The travel industry still attempts to romanticize flying, road trips and business ventures. Boss types wearing nice shoes stride through the airport looking official, and are expedited from car seat to plane seat.
But this is not how it goes for the rest of us. There’s always someone who has no idea they’re supposed to take off their shoes, someone who has no idea what personal space means and a baby who just wasn’t prepared for three hours in a recycled air flying bus. Traveling in all forms can be more hassle than leisure, but there are many ways you can make it easy on yourself and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
- Fill up with gas the night before. This will save the hassle of fighting the crowded stations in the morning, especially if you are leaving on a weekday.
- Be sure the little things in your car are functioning; windshield washer fluid, an inflated spare tire and a first aid kit are just some of the things you’d rather have and not need, than need and not have.
- Stop once every three hours to stretch and relax your eyes, or change drivers if possible.
- Traffic jams and road closures related to accidents and foul weather happen without warning. Be prepared with a car charger for your phone, along with water and a flashlight.
- If you haven’t already, join a roadside rescue service. If you should need one, a tow truck costs a pretty penny, but a roadside service will take care of much, if not all, of that cost.
- Anticipate traffic; if traveling on a holiday or going through a big city when rush hour hits, try to alternate your travel times to avoid the snarls when the road has more cars than a beach has sand.
- Clean your car. This may seem like common sense, but it’s often overlooked. Not only will you have more room for luggage, you also won’t exit the car smelling like you’ve been driving a bunch of trash around.
- Check for any anticipated construction or road closures along your route. Live traffic updates make this a lot easier.
- Have a plan, but be spontaneous. The point of a road trip isn’t just to drive the whole time. No matter what road you’re on, there’s probably a “world’s largest” something not too far away.
- Sometimes they’re unavoidable, but Google Maps will let you choose a route that steers clear (no pun intended) of tolls. If they are unavoidable, have some petty cash on hand.
- For goodness sake, get some sleep. If you do feel yourself nodding off while driving, pull over and close your eyes for 30 minutes or an hour. Or get some coffee.
- To use, or not to use my miles? That is the question. Consumer Report found that a frequent fly mile is worth 1.2 cents. A typical round trip flight costs 25,000 miles, which equates to $300; so if the flight costs less, buy it. If it costs more, use the miles.
- Adding to this, if you actually pay your credit card off on time, a travel rewards card of your choosing will help you rack up miles quickly.
- If you’re traveling for pleasure, leave some room in your suitcase, or bring an extra bag so you can fit the one or two (or several) trinkets and souvenirs you might buy.
- It’s likely you already know the prohibited items on a plane, but for real look them over anyway. It would be bad if you’re in a rush and then have to have your bag searched because you tried to bring a full bottle of conditioner with you.
- Everyone hates the middle seat. And if you have a short connection or just generally hate watching other people struggle to get their luggage out of the overhead, pick a seat closer to the front. It takes 10-15 minutes for every passenger to deboard, depending on the size of the plane.
- Tell a TSA officer before you go through screening if you have metal inside your body that will trigger the scanner. This will save you a pat down and time.
- Have copies of crucial documents, such as a driver’s license or passport. If you lose one of these, having a copy will make the hassle of continuing your travel and/or getting home a lot easier.
- The best time to buy a flight, on average, is 45-60 days in advance.
- Subscribe to the email list of airlines you fly frequently. Inbox clutter can be annoying, but this is a great way to stay on top of the best deals.
- If you’re using a search engine such as Kayak or Expedia to find a cheap flight, cross check your price results with the airline’s actual website. You may find even cheaper fares there for the days you wish to travel.
- Many hotels and rental car companies only require 24-48 hours notice of a cancellation, so keep shopping even after you buy. You may find a better deal as your travel day draws closer, when they’re eager to use up their inventory.
General Travel Advice
- Sample the local food and bar scene. If you go to a new city and eat at a Buffalo Wild Wings, everyone will be very disappointed in you.
- Have extra cash handy just in case your wallet gets stolen. Keep it in your suitcase, dopp kit, or even in your shoe.
- Getting lost is the best way to go somewhere you’ve never been. Write down the name and/or address of your lodging, then pick a direction and walk.
- Traveling should mean doing something you’ve never done before. Learn to say yes to an adventure.
- Bring ear plugs or splurge on noise cancelling headphones. Because as much as you’ll try to enjoy everything, blocking out the world for a few minutes (or hours) can help keep you relaxed.
- If you are traveling across time zones, try and alter your sleep and eating patterns close to the time zone in which you’ll be visiting. This will help you avoid exhausting jet lag.
- Travelling often means celebration, which often means a great disruption in your normal diet, which can lead to you getting sick. Try to drink plenty of water and eat your fruits between local craft beers and chicken wings.
- Rolling rather than folding your clothes will give your suitcase so much more room for activities.
- Airplanes get cold and sudden rainstorms happen; carry an extra jacket with you.
- If you go to the same city a lot for business, or just because you love it, try to check out different areas than the one’s you’ve already seen.
- It’s impossible to remember every detail of what you see. Make a trip journal or jot down notes so you can reminisce with clarity.
No matter what happens when you travel, just remember to take it all in stride. An airport freakout is only good for getting on YouTube, and an airplane freakout is only good for getting arrested. So even if things don’t go your way, or something bad happens, be a problem solver rather than a problem dweller.