There is something refreshingly honest about admitting one’s weaknesses. My weakness is that I hate to pack a suitcase for any impending travel. And because I hate this task so much, I tend to put it off until the very last minute, thus ensuring that I forget a lot of the things I will need on the journey ahead. And who can blame me? Budget airlines, here and abroad, have forced us to cut our free luggage allowance down to almost zero!
Rest assured therefore, dear reader that you are not alone in forgetting things. I have heard it said that delegation is the key to staying organized and where you cannot delegate, then creating to do lists constantly is the next best thing. With that small piece of advice, here is a list of some of the things that our clients seem to forget regularly, and which can be used as the first items on that to do list before your travel.
1. The passport.
I see you there nodding and recalling all the glorious times that you have somehow managed to leave your passport in the house as you rushed to the airport. The passport is indeed the most commonly forgotten item by frequent fliers. And because you cannot travel without it, you will need to have somebody on the ‘outside’ (of the airport) who can bring the passport to you.
A few weeks ago, when one of our clients forgot their passport at home, he gave us a call and we sent ‘our guy’ to his house to retrieve the passport. The traffic on Mombasa road, as is usual on Fridays, was at its best – chock-full. Enter the fastest and most efficient means of transport on our roads, the dependable motor bike. This was an unexpected learning experience for us. We got to know that your normal ‘nduthi’ (motor bike taxi) is not allowed into JKIA! We now know that the only type of motor cycle that is allowed into JKIA is the corporate or branded motor cycle. Our messenger could only get to the JKIA security check yard and had to persuade the driver of another vehicle to give him a lift into JKIA.
I am happy to report that our client did received his passport on time and did not miss his flight.
2. The Suitcase
You will not believe just how often our clients forget their travelling suitcases. We have found that in most cases (pun), a traveler will forget their suitcases when they are running late. They will most probably have delegated (delegation is clearly not a guarantee to remember) the delicate task of placing the suitcase into the boot of the vehicle to someone else in the household. This is what happened with my client. The person brought the suitcases, placed them behind the vehicle but did not place them in the trunk of the vehicle. My client hurriedly got into the vehicle and told the driver to ‘step on it’, while unknowingly leaving the suitcases behind.
3. The infant child
This really happened! Our clients had their sleeping infant properly strapped into her car seat, all set and waiting to be placed into the vehicle. The family was preparing to leave for a holiday and another group – the extended family – joined them at their home to share the vehicle to the airport. Everyone, high on excitement, was so preoccupied with getting into the car and getting to the airport on time, that no one noticed the sleeping bundle of joy left in the sitting room. Fortunately, someone, the other little member of the family noticed that his cousin was not with them. The vehicle turned around just in time to pick up the missing family member, and everyone had a joyous time as they speculated on what would have happened if the little one had been left behind. But seriously, in a situation such as this one, online check-in is an important item to put on your check-list. Online check-in does exactly just that. It checks you in to ensure that the travelers bypass the long check-in line. And, to get to the boarding gate faster, the priority line will come in handy as well, especially when you have children with you.
Airline staff are usually very helpful and will prioritise you if you ask politely, and you have an infant with you. Regular readers, and many of my clients, already know the benefits of the priority line!
4. The airline tickets
Most travelers will usually place their tickets inside or in the middle of their passports. Therefore, when they forget their passports, then the tickets are forgotten as well. There is no cause for alarm though. If you have your e-ticket on your mobile phone or laptop, then you are good to go. However, we do always ask our clients to print their air tickets as a fail-safe measure. It is not uncommon to find that systems at the check-in desk at the airport are down, meaning that the airline staff cannot verify your e-ticket immediately. And, depending on whether you are travelling domestically or internationally, the type of airport security checks varies. If travelling internationally, it will be very difficult to get past the security guard stationed at the entrance of the departure terminal if you do not have a printed airline ticket.
5. Laptops and mobile phones
Why is it that the space behind the living room sofa, or the bottom of your bed, mysteriously morphs into the Bermuda triangle when you are looking for your laptop? Or phone? Or Tablet? Admit it, most of you store your gadgets in these ‘dark’ places when you get home in the evening. However, when you cannot find your gadgets, and with your Taxi driver impatiently honking outside your door in the early morning on the day of your travel, you will be hard pressed to think of a reasonable excuse to why you do not have one of those ‘find my phone’ or ‘find my laptop’ apps installed on your spouse’s phone. The portability of your gadgets is what makes them vulnerable to getting lost or misplaced. My advice therefore is to place your gadgets inside your hand luggage and then place your hand luggage on top of your suitcase. Please do not place your electronic items inside your check-in luggage. If you do, it is very likely that your gadgets will not be in your check-in luggage when you arrive at your destination.
Do have an unforgettable flight!
The Author is the Founder and CEO of Saffara Ltd
This article was published in the East African Newspaper on Monday the 6th of August, 2018. Read it here as "How not to forget your essentials when flying"