The more traveling you do, the more you discover ways to make it easier. In this season of spring break travel, I recently shared a few of my insights with Woman Around Town.
I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, from backpacking through Europe to basking in the Bahamas, and have discovered one universal rule- expect the unexpected. No matter how meticulously you plan your itinerary or confirm your reservations, rarely will everything go according to plan. This is part of the fun, embracing the unknown and learning to survive on your own resourcefulness.
But, as I learned this last year, a sense of adventure can become exhausted. While returning from six months abroad I was stranded for a week in snowstorm delays and holidays and quickly learned the value of a few helpful travel trips. So, as you plan for Spring Break escapades and sunny holidays, may I add a few suggestions to turn your trips from stressful to stress-free:
Write it Down
Sure, we live in a digital age where information seems available at your fingertips, but a good old fashioned piece of paper never loses reception or runs out of battery life. Keeping a copy of your passport, flight numbers, addresses and confirmation numbers in your carry on will save you from searching for an outlet, not to mention strengthen your argument if a computer system mysteriously loses your reservation.
Choose Space-Saving Entertainment
If you were traveling with a two year old, you would bring a bag full of toys, right? Well, twenty-two and fifty-two year olds deserve the same consideration. Stock up portable entertainment devices with downloads of your favorite songs, movies and television shows. Plus, paperback books and magazines that you won’t mind leaving behind will leave you extra room to bring home souvenirs.
Opt for Natural Nourishment
You never know when or where delays are going to strike, and if your red-eye flight gets put on hold airport food may not even be an option. Stash granola bars, nuts, dried fruit and health-conscious choices in your purse—just be sure to declare or dispose of anything prohibited by quarantine laws before boarding. Skip the caffeinated beverages and stick to bottled water in case you need a nap, not to mention fight the inevitable dehydration of flying.
Dress for Security
There is nothing worse than mile-long lines when you’re racing to make a connecting flight. Opt for slip on shoes, take off scarves, big jewelry and sunglasses while waiting in line and have your liquids and laptops ready to remove. Those extra ten seconds of effort really add up during high-volume times.
Talk to Thy Neighbor
When your flight gets cancelled it can turn into every passenger for themselves, particularly when it comes to fighting for those last few seats on the next flight. Talking to those around you might actually provide alternatives, like splitting a rental car for short destinations or to the nearest airport. Also, discovering that the person ahead of you in line is a soldier on leave or visiting a sick relative can ease resentment when a week long vacation gets cut a few hours short.
Wait Your Turn
Delays and cancellations can lead to crowded terminals. When boarding, stick with the directions given by flight crews. Stay seated and let those with small children or who may need a little extra time have the space to get through. Standing in the aisles as soon as boarding begins only causes congestion, and the plane can’t leave until everyone boards.
Flight attendants and ground crew are given the miserable job of delivering bad news that they have absolutely no control over. Aggression, yelling or making a scene these days is more likely to lead to calling security than a first class upgrade. Incorporating understanding and respect when approaching crew members with potential problems has led me to placement in aisle seats with extra legroom and inspired a phone call to ensure that a connecting flight would be held for our arrival.
Make the Best of Your Situation
Sometimes you just have to accept your circumstances. When choosing air travel we are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. When three days of flights around the holidays were canceled it became physically impossible to rebook every passenger immediately, airline staff were happy to accommodate my request that if I had to spend a three day layover anywhere, I wanted to be rerouted through Las Vegas (discount hotels and year-round entertainment!). Instead of dwelling on missed opportunities, start brainstorming your best possible Plan B, even if it’s simply which dream destination you’ll use for your refunded ticket.