I love blogging, but I actually have a full-time job with The Prince’s Trust. As part of this role, I have to travel extensively across the UK and during the last year or so, I’ve gathered some pretty useful tips and tricks for making my travel less stressful. So I thought I would concentrate on 3 specific areas and see if we can soothe away those travel anxieties:
Travelling by Train
My first top tip for a nervous traveller is Book your Seat. If you book your train tickets online, there is usually an option to book your seat. This is GREAT for me as the service gives me the options for seat direction, near the loo, window, aisle and/or with a plug. I know that some people really don’t like travelling backwards on the train, so making sure you are facing the right way can be an instant stress relief. I personally like a window seat near the loo. Having been an IBS sufferer for over 20 years, I need to know, that if I need to go – I can. Also some trains can be quite busy, so having that reserved seat really helps me focus, so that if there is pushing and shoving, you always know your seat awaits.
I also use a couple of Apps on my phone which are INVALUABLE when travelling by train. They allow me to plan journeys and see which trains are best, they show me arrival/departure boards of all and every station as well as showing me where exactly my train is. But most importantly, the APPS I use show me the platform that I need to go to, to! The amount of times, I’ve had about 2 mins to get a connection and the app has shown me the right platform so I have been able to jump off one train and leg it to the right platform just in time! I currently use the National Rail and Trainline Apps. HIGHLY recommend.
My next top tip is around Entertainment on a long trip. I think that once you are comfy in your seat and have finally breathed out, if you have a long trip I think you have to have strategy around how to fill the time. I am, at home, a fairly good sleeper, but for whatever reason, I can’t sleep on trains – maybe my brain is too worried about missing my stop!
So what I do is take my iPad mini with me and set it all up so I am prepared with things to listen to and watch. I’ve just realised that this makes me sound like a child, but honestly the principle (for me) is the same 😜. I have found that this trick to all this, is to have things downloaded BEFOREHAND. Often train companies boast about on-board wifi, but I have found that firstly, they need basically ALL YOUR PERSONAL DATA, before you can get access and once connected the signal is RUBBISH or it doesn’t work at all. I wouldn’t bother.
I use a mix of 3 media apps to pass the time for things to watch, which are the BBC iPlayer, Netflix and iTunes. All 3 of these platforms allow you to download films and TV programmes in advance, so regardless of connectivity you can watch away. Love it.
Now you might have noticed the BEAM app on there, which is exclusively used on Virgin Trains in the UK and it’s the exception to the rule. You WILL have to download the app before you get on a Virgin Train, but once you are on there and have created your account (natch) you will then have access to approximately 20 movies, 10 TV programmes and various games and other mini Virgin related videos. As far as I can tell, the movies are updated once a month and there is usually a good mix of stuff to watch. BONUS – all free!! I can only assume the movies are stored on the train’s computer somewhere, as once you connect to the trains wifi – you can start watching the film with buffering or any connectivity issues. Great service.
My final source of Entertainment is things to listen to and for this I take with me various Audio Books, podcasts and music. My apps of choice for these are Audible, the native Apple Podcasts app and Spotify. All 3 of these apps allow you to download content in advance of your journey.
Also, one final thing about listening to and/or watching things on my iPad; I was lucky enough Christmas 2017 to get some Apple Airpods for Christmas. They are wireless headphones and a GAME CHANGER. No wires, small and don’t fall out. Also, if you take one out to speak to the train conductor, they PAUSE WHAT YOU ARE WATCHING!!!!
OK so once you’ve arrived at your destination, you then have to find where you are going, whether it be a meeting point, hotel or business. Now, I get lost VERY easily as I was born with literally no sense of direction – so I thank god every day for Google Maps! So apart from the obvious tips to use google for directions to your destination, my top tip for finding buildings is to use a google image search. I recently had to go to Deloittes in Leeds for a meeting, and whilst I had a fair idea in which direction I was going, I wasn’t totally sure of the exact building. Roll up Google Images:
Then of course you can use Google Street view to give you lots more information about other landmarks on the street to help guide you.
All these things help me regain a little bit of control around getting from A to B in strange places. I get lost easily and so if I have an idea in advance what the building or place looks like that I am trying to find, then I feel better. If I have a long journey, then I know if I have something to listen to, then it will more than likely go quickly and I will actually enjoy the travel. But mostly, booking my seat helps me feel like, even though there is sometimes a scrum to get on a busy train (I am looking at you the Leeds>Manchester Train) then fights on one side, I know I have seat waiting for me. Also, as an IBS sufferer, then a seat near to the loo is a relief I cannot describe. Speaking of which, why not check out my story time blog in which I describe a journey from hell!!!
Ok that it! I would love to hear if you have any special tips for nervous travellers, I am open to anything!