Throughout my travels, I have learned a few travel hacks, tips, and tricks that make journeying to a new destination a little bit easier. Not that I mind 40+ hour journeys if it gets me to interesting locations far from home, but sometimes you arrive a little less than fresh and rejuvenated by those long, dry flights.
It was on a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg in South Africa that I discovered what is now one of my best airport travel hacks. I spent the day cage diving with great white sharks near Cape Town and had a flight booked that evening to Johannesburg to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I was going from the ocean direct to the airport, still covered in salt water.
I had several hours to spend at the airport but would not have time to shower when I flew in to Johannesburg. My flight arrived after 9pm and we were heading out right away to celebrate. So I considered my options. It was too expensive to taxi into Cape Town to a hostel for a quick shower (which was overbooked for the holiday in the first place – that’s another story), and calling around to the hotels close to the airport for a day-use shower came with a high fee of $50CAN which would not fit my budget. I continued to Google my options and discovered that many airports offer private lounges not affiliated with an airline that are open to the public to use for a fee. This particular fee was a mere $17CAN for a shower, unlimited food and drink, free Wi-Fi, and a safe space to relax before my flight. That is what you might spend on food alone in an airport – and that doesn’t always guarantee free Wi-Fi. It was clear to me what decision I needed to make, so I booked it.
I admit to feeling a little special as I pushed the elevator button to the private lounge access area. I checked in and was shown immediately to a clean shower with fresh towels and complimentary soap and a hair dryer. I dolled myself up for the pending night out (which resulted in a lovely compliment from the air steward when I boarded the plane) and for the next few hours, enjoyed sampling the tasty food available to me. I dipped into the wine, as there was a full selection of beverages you could help yourself to. May as well get prepped for a fun night out, right? I enjoyed the view of the tarmac, free Wi-Fi to update my blog, and comfortable couches and chairs to relax in while I waited for my boarding call.
If you ever want a little privacy, some delicious food and a quiet place to rest before a big flight, I’d highly recommend checking into public-use lounges at airports. They’re worth every penny, and are one of my best kept secrets while traveling abroad.