How To Avoid Holiday Queues

We work hard all year to afford our holidays, so when we go away we want to get the maximum enjoyment and relaxation out of our allotted two weeks. Unfortunately one thing no-one ever seems able to escape is queues. In fact it’s been estimated that we spend six months of our lives in some form of queue, which is pretty hard to swallow.

How can you cut down the amount of time you spend queuing while you’re away, so you can spend more time sipping pina coladas on the beach, or playing games with the kids?

Here are a few suggestions:


As highlighted by worries before the London Olympics, airport queues are some of the biggest holiday hassles. In fact a few years ago Heathrow Airport removed a lot of its shops to cut down on the amount of hold-luggage that needed to be checked.

Holiday Queues

  • If you don’t have one yet, register for a biometric passport, which in some airports all passport control consists of is scanning your document, then getting a quick pupil-check from a machine – much less time than queuing to have it read.
  • If you’re flexible on your departure days and times, work out when there are likely to be less planes coming and going and arrange your travel to match.
  • Instead of joining the boarding queue at the gates, pay a little extra to reserve your seat in advance, and then just relax on the sofas for an extra half-hour.
  • Do you regularly hire cars in the UK or abroad? Join the company loyalty scheme – not only will you save money but you can just walk past the counter, grab the keys and go!


Unless your hotel is employing huge numbers of staff, there’s sometimes no escaping the queues there either.

  • If you’re staying at a big hotel, make a point of getting friendly with the waiters and bar staff straightaway. A generous tip right at the beginning with the unspoken promise of more to follow later, will mean you get served quickly.
  • Some hotel chains let you check in and out automatically using technology, rather than queuing at the desk. Convenient and time-saving, as long as you don’t have any special requirements, or want to query the bill.
  • Self-catering? As soon as you arrive put together a list to cover most of what you’ll need during the holiday. Do one big shop and then pop into smaller places as and when. Try and shop during the mornings on weekdays when it’s least busy.


Popular attractions can sometimes be a real pain. You queue to pay, then follow a queue all the way round, before queuing for the loos, then the gift shop, then re-joining the crowds on the pavement outside.

  • Do yourself a favour when visiting really popular places like the Louvre in Paris, or virtually anywhere when you’re on USA tours (those places get insanely busy!). Get all your stuff ready the night before, set the alarm for an early start, and beat the rush. With good organisation and a bit of luck you’ll be most of the way round before the places begin to fill up.
  • Some amusement parks let you buy FastPass tickets for the rides. That means you get a scheduled times lot in which to take the ride. You won’t cut out the entire queue, but on a busy day paying a little extra can save you hours. Off-set the cost of that by clipping the regular half-price entry coupons from newspapers before you go, and take a packed lunch to avoid the queues and pricey meals at fast-food chains.
  • Going skiing? A good plan is to get hold of a piste map on arrival, and then come up with the best routes that will allow you to only visit the busiest lifts once or twice a day.