Travelling together certainly has its advantages: we’ve got our routine for getting from host to airport and onto the plane down so well I’m not sure we could do it on our own. In fact, it would feel kind of strange to not have Linda carrying the passports until they went into my shirt pocket.
But it wasn’t always so smooth and, from time to time, we short-circuit, creating all sorts of problems for ourselves.
If there’s one thing that couples need to do when travelling, it’s to communicate clearly … but we almost never get there, do we?
Having a game plan
When it comes to navigating the stressful pre-boarding stages of a flight, a game plan is helpful.
- Who’s going to be responsible for an online check-in, or seat allocation, before you get to the airport?
- Who’s going to have the documentation and passports ready to hand over at the counter?
- Which bags are going in the hold, and which are you keeping with you?
- Is there anything even a little strange in your carry-on bag? If so, who’s going to talk about it with the security staff?
- How much time do you want to allow for lines at the airport, how early or late can you afford to arrive?
Just keep talking
It’s questions like that these that we review before we head out to the airport. We cover some of them when we book the ticket — especially if we need to remember to check in online. Others have become so much a part of our modus operandi that we don’t even have to think about it. The biggest question is normally if I have to fly with just my New Zealand or British passport, or if we need both of them to hand.
I always enter Turkey with my Kiwi passport — no visa fees, you see. However, when flying from Turkey to the UK, I want to check out of Turkey with the NZ one, then check into the UK with my British passport: it’s not only easier for me, it’s easier for Linda to gain entry if she tags along with me.
It’s not so easy if the British passport is rotating around the baggage carrousel while we stand at Border Control trying to convince someone to let us into the country. Not so easy at all.
The point? When you forget to talk over these details with your partner, you make mistakes — and they can be inconvenient if not costly. So keep talking.
Some people think that budget airlines exist to make money, but they’re wrong. Budget airlines exist to make travelling couples go insane.
Baggage limits, online check-ins, print a ticket/don’t print a ticket, take a jacket/jackets are part of your weight restriction, you get a meal/you don’t get a meal, get a coffee for free/no, pay for the coffee, let me shout advertising at you all flight. It’s one crazy world.
I’ve seen couples’ holidays almost derailed from the start as they argue over paying $25 more for a baggage overage. Or people shouting at security staff because they just bought their partner a bottle of spirits or perfume as a last-minute surprise … then they had to throw it away because of liquid rules.
It seems that airports, and budget airlines especially, are not that human-friendly, let alone likely to romantically smooth the way for any couple’s trip abroad. Here’s the trick: know what you can before you arrive, forgive each other’s mistakes, pay the bill, move on.
It’s not rocket science, but starting a $2,500 holiday with a fight over a $25 surcharge isn’t the way forward. Don’t blame each other for not reading the small print: knowing that stuff is both of your responsibilities. If something slips through, pay the bill and remember it for next time … and you’ll start or finish your trip a lot better for it.
Although they’ve had their share of airport mistakes, Craig and Linda Martin have managed to get through dozens of airports without breakdowns! They’re currently co-writing the couples travel book, Art of Couples Travel, available later this year.