From map-collecting and money-getting to lotion-applying and lingo-learning, it pays to be on your game as soon as your holiday begins
Hit the loos
You may face a long drive, or see your shuttle bus get mired in traffic. Either way, the next toilet opportunity is uncertain, so use a lavatory in the terminal.
After long flights, your skin will be dry, your breath stale and your armpits a little funky. So—if you didn’t do so pre-landing—employ some moisturiser, toothpaste and deodorant to make yourself a little more presentable.
Use that same toilet stop to apply the essentials, so you don’t begin your holiday red-faced or itchy.
Money, money, money
Withdrawing money out of an ATM in-country generally scores you much better exchange rates than any offered at most UK bureau de changes.
If your destination terminal has an ATM—and nearly all do—aim to make one bulk withdrawal, and then use cash henceforth.
It helps, therefore, to get familiar with the approximate exchange rate, and to have pre-planned your withdrawal figure.
What’s the address?
Ideally you’ll have the address of your chosen accommodation saved, and stored in your phone, with some directions to boot.
If not, and if the airport has wi-fi—in itself a good thing to check with a view to the return journey, and tedious terminal time—store those details now. They’re gold-dust should you get lost and encounter only non-English speakers.
Grab a map
On a similar path, having a paper map always helps—perhaps your digital version only works with wi-fi, or your phone or sat-nav might conk out.
Just like most Arrivals halls have an ATM, most also have a local or international tourist board desk. If so, chances are they’ll have free maps.
Get your onward travel right
Continuing on by shuttle bus? Be sure you know where it stops, and whether tickets can be bought at the door or on-board. Sometimes you must purchase them in the terminal, causing a maddening hour-long wait for the next service. Ditto with metro lines.
Other airports—we’re looking at you Figari, southern Corsica—senselessly suspend their shuttle-bus service on a Sunday, despite just as many flights arriving. Double-check there is actually a bus to catch.
If your plan, or back-up plan, is a taxi, research online or in guidebooks how much you should reasonably pay, and agree the fee upfront, before getting in. Massed ranks of baying cab drivers can be overwhelming; it helps to have a figure in mind, and to show confidence.
Ready your key phrases
Have a few classic words and sayings—hello; thank you; how much is it?; a ticket, please—get to know the local dialect, just in case.
English is common around the world, and especially so at airports, where speaking it is part of most customer-facing job descriptions. There are always exceptions, though.
It’s also simply nice, and respectful, to speak a few words of the native tongue; doing so, however appallingly, will endear you to locals.