Teddy tips – Getting around

Surviving long plane flights

Teddy by plane

The worst part of travelling for many people is the getting there, especially if that means a long haul plane flight. Frankly, any flight longer than five or six hours can be a physical and mental challenge for most people, so flights of twelve or fifteen hours are sometimes more than they can bear.

Everyone has their own tips for surviving these long flights, or at least enduring them. And some carriers make it easier for you than others. In fact, sometimes the difference between long-haul carriers is how they help you to pass the time bearably (or even pleasantly!). If you have any tips, Teddy would love to hear them!

Teddy’s tips:

* If you can afford it, travel first class. This won’t help everyone, obviously, but there is a huge difference in comfort these days between economy and modern first class, including fully reclining seats that feel like beds, and private cubicles. If it’s in your budget, do it.

* If you can afford it, choose a stop-over at a hotel to break your flight, rather than just a couple of hours at an airport. There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep, a shower or bath, and a real meal to recharge those travel batteries.

* Some people can sleep in economy, some can’t. If you can, do it. A few hours sleep will help make the flight seem shorter. Most airlines these days have great in-flight entertainment systems you help you pass the time. Use them as part of your “killing-the-hours” strategy. You could add reading a book, doing puzzles, writing or working on a laptop or ipad, etc to your strategy. Whatever it is you like to do, just make sure you’ve planned a number of different things to occupy your time, otherwise the flight will just draaaaaag.

* Get up and walk around the cabin at least once every couple of hours. It helps to stretch your muscles, reduce cramping, etc, and gets the blood flowing (which helps reduce the risk of DVT, swelling ankles, erc).

Train travel in Italy

Teddy travels by train

Train travel throughout Europe is some of the best in the world, and Italy is one of the best examples. If you need to get from one major city to another quickly and with minimum fuss, train travel is easily one of the best and most affordable ways to do it.

Teddy tips:

* Travel first class whenever it is available. It only costs a little more (as little as an extra €10 between some stations), and you get a lot more for the effort. Many services will offer a meal cart (costs extra to purchase, but you don’t have to go to the cafe car), and the first class seats are obviously more comfortable. They also normally include convenient things like power and USB for powering or recharging laptops, phones and portable devices.

* Some services will sell cheaper “unassigned” first class tickets. This means you can sit in first class if you can find a spare (empty) seat, but there is no guarantee of a seat. These tickets are often only a little cheaper, so Teddy doesn’t see much point – Teddy would rather pay the extra and be assured of an assigned seat. If you have an assigned seat and find someone else sitting in it, they may have purchased an “unassigned” ticket. Don’t be afraid to politely point out that they are sitting in your assigned seat. They should then move for you. If they don’t, report them to a steward.

* There is no baggage handling, even in first class. You will be taking your luggage into the cabin with you. There are small luggage racks in first class carriages, but you may need to be early on popular services to be sure to get yours there – space is limited. Luggage in first class is usually safe, but do keep an eye on it anyway. In economy, keep a hand on your luggage at ALL times! Theft from luggage in economy (even just taking off with heavy suitcases or bags) is common.

* Just because a train line travels through a town, don’t assume that it will stop there. Most of the intercity trains are express services, and even though it may pass through dozens of cities, it probably only stops at one or two before the final destination.

* Metro train travel is less extensive, and really only available in major centres. Rome has one of the best (in terms of coverage, that is) Metro systems in Europe. Getting around within Rome via the Metro system is quick and relatively painless if you know what you’re doing, so a little research will go a long way. If you’re in Rome for a few days and know you’ll be using the Metro to get around, consider using a RomaPass. It’s excellent value and includes free or discounted entry to museums, monuments and galleries.

* When you’re in those large train stations (and this is especially the case in Rome), be wary of everyone. People have been known to walk casually past your neat stack of bags, pick one up as if they owned it, and walk off. Beggars and other small change theives hang around the automatic ticket machines. Sometimes they pretend to be helping you with your purchase, but what they’re really after is the change (big or small) the ticket machine spits out once you’ve bought your ticket. There are police and security staff aplenty, but they seem little interested in moving these people on or preventing the thefts, and only marginally interested in taking notes after the event.