Travelling can be a real pain in the neck. Sure – you’re jetting off on holiday, who doesn’t love that? But often the route you take to get there can be such a hassle. Airports often don’t help this. There’s queues, security checks, lots of waiting around, and so many people around you. King Shaka International Airport is my local airport, and I’ve travelled to and from this airport many times, both locally and internationally.
I’ve come up with a useful list of hacks or tips for airports. Most apply to King Shaka International Airport, but some apply to airports in general. Hopefully these can help any travellers heading to KZN (or out for that matter) over the upcoming Easter long weekend!
- If you’re travelling internationally, save yourself the hassle – any liquids in your hand luggage must be in one of those clear zip-up bags. A simple ziplock packet does the job, and make sure that none of the containers is over 100ml – even if there is only about 10ml of product left in it. You don’t want your fancy schmancy products being confiscated!
- Try and pack all of your necessary medical items for your entire trip. Whenever I travel, I make sure to pack a little ‘first aid kit’ of sorts. Painkillers, anti-nausea or motion sickness pills, pills for tummy cramps, anti-histamine pills, plasters, antibacterial ointment, malaria pills if you’re taking them, insect repellent, insect bite cream, any prescription meds you take. If you have prescription stuff that’s of a higher schedule (think Ritalin or sleeping pills), try and take a copy of your script with you.
At King Shaka International Airport, there is only one pharmacy and that is on the bottom level, outside the boarding gates. Once you’ve gone through the gates, you’ll have no more access to a pharmacy, so if there’s something you might need on your flight, be sure to purchase it BEFORE you go through.
- If you’re dropping someone off or collecting someone from King Shaka International Airport, don’t go straight to the bottom pick up/drop off zone. Sure, you get 15 minutes free there, but if there is a delay, you’ll have to pay for some parking. It’s much quicker to head to the top level to the Drop and Go area. Even if you have to possibly circle around the airport once, it’s much more effective.
- If you do have to park your car and wait for someone arriving at King Shaka, there are a good few restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. Cape Town Fish Market, Mugg and Bean, Spur and News Cafe have branches outside the airport, and there is a food court with takeaway restaurants inside. There is also a Woolworths there, where you can grab ready-made meals and delicious coffees (HELLO Honey Nut Latte). Plus, if you don’t feel like cooking when you get home, you can grab some quick groceries at the Woolies. Don’t worry about there being no fresh milk at home for a cuppa once you’ve unpacked! I’ve even bought a bunch of roses there before, to surprise my mum who I hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks.
- Make sure you have some change on you when you leave King Shaka – you have to pass a toll on the way out, and I’ve been in the awkward position where I forgot this. Thank goodness I managed to scrape together enough money with bronze coins, or I’d have been in real trouble! I always wonder if they warn foreigners of this – what if they haven’t gotten hold of the local currency yet? I make it a habit to always have a small amount of the local currency on me, where ever I go, for sticky situations just like this. Good habit to have in general.
- Always make sure your bag has a good lock on it, and possibly clingwrap it – you can pay a small fee to have this done at King Shaka International Airport. Theft is a real problem in South African airports unfortunately, so better be safe than sorry.
And there you have it! Do you have any other tips you find to be useful when travelling? What tips do you have for YOUR local airport?