Traveling has become one of the activities that add a significant amount of stress to many of our lives. Air travel in particular has become more stressful recently, resulting in passengers behaving in ways that they wouldn’t in a more relaxed environment. In an effort to squeeze out more profits, airlines are unintentionally feeding this frenzy with their procedures that drive this behavior. I travel for my job quite frequently and have developed a few techniques for stress free travel that I’ll share in this post. This post will focus on air travel but I’ll include a few others for the drivers out there in the world.
- Sign up for airline frequent flyer memberships. You can sign up for frequent flyer memberships for free and they are useful even if you only travel once a year or less. Depending on the airline, you get miles (or points) for the amount of miles you fly or the amount of money you spend on your tickets and travel add-ons. Once you accumulate enough miles, you are able to purchase air travel tickets and even everyday items using those miles. But even more important in my opinion is that if you travel enough each year, you qualify for various levels of status depending on the amount you fly. Increasing levels of status such as Silver, Gold, etc. qualify you for perks such as boarding earlier and eligibility for upgrades to better seating. Achieving even the lowest levels of status will instantly reduce your stress level because you will know that you’ll be able to board before most travelers which allows you to worry less about having room for your carry-on luggage.
- Carry on all your luggage as much as possible. When we travel we tend to overestimate the amount of options we’ll need while traveling. Are you really going to work out every day? Could you just wear the same outfit on the first and last day? You can get just as good of a workout naked in your room before showering as you can in the shitty hotel gyms. Nobody is going to remember that you wore a black polo on two nights out during your trip. Carrying on your luggage instantly removes a failure point of the airline loosing your bag and injecting stress into your life. Carrying on also gives you the flexibility to change flights without having to coordinate the baggage change as well. Too many times bags I’ve checked end up getting to my destination before or after me. I don’t know which is worse, not having your luggage or letting it sit there for anyone to take while you are delayed on your arrival.
- Download your airline app to your phone. If you don’t have a smartphone, get one for Christ’s sake. The apps for your particular airline allow you to check in, store your boarding pass, check your flight status, see the open seats on your flight, and see what gate you are arriving and departing from. All without having to talk to someone or find the departure screens in the airport when changing planes on a layover. The apps are getting the same information from your airline brain centers as the monitors and gate agents are. Just sit back and monitor what is going on from your phone. This is perhaps most important when you have a limited amount of time to change planes and you need to know what gate your connecting flight is departing from so you can hit the ground running. You have plenty of time as you are landing and de-boarding to determine which gate you are coming into and which one you are leaving from. You even have a chance to look at the airport map to know exactly which way to go once you de-board. Don’t be that guy standing at the end of the jet bridge or at the top of an escalator holding everyone up trying to figure out which way to go.
- Get noise cancelling headphones. Don’t rely on your shitty iPhone headphones to block out chatty neighbors and noisy kids. Utilize this time to listen to podcasts you have already downloaded to your phone at home or in the airport. Two podcasts I highly recommend – The Tim Ferris Show and Hardcore History.
- Carry hand sanitizer. Lube up after every flight. Airplanes are simply crawling with germs. Try not to think about it although at least 2/3rds of your flight will be coughing. Just sanitize and pray. Pop some airborne/EmergenC too. It will work (even if it is just the placebo effect).
And maybe a driving tip too…
- Use your phone for GPS navigation. Don’t get an in-car GPS from your rental car agency. Google maps is better than any shitty Garmin or TomTom out there. But do have general sense of where you need to go as GPS navigation is unreliable inside of most airports. It’s best to rely on the signs until you get on a highway.
Using the tips above, you should be able to reduce the stress in one of the more stressful situations we face in our daily lives.