These are the frequent-flyer brigade's top tips for surviving life on the road

Some of Ireland’s busiest business travellers share their advice for making it from A to B unruffled.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

LENGTHY AIRPORT SECURITY queues, Usain Bolt-inspired sprints to the gate, broken gifts on arrival – ah, Christmas.

The window before and after the holiday period is one of the busiest in the travel calendar – more than a million people will pass through Dublin Airport alone over the next fortnight – much to the frustration of the frequent-flyer brigade.

To help you prepare for the grind as you jet off for that last business meeting of the year or a trip with family, we’ve asked some of Ireland’s road warriors to share their advice for making it around the world in one piece.

Here’s what they had to say:

Sam Dennigan, Strong Roots

sam dennigan
Source: David Sexton

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

An extra battery pack for charging everything. Now that everything lives in the black mirror, it’s difficult not to have energy at all times. Banking, tickets, maps, video calls – energy is vital.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

Bad security screening etiquette. Get your stuff ready before you get to the trays and stop believing they won’t find your liquids. It’s a sophisticated x-ray machine made for finding liquids!

Do you pay for add-ons like lounge access and business class?

I’ve built up enough points and air miles now on two airlines for lounge access and I have to say it is invaluable.

I think I do my best work in an Aer Lingus or British Airways lounge. When travel brings so much inconsistency, the lounges are almost like an office or living room whenever you need it.

And when I’ve been upgraded to business class, it’s been invaluable. It’s like a gaming chair for an entrepreneur.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

Bring less. I make around four flights a week on average and I rarely have more than a T-shirt, micro washbag, spare socks and jocks, laptop, universal travel adapter and my iPhone.

I think more and more airlines will eventually have to charge for hand luggage, so I only travel with an overnight bag or, where possible, nothing.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

I try to arrive at the airport as late as possible, but I have to admit, I don’t have a 100% success rate with this. I find that it takes much less time than people think to get through security and the terminal if that is the only focus.

Travelling with airlines that have closer gates to security is always better and can cut down on one, sometimes two hours on travel time at either end. It all adds up.

Peter Coppinger, Teamwork.com

peter coppinger
Source: InvestNI/YouTube

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

I don’t go on any flights without my noise-cancelling headphones. They block out the sound of the jet engines (and sometimes screaming babies), and allow me to concentrate on my work or catch a peaceful nap.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

Rudeness. I hate seeing people being rude to the cabin crew or rude to other passengers. There’s just no need for it.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

Roll up everything and use all the spaces in your shoes. Put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the case so it doesn’t keep tipping over. Get a laptop bag with loads of pockets and have a defined place for everything you need.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

Don’t leave your car keys in your main luggage just in case your bags get lost. This little hack has saved my bacon.

Always bring a battery pack for your phone. Get a separate phone charger and always keep them in your laptop bag along with a universal power converter.

A Revolut credit card is handy for travel as you don’t have to let them know in advance that you are travelling.

Claudia Marshall, Ikea Ireland

Claudia Marshall 2
Source: Mac Innes Photography

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

My noise reduction headphones are an essential travel mate. They help create a zone of calmness and relaxation in busy airports, trains and buses helping me to prepare for a busy day ahead or to reflect on the day that’s just passed.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

A case will inevitably roll over my foot or hit my leg a couple of times on every trip! Worst of all, the owner rarely acknowledges it with an apology. Good manners are so important and go a long way in any situation.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

I always pack the night before my trip and check the weather forecast for my destination so that I make sure to bring appropriate clothes and accessories.

I use Ikea’s vacuum-sealed bags within my suitcase to help me organise the contents and make the most of the space.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

I’ve learned that a lot of airports have quiet areas. I find these are great spaces to hide away from the hustle and bustle of a busy airport. I go there to enjoy some calmness and relaxation before the next leg of the trip.

Ian Harkin, Arklu

Google
Source: Shane O'Neill Photography

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

A second credit or debit card, kept separate to your main one. Without access to cash you have a lot more problems, so have a fallback.

Do you pay for add-ons like lounge access and business class?

I don’t fly business, but I do pay to access lounges where possible, especially on long-haul flights where I have to get a connecting flight.

Thankfully Dublin now has a direct flight to Hong Kong, which makes up the majority of my trips. With points accumulated I have flown business and first class, but it simply isn’t worth paying for it.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

The worst is probably someone frequently hitting your seat from behind. It’s generally kids who are simply too young to realise.

The funniest part of this is I have a two-year-old called Henri – I’m saying his name in the hope that in the future, he reads this. After 20 years of frequent travel, I can honestly say I have never come across someone as noisy as Henri.

We flew to Colombia via Mexico earlier this year, a three-hour drive to Dublin, four flights and a four-hour taxi ride in Colombia – over 48 hours of travel in total – passengers were calling for an exorcism on the flight home!

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

Sleep at every possible minute. The temptation to watch a movie is pretty big, but sleep is a priority.

I always pack eye covers and bring noise cancelling headphones. I also always try to get a window seat so that nobody is climbing over me mid-flight when I’m sleeping.

I wear a high-neck jumper – the air con is always stronger by the window so I try to keep as warm as possible.

I’m generally not one for standing in lines for 40 minutes so I wait until almost everyone is on board before boarding myself, anything that reduces stress and makes it quicker to fall asleep on board, I’ll be taking those options!

David McKernan, Java Republic

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Source: David McKernan

Besides essentials like your passport, what’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

A fabulous bottle of Jameson – you just won’t believe the reaction it gets on coffee farms, at meetings. It just brings people together with our tradition. I try to bring a bottle as a gift – never go to somebody’s house or business without a gift.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

Muppets not being ready for security and holding the line up unnecessarily

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

Absolutely none. I always pack too much, but I’m improving.

I would never really be interested in dressing sharp. I prefer to dress very casual and would live in Patagonia gear – it’s comfortable and ethical. You do not want to stand out in some of the coffee countries we visit.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

In the last few years on both personal and business I always use a travel agent from Platinum Travel. She was recommended by our MD, Grace.

What a difference it has made. And should something go wrong, the service is exceptional.

This year alone I have taken over 30 flights and it took four flights to get to Aceh North Island Sumatra and for back on our latest coffee origin trip. We always get a local guide on both personal or coffee Origin trips too.

When travelling to a Muslim country, which I do regularly, make sure your hotel, hostel or Airbnb is not beside a mosque as you will be awoken at 4:45am and then at 6am.

Kristjan Koik, Flender

FLENDER ENTERPRISE IRELAND
Source: Enterprise Ireland

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

A portable battery bank. There is nothing worse than running out of phone battery when travelling.

Do you pay for add-ons like lounge access and business class?

To save time, I always pay for fast-track and priority boarding. I have Aer Lingus lounge access through banking with Bank of Ireland, but I wouldn’t pay for other lounge accesses.

My travel is within Europe so I wouldn’t use business class unless the price of a regular seat is similar to business class – this happens often with British Airways.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

The queue jumpers are one of them!

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

Wrinkles on suit and shirts is common when travelling. Using a hotel room kettle as a steamer works wonders to iron them out.

Liam Cox, Deliveroo Ireland

019-liamcox
Source: John Ohle Photo

Besides essentials like your passport, what’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel? 

Headphones. Either listening to a book, podcast or music, it makes the whole journey so much easier and go by faster.

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

People who aren’t organised when they get to airport security. Going through security is already the worst part of flying, wasting time queuing behind people who aren’t organised makes this even worse.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

A great bag makes all the difference. If you’re travelling a lot, invest in a good travel bag.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

While annoying, get all the different travel apps on your phone; it’s so much easier to be organised if everything is on your phone.

Anne Jones, Genomics Medicine Ireland

D22365-0010
Source: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

What’s the one ‘must have’ item you bring when you travel?

I have to pack my running shoes and running gear. Running is my primary form of exercise and relaxation and also a great way to see the many places I travel to.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

Colour coordination for shoes and most importantly for the women out there, dresses that do not require ironing – best space saver!

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

Using the right credit card with your preferred airline to get air miles is useful. Being polite often goes a long way when speaking with a travel agent.

Richard Haxby, MathWorks

Haxby_Richard-5
Source: Mathworks

What’s the one bad travel habit that irritates you the most?

People who pay €20 for their plane ticket and then complain about the queues. If you don’t want to queue then maybe you should consider a different airline.

Do you have any tips for making packing easier?

My top tip for this is pack based on the case you want to bring not on what you want to wear. I try to always travel with hand luggage so that I’m not wasting time waiting for my bags on arrival. Take what you need, not what you want.

Are there any useful travel hacks that you’ve picked up over the years?

Learn to sleep on a plane. Eat before you fly so you don’t have to eat the meals on the plane. Use the time in airports to relax if travelling on your own time, tune into a podcast, read a book and just chill, enjoy a bit of downtime even in an airport.

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