Home Travel Annie’s Tip of the Week: Trauma-Free Travel, Part 1

Annie’s Tip of the Week: Trauma-Free Travel, Part 1

When you’ve got a business schedule like Annie’s, which can take her from Boston to Tucson in the same week, or from a 10-day trip to India followed by a home show in Atlanta just a handful of days later, you learn some pretty valuable tips about traveling. On the eve of her latest Asian jaunt, she shares this treasure trove of tips for pain-free travel. Check back next week for her advice on packing!

  1. Before you book a flight, check out the options on Hipmunk.com. Here you’ll find flight rankings by price, schedule, and agony factor (duration of flight and layovers, number of stops, etc.).
  2. Start planning several days in advance. “If you do everything at the last minute,” Annie cautions, “you’re bound to bring five white shirts and not enough underwear.” She makes a simple Excel spreadsheet that lists the days, predicted weather, and activities she’ll be doing. This shaves off lots of prep time, especially for repeat trips.
  3. Call your credit card company to let them know about your trip. The last thing you need is a fraud alert or a purchasing freeze when you’re a few times zones away in Stockholm and just want to buy some housewares (yep, that happened to Annie).
  4. Check in to your flight 24 hours before and verify your seats. Annie offers this extra tidbit: “If you’re flying on Southwest, which doesn’t have reserved seating, pony up the extra $10 to be bumped up to seating group A,” where you have the best shot at a decent seat. Also sign up for text alerts or use an app like Traveler by FlightStats, so you hear about delays and cancellations well before you’re standing in line with two hundred of your closest friends at the TSA check-in.
  5. Always choose an aisle seat. It’s the most convenient for getting up to stretch, and allows you to drink more water and stay better hydrated in the air (we lose several ounces of fluid per hour of flight time!)—without the guilt of disturbing your seatmates for those frequent bathroom trips.
  6. Save room in your luggage or carry-on for exercise clothes or for a bathing suit, if the hotel has a pool. Don’t give yourself an excuse not to get some much-needed movement just because you’re off your daily routine.
  7. Get travel sizes of your favorite toiletries, or buy eensy bottles and jars from The Container Store and make your own. Keep a separate toiletry bag packed at all times so that all you have to do come travel time is pop it in your suitcase.
  8. Pack a goody bag with creature comforts that make your day a little easier. Annie stuffs a Ziploc baggie with her favorite teabags (just ask for hot water and lemon aboard the plane), almonds for a protein boost, Airborne to keep the cooties at bay, Gold Bond’s dual-action Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer for both cootie and dryness protection, and a few squares of dark chocolate, just ’cause.
  9. Pack at least one paperback book or two magazines. Annie loves reading on her iPad, but she also knows that there are plenty of times—say, during taxiing, takeoff, and landing . . . or the dreaded on-the-runway delay—when you can’t use electronics.
  10. Once you’ve parked your car at the airport, take a photo of the lot’s section sign with your camera phone. It’ll save time and crabbiness once you return.
  11.  If you have a long layover, look for express spa services, like manicures, pedicures, and chair massages, to “use your time constructively,” as Annie puts it. Oh, and pampering yourself during a stressful time? That doesn’t hurt, either.
  12. Hunt for the healthiest, tastiest food you can find. This is no small feat at an airport food court, where there’s a veritable smorgasbord of UFS (unidentified foodstuffs) covered in neon orange squeezy cheese, and the mystery-meat choices abound. But eating too much junk can cause stomach upset and major fatigue. For this reason, Annie always looks for a Vino Volo wine bar or a Wolfgang Puck Express.
  13. Check your attitude at the door. Don’t obsess over the aggravations of security checks, cranky airport personnel, or fellow travelers who go a little TMI. Annie says, “I get in my Zen travel state by the time I hit the TSA. I think, ‘These people are trying to help me.’ I also look forward to the time in the air, when no one can call me and I can just be alone and read trashy magazines if I want to.” Bottom line: you can’t control it, so don’t let it control you.


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