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Traveling can be a stressful event and, if you’re like me and enjoy spending time in the airport just a little people watching will quickly learn you that airplane travel tops the list of the stressors that we experience. But travel is supposed to be an exciting and fun event. What most people consider a “travel day”, is the first day of vacation to me. Here’s a few of my simple steps which remove most of the stress of air travel.
Before your travel day:
1) Pack your bags. Make sure all your packing is done at least the night before and that you have all your bags in one central location for easy and complete loading into your car or taxi.
2) Have all your travel paperwork organized and in one central location.
3) Make a checklist of all the things you want to check to secure your home before you leave and walk through your home checking off each item. Do this at least the night before you leave your house, so you won’t worry about leaving your stove on or any of the other little nagging worries you might have while on your travel.
4) Be sure your pets are taken care of. Make any kennel reservations well in advance of your trip to be sure you have a reserved spot with a sitter you trust.
5) Check the airport AND airline the day before to see how early the recommend you should arrive for a smooth, stress free check in. If they tell you to arrive three hours early and you arrive just 30 minutes early, you will probably feel some stress about missing your flight – and you actually might. If you plan at parking at the airport, check out your options and add some additional time to get from the parking lot to the terminal building (shuttle?).
6) Check in online, usually available 24 hours before your scheduled departure time. You can get and print out boarding passes right from your home. And when you get to the airport, as long as you don’t have luggage to check in you can skip the check-in line and go straight to the gate.
On your travel day:
7) Leave home in plenty of time to anticipate busy traffic or accident situations. If it is an hour trip to get to the airport, you may want to leave at least an extra half hour early just in case there are road problems.
8) If you are checking in bags, be prepared to wait in line. If it is a busy time of day at the airport and you are traveling with a popular airline, there could be a significant line. Don’t worry about how long the line is. As long as you arrive when the airport recommended, you will have plenty of time to make it to the front of the line and get checked in. It may look impossible but it will happen so just relax and be patient.
9) Make sure that any “carry on” baggage really is carry on. Otherwise you may get stopped at the gate and have your bag taken away to be stowed with the regular luggage.
10) When boarding the plane, find your seat and stow your carry on baggage quickly. And then please do us all a favour: sit down and stay out of the way. There are lots of people trying to do the same thing and we’ve all encountered the folks who block the aisle for a long time fussing about something unimportant to the rest of us. Just sit down – you’ll have plenty of time to get up once the plane is in the air.
11) If you have to change planes, it can be a real challenge, especially in the larger airports. If you know the gate you will have to go to, ask the flight attendant for advice to reach that gate quickly. In some airports – like Heathrow – a connection can be a huge adventure taking 30 minutes to get from one gate to another. If you know in advance how you have to get to your next airplane, it will be much less chaotic when you get off the first plane. And a much more relaxing walk (or run) to your next gate.
12) When the plane lands, patiently wait your turn. Whether you push or just wait, you usually won’t get off the plane any quicker. People tend to let the folks in the rows before them get up and go in a pretty orderly fashion. Trying to rush it will only get your blood pressure up.
13) If you just have carry on baggage, you have successfully completed a pretty stress free flight – no need to wait at the carrousel, you just walk out of the terminal and you’re on your way.
14) If you have checked in luggage, there is one more step – waiting for it to arrive. Just pick your favourite spot near the conveyor belt and wait. Expect your bag to be the very last one to come out and be pleasantly surprised when it comes out early.
By following these simple steps, you will find that your stress levels from your air travel will be much lower. A well planned trip ensures that those little stress points don’t turn into a full blown crisis. Try it any you will be amazed how just a small amount of up front planning dramatically improves the enjoyment of your travel.
P.S. Questions, comments, compliments? Join the conversation and text me: 604-210-8668. I’d love to hear from you.