Yeah – the Christmas spirit sometimes doesn’t spread to the airport. This weekend the airports all over the world will be packed to capacity, flights will be late, people will get bumped and sooner or later the question will be asked “Are we having fun yet?” It’s just a fact of life that travel over Christmas – particularly the few days just before Christmas – tend to be the busiest and the most stressful. This is not only for the travellers but also for airport staff who have to take the brunt of people’s frustrations.
Come on Santa – you know the luggage rules!
So I am not going to give you the usual advice – arrive early, don’t pack your gifts – etc. We hear this every year – ad nauseum. Instead I am going to give you some other advice for coping with Christmas travel over this time.
Honestly – it works every time. Just try it! It is very hard to resist a smile, hard to be angry or irritated with someone smiling at you. It will cut the tension i n half.
TRY SAYING PLEASE AND THANK YOU
In these days of forgotten manners it really does make a difference when you ask nicely and add a please or a thank you.
WATCH THAT BACKPACK
Seriously – don’t turn around suddenly when you are standing in a line-up. You could kill someone.
AND REMEMBER – YOU ARE ON HOLIDAY – IT’S BETTER THAN WORK
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL OF US AT THE TRAVEL LADY AGENCY
A new way to enjoy a snack and a glass of wine while watching great white sharks.
Yeah…no – as they say in the classics. What a bizarre idea! You have probably heard of cage diving before – you don a scuba outfit and all the gear and get into a cage so you can observe the great white sharks – very popular in Cape Town. Kind of gives me the creeps but I have lots of clients who have taken part in this adventure in South Africa and have loved it. And I get that. At least you are in the open sea but the idea of being in a small glass cage under the water – with those waves swirling around. Mmm – not so much. Here’s the cage version of meeting the sharks.
Probably the worst sea journey I ever did was the notorious Irish Channel on the ferry between Liverpool and Belfast. My dad (Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy at the time) knew in advance that the best thing for this overnight crossing was to book a cabin. He made sure we had a good meal, a couple of sea sickness tablets and then early bed (or bunks). We survived the crossing and woke in the morning refreshed only to be totally shocked at the mess the crew had to sluice down in the general seating area where people had bought the cheap seats.
Generally these days the cruise ships are so large (floating malls) that most people suffer no discomfort at all. One thing to be avoided, however, is deep sea fishing. Don’t do this unless you are sure you have the stomach for it. Reminds me of a tale told by my sister and her husband in Cape Town, South Africa. They were heading out with friends to go deep sea fishing and were all prepared. They had ordered KFC (breasts only), a couple of crates of beer and headed out early in the morning. They returned late in the afternoon, pale and wan looking. Yes the crew enjoyed the KFC and the cases of beer and no-one cared about catching any kind of fish.
The problem is – once you are out there on fishing expedition – you are there for the day. I recall a deep sea fishing captain on South Africa’s Wild Coast once telling me that he could be a rich man ten times over as he had been offered farms if he would just turn the boat around early and head back to shore. I wonder why he said no.
Yes – we had a family wedding in Mexico. After many years of helping others plan destination weddings we finally had one in the family when my daughter decided to tie the knot on the beach. Now it has been a long time since I have been to Mexico – especially an all inclusive in Mexico – and it was with mixed feelings that I headed down to Cancun. There was excitement about the wedding and concern that all the guests would be well accommodated and looked after. We had several infants and toddlers and travelling with little ones is not easy at the best of times.
All went well on the flight and then we got to Cancun airport …. well I have travelled all over the world and never have I experienced such chaos. So many planes arriving at the same time – a big line up to go through immigration and then a whole mish mash of people with no visible line up trying to get through customs. It reminded me of the proverbial camel through the eye of a needle. Except I could not see any “eye” and the Mexican officials just kept saying “Keep moving, keep moving”.
Eventually the human machinery spat us out the other end – only to fall prey to the airport “officials” who stand there shouting “Air Canada Vacations”, “Transat and Nolitours”. Trust me – they are not the representatives of these companies and are just a nuisance. By this time I was having a real sense of humour failure.
Not to worry – before long I was down at my resort hotel with a cold Margarita on the rocks clenched in my hand – and everything started to look better. Wow I have to say the Mexican people are so kind and welcoming and they work so hard.
Every morning the wait staff would have a meeting with the head waiter before they marched out of the beachside restaurant to take up their stations at the various bars. Believe me – there were people waiting there already for their morning drink – and this was at 10 am. I guess it’s five o’ clock somewhere….
The main thing was that everyone (especially the kids) were having fun. Most of the “customers” at the swim up bar were kids, in fact, busy getting a sugar high from all the virgin pina colada’s. Needless to say the water around the swim up stools seemed a few degrees higher in temperature than the rest of the pool. Hmmm – I wonder why?
The wedding was a huge success as the weather held out and I can honestly say that I could not have wished for a better backdrop for my daughter and son-in-law to say their vows.
So an all inclusive Mexico vacation is not my usual style but I was very impressed with the value and service that I received on this trip. The benefit of having all the family together from both sides in a lovely setting was that we got to know each other a little better and have made some lovely memories from this trip.
So well done Mexican people, Transat people and the hotel people. Try harder Cancun airport people. To all the brides yet to say I do on the beach…. Relax! It’s going to be amazing!
It’s a good question. A lot of people swear by TripAdvisor and a recent bad review of a hotel brought up some interesting comments on the internet. But let’s first look at the bad review and what happened to the person who posted it.
Tony Jenkinson and his wife spent a night at the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool. They were so unhappy with the hotel that he posted on TripAdvisor that the hotel was a “rotten, stinking hovel”. The hotel retaliated by charging their credit card with £100 for posting the review. Gives you pause for thought….! How many times have you posted a bad review of a hotel or restaurant.
What is significant also is that Mr Jenkinson is obviously familiar with TripAdvisor but seemingly didn’t check the site before booking into the hotel otherwise he would have seen that it was ranked 858th out of 894 hotels in Blackpool – and at only £36 a night – well the old saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind.
So what gives the hotel the right to charge this “fine”? Apparently it is in the small print which Mr Jenkinson’s wife signed off on when they checked in. Wow – it is worth while to check the small print before you sign.
An interesting aside – this incident prompted some online comments on Travel Mole and the one below really stood out.
So how reliable is TripAdvisor? It’s handy but its not the Bible. Remember that the person unhappiest with their vacation is going to be the one most motivated to write a review on Trip Advisor. So balance out the comments, good and bad, search out other websites – and if all else fails – talk to a professional. You’ll be happy you did.
I can’t think? We used maps ….. and had arguments. Here’s a riddle. What would you rather be? The Driver or the Navigator? Depends where you are I suppose. Take Ireland…. now there’s a good one. Lots of ring roads which most Canadians dislike. You have to have been in the situation to understand how frustrating it is when you are going around the ring road for the third time and your soul mate (who is driving) is shouting “Which bloody exit?”.
Of course it is not made any easier by the fact that you opted to go with a stick shift car. Yes I know why – it is much cheaper. I agree. But if you are driving in Britain or Ireland remember that everything is on the wrong side – the gear stick, the indicators, the solid white line. This doesn’t make driving in a strange place any easier and if you do burn out the clutch (which is pretty much guaranteed) then it will come back to haunt you in your back pocket.
That’s why a GPS system in an automatic car is the ideal choice for a self-drive vacation. The soothing tone of the lady in the GPS will calm down any concerns over getting lost. She never gets flustered. When you take a wrong turn she just sighs silently and then re-jigs her position calmly advising you to take the next exit and then do a u-turn. Maybe us women/navigators can take a lesson from that. But then the lady in the GPS is always right and her feelings are never hurt.