To avoid the jostling with domestic crowds, we generally recommend travelers to go overseas for this time of year. If you’ve been smart and already booked a ticket outta here for the holiday, then you've taken a flying gallop in the right direction. You'll still need to survive the starting gate chaos that is Pudong Airport though, so in an effort to prepare you for a smooth start (and finish) to your getaway, we’ve pulled together some tips and tricks below you might find useful.
#1 Get Covered
Get yourself comprehensive travel insurance cover. I cannot stress this one enough! We’ve seen too many poor souls have their travel plans go awry and be out of pocket significant expenses all because they forgot to buy travel insurance or didn’t think it was important. Don't skimp! Make sure your policy adequately covers travel and medical expenses and is suitable for you and any activities you plan to do.
#2 Get Your Docs In A Row
Double check your travel documents. Is your passport valid for another 6 months? Do you have at least 2 blank pages in your passport? Does the name on your eticket match that on your passport? Do you have the appropriate visas for entry to your destination country? Are there any visa on arrival fees or departure taxes you’ll need to pay? Is your China visa still valid so you can get back into the country after your holiday?
#3 Mind The Bump
Check-in early! Flights around this time of year are jam-packed, and many airlines oversell their plane seats in a gamble to maximise yield. The earlier you arrive at the airport to check in, the less likely you are to get bumped. We'd suggest 3 hours in advance. If you really are unlucky enough to be denied boarding, you better hope you followed Tip #1.
#4 Connection Check
If you’ve got connecting flights, double-check at check-in whether you'll get both boarding passes and whether your bags are checked through to your final destination (and if you don’t believe them, check the luggage tag they put on your bags for the destination airport code). Know in advance how much time you have for the transfer, if you need to collect bags, change terminals, and/or recheck-in.
#5 Baggage Bits
Check your baggage allowance in advance for all flight sectors. If you can get away with traveling light, only pack carry-on luggage so you can get around quicker and avoid wasting valuable time at baggage carousels. If you do have to travel with a lot of luggage (we know it can be unavoidable for families) opt for luggage with 4 spinning wheels. These are easier to maneuver around as they roll even when vertical, and if sturdy enough, can sometimes double as a moving seat for a tired toddler. Take photos of your bags before checking them in, so if they do go astray you have a handy visual to show lost luggage airport officials or to verify any damage that was not present before.
#6 Back It Up
Scan or take photos of your important documents (passport, visa, itinerary, hotel confirmations, etc) so you have them handy on your phone or device, and send a copy to a trusted friend/family member. Print out copies as well just in case you run out of battery, don’t have internet connection, or lose your phone. Carry some spare passport photos, as well as a spare paper copy of your passport so you can take that when you’re going out and leave your real passport locked in your hotel safety deposit box.
#7 Who Do You Call
Make a list of any useful contact details including your travel agent (mobile or emergency numbers as offices are closed over the holiday), hotels, guides, drivers, airlines, travel insurance company, local consulates, banks, etc. Even better, program them into your phone with the correct country codes for easy one-touch calling when you’re in a bind.
#8 Easy Money
Everyone has their own preferred method of converting currency. ATMs are everywhere these days and are often the most convenient method of getting local cash. We find it helpful to have a small supply of local currency before arriving, just in case something comes up at the arrival airport before we've had a chance to get to an ATM. Failing that, take some US dollars or Euros in small demoninations for backup. If you have a Chinese bank account with Union Pay you might want to check online beforehand which bank ATMs you can use in your destination country.
#9 Travel Appy
Do a quick search ahead of time and download any useful travel apps. As a minimum we’d recommend xe.com for currency exchange and Google maps, but there are a million and one options out there and growing every day, so do some research and see what suits you. Useful apps include those for checking flight status, weather, language translation, city guides, restaurant recommendations, and wifi finders. If possible, go for offline versions.
#10 Know Before You Go
Read up on your destination. This is general common sense and helps you get the most out of your travels, but in particular things like local laws, correct etiquette, tipping, dress codes, health issues, safety precautions are good to know in advance. It’s also worth checking official government travel advisories and registering your travels if you can.
If you have any more useful tips and tricks, we'd love to hear them. Safe travels and happy returns.
For more of our standard travel advice click here.