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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Airport Perks

Botanical garden at Singapore airport
If you spend a lot of your time traveling, you will undoubtedly spend a lot of time in airports, as I do. You quickly learn little tricks to make it a more pleasant experience. I always try to print off boarding passes the day before I leave (you can do so exactly 24 hours prior to take off). If, like me, you never check any luggage, you can breeze right from the curb through security.
I figure I need to be able to carry my own luggage on any trip to I never take big suitcases unless absolutely necessary. I pack clothes I can mix and match, often things I can discard before the return trip so that I can replace them with souvenirs or newly acquired books.
I even just succumbed to buying an iPad so that I can take 100 books (or more?) and not have the weight.
For security, be sure to pull out your laptop (not iPad), take coat and jackets off. Only in the US do you need to remove shoes and a ziploc bags of liquids.
There. Done.
Now you can find your gate at your leisure and read a book.

One of my favorite airports in the world is Singapore. It boasts tranguil gardens, including one with cacti and a butterfly garden. A quick monorail ride will take you to each terminal so that you can stroll through each garden.

The Taiwan airport, too, has orchid gardens and fabulous massage chairs. For a free token (to obtain in any airport shop) you can sit in a quiet corner and get a great, albeit mechanical, massage!

My favorite airport pharmacy is in Hong Kong where they sell little tins of Golden Dragon coughdrops. The best.

Schiphol in Amsterdam has a mini Rijksmuseum with original Rembrandts to admire. A great way to while away your waiting time. Schiphol even has a library where you can check out books on culture, art and more!

Airports often have machines. An eye scanning machine welcomes me back to Canada. Best Buy now has machines dispensing eletronics such as headsets, even iPads. I wonder who really buys a new iPad from a vending machine? Hhhmm...
But the best machine I ever spotted was in Heathrow, of all places. A book vending machine! Now there's hope it you ever run out of reading materials while traveling.

P.S. Writing this column in an airport, made me realize the most important perk of all: free wireless internet! Many airports now offer this: Portland, Eugene, Seattle, Vancouver. But some terrible, archaic airports still have hotspots that charge (Chicago). Get with it!