Over the years I have done a very substantial amount of travelling, much of it to far-flung and hard to get to places. Along the way I have had my share of disasters, mishaps and surprises. The tips below have helped me to get from A to B with the least amount of distress or discomfort and on occasion quite enjoyable! There are no rules, only common sense but I hope you will find my experiences instructional.
Make your suitcase standout – Tie a ribbon, some coloured tape or anything that might help you identify your suitcase or rather stop someone else misidentifying their a and picking up your case by mistake.
Ensure you have a baggage label with your details on it. If your bag is lost a label is the easiest way for your bag to be identified and get it returned to you.
Do not loose your baggage receipt. Some airports require you to show it when you go through customs but in most cases when you will need it most is if your bag does not arrive.
If you have a suspicion that your bag may not have made it…act quickly. There is a good chance that you will not be alone and being stuck behind 10 others all reporting lost luggage taking 10 minutes each makes the event twice / ten times as painful!!
Invest in a new fishing rod! Modern rods breakdown into 5 or 6 pieces allowing them to be easily packed into your hold luggage. This means that there is one less piece of luggage to loose and you can avoid the significant fees for taking an additional bit of hold luggage over and above your standard allowance.
Save weight by packing more than one rod into a tube. You can almost always fit 2 rods into one tube if you remove the sleeve from one of them. Even better take out the butt sections and they can go in your bag outside the tube (they will definitely not break if packed alongside the tube) and just use the tube for the fragile rod sections.
If you have ‘trip essential’ medication then carry a duplicate set so you have it in both your hold and your hand luggage. Most fishing destinations are far removed from civilization and if you get separated from important pills, contact lenses or similar you will be in real difficulty with no real chance of getting a replacement.
If you do not have a duplicate set then it is sensible to take key medication in your hand luggage.
Items to be Cautious with
Fishing Reels – Security at some airports will not allow you to take a spooled fishing reel onto the plane in your hand luggage on the grounds that you could tie someone up with it. Whether this is followed up or not is fairly arbitrary and may well depend on who is on duty. Regardless, irrational as this may seem if you get caught out you will either have to check it in separately or unspool your reel, neither being great options.
Compressed Air Cylinders (for life vests) – Potentially not allowed however our advice would simply be to keep quiet. Drawing attention to things like this will create more problems than they will solve no matter how well meaning the intent.
Visas – Check and double check all the info on your visa. Small errors can cause very big issues and potentially you may not be allowed to enter the country.
Passports – It is always worth having a colour scan of your passport which you email to yourself prior to your trip. In a worst case scenario where you loose your passport you can still access a copy remotely via your email.
Delays / Cancellations / Missed Flights
If there was one outstanding reason for booking with an agent as opposed to online this is probably one of the key ones. Call the 24 hr helpline or email Uniglobe Carter and you can expect an immediate response from someone who will have access to every available option at their fingertips. They have exactly the same access and options that you would receive had you booked direct with a national carrier but you will get to someone who can resolve your issue immediately! In short…do not panic but do get in touch ASAP as if the issue affects a full plane the local desk or even their call centre will be swamped with calls, all fighting for a rapidly diminishing pool of alternatives.
If you are late for a flight and faced with a queue to get to where you need to be…QUEUE BARGE! It may not make you any friends but if it is the difference between a lost flight and itinerary chaos or a few miffed passengers from a different flight you need to brass it out.
BUT do be totally charming to staff when you get to the check in desk or similar. The furious “I am going to vent approach” will probably only result in security arriving on the scene but if you can win over the staff they may dig you out of a deep hole.
Plan for Delays
Delays happen and there is very little that you can do about it least of all shouting at flight staff. Always try and factor in a sensible connection time. If the timings are tight there is a good chance that whilst you may make the flight there is a high chance that your bag will not!
Bring books, magazines and or chargers for your phone/ipad/computer etc. If you end up being stranded then keeping yourself entertained or busy will allow you to suffer any delays in relative peace. This is my No.1 tip for keeping calm!
Noise cancelling headphones can be a godsend. The larger variety that completely cover the ears insulate you from the worst of airplane noise and crying children. They also provide far superior audio when listening to the inflight entertainment.
Alternative to the above is a good set of foam ear plugs and personal headphones in place of the issued ones.
Bring an eye patch. Being able to block out all the light can make a huge difference in your ability to get a good rest.
If on entering the plane you turn right rather than ‘flat-bed’ left then a neck cushion can be a real help to stop your neck getting stiff when sleeping.
Avoid sitting near the inter cabin divisions. The centre row facing the dividing wall is almost always reserved for families with very young children…"waaaahhhh!!!" Pick a seat as far from there as possible if you want to avoid additional sound effects.
When opening yogurts, fruit juices or any other sealed liquid product of that type....open away from you to avoid a shower, unless of course you do not like your neighbor in which case aim it at them!
As a rule DO NOT change money at European or North American airports. Do not be taken in by offers of no commission or offers to buy back currency at the same rate. Airports on the whole offer truly terrible exchange rates. Banks are not much better. Either go to a currency specialist and pre-book your money or use a dedicated currency dealer 'in town'.