Make sure you check what time you need to be at the airport / pick up point.
Ensure you've got your essential travel documents – tickets, passport, hotel or tour vouchers or documentation, creditcards and cash (you'll probably need some change for parking meters, or even to get something out of a vending machine – and don't forget about the return journey if no one can pick you up at the airport).
Please remember: you need to allow time for passport control and security – which can be up to 3 hours in advance.
Allow time for any traffic jams or service disruptions to rail services. It’s better to be too early and bored rather than late and flustered (that’s when you could end up losing things – like your tickets or passport).
If it’s early in the morning or late at night and you’re using public transport check times for the earliest / latest service (trains may run later than the tube network). Do a last-minute check as well in case of any disruptions.
Tip: an unsociable hours taxi ride may be very expensive, and you also don‘t want to be carrying luggage and travelling during the office rush hour in London. It may be cheaper and less stressful to spend a night closer to the airport – (a room in a hotel in an area like Earls Court or Kings Cross may be cheaper than an airport hotel).
Security is now a major concern – do NOT make any comments or jokes about having a bomb in your bag at any stage of your journey. Airport and airline, train and ferry staff are obliged to treat any mention as if it's the real thing no matter how funny or witty you think you are being. This will almost certainly lead to your arrest. Also, the same applies to talking with your friends – someone else may overhear and report your conversation.
To help keep within your weight allowance (and reduce the weight you have to carry), it is probably best to wear any hiking boots or bulky footwear.
Keep passport, tickets / boarding cards (or smartphone) close to hand as you may need to show these documents several times.
Airports, train and ferry terminals can be busy places with a lot of distractions. Opportunistic thieves often hang around such places, so always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Looping your bag around, or locking it to, furniture or your person can help deter a would-be villain.
Tip: if you're carrying a backpack keep it inside a cover and carry a day bag in front of you to improve security.
Depending on prices you may want to wait for your return leg to buy any duty free items (does not apply for travel within the EU), otherwise you will have to lug the extra weight around for your entire holiday (and the added risk, if you're carrying bottles, of a breakage and the contents soaking the rest of the stuff in your bag).
If you didn't ask or weren't able to secure a window or aisle seat (depending on your preference) at the time of making your booking then it's a good idea to check in as early as possible.
Keep an eye on the time and don't cut things too fine. Or check in early and then get lost in the shops – you could still end up missing your flight, or becoming very unpopular with the rest of the passengers by causing a delay.
Avoid drinking beer as it has a diuretic effect (makes you want to urinate more). Actually, it's probably better to avoid alcohol till you're safely at your destination and your luggage is stowed away. You've plenty of time to enjoy yourself later, although that could be dramatically reduced if you lose your passport or other valuables because you were too tipsy to notice.
DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis can affect old and young – and it can be fatal. Aspirin and pressure socks can help reduce the risk of blood clots forming. Standing up or shifting your posture regularly also helps.
Again, even if free alcohol is on offer drink very sparingly – become drunk and disorderly on the flight and they could end up making an emergency landing to hand you over to the nearest country's police. In which case, expect to be barred for life from that airline – although that will probably be the least of your troubles (court case, fine and / or foreign prison).
Some people use sleeping pills to overcome the relative boredom of long haul flights. On the downside being dead to the world is hardly desirable if there's some sort of inflight emergency.
Always wear your seatbelt in your seat – you can loosen it to make it more comfortable. There is a phenomenon known as Clear Air Turbulence (CAT) which can cause an aircraft to lurch suddenly. At lower altitudes you can experience a similar phenomenon, called 'Bumps', due to air pockets.
Landings and taking offs can lead to discomfit due to changes in air pressure. Often holding your nose and blowing or swallowing hard to equalise pressure in your Eustachian tubes can relieve this (or even chewing gum – avoid if you're travelling to places like Singapore as it is a banned substance due to it being hard to clean up).
In aircraft you're pretty much restricted in your movements and where you go. So it's largely about following the signs or the crowd (or a combination of both).
If you're on a ferry and coming into a crowded port (like Piraeus in Greece) and you're in a group things can become quite chaotic and it's easy to get separated.
Tip: as you enter harbour, select a point near a gate or fence to use as a meeting point if the group gets split up before preparing to get off.
Remember not everyone has the same sense of humour. Be restrained and courtesy when passing through customs and passport control checks. Anything thought to be an insult or disrespect can lead to avoidable delays and unpleasantness. Of course, if you like being strip-searched this could be your big opportunity but you may miss your bus or connecting flight.
Beware of sensory overload – essentially, when landing in a total different place, your brain is bombarded with new sights, smells and even sensations. It is exactly at this point in time, coupled with tiredness from the journey, that you are most vulnerable to opportunistic thieves or pickpockets. So be on your guard.