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Duty Free: Your holiday starts here

duty free_woman_11_06_12Airports are far more than just a place to jump on a plane. Get into relaxation mode as soon as you’ve checked in and start shopping and eating in holiday style…

Airports. They’re a bit like Marmite. You either love them or hate them. With the ever-growing numbers of people using air travel, and with security levels at UK airports still high – and set to be even higher this summer with the influx of thousands of tourists for the Olympics – they can often be busy and quite stressful places. But savvy holidaymakers see airports differently – for those clued up on airport etiquette, time spent in one can actually help get you in the holiday spirit. Think enjoying food and drink with friends and family, a touch of retail therapy, even a spot of relaxation before you check in.

The critical issue is time – and leaving yourself plenty of it! Provided you give yourself an extra hour for hiccups at check-in-and remember that when it’s the school holidays, the number of holiday-goers will increase dramatically, inevitably slowing things down – you can start your holiday early by unwinding in the numerous shopping and entertainment areas.

Just like shopping centres, airports have everything you could possibly need to refuel, relax, stock up on those last-minute holiday essentials, and perhaps even treat yourself to a few luxuries before you fly. The added advantage is that you can also save on import duties and taxes – especially if your travel destination lies outside  he European Union.

Follow our five tips to turn airport hell into airport heaven:

1. Dine in style

Rather than hastily wolfing down something before you go, why not choose to dine at the airport instead? Airports now boast a wide range of eateries offering food and drink to satisfy the appetite of even the most discerning traveller – you could even sample a taste of the country’s cuisine that you’re about to travel to, to get you in the mood.

2. Choose high-street or designer

Most of us love the prospect of a spot of retail therapy, and the joy of shopping at an airport is that you don’t have to worry about rushing off to pick up the kids or topping up your parking ticket. Whatever the size of the airport, you’ll have a choice of high-street and designer stores – browse the latest fashions or take the time to choose some new make-up, perfect for your holiday. Outlets such as World Duty Free stocks a wide range of designer brands, many at discounted prices; so not only can you treat yourself, but you can also save money in the process.

3. Transport yourself to foreign climes

As with the plane you’re about to board, pleasant scents have the power to instantly transport you somewhere else. Everyone loves selecting a personal fragrance, and airport shops such as Perfume Gallery allow you to test the myriad of fragrances and scents on offer – including designer perfume brands such as Burberry, Dior and Cartier at discounted prices – and select the one that is perfect for you.

4. All under one roof

Why not have a wander around the latest concept in airport shopping – the airport department store? Biza Tax and World Duty Free department stores have been created with the discerning traveller in mind. At each Biza Tax and Duty Free department store, you can shop for the best global skincare brands, as well as sample new and exclusive must-have beauty products sourced from around the world – all in an aesthetically appealing, sophisticated environment.

5. Travel light

If you’re visiting friends or relatives on your holiday why pack a present to take them when you can pick out something great at the airport? With the Queen’s Jubilee having taking place in June this year, British airports will be packed with patriotic souvenirs to choose from. Or for a more personal gift, take your pick of unique jewellery and clothes that aren’t available in the country you’re travelling to. Happy holidays!

This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]

Illustration: Getty Images

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