Picture the scene. It is my Mum’s 50th birthday and I have booked us a trip to Stuttgart to celebrate and meet up with a friend whilst we are there, flights booked, trains booked, hotel booked and the two of us on our way to the train station taking multiple selfies captioned “On our way!”. One and a half hours later we are still stuck on the train and a conductor tells us that the train is cancelled and we will have to catch the next train! After waiting a while and being told that the next train was delayed we put in a panicked call to my Grandpa to drive us to the airport and after hectic traffic FINALLY arrived at the airport to pass through security.
However, the powers that be had decided that we were definitely not going to Stuttgart that day and as I scanned my ticket to get through the barriers and looked behind I realised that my Mum was no longer behind me, her ticket wasn’t working and the barriers wouldn’t let her through! Explaining to the (very helpful) security guard on the barriers, she sent my Mum back to the check-in desk to get a new ticket whilst I waited rather awkwardly on the other side of the barriers and by the time we eventually got through security the gate had closed!
So there we were sat in the airport cafe wondering what on earth we were going to do. If any of you have ever missed a flight you know that there is the awkward walk down to the service desk with one of the gate staff whilst they explain what has happened and then you explain what happened and stand there awkwardly whilst they tell you that the next available flight with them is the day you were planning on coming home. Great.
So if this happens to you… DON’T PANIC!
Straight away we knew that we were not going home so started a mass tea-fuelled brainstorm of where we could go and here are some of the things I suggest you keep in mind when doing this:
- What sort of climate have you packed for? If you are booking a trip in the middle of winter (like we were) and you have packed accordingly, perhaps a sub-tropic destination should not be on your places-to-check list.
- What is there to do there? You may well find a super-cheap flight to the middle of nowhere but what are you going to do once you get there?
- How long do you have? If you have only booked a few days off work or need to be home for any other commitments then a long-haul flight is not for you.
That done we started our search, if you haven’t come across it already, skyscanner.net is the most amazing thing EVER. Please believe me when I say this, it will save you so much money as it compares all of the different airlines which fit where/when you want to travel and gives you the cheapest options. You can change the filters to sort into direct flights or pick one with a cool stopover, it’s up to you.Using the flight site we did a quick search of where was cheapest to fly to and came up with a shortlist based on what we had wanted out of the trip.
For us, the best (and most exciting) option ended up being Amsterdam.
If you are flying last-minute, you will probably get to your destination quite late on in the day and, especially if you have not been to that place before, finding somewhere to stay BEFORE YOU LEAVE is incredibly important to prevent you wandering around in the middle of the night trying to find somewhere to stay.
When I am travelling (and not staying in a hostel) I use hotels.com as a simple option as it allows me to search last minute and see the area of the hotel on a map (meaning that we got a hotel right next to the Palace in Amsterdam! :D) and the main draw for me, letting me collect nights as I stay to redeem for a free night once I have collected enough, super useful if you love travelling like I do, but don’t necessarily have endless funds available. However, other sites do similar things so it is always worth comparing if you have the time and finding the best option for you! (Please feel free to post your own methods below!)
Getting to your hotel after your flight
It may be the simplest option to order a taxi from the airport to your hotel but if you are miles out this will be horrendously expensive (another reason to look up where you will be staying before you book). Instead, look up the local transport, especially if you are going to a big city. In Amsterdam, like many other cities, the airport is not in the city centre so when we landed we caught the train from inside of Schiphol airport to the central station from where all of the trams covering the city depart or, if your hotel is nearby you can navigate your way there using the millions of maps signposted around. Many cities have tram or underground systems in place so it is definitely worth using the airport wifi to look this up whilst you wait.
For more information on staying in or travelling around Amsterdam you may be interested in reading the post I wrote on my trip there. After more travel inspo? Be sure to check back here soon for tales of my latest adventures.