If there is one thing that I am really good at right now in life – it’s traveling efficiently. I can pack my suitcase, hop in an uber and be to my gate within half an hour.
Like. A. Boss.
Not trying to brag here I travel quite often (sometimes to my own demise) for both work and pleasure. This year alone I’ve stayed almost 100 nights in a hotel and easily flown 50+ times. Exhausting? Yes. Rewarding? Mostly. Trust me when I say, I’ve got this down.
Over time, I have learned so many best practices that will save time, money and your sanity! These tips hold true year-round but especially during the holiday season when airports are crowded, weather is temperamental and people can be irritable. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, this can easily be a hectic time. Here are a few ways to minimize the stress during your travel experience…
Time your flights wisely. It is important to take note of which airports you will be flying in and out of. Consider factors like seasonality, busy airport times and daily commute traffic. It may be wise to avoid traveling Monday morning, Thursday evening or Friday evening as this is when most business travelers are flying. Also, I avoid landing between 4-5 as this is usually peak traffic commuting time for most cities. There is no need to make your flying experience more difficult than needed. I myself prefer to fly midweek or Saturday and always on off-peak hours.
Free up your hands. There is nothing that makes me scratch my head than when I see someone trying to juggle multiple bags, a snack and a hot coffee. Throw in a child or two and my anxiety is palpable. There is simply no need to travel this way. It’s an accident waiting to happen, y’all! Try checking your bag so that you can just carry your purse / small carry-on item. If that isn’t feasible, try using a backpack (with a spot to store your refillable water bottle) so that you can be hands free. Trust me when I say, you’ll feel a million times better!
Pack your own food. Now, this is a practical tip for countless reasons. Save time, money, calories and hassle by packing your own snacks. I always try to eat prior to going to the airport but sometimes this just doesn’t work so here are a few snacks I’ve found to work well: nuts, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, apples, crackers, veggies and hummus. And, of course, never forget your refillable water bottle so that you can stay hydrated!
Visit a lounge. If you happen to have a credit card that provides you access to a lounge (ex. Skymiles card, AmEx. Priority Pass), are flying in a premium class or if you have a long layover and find that the one-day pass is a valuable option, take it! I love lounges for many reasons. They are less chaotic, offer complimentary drinks and snacks, have fast WiFi and cleaner bathrooms. Note that all lounges are not created equal though so be sure to do your homework as to which is the best fit for what you need.
Dress smart. This feels like it should be a no brainer but I am always baffled by how I see people dressed at the airport. First, wear real clothes. This isn’t the gym or a pajama party – it blows my mind when people are wearing PJs in the airport. It is easy to throw on jeans (or black leggings for a long flights), a simple tee, a light sweater and a jacket. I always wear my coat on the plane as it doubles as an extra blanket and/or pillow. The key here is to wear layers and shoes that – if you aren’t precheck- are easy to take off and on. My standard plane outfit is this: my favorite comfy jeans, booties, a light black sweater and my coat. Boom, easy!
Invest in Precheck. If you travel more than a few times per year, this is a total life saver! With Pre-Check you can avoid long security lines, keep your shoes on and keep your laptop in your bag. It makes the flying experience much quicker and happier. I have the trifecta with Pre-Check, Clear and Global Entry. With this combination, I pretty much cruise through security and have no issues going through passport control. What a worthwhile investment!
Come prepared. This should go without saying but think ahead. What are you packing? What are you wearing? What will you be carrying on? Did you allocate enough time to go through security? Do you have your electronics fully charged? Are your boarding passes on your phone? Empty pockets? Toiletries properly packed? No need to make it harder on yourself or anyone else. Take a few minutes to make sure that you’ve got it together prior to leaving for the airport.
Take a chill pill. Perhaps the most important rule of traveling during the holiday season. It is important to note that everyone – travelers and staff – is busy, stressed and in a rush. Your plans aren’t more important than your neighbors and their plans aren’t more important than yours. Everyone is stressed. Take a deep breath, exhale and smile at the next person you see. We need more of this.