Posts in Travel
Anywhere Once: Heathrow Part 1

This March, I decided to spend my spring break in the beautiful Mediterranean Maltese Islands. Malta has been on my travel bucket list for over 10 years, and I was more than ecstatic to finally reserve this picturesque trip. My first step in planning any trip is purchasing the plane ticket. While researching the ticket, I soon realized that my trip would be a double adventure.

I will admit that I have chosen travel destinations based partially on incredibly priced finds at 3a.m. So, it is no surprise, that while browsing on https://www.aa.com/homePage , I immediately focused on the lowest priced plane ticket to Malta (MLA). I quickly noticed a message, in red, below the fare on the outbound flight stating, “Connecting airports are different,”.  There was also a red warning on the return flight stating,” Connecting airports are different, Overnight flight or connection. “  I had previously booked an overnight flight through Heathrow Airport on a return flight from Tunis(TUN), but I had never changed from Heathrow to Gatwick Airport while in transit. Well, l there is nothing like a challenge with a prize of a better fare, so I accepted.

Here is what you need to know to make this transfer work.

1.     As stated in the British Airways High Life magazine and here https://www.britishairways.com/en-us/information/airport-information/flight-connections,  you will need a minimum of three hours for the connection from Heathrow Airport to Gatwick Airport. My flight into London Heathrow landed at 7:25a.m. and my departing flight left at 11:35a.m. from London Gatwick. We made the connection between the two airports, with 30 minutes to spare.

2.     I did not check luggage, instead I used a carry-on suitcase, which for me is miraculous. I advise you to check the carry-on size requirements for your luggage with European airlines. Most of the time, their sizing scale is smaller.  I chose a carry-on over checked baggage, because switching airports in London requires you to collect your checked luggage.

3.     You must clear customs and immigration before you leave Heathrow and travel to Gatwick. This can take an uncertain amount of time. Be patient and drink your coffee or tea before you disembark from the plane.

4.     After clearing customs and immigration, you will follow the signs for the Coaches for National Express.  And, if you get confused or lost, the airport agents are readily available to assist you.

 

5.     You will purchase your ticket for the National Express Coach on the lower level. The ticket will cost £25.00 GBP and the agent will tell you the location for your pickup. The commute can take as long as an hour, due to traffic.  Mine did.

 

You can now enter Gatwick airport, clear security, and board your flight onward to your next destination.

This is an important fact to remember, when booking flights in or through London, there are THREE MAJOR AIRPORTS. They are Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW) and London City (LCY). Each airport is located in a different part of London and requires a connection or transfer. Check your airport codes carefully when you are booking flights online.  Make sure your connecting flights are in the same airport. If your flights are in different airports, make sure you have enough time to make the connection. It is your responsibility to critique your travel plans and make sure the schedule is one in which you are comfortable and can execute. After all, no one wants a missed flight or a delay when such a headache could have been avoided. Happy travels. Ciao! 

 

 

#airports #London #London Heathrow #London Gatwick #National Express Coach #American Airlines #British Airways #Dallas #Malta

The Downsize: How I Packed Lighter

Well, many people believed that this task was impossible, but I did it. I took an international trip to Europe using only one piece of carry-on luggage. Yes, this phenomenon had been done once before, but it was a trip to Costa Rica and a backpack was involved. Those were different circumstances. There were no light weight swimsuits, beach coverups and floppy hats on this trip. Real clothing was needed! The occasion was spring break. The location was Malta.  The season was supposedly spring, but when I checked the temperature, it was more like a Texas winter.

Normally I carry my giant Samsonite suitcase, aka “Big Red”, on my international trips. Big red can hold a complete mini wardrobe, a mobile salon and a makeup studio. I know this for a fact because, these are normally the contents of my suitcase. Due to a time sensitive connection in London, and few luggage mishaps in the past, I decided to downsize my luggage to only the essential items.  Let me explain.

This is what I would normally pack.  I would take clothing “outfits” for every day, at least three evening outfits, a pair of evening shoes, slippers, a curling iron, a flat iron, hair mousse, Moroccan oil, hairspray, facial cleanser, toner, moisturizer, sunblock, detox mask and makeup. Whew.

Now, this is how I was able to cut the bulk. First I purchased a set of the packing cubes from Amazon, in pink of course, which helped me to organize my luggage. I then realized that I had to re wear clothing in order to make this mission work, so I packed coordinating colors. Just in case I decided to do a load of laundry, I took a travel size Tide laundry detergent.

 I also needed thin, light weight, yet warm clothing. Since it was still boot weather in Malta, and leggings and boots are a great combination, leggings were an obvious choice. Another benefit of leggings is they are light weight and roll up into basically nothing. I prefer basic colors like black and grey, in addition to one printed pattern.  Neutral colors also pair easily, plus they can be worn multiple times. I also packed a Wolford body suit which kept me warm under my light weight tops. http://www.wolfordshop.com/bodysuits    I know you are thinking, “I am going to look blah!” No, that is what your accessories are for, flare, plus they do not take up a lot of room.

The next thing I packed was my skincare. I kept all of the sample packets of my moisturizers, cleansers, toners and eye creams that I received when purchasing my products from the department store. If you do not have sample packets, just transfer the products into smaller TSA approved containers. I purchased my containers from Target in the travel section. You can also do the same with your haircare products. You can also ask your stylist to purchase the travel sizes of your favorite professional brands. Hair stylist love keeping their clients prepped with proper hair care products.

The only things left were my pajamas, toiletries and fluffy socks. This was a breeze, travel sized everything. Also, do not overthink things. This is the 21st century and if you forget something, you can always buy it. This was how mission impossible was accomplished. Happy travels. Ciao!