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Avoiding the crowds and queues on holiday

Avoiding the crowds and queues on holiday

For Odyssey Travellers we frequently look at the logistics of avoiding the crowds and queues on holiday. Fortunately, offering a diversity of small group tours focussed on history, culture, the performing arts, walking and even dinosaur digs, has provided us a few lessons on minimising the time to queue and wait whilst on vacation.

Managing the beginning and end of your holiday

Airport queuing is simply in the modern world a fact of life for the majority of travellers. Avoiding queues at the airport is impossible. However the airlines and  customs and immigration have introduced some techniques that will assist  you in getting from Kerbside to the gate. Though security, which is important to all of us when flying remains exactly the slowest part and most detailed part of your journey to the plane.

The simplest way to assist yourself and your fellow travellers in the journey through the airport is to complete as much of the preliminary requirements at the time of booking your flight. This means you should spend a few minutes online completing these initial details:

Some airlines will permit you to check in online

This initiative is probably the single greatest saver of time in getting through the airport!

The majority of airlines today assign your seats before your journey commences.However, with your booking details, by logging onto the airlines website using  your booking reference, you can change your seating and meal  preferences before your reach the airport.This can usually be done several months before you commence your travel.  You or travel advisor should be able to complete these simple tasks.

Today the most efficient way to manage on of the several queues at the airport is to work through your airlines website early as possible to get all the assistance you need and the opportunity to secure all you need to be make your flight as comfortable as possible.

If you are not comfortable with this scenario then really it will be about arriving early at the airport a few hours before your international flight departs. Early arrive typically means avoiding at least one major queue at check in which at peak times for economy passengers may last for up to an hour, be as short as 10 minutes.

Managing queues on holiday

Travellers to Roys Peak in Lake Wanaka in New Zealand are currently suffering from long queues brought about by hikers who want to snap the perfect Instagram-worthy shot with views of Mount Aspiring and the Southern Alps. The Guardian posted a photograph by Lucas Stevanko on Twitter showing a long line of hikers waiting for their turn to take a photograph at the peak. The article shares that “it was now essential to leave as early as 3 AM to avoid congestion and crowds on the track.”

We all know that one of the worst holiday experiences involves getting stuck queuing for entry to a gallery, or to arrive at some skyscraper, or church only to find that the crowds are intolerable. You’ve spent time, effort, and money to get where you’re going. You don’t want to be stuck, sometimes for hours, moving inches at a time, surrounded by other frustrated, and bored tourists. So how do you avoid this?

Paris, France – April 30, 2017: People waiting in line to enter Musee d’Orsay in Paris, France

Book in advance

Britain’s newspaper The Telegraph recently published a guide to skipping queues at some of world’s ‘most crowded attractions’. To read the guide please click here to download your copy. The article includes The Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, and The Eiffel Tower.

Frequent (and sometimes obvious) tips include arriving early, and visiting off-season. If you’re organising a trip, these can be good to sort out in advance. Other important considerations when planning your stays include the following points to consider. This is particularly relevant if you are a large family or group planning your journey.

It’s worth doing some research to find all this out, before you set off on your journey. A little forethought can save hours, and make your holiday much more enjoyable and efficient! The internet will also provide you with the advice to assist you in avoiding  crowds and queues on holiday.

If you tour with Odyssey Traveller, we work to make sure you spend more time touring, and less time waiting. Many of our tours take you off the beaten path. This means you see sites that are often more fascinating and rewarding than the most popular or well-known attractions, but with less crowds. However, we know you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see The Louvre or the Taj Mahal. So, when we are able, we arrange to reserve tour slots ahead of time, in order to minimise waiting around.

Planning is crucial to your educational holiday

Pre-booked times of course are great. Queue jumping at some of the world’s greatest museums and galleries are a time-saver. But inside can be a crowd. Recent experiences at the Colosseum and the Vatican readily demonstrate this. Arriving at the Vatican for a pre-booked time after lunch still means you will find yourself in densely populated rooms, often with the experience of shuffling along in conveyor-belt fashion through such an incredible building.

An alternative approach often adopted by an Odyssey small group cultural tour for mature travellers is to start the day at the premium attraction. Starting the day early means being at the attraction just before or close to opening time. This advice readily applies to the Louvre or to the Vatican or Colosseum. Walking with large groups after lunch is still an experience. However, the early start will afford you the time to linger.  To look at the Mona Lisa or stand beneath the work of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ALMOST alone…perfect. Planning your days will usually provide the opportunity to certainly avoid the crowds and queues on holiday.

A further consideration in planning your day to avoid the crowds is you also gain additional time by avoiding long waits for security checks into museums, galleries and other attractions. Particularly in the European summer months the combination of long queues, and hot and humid rooms filled with people, can be very demanding. Such experiences may offset the pleasure of finally being in a place that you have wanted often for years to experience.

For Odyssey Traveller these are also considerations discussed when planning the collection of small group tours.

Your Time is respected

Whilst unexpected events may happen whilst on a small group tour or your own holiday at Odyssey Traveller, we do attempt to run (within reason) the day’s schedule. However, unexpected events may delay a tour.

For those on a Odyssey Traveller small group tour there is typically an element of adaptation to the tour program. Such as a small group of travellers encouraging a fellow companion to look for the ancestral farm  in a remote part of Scotland, to stop to get “that photo” for a fellow traveller are some of regular pauses experienced  on a Odyssey tour. Whilst we have a program, sometimes stopping to linger longer, to pause and take in a view and run behind scheduled times are an important part to allow you to enjoy your time exploring.


Crowds and Queues on holiday

The exterior wall of the Alcazar castle in Spain with a crest of a lion on the wall below the castellated top of the wall. In the foreground are tourists queuing for entry.

So whilst on tour with Odyssey we do seek to give you time back in the day. To book appointments on relevant sections of each tour particularly in key museums and galleries or natural wonders. This is part of our approach to give back time in locations and places as we explore and learn.

If you’re keen to experience an Odyssey tour, why not have a look through some of our tours, for instance, check out our Art & Literature or Music & Performing Arts categories.

Or, if you have any questions, just call or send an email.

Odyssey Traveller publishes frequent blogs about the places it visits as well as Travel tips. We also offer a regular newsletter that you can subscribe to via the website.




Travelling in the shoulder and low season is becoming more and of an option for those seeking to avoid crowds and queues on holiday. Meeting this demand for Odyssey Travellers is important for us and our loyal client basis. Odyssey has where it can, weather permitting has moved some of it’s classic small group  history tours for mature travellers to the low season. Scheduling tours in  the shoulder and low season offers the opportunity to avoid the crowds and queues on holiday.This article recently published in the guardian newspaper about Machu Pichu reflects the immense pressure placed on on World heritage sites. Click here to read more.

Information for Mature Travellers about Odyssey

Odyssey also has a number of articles that may also be of interest to you listed below that you just need to click on the text to read.

Each year Odyssey offers some 140+ small group educational tours to unique and different places all around the globe. Odyssey’s groups are typically between 6 to 14 people with a tour leader. The tour leader provides the overview of the tour program. Odyssey then likes to draw in specialist local guides to share their particular knowledge with the group. This means that the learning experience is from many and not just one source on the tour. The tours are typically 3-4 nights in one location before moving on to the next place. The touring program is broken up with free time each week to allow you to explore or take some time out for yourself whilst avoiding the crowds and queues on holiday.