As exciting as a trip can be, there is often at least a little travel stress involved. Last-minute packing (and overpacking), transportation, crowded airports….are you remembering your last stressful trip right about now? You can’t do much to control the guy sneezing in the seat next to you or flight delays, but you can minimize your travel stress by following these tips!
Checking in to your flight
Do this online the night before your flight whenever possible! Many airlines let you check in to your flight within 24 hours of your departure time. I much prefer clicking a link in my email to waiting in a long check in line between less-seasoned travelers. Policies differ among airlines, so be sure to read the fine print.
Most people overpack, leading to complicated travel and even unexpected bag check fees. On my first backpacking trip through Europe, I packed WAY too much stuff and paid the price by feeling weighed down. Eventually, I threw about half the items out to make the rest of the trip simpler – but I wouldn’t suggest using that strategy consistently.
Ideally, we would all pack our bags well in advance to avoid the crazy last-minute hustle. If you find yourself packing right before your flight, just remember these principles:
- Start by packing everything you used today (and would need on a trip). This ensures you get your essentials, like your medications and phone charger.
- Pack all your clothes in the same color palette so you can mix and match every item
- Grab any destination-specific items: swimsuits, hiking boots, etc.
- You do not need as many shoes or as much makeup as you think you do.
- Most items can be purchased in the airport or your destination if you really need them. Not ideal for your finances as a long-term solution, but reminding myself of this helps reduce any stress about forgetting something.
Getting to the airport
Give yourself more time that you think you need, especially during peak travel seasons or busy times on the road. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve heard so many horror stories of blocked traffic or construction causing someone to miss a flight. Overnight parking can be a pain and the shuttles from the parking lot to your terminal aren’t always reliable, so I advise you to get a friend to drop you off, order an Uber, or take public transportation where possible.
I know you, savvy traveler, have memorized all the latest security procedures and guidelines…right? Perfect! Then all you have to worry about is people who don’t frequently fly slowing things down. Wearing shoes that are easy to remove, keeping your ID and boarding pass handy, and packing your bag of liquids in an easy to reach place will help you speed through the line. If you still hate the wait, make a small investment in reducing travel stress by signing up for TSA Pre-Check.
Triple-check your gate (and gate changes)
So you checked in the night before your flight and have your newly-printed boarding pass ready to go – but don’t get too comfortable! Before grabbing coffee or browsing stores, you should locate your gate and make sure it hasn’t changed. Take note of the departure boards every 15 minutes or so to monitor any changes.
Crowded overhead bins
Packing everything in a carry-on is undoubtedly the best way to travel. On crowded flights, however, you might still have to deal with full overhead bins. If you are in one of the last groups to board, take advantage of the first open spot you see – even if it isn’t next to your seat. I put everything I will need during the flight in my purse and take that to my seat, so the location of my carry-on doesn’t matter.
Airplanes are dirty places. Anything that transports that many people is bound to be carrying a whole lot of germs. I saw this video of how a single sneeze spreads through the entire cabin (eek) and always think about it on a flight. Before I travel, I try to eliminate sugar in my diet, up my green juice intake, get enough sleep, and take my vitamins. Give your immune system the best shot at fighting off any illness!
I hope these tips for reducing travel stress help make your next trip amazing! Got a tip that I left out? Share it in the comments!