Avoid disaster with these 10 travel tips from the experts

2017-12-15 18:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - Bags are packed, the alarm is set and by some miracle no one has run back into the house yet screaming that they forgot the phone charger.

But are you sure you remembered everything? The smallest bump could derail a whole holiday, but a few nifty tips could keep the reins in your hands right up until the very last shrill of Mariah Carey's voice.

SEE: Stay safe this festive season: Here’s your emergency need-to-know info

Flight Centre's travel gurus share their 10 handy travel hacks to help ensure smooth travels into the festive period, plus a bonus tip from a travel dad of six!

Unfortunately we can't help you with dealing with your relatives.

1. Need some last-minute accommodation?

Check out the business hotels if you suddenly can't crash in your uncle's garage anymore. Flight Centre Leisure Marketing Leader Nicky Potgieter explains that over the festive season, these properties are likely to be less busy as business travel all but shuts down. 

SEE: #LastMinute Escape: SA holiday planner

2. Not into Christmas?

South Africa is a country of a few religions, and not everyone celebrates Christmas. For those not into the ho-ho-ho mood, tickets are super cheap on this day, and your airport hustle will be a lot less bustle.

SEE: Travel cheap with these money-saving hacks

3. Insurance is the smart thing to do

Flight delays, lost luggage and natural or man-made disasters can eat into your Christmas bonus, which is why insurance is so important. Make sure you’ve bought travel insurance that includes cancellation and curtailment insurance so that if you do have to cancel or change your travel plans there are no nasty surprises, says Carlos Luis, Flight Centre Supplier Relationship Leader.

SEE: #TravelEssentials: 4 Ways travel insurance can really save you from disaster

4. Be doc smart

Besides having copies of your passport, tickets and itinerary on you, send all your travel info to an easily accessible online email address, like Gmail, that you can access from any public computer. This just gives you that added security just in case.

And don't forget all minors' unabridged birth certificates!

SEE: What travel docs are needed when travelling with kids - made unbelievably simple by new tool

5. Be prepared for the souvenirs

Even our luggage can put on weight during festivities. Pop in an extra empty bag so you don't have to do the awkward 'sitting-on-your-suitcase' dance to get the zip to close.

SEE: Weekend getaway 101: The ultimate guide to holiday packing

6. Early bird catches the worm

At this time of year, many at airports are not frequent travellers. That means your journey through the airport will not be as seamless as usual. You’ll need the extra time, so arrive early, explains Sue Garrett, Flight Centre General Manager Product and Marketing.

SEE: Snow delays: 4 Things to do while you're stuck at the airport

7. Rent if you can

Parents with babies not only have their bags to worry about. Prams and car seats are heavy extra luggage to drag around, but Marieke Tucker, Flight Centre General Manager Retail Brands, advises to consider renting these instead. You'll easily find rental places at your destination with a quick Google search.

Or you can get one of these bad boys.

SEE: 6 Nifty gadgets travellers need this festive season

8. Being fragile is a good thing

Give your luggage a special treat by marking it as fragile, so that it can be handled with extra care. The big red sticker also makes your bag stand out on the carousel.

SEE: Gauteng! Swop your luggage for water when coming to thirsty Cape Town

9. Don't be that person

Sometimes you're the one scoffing at the person holding up the line, other times you're the person being scoffed at. Try not to hold everyone else up because you forgot to take out your laptop or are digging through three carry-on bags for your passport as the counter lady breathes in a heavy sigh.

SEE: 8 Travel Gadgets that will make your life easier and your adventure cooler

10. But also don't be that person

While you're trying not to hold everyone up, also don't be that person to start shouting at the person with the three carry-on bags. We get it, you're starting to reach peak frustration standing in long queues, but so is everyone else. Ditch the Grinch and stay positive and polite - for Flight Centre staff a little bit of patience is the best gift you can give yourself and those around you during festive season travel.

SEE: 21 Travel hacks that will make your life easier

BONUS ROUND: How to tell if your flight is going to be delayed before your airline tells you

Family travel guru Dan Miller from Points with a Crew shared this great tip to figure out when your flight is going to be delayed, before your airline even tells you. You can check flight tracker websites like Flightaware.com to see where your inbound plane is at. It lets you know if you're plane is still up in the air, taxiing or at the gate, giving your more control over your schedule.

Viva la freedom!

Got any cool tips of your own? Let us know!

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