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Top travel tips from Jo Seagar

Seasoned traveller Jo Seagar admits she loves airports and shares a few travelling tips she has picked up along the way.

It’s travelling time again… I head off on one of my cooking tours about this time of the year, and you know what? I’ve decided I absolutely adore airports.
I’m really mad for them. I like the strange beauty of airport architecture – Dubai and Hong Kong are particularly space-age and fascinating. And all those little shops and the samples of every known perfume in the world… I love trying dabs of fabulously expensive eye cream and serums. And yes, I would like to sample that 28-year-old single malt Scotch whisky, thank you – even though it’s only 8.45 in the morning!
I hadn’t travelled overseas until I was in my early 20s. My parents had been once or twice, and readers who are roughly my age may remember the excitement of having your parents go to Fiji and bring you back a transistor radio. Owning one of those was the ultimate in cool.
When I eventually ventured through the magic departure doors myself, setting off on my big OE, I was off to see the world and expand my horizons. Airports to me are all about getaways to independence and adventure.
It’s rare for me to get from passport control to the gate without a few purchases. One of those is always a bottle of water to take on the flight. Unless you’re at the pointy end of the plane, you can’t rely on the flight crew coming around with those little flimsy plastic cups all that often.
My travels have also taught me the following:
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
  • Leave all your jangly silver bracelets at home.
  • Don’t wear a belt or oversize metal earrings, as having to remove these will hold you and everyone else up at security. It’s terribly easy to leave things behind at X-ray or for others to grab your precious bits and pieces from the multiple plastic bins on the conveyer belt, so I count my possessions as I pass through these points – bag, iPad, jacket, shoes – four things; also helpful when in a tired jet-lag fug!
  • Online check-in takes the stress out of queuing, so use this facility. Booking excess baggage is so much cheaper online and saves any embarrassing repacking at the airport.
  • Know the rules and get organised before you leave home. All liquids and gels in the correct size plastic bag – this includes lipstick, gloss and gel-filled pens. Don’t even think of taking a little pocket knife, scissors or nail clippers in your carry-on bag – you will be forfeiting them for sure.
  • Be respectful and helpful to the security staff. Remember, we are lucky that they are so thorough, so don’t get impatient or grumpy at the checkpoints.
  • Modern lightweight luggage on wheels is the best way to go – forget the backpack of my youth and zip-popping suitcases. I’ve never regretted the frighteningly expensive investment in lightweight toughened aluminum Rimowa luggage.
  • I always carry a soft cotton or silky pashmina scarf with me. In the air it serves as a pillow and a blanket, and at my destination as a wrap, so it’s very versatile.
  • If you’re going to have long stopovers in transit rooms, take a lightweight travel adaptor plug and look for a seat by a power point so you can top up your electronic devices. It’s also my secret weapon to quickly break the ice and make friends of fellow travellers by sharing its use. Before you know it, your new best friends are minding your stuff while you do bathroom runs and you’re getting coffee for each other.
Yes, I really do love airports – it could just be a mindset, but there is something emotionally connecting observing all those sad farewells or fond arrivals. I find myself tearing up seeing complete strangers hugging and smiling – the expressions are just priceless.
Oh, my last handy tip – take a photo on your phone of the position of your parked car in the airport carpark. These areas are enormous and there’s nothing worse for tired returning travellers than having to do the marathon slog looking for where you left the vehicle.

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