helmet almost all the way to the plane until I was out of sight of the lady at check in, but it worked. I did get quite a few strange looks but it saved me €40
Pedals can sometimes be considered weapons and I once saw a grown man almost reduced to tears when a new pair of speedplays were confiscated. Normally though, they are OK in carry on. Co2 cartridges are not, and most airlines don’t want them in checked-in luggage either so just bring the inflator and buy 2 cartridges when you reach your destination.
Tip 6 – Food and papers
Simple one really. Bring them on with you. No need to pay double the price on the plane. I just heard the Ryanair announcer say that the Indo is €3 onboard. Save your money for your destination.
Tip 7 – Accomodation
Ring ahead rather than booking online. Online booking sites charge hotels a 15% commission. Ring ahead with the price quoted online and ask if you pay the hotel directly how much of a discount can you get. Usually it’s 10% and both sides win.
Tip 8 – Photograph everything
Take a photo with your phone of all important documents like passport, drivers lisence etc. Apps like Evernote now scan the documents and you can access the pics online which can be handy if you loose everything including your phone.
Also take a pic of your car park bay number and anything else that you’re sure you’ll remember but might just forget by the time you return.
Tip 9 – Enjoy the buzz
Airports and the destinations they lead to are exciting places when you are a little organised and have time to take it all in.