Holidays are finally, properly, completely back this summer. Thank goodness. But many of us haven’t boarded an aeroplane, checked into a chic hotel or ordered too many Aperol spritzes from a sun lounger for a very, very long time. Thanks to the pandemic stopping play for a couple of years, once-seasoned travellers now feel like complete newbies. So here is our handy guide to how to holiday like the pro you once were.
Prepare properly for the security check at the airport. Nobody wants this to take any longer than necessary. Remember that you are allowed a total of 1 litre of liquids, with each container holding a maximum of 100ml. They all have to be in one see-through, sealable bag. Why has everyone forgotten this? Pro tip: Pack an empty water bottle that you can refill for free at the airport. Alternatively, simply freeze your water to get it through security. It’s not a liquid so it is allowed. Just make sure it doesn’t melt on your way to the airport.
Say hello and smile to the plane crew. It’s not only polite but it makes their job easier. Because when you’re boarding the plane, they aren’t just being friendly, they are scanning for suitable people who’ll be able to help out in an emergency.
Get comfortable. Controversial but it really is OK to recline your seat. That’s why they’ve been built that way. Just remember to put it upright not only for landing but also when food is served. No-one wants that tiny table in their face when eating.
If you’re lucky enough to have an aisle or window seat, do not hog the middle arm rest. The person sitting there already has the worst deal so it’s only fair they bagsy both arm rests.
Get drunk. Not cool. And you’ll start your holiday with, at best, a hangover and, at worst, a criminal record.
Clap after the plane lands. Yes, you’re excited to have actually gone somewhere but applauding your pilot is just so basic.
Shall we take a tip?
There is no rule of thumb here so check for the country’s tipping etiquette before visiting. In Japan you will offend the staff if you try to tip them. They see it as their job to serve you and are paid well. Whereas in the US, most states don’t pay their staff brilliantly, so you get nasty looks if you don’t cough up. And we are talking at the very least 10% - more like 20% if you really liked the service.
It’s a good idea to have at least some local currency on you in case a card reader or cash point doesn’t work, or if you’ve destroyed your card’s magnetic strip with your phone. Often taxis only take cash, and you don’t want to miss out on a great café or restaurant that’s cash only. Don’t exchange money at the airport because you will be paying ridiculous fees. Wait until you can find an exchange booth at your destination or ask your hotel for a recommendation.
Hotels offer a glimpse of a life of luxury (no laundry! No washing up!) for a blissful few days but just because you’re on holiday, you shouldn’t forget about doing your bit for the planet. Most hotels are not now changing towels every day. Want a one? Leave the old ones on the floor or in the bath. Want to keep hold of it? Hang it up.
Let’s talk about what you can take from a hotel. Things like slippers get thrown out after you leave, and stationery is considered free marketing (it usually has the hotel’s logo on it) so you’re on safe ground. Here’s a summary of whether it should stay or go:
Mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and other bathroom amenities
Coffee, sugar, biscuits
Pens, notepaper, postcards, and envelopes
Towels, irons, hairdryers, pillows and blankets are the most commonly pinched things from hotel rooms. Naughty! Hoteliers also report the regular disappearance of clock radios, paintings, ashtrays, light bulbs, TV remote controls (why?) and even the Bible. You don’t want to end up being billed for these things after you depart, so don’t do it.
Bathrobes are also a no-no, although sometimes 5-star hotels may gift you one of their mega-fluffy, monogrammed robes. When in doubt, call the reception and ask.
And last but not least, talking about the pandemic is getting really boring, whichever part of the world you’re in. Let’s move on. When making new friends at your destination, chat instead about the local food and hidden gems to visit.