Whether you are driving, getting a lift or taking public transport, sitting in traffic or looking for parking while your plane waits at the airport is a nerve wracking experience.
The Christmas and New-Year period is the busiest time of year for airports, with passengers flying to spend the holidays with their friends and families.
However, there are some steps you can take to make the journey to your destination as stress-free as it can be:
1. Plan ahead and factor in traffic peaks
During the holidays, Sydney traffic is often lighter. However, travellers should not assume they will have a clear run to the airport as bottlenecks usually develop on the approach, which need to be accounted for in time planning. Check out Live Traffic NSW for updates for roadworks, incident reports and live traffic information.
Google maps can also suggest the best route to avoid traffic, so it’s worth checking it before leaving. Ensure that the car has enough fuel to avoid any necessary delays filling up. If you do need to fill up, use the my nrma app to find the cheapest fuel on your route.
2. Pre-book your parking
The last thing you want to see before boarding your flight is the “Car Park FULL” sign, so it’s best to pre-book beforehand and save on parking. Use the parking function of the my nrma app to find the best parking spots.
We’ve also teamed up with a couple of partners to provide Sydney Airport parking to our Members at discounted rates. Park & Fly offer Members 20%* off airport parking in Sydney. You can drop your car off with valet style parking and when you’re good to go, catch one of the on demand shuttles Sydney Domestic or International terminals. Plus, Space Shuttle Airport Parking also offer 20% off airport parking with free shuttle transfer to and from Sydney Airport terminals, so you can research both partners to find the cheapest parking.
3. Check over your car beforehand
A holiday drive can quickly become a journey to forget if your car is not prepared. It’s a good idea to check your tyre pressure, lubricants and cooling systems before hitting the road. We recommend Members book their cars in for a regular service with a trusted mechanic at an NRMA car servicing centre - this is the best way to spot potential disasters and fix them before they cause any drama.
4. Prepare for crowds
Prepare yourself for long queues if you’re travelling on or around the peak days outlined above and plan to get to the airport well before your flight.
For international flights, aim to arrive three hours before your departure time and two hours for domestic flights. Allow additional time for procedures such as Customs and security screening during and put any metal items such as watches, phones, keys and coins into your hand luggage to save time at screening.
The best thing you can do to manage stress is arrive to your boarding gate early and grab some refreshments before you board your flight.
5. Use time-saving options
Take advantage of online check-in, self-service check-in kiosks or automatic bag-drops offered by your airline and save yourself a lot of standing around at the airport. There will still be a queue for bag drop-off but it tends to move fairly quickly.
6. Travel insurance check
It’s quite astounding how many of us still don’t take out travel insurance when travelling overseas. In fact, in the last 12 months 843,291 Australian adults travelled overseas without insurance*. But if there was ever a time to take out NRMA travel insurance, the peak Christmas travel season is it, especially if you’re carrying gifts.
NRMA travel insurance cover includes medical expenses, unforeseen delays and cancellations, lost luggage, travel documents and more.
7. International Driving Permit
If you’re going overseas, it’s a good idea to get yourself an International Driving Permit (IDP) – sometimes referred to as an international drivers licence. You may need one to drive or rent a vehicle, and they’re also recognised as valid identification in over 150 countries.