With travel, there tends to be a lot of hurry up and wait. In getting ready for your next trip, keep these wait times in mind so you give yourself enough time and know what to expect.
Catching a multi-city bus or train: You’ll be waiting for the bus or train to come (or people to hurry up and get on it so you can), but better to wait there than miss it! Depending on the route and carrier, some buses or trains only briefly pause for your pickup. If your mode of transport is coming from destination A, stopping where you get on, and continuing to destination B or beyond, it’s super important you’re at the platform and ready when the arrival/pick up time is as there is a smaller window when you’re at an in-between spot. Give yourself time to get to the station and be ready to move/board 30 minutes before your scheduled departure. If there is hold time at your station, you’ll want to be early so you can board and get a good spot as most trains and buses are open seating. Be ready to stand in line to hold your place getting on board, and plan on hands free entertainment so you can keep those free for quickly lifting your luggage up with you.
Rental car return: Waiting to return may be easy, but the entire process time for rental cars still needs to be accounted for. Many stations and airports have associated or attached rental car vendors so you can easily catch your flight or bus or whatnot after returning the car. However, even if the rental car place is “on-site,” this may mean check in for your car is on site while the actual cars and return are elsewhere, or “on-site” means somewhere on the large property that requires a monorail to get to. With automated kiosks, quick checkout scans, and other measures in place to speed up billing and receiving after you drive the rental back, the return time has gotten quicker, but you can’t discount the time getting back to catch your next mode of transport. Research if there is a tram going between rental car returns and your terminal or station. Beware that trams usually are on a loop, so you’ll probably be making stops. Give yourself at least 15 minutes for your return process, more if you are traveling in a heavy business/driving city during peak hours. Also work in travel time from rental returns, usually around 15-30 minutes. Note: if you are told the trip from rentals to the terminals is 15 minutes, this doesn’t mean you only need 15 minutes to get back! Unless you have someone waiting to take you to the terminal, you also need to account for how often the tram comes, which sometimes is only every half hour. Come prepared with music to listen to as you wait.
Airline check in and bag check: Even if you’re clever and check in online, you may need to wait in line for your airline. Most airlines allow you to check in online 24 hours before and up to 2 hours prior to your flight time, but you also need to print your boarding pass and get your baggage good to go. If you don’t have access to a printer for your boarding pass, feel free to check in to get a better boarding number, but know you will need to print your pass at the airport, and that may take some time. Many airlines have kiosks where you can print (and reprint lost) boarding passes, but believe me, technology can fail and you do not want to spend time kicking a computer that won’t print when you’re late. Give yourself 15 minutes if you are tech-savvy and have no bags to check. If you’re checking luggage, you have to drop your bags and get them tagged by an airline agent. Sometimes this is a separate and shorter line, sometimes this is combined with general check in, which means families, slow people, people with 7 bags, people who don’t speak the language or understand touchscreen, etc. I have waited up to 45 minutes in these lines, so know this even if you are prepped printing at home, and bring patience.
Airport security: Unless you fly in and out of Wilmington, NC, TSA security checks can take some time. During busy times and in bigger hubs, wait times can be about an hour for ID check plus bag/person check. You can try to target the quickest line or wear clothing that’s easier to get through security, but inevitably, a family with a stroller, person who can’t get their laptop out quick enough, or newbie who doesn’t realize you can’t bring liquids through security and has a long conversation with TSA plus send back will end up in front of you. Since security is serious and people are tense going through, stay off the phone, watch your jokes, and either chat with your travel buddy or play a movie back in your head.
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