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6 years ago

AmericaCity BreaksDestinationsFeaturedLong HaulUSA

Shopping in New York City

shopping in New York City

A shopping trip to New York should be on every girls list of ‘things to do’.

It’s not just the sight seeing and the fantastic shopping, it’s the overall feeling of being somewhere seriously cool!  You can’t help but be in awe of the place, it’s the simple things like the yellow cabs, the ‘Don’tWalk’ traffic signs, the New York steam emanating from beneath the streets, you really feel like you are on a movie set. I really believe its hard to be impartial about the place, you either really love it (like me) or you just don’t get it at all.

Try to get a direct flight, you can clear customs in Dublin or Shannon,  which could save you over an hour in queuing time when you land, and that’s an extra hours shopping time!  The trick to beating the jet lag, or the time difference is to stay awake for as long as possible. When you arrive in the afternoon, try to take it all in, have a wander around the streets and avenues and get your bearings about how the block system works. Inevitably by 10pm, you are exhausted and have to hit the bed but that’s normal and likewise, the 6am start the following day. You will automatically wake early and want to jump up and head outside to hit the town. The thing is, from your bedroom window, it all looks very dark and you seem to be the only one awake!

Top 20 things to visit in New York by The Travel Expert

For the serious shoppers amongst us, the good news is Century 21 opens at 0745. It’s the best time to see this store, everything is neatly in its place. Don’t even think about going here at night time, it’s like a jumble sale. It’s very similar to TK Maxx  but with a bigger choice and even bigger discounts. There are now two stores in Manhattan but the bigger one is downtown, beside the World Trade Centre Memorial. Once you have had your shopping fix you can wander around downtown, check out Wall Street, the World Trade Centre site and if you have the time, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are close by. If you are lucky enough to have some good sunshine the seaport is a nice spot to relax and have lunch. There are plenty of outdoor restaurants and cafes and there is also an Abercrombie and Fitch which has a much shorter queue than the one on 5th Avenue. If you have a man with you, the Intrepid Museum is something most guys enjoy. Also he can be ‘dropped off’ at any number of Apple stores in Manhattan (incidentally the largest one in the world is in Grand Central Station) to play with all the Apple toys. Thats what I do with my husband, at least!

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Further north is the trendy Soho / Greenwich area. It’s where the locals like to shop, all of the trendy shops are here and plenty of cool restaurants and bars too. Balthazar, a French brasserie on Spring Street, is one of my favourites.  You will also find the meat packing district, west village and TriBeCa (or TRIangle, BElow CAnal Street ) close by, all familiar names if you are a ‘Sex and the City‘ fan! Speaking of Canal Street, or ‘Chinatown’ as it’s more commonly known,  if you like to haggle, you can’t afford to miss it. It’s a Mecca for anyone looking for a fake designer bag, jewellery  and even clothes. Bear in mind the ‘good’ stuff is not generally visible on the street stalls,  if you are looking for the latest Mulberry bag or Tiffany necklace you will need to ask for it. You may get approached and shown magazines with the very latest seasons collections, you can literally choose the bag you want and someone will deliver it to you within minutes. Alternatively you may be asked to follow them to their  ‘ secret stash’. If you  end up at the back of a  dark shop or in a dingy basement full of bags, don’t panic, its normal! Remember they only accept cash and the local pick pockets are very aware of this, so be vigilant and try not to flash your cash!

Between Canal Street  and midtown is the famous Macy’s Department Store. Its enormous, in fact you could actually spend a day there. Personally I think it is actually too big but I don’t tend to get the same feeling with many other visitors to the store that I talk to, and the Irish tend to love it. Make sure you print your 10% discount voucher before you go by clicking  on this LINK . The bargains are fantastic and the choice is endless,  but if I had the choice of spending a whole day shopping, I would make my way to the outlets everytime!

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There are two shopping outlets, Jersey Gardens and Woodbury Common. I genuinely couldn’t compare the two, maybe if there were massive thunderstorms approaching, I might choose Jersey Gardens – because its indoors, but other than that Woodbury Common for me is far superior and a ‘must visit‘ every time I’m in NYC.  Jersey Gardens as the name suggests is in New Jersey where  you are not charged the 8% sales tax that applies in New York. I know this is a valid reason why people choose Jersey over Woodbury but even taking this into account I think there is better value and variety in Woodbury Common. Woodbury is such a nice place to shop too, it’s like our own Kildare Village but on a massive scale and as each shop is individual you can get some fresh air as you wander around. Buses leave from the Port Authority station almost hourly from 715AM and return as late as 930PM.

You might think you could not possibly spend that amount of time there. Trust me, you can! Even my husband, the most reluctant shopper ever, buys stuff here. With the $42 bus ticket (I know it’s a bit steep, but it’s so worth it!) you get the VIP discount booklet free. This normally costs $10 and believe me it will save you much more than that when you are there. There are coupons ranging from $10 off to 25% off in that book, so if you want the latest Michael Kors bag, it can save you over $100 on just one item.  One other piece of advice is to get a locker. The lockers are great place to leave items as you shop and free up your arms from carrying all those extra bags!  I usually recommend going to Woodbury early in your trip, complete your shopping mission and then you can wander around New York at your leisure afterwards and enjoy all the city has to offer. Generally speaking the outlets are cheaper, so any other purchases you make afterwards are more relaxed.

The 9/11 Memorial, one of the top 20 things to visit in New York by The Travel Expert

I must not forget Bloomingdales, which is like the Brown Thomas of Manhattan, a fabulous shop with all the top designer clothes. Honestly I don’t find it that much dearer than Macy’s and its a lot nicer and easier to navigate but it’s not for everyone. It’s worth a visit though, if for no other reason than to check out their beauty hall – stunning!

Last but not least if there are any romantics out there I have to mention the Diamond District. It sounds more appealing than it looks. In fact, most of the shops or kiosks are like something you would see in Bangkok!  Don’t judge a book by its cover though, the quality and prices of the diamonds are amazing. I have bought a few pieces in Salvatore and Co (ask for Terri, she’s great!), a firm favourite with all the Aer Lingus cabin crew. I was told long ago that air hostesses get well looked after in the diamond district. A good tip that I used and it worked. I guess the shop owners know if anything goes wrong the ‘cabin crew’ will literally be on the next plane back…

Click HERE for all your city tours and to do something different while in New York.

 

http://www.dosomethingdifferent.com/destinations/iceland/?aid=269

Sarah

The Travel Expert.

DestinationsEuropeFeaturedSunseekers

Fun in Fuengirola

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With over 1 million visitors from Ireland to Spain each year, the resort of Fuengirola tends to get overlooked.

It’s probably for that reason that I like it so much! Unlike some other Spanish Resorts you don’t feel like you are on O’Connell Street when walking through the town at night. In fact it’s the opposite, it attracts many Spanish people and has a feeling of authenticity about it. Yes, there are lively English bars but not to the extent of the other resorts along the Costa del Sol. The beach stretches over 7km so the resort itself is quite spread out. The main centre known as Constitution Square still has a Spanish feel to it, with a beautiful church in the centre and plenty of pedestrianised streets with boutiques surrounding it. Although you find some high street stores like Zara and Mango, it doesn’t feel like a city or a holiday resort, more like a town that locals inhabit. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of tourists but it just feels more subtle than its neighbours, Marbella or Benalmadena.

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There are so many good restaurants that it is hard to only mention a few! Along Calle Moncayo, or ‘Fish Alley’ which it’s more commonly known, there are numerous restaurants side by side, each as good as the next and very reasonably priced. You can get a three course meal with wine for €10 here, and the quality is exceptional! Casa Roberto, just off the square is excellent, and again relatively inexpensive for the quality of the food.  My personal favourite is El Toston, tucked behind the local bus station. Its full of locals because the food is so good! It’s primarily a tapas bar but you can have a full ala carte menu if you prefer. The steak on the stone is just perfection and if you like tapas, try the  pata negra ham and the wild boar croquettes – amazing! By the way Mamma Mia‘s serve great pizza, so if tapas are not your thing don’t worry, there are restaurants a plenty to suit every taste.

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With all of those food recommendations, I can only suggest staying in an apartment or if it has to be a hotel, make it a room only or on a B&B basis. I like the Illunion Hotel, it’s right across the road from the beach and only about 15 minutes walk to the centre. The beach bar, Madrid Playa offers a great lunch menu and you can get two sun beds plus a bottle of cava for €5 per day – how can you beat that! They will even keep them at the waters edge for you if you ask the day before!

Fuengirola is a great choice for a sunshine break without breaking the bank – go try it for yourself.

Sarah

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Destinations

Orlando – Where to stay

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Before you book your accommodation you need to ask yourself, do you want a hotel or a home, and do you want to rent a car.

If you are going to spend most of your time in Walt Disney World then maybe one of their Hotels or a nice Home in Lake Buena Vista would be most suitable. If on other hand you are visiting most of the other Theme Parks then International Drive is ideal. There are plenty of great value Motels here and  there is a regular bus service (I-Ride) to all of the main attractions and shopping malls, so car hire is not required. There are plenty of  bars, restaurants and lively nightlife, so if you want to be in the hart of the action, then I-Drive is for you.

My favourite theme park is Universal Studios so given the choice I would stay at one of their hotels. They have four hotels of varying standards so they have one to suit every budget. One of the main advantages is that you are allowed to enter the park one hour before opening, fantastic for the Harry Potter Rides. The Cabana Bay Resort is their three star hotel but to be honest its more like a four star. Its 50s retro style gives you the feeling you have walked on to the set of Grease. They have a bowling alley upstairs and a real diner downstairs. In fact I’m told the reason it is not rated four star is that the diner is self service.   I thought it was a great family hotel, really spacious rooms with a kitchenette, which saves on the cost of dining out. There is a large family pool with a lazy river, slides and a jacuzzi, open till late every night, a fab way to relax after a long day at the park.

Tom ten city breaks for families

Depending on your budget, there are also three luxury hotels which, not only allow early access to the park, but where you receive a complimentary express pass ticket. Express pass tickets are fantastic, particularly in high season, the queue should be no more than 15 minutes on any ride.  Note the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is excluded from the express pass.  You  can also buy these passes at the gate but they only sell a limited number and they cost $89!

My personal favourite was the five star Portofino hotel, its such a contrast from the busy Theme Parks. Designed by Steven Spielberg, it is an exact replica of the jet set Italian Resort. Sitting at one of the lake side cafes, sipping a latte, listening to the Tenors singing, you almost forget where you are. The rooms are very spacious and beautifully furnished and the service is what you would expect of a five star hotel. It is suitable for families and couples as there are three swimming pools. You can choose from the lively family pool with slides and waterfalls, the quiet pool, or the fantastic spa. You can also avail of the free water taxi straight to Universal Studios, it’s such a nice touch.

Portofino hotel

If, however, you fancy a livelier setting then the Hard Rock Hotel is for you. However bear in mind, you can’t get away from the music, it’s everywhere, even under water in the swimming pool.  It is also a five star hotel so you can expect the same excellent service but for me it lacked the grandeur of the Portofino.  There is also another choice, Lowes Royal Pacific Resort, another themed hotel, this time like a Pacific Island. I felt it was a little dated and more like a four star but then it less expensive to stay there than the others and the cost of drinks and meals  are reasonable too. It is one of their luxury hotels and you will still receive a complimentary express pass, so this is an excellent choice if you want to keep the costs down.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

DestinationsFamily HolidaysFeaturedLong Haul

My Stay At Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

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Universal Studios is my favourite theme park in Orlando. They have 3 parks, Universal Studios, Islands of adventure and the newly opened Volcano Bay.

 

I’m a bit of a movie buff anyway so I was mesmerised looking at the film sets and loved taking photos with all my favourite characters. The simulator rides are amazing. I think it’s safe to say that there are rides for everyone to enjoy. Some have height restrictions but there are enough rides to keep the small kids happy too.

You really feel like the ‘Transformers’ character, Optimus Prime is throwing you up in the air on the Transformers ride, the technology is mindblowing. Dispicable Me, Spiderman and the Simpsons are fantastic too. You are seated in what appears to be a small car, but they feel like rollercoaster rides. I should mention that if you are a Simpsons fan, there is a whole area dedicated to them. You can have a drink at Moes Tavern, try a Krusty Burger or just hang out and meet some characters.

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If Rollercoasters are your thing, there are plenty. Although I don’t particularly like being scared to death for fun, I did go on a few for research purposes! The Hulk goes upside down 7 times, I don’t know how I managed it, but I did it.

I preferred the water rides in Islands of Adventure. There are several, and they area a great way to cool down during the heat of the day. Some are more daring than others, like Dudley do-Rights Ripsaw Falls, which is really a rollercoaster on water! For a great fun family ride try Popeye and Blutos Bilge-Rat barges, ride the white water rapids but beware you will get drenched! Since my visit Universal Studios have opened a dedicated water park called Volcano Bay, I guess I’ll have to go back and try that one out!

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There are so many great rides in both Universal Studios parks, but for me the pièce de la resistance is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even if you have never watched the Harry Potter movies, you cannot help but be amazed at the technology and the attention to detail. There are now two rides, one in each park, but you can go between the two on the Hogwarts Express Train. It is not just about the rides though. You visit Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you would easily spend a whole day there! Make sure you go to Olivanders and buy a wand. They are beautifully made and presented in a box, a really nice gift ($35) to bring home. See my detailed blogpost on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter by clicking here .

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Like most of the rides at Universal Studios, there is a child swap facility. If both parents want to ride, but can’t leave the kids alone, one parent can wait in the child swap area and they won’t have to stand in line again. Speaking of queues, these can be quite long during peak season and around school holidays.

I recommend buying an express pass to save yourself queuing time. Generally speaking  with an express pass you shouldn’t have to queue for longer than 20 minutes. Alternatively if you stay at one of Universal’s luxury hotels, you get the express pass for free. You also avail of early access to the Parks, one hour before opening time which is a huge advantage especially if you’re visiting Harry Potter. Incidentally the only area the express pass isn’t accepted is on the Harry Potter rides, so staying at one of Universal’s Hotels is the only way to avoid long queues there, by availing of the early access to the park.(See my other blogpost on where to stay in Orlando by clicking here)  In low season queues are much shorter and express passes should not be necessary.

Universal Studios

Located next to Universal Studios is City Walk. This is a huge area with bars and restaurants and a few shops too. Remember if you are planning on having a drink, you must bring age identification with you. Even if you think you couldn’t possibly be asked, you will! There were people aged over 50 refused alcohol because they had no identification with them, so don’t say you haven’t been warned! Keep your park entrance ticket, as this allows you free into the bars and night-clubs without charge.

I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the food here and throughout the park in general. The biggest Hard Rock Cafe in the  world is here and there are also some really nice restaurants too. I loved Vivo Italian Kitchen and Antojitos authentic Mexican. They make the guacamole at the table beside you and you can choose how much garlic and spice you like – it’s a nice touch.  Dare I say it, but I liked the Karaoke bar too! Rising Star is not like the tacky karaoke bars you might find abroad. You sing with a live band and backing singers, and the talent is really good!

So whether you want rollercoasters, simulator rides, movie memorabilia or some great night life – don’t miss a visit to Universal Studios, Orlando!

 

For the lowest price ticket options visit Attraction Tickets Direct.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

AmericaDestinationsFamily HolidaysFeaturedLong HaulUSA

Orlando, Florida

Orlando with the Travel Expert

Orlando is as much an adventure as a holiday.

In fact, if you choose to visit all the theme parks while you are there you may find that you need a holiday when you get back! Without doubt, its probably one of the best family holidays you will have with your kids, but what surprised me was how great it is for couples too. I travelled without my kids on an inspection trip and I had such a fantastic time (sorry Luke & Alex – I probably shouldn’t say that!)  There are direct flights to Orlando with Aer Lingus making it so easy to get there and transfer times from the airport are no more than 20 minutes.  Flying direct from Ireland to the USA allows you to go through customs in Ireland, so once you arrive in the States you are treated like a domestic passenger and avoid all the queues – bliss!

Depending on how much time you have you really need to plan your stay. If you are travelling with young kids, Disney is a must. The Magic Kingdom, as its name suggests is magical! There are more rides for younger children here and they can meet their favourite  Disney characters. They have daily parades too which are fantastic for adults and children to watch.  If you can let them stay up late, the firework shows are well worth it. Try not to go to Disney on your first day because the kids will probably be too tired to appreciate it and will inevitably fade before the fireworks begin. There are four Disney parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios so depending on whether you have kids, and their ages, you may choose to select specific parks rather than try to see them all. Bear in mind there are over twelve theme parks in the Orlando area and four waterparks so unless you are there for three weeks you won’t see them all.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan your trip and allow for rest days and also shopping days in between!

Pluto in Disneyland, by The Travel Expert

Discovery Cove for instance, where you have the opportunity to swim with Dolphins, needs to be booked in advance as they limit the number of visitors to the park each day. It may seem expensive at $289 but this is an all inclusive park so all meals and drinks are included and your ticket automatically allows you entrance to Seaworld and Aquatica too. If you upgrade to the Ultimate package, Busch Gardens is included in the price and you can go to either park as many times as you like within a 14 day period.

If you don’t want to go to Discovery Cove, the Orlando Flexticket might be for you.  You have unlimited access to Seaworld, Aquatica, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure , Wet ‘n Wild and Citywalk. The Flexticket plus includes Busch Gardens and a free shuttle bus from Orlando. If, on the other hand you want to see everything, then the Orlando Freedom ticket plus is for you, this has entry to all of the Disney Parks and all of the parks on the Flexticket plus and at the moment Legoland too.  Now can you see why planning is important?

My favourite is Universal though, they have two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of adventure. I’m a bit of a movie buff anyway but even if you are not,  the simulator rides are amazing. You really feel like Optimus Prime is grabbing you and throwing you up in the sky on the Transformers ride, the technology blew me away. If rollercoasters are your thing, there are plenty ! Personally they are not for me but I did  love the water rides in Islands of Adventure, there are several and a great way to cool down during the heat. The Wizarding World of Harry  Potter was the icing on the cake for me.  The attention to detail in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley not to mention the two simulator rides and the Hogwarts Express – as the American’s like to say ‘awesome’!

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Beside Universal Studios there is City Walk. This is a huge area with bars and restaurants and a few shops too. I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the food here and throughout the park in general. There are plenty of nite clubs too if that’s your scene. Dare I say it but I liked the Karaoke bar- Rising Star, it’s not like the tacky ones you find abroad, you sing with a live band and backing singers – the talent is really good. Remember if you are planning on drinking you must bring ID with you, even if you think you couldn’t possibly be asked, there were people aged over 50 refused alcohol because they had no Identification with them, so don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Last but not least – the shopping! The Florida Mall is a like a traditional shopping centre with all the typical high street stores, it has Abercrombie and Fitch and the new Pink store from Victoria Secrets plus a huge range of other shops. If on the other hand you are looking for a bargain , then head for the Premium Outlets, like the name suggests, it’s mainly designer shops at discount prices. Make sure you register at the information kiosk before you start. You need to pay $5 for a discount booklet, it will save you  a lot more in each shop, a massive 20% off the already discounted bags in the Michael Kors outlet alone! Remember to purchase an extra suit case  on your plane ticket for your return journey, or better still pack light on your outbound journey and then you will just have to go shopping when you get there!

Like this post? Check out my  blogpost on Universal Studios.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

DestinationsEuropeFeaturedSunseekers

Benidorm – bold or beautiful?

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For years, I couldn’t understand the appeal. I had to know why Benidorm was the most searched destination from Ireland on Google last year.

I was aware that Benidorm had good nightlife, and of course it is renowned for its low cost of living – but don’t most Spanish resorts have this? I finally got the opportunity to visit this place that had perplexed me so much,  I was invited on a familiarisation trip and I  jumped at the chance to see what Benidorm had to offer.

After a pleasant 2hour 20 minutes flight, we arrived at the Costa Blanca.  I must admit my first impressions were not that great, high rise buildings and English bars everywhere. I found myself wondering why this place was so popular with Irish people? It wasn’t until that night when suddenly it all became apparent. Until then, the only thing I had heard about the nightlife was that it was loud and catered mostly for stag and hen parties! I have visited most Spanish resorts and have experienced nightlife on many levels, but Benidorm has so much more. There are bars, disco bars , karaoke but its the shows that differentiate it from everywhere else. People, young and old, thronged to see amazing tribute acts, Take That, Westlife, Queen, U2,  unique comedy acts, and everyone was fantastic!

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We found ourselves wondering “why are some these acts not winning  X Factor”! When it comes to nightlife, Benidorm is king, there is nowhere better – it has it all.  It was like being in the West End but everyone walks around in shorts and teeshirts and all the shows are free! The cost of living has to be lower than other Spanish resorts, 6 bottles of beer for €5, or €1 for a pint – hard to beat that anywhere!

Now that I had warmed to the nightlife, I tried to feel the same way about the resort itself. I  was pleasantly surprised when visiting hotels that most rooms had sea views.  In the 1950s, the mayor of Benidorm decided he wanted hoteliers to build upwards so everyone could get a beautiful sea view.  With these high rise buildings everything is in close proximity and Benidorm can cope adequately with 500,000 tourists at any time.

Benidorm has five stunning beaches, stretching over four miles. You can choose Levante Beach which is close to the lively centre and tends to be extremely busy, or the quieter Poniente Beach which has a newly built promenade, great for an evening stroll. In between both you have the old town of Benidorm. It is packed with shops, tapas bars and oozes character. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch with sea views right in the heart of the old town, it was perfect.

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Not only did I have a new found respect for Benidorm as a destination, but I realised that it has so much more to offer than nightlife and beaches. What other resort can offer five theme parks within a ten minute taxi ride from the centre? There is Aqualandia, the largest aqua park in Spain with one of the tallest slides in the world! There is Mundomar, a park with dolphin and seal shows and of course Terra Mitica, if rollercoasters are your thing then you can’t afford to miss it! Lets not forget all of the possibilities for day trips, there is the stunning Villajoyosa with its colourful buildings and the city of Alicante which really surprised me. The castle of Santa Barbara is well worth a visit, with lifts that go all the way to the top, the views are stunning! The palm tree lined promenade stretches the length of the City. Alicante has beautiful old  buildings and an affluent marina, it stuck me that not only is it a nice day trip from Benidorm, it also is a great option for a city break.

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I know finally understood the whole Benidorm phenomenon  and why seven years later, the TV series is still such a huge success. Benidorm has sun most of the year, stunning beaches, a variety of Hotels, fantastic nightlife, an old town full of character. Benidorm has something for everyone and it is a destination everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!

Sarah

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Family HolidaysTravel Tips

8 Airport Tips You Need To Know Before You Fly

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For some people who are not used to travelling the airport can be very stressful. Read my top airport tips below and get your holiday off to a great start.

  1. Weigh your luggage before you go!
  2. Passports, visa and all the important stuff.
  3. Check terminals, car parking, roadworks.
  4. Get to the airport early.
  5. Use the fast track.
  6. Check-in.
  7. Security screening.
  8. Before you board.

1. Weigh your luggage before you go!

Before you go you should make sure you weigh your luggage to ensure you are within the weight limits for the particular airline you are travelling with. You don’t want to be one of those people at the top of the queue taking clothes out of one bag and placing them in another. You will also want to avoid any excess baggage charges, as not only are these exorbitant, but usually you have to queue up at the ticket desk to pay them and then re queue to check in. This can be very stressful if you are short on time and the security queue is very long.

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2. Passports, visas and all the important stuff.

Important documents like passports, drivers licence, insurance etc as these have a habit of going missing! I think it goes without saying to make sure that your passports are valid but you will also need to check the regulations of the country that you are travelling to, as some destinations require that your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date. This is becoming more and more common with some European countries applying this rule as well as the USA and many long haul destinations. If travelling to the USA make sure you have your ESTA in place, it is compulsory for everyone travelling to America now. Log on to https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

airport tips

3. Check terminals, car parking, roadworks

You should check with AA road watch to ensure your planned journey is free of road works, sometimes the airport website will also have this mentioned in their news section.  Check which terminal you are departing from. As a general rule, Aer Lingus and long haul flights go from Terminal 2 and most other airlines from Terminal 1 but you need to check your travel documents to be sure. Allow plenty of time if using the airport car parks, especially the long term ones as some of these are 20 minutes from the airport terminal! The DAA airport website is very useful and have many top tips, details of airlines and their terminals,  plus the latest car park deals – €29 for 1 week at the moment.

airport tips

4. Get to the airport early.

There are many new restaurants open in our airports now now including Diep le Shaker, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the fantastic food market – Marquette. Depending on the time of your flight it might be an idea to go to the airport early, no need to worry about traffic, queues etc and enjoy a nice meal before you depart or enjoy the excellent duty free shops at The Loop!

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5. Use the Fast Track

If you are short on time or have a particularly early flight – use the fast track!  It’s a fantastic service that caters for a variety of travellers. If you don’t want to queue at security you can pay from €5.95 – €7.99 to use the fast track service. You also get 10% off your shopping at the Loop so if you are buying perfume or expensive make up, it pays for itself ! You can use an executive lounge for up to three hours (regardless of what class of ticket you have) with complimentary drinks, snacks and newspapers for only €25 if booked online or €29 if you pay at the airport.  There are also other genie services where you can book a family care attendant or chaperones if someone is travelling alone and needs help. All of these are available to book on the Dublin Airport Website, www.dublinairport.com.

airport tips

6. Check-in.

Where possible always check-in online before hand. Even if you still need to check in a bag, it usually guarantees you a shorter queue and seats together on the aircraft. If  travelling with Aer Lingus use the dedicated self check-in kiosks to weigh your own bags. If you are travelling within Europe, you should arrive at the airport at least ninety minutes before your flight departs, irrespective of whether you have checked in online or at the airport. If  you are travelling long haul this is should be increased to two hours. If travelling to the USA some airlines require you to go through emigration at Dublin or Shannon airport and therefore check in times can be as early as 3 hours before departure. Remember  you will still need to go through security even if you have checked in online and in busy periods these queues can be long.

airport tips

7. Security screening.

With regard to security, this seems to be where everyone’s stress levels increase. I think it goes without saying not to pack sharp implements, but even kids toy guns, razors etc should never be in your hand luggage. Ideally pack all liquids in your checked baggage also but if you need to have them in your hand luggage, make sure that there are no liquids over 100ml, as these will be confiscated. Some things are evidently liquid, like drinks and perfume, others are less obvious, like gels, pastes, lotions, toothpastes, hair gels, face creams, liquid cosmetics, lip-gloss, deodorants and shaving foam. Any liquids at all even below the 100ml limit should be placed in one clear plastic bag and separated from your bag on the trays provided.

Medication is allowed but you may have to demonstrate that they are for medical purposes so I would recommend a note from your doctor stating this. Likewise baby liquids, drinks are allowed but you may have to drink them to prove they are indeed what you say they are! Remember to remove outer jackets, belts, shoes, laptops from cases when you reach the passenger security screening area as this will speed things up.

airport tips

8. Before you board.

When you make it through the screening area check the flight information screens, to see which gate your flight is departing from. Sometimes gates can change for operational reasons. If shopping in Duty free on the way out, make sure to use Shop and Collect system – they take care of your purchases and you don’t need to worry about the extra weight in your luggage, you simply pick them up when you return. Take advantage of the ‘honest’  airplane water stops that are scattered around the terminal. Put €1 in the box provided so you will have water when you board and stay hydrated for your journey!

 

Bon voyage!

 

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Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

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