Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I haven't been to Europe in 11 years. My wife and I (and our 8 year old son) will be taking a trip to Italy this late November. We will be traveling from Venice to Florence to Rome. We will be flying in Venice and out of Rome.

However, our Rome departure leaves at 9:40AM and the first train to the airport is at 5:52 I believe. My agent told us to check in at least 3 hours before our flight which puts us at 6:40 AM. I believe the train takes 32 minutes.

So I'm freaking out a little. I'm thinking I will stay up all night, take cold showers, etc and yank my wife and son out of bed at 5:00 AM and head to the train station.

What can I do to ease my worrying pain?

Does that plan sound OK? A later flight will cost over $700 more.

share|improve this question
8  
Relax. You are there for vacation and not exam. :) –  Rudy Gunawan Mar 23 '12 at 10:26
3  
What I have found helps me tremendously when I am in similar situations: changing my outlook from, "I must make my return flight," (emotionally invested in things that are partially or completely outside my control) to, "I wonder if I will make my return flight," (curiosity about things that are partially or completely out of my control) turns a potential disaster into just part of the adventure. –  todofixthis Mar 25 '12 at 15:05
1  
For less than $700 you can pay for a taxi to the airport, and bribe a hotel employee to make absolutely certain you meet that taxi in the morning. It really doesn't make sense to spend that money - airlines wouldn't offer the flight if folks could never make it to the airport on time! –  Andrew Ferrier Aug 31 '12 at 16:46
    
If possible, check-in online. This shaves off even more airport time, and allows you more time to get through security. –  Jonas Dec 16 '13 at 8:32
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

"3 Hours" is a very common recommendation for international flights at many airports around the world - and it's almost always far more time that you need. Airlines like to get passengers to the airport early, not only because it gives more buffer if there are any problems, but also as it spreads out the "rush" period before the flight - you can imagine what the check-in counter would be like if the entire plane turned up exactly 90 minutes before the flight!

As long as you are at the airport 2 hours before you will have plenty of time (even 60 minutes is enough at some airports!). Given you're traveling with a young child and in an area you're not familiar with I wouldn't recommend cutting it any more fine than that. That's not to say that planning to catch the 5:52am train isn't a good idea - obviously the earlier you get there the less chance of something going wrong.

As far as easing your worries, the best recommendation I can make is to make sure that you've got multiple alarms set for the early start. An alarm on your phone, one on the in-room clock, and a wake-up call from the front desk wouldn't be overkill in a situation like this, and means that if one does fail for some reason (phone hangs, power outage in the room, etc) you'll still have something to wake you up!

Check with the front-desk in advance for any hints on getting to the train station - perhaps the entrance nearest the hotel isn't open until 7am, or before 6am you can't buy tickets from the ticket booth, etc.

But most of all, don't panic! If you plan on the 5:52am train as you are, then you've got some buffer in case of problems. Short of something major happening, you'll make it easily! And you can always sleep on the plane :)

share|improve this answer
    
Be aware that if you fly to the US 2 hours is a minimum. In Europe I generally take 1 hour –  Ton Plomp Mar 28 '12 at 13:21
1  
If you ask the front desk very nicely, they might even come and hammer loudly on your door rather than call you on the phone. Ask them to make sure you wake up :) –  Andrew Ferrier Aug 31 '12 at 16:42
add comment

The 3 hour figure is wrong. Check the airline's website for when they close the check-in counters - that would be the actual time when you absolutely need to be there. It's usually 45 minutes for EU flights and 1 hours for international ones.

share|improve this answer
1  
Within EU is still international :) You mean intercontinental I suppose. –  Bernhard Dec 15 '13 at 9:21
add comment

From my point of view 1.5 - 2h should be sufficient for an international flight. If you are too worried about getting there in time, just take a taxi. Depending where your hotel is located in Rome, you may need a taxi anyway to get to the train station.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Travel agents usually recommend some ridiculous 3h, but in reality much less is needed. 1.5h in most cases is more than enough, and on many flights the check-in desk closed only 40 mins before departure (you need to double check your flight though, flights to the US might be different). In any case, RELAX. You have plenty of time. You can set two or three different alarm clock if it makes you feel more secure, but there is really no reason to stay awake the whole night :)

share|improve this answer
4  
Although check-in might close only 40 mins before, baggage check for international flights at major airports almost always closes earlier. eg, United Airlines is 60 minutes at most international airports. –  Doc Mar 23 '12 at 5:17
    
Thanks but we will be carry on only. :-) –  cbmeeks Mar 23 '12 at 11:49
    
International flights (especially to the U.S.) usually require 1.5h, because of the extensive security procedures. –  Simon Mar 27 '12 at 7:47
add comment

Depending on where you are staying, the cost of a train trip for 3 may be comparable to a taxi ride. Going with the latter will be far less stressful and you can leave as early as you want, as long as you organize a dispatch with your hotel concierge.

Good luck, and with a 3 hour buffer, I wouldn't stress too much even if you have to ride the train.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.