‘It’s the season for travel, and while we can’t take away flight delays or family drama, we can try to make the travel less stressful and the trip feel like you have the conveniences of home (at least, the ones you want)! I travel one to two weeks every month, and I’ve developed a few systems that make travel as easy as possible without taking away the fun and adventure of visiting new places!
1. Be a joiner. This one might seem obvious, but I’m always surprised at the number of people who aren’t members of an airline and hotel frequent visitor loyalty program. While it’s not always possible, especially if your workplace has a preferred airline or hotel vendor, it behooves you to start a frequent flier and rewards account with one airline and a hotel brand and, then, stay loyal to them. It might not pay dividends at first, but as the miles and rewards accrue, you get more than a free flight or hotel room – you also get the benefits of being known, which can mean waived fees, free checked baggage, priority boarding, and drink tickets. I prefer Marriott and Delta, and I am very loyal – luckily, Marriott is also usually comparable in price if not cheaper for conference stays (if the conference hotel isn’t a Marriott-branded hotel). I highly recommend both – but let’s be honest, I haven’t experienced another airline (or affiliate) or hotel brand in a decade.
2. Join a beauty subscription box for a few months. This one might seem counterintuitive, but these beauty boxes send quality products in the perfect size for travel. It can be super expensive to buy travel sizes if my favorite products, yet after three months of the Sephora Play Box, I have travel size face cleanser, toner, foundation, moisturizer, mascara, and eye shadow. Compare $30 to what would have been over $100, and this was an easy choice. My favorite subscription box is the Sephora Play! box, followed by the Allure Beauty box. The only reason I like Sephora more is the price ($10 versus $15) and I get some sweet points with my Sephora box to put toward my next reward.
3. Avoid traffic. This one seems obvious, but hear me out. Plan your travel both to avoid the busiest time at the airport (usually 6 AM to 9 AM), but also book your travel to avoid traffic getting to the airport (e.g., rush hour). Luckily, these often coincide, so I usually book departure times between either on the first flight of the day or between 10 AM and 2 PM with arrival times between noon and 3 pm or after 7 pm. The only exception to this rule is the Tampa Airport, where I am always delayed. Without exception, I always book the first flight of the day out of Tampa.
4. Global Entry. I know, you thought I was going to say TSA pre-check, which is awesome, but only worth the slight difference in price if you never plan to travel internationally. Global entry includes pre-check plus expedited processing through customs and many major international airports. At the Atlanta airport, the airport I fly out of, Pre-check cuts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour from security. And if you feeling super bougie, Clear makes it even faster.
5. Prioritize health. This is actually multiple tips in one—but travel can be hazardous to you health. Aside from being in close proximity to an unknown number of sick people, the dehydrating nature of flying can further make me just feel rotten at the end of a long flight. I bring my yeti water bottle, and drink water every single time the flight attendant offers it. I never touch a bathroom surface without a paper towel, especially in the airplane. Finally, while red eyes can be a cheap way to get somewhere, I need mu sleep and I can’t sleep on planes, so I book my flights to avoid disrupting my sleep schedule too much. Finally, I walk as much as the airport allows between terminals and gates. Atlanta and Minneapolis are my favorite airports because of this – plenty of opportunities to stretch out my legs on layovers or on my way to/from the gate.
6. Pack smart. Unless I’m going somewhere for more than two weeks, I never check a bag. Carrying-on luggage minimizes my time in the airport, so I’ve figured out how to maximize the capsule wardrobe. Usually, this means I adhere to a similar color story—either I’m having a brown and related tones wardrobe or one that is black and compatible colors. This means I can get buy with fewer shoes and accessories, and it’s easier to mix and match separates. I love jersey dresses for travel – they don’t wrinkles and roll up to fit nicely into a suitcase. I once brought just a carry one for a two and a half week trip to Europe—this is still, to this day, one of my most crowning achievements.
Finally, I leave stress in my car. I can’t control weather, equipment malfunction, and other delays, and no amount panic or angry mistreatment of airline staff is going to change that. Instead, I go prepared with my Kindle loaded and laptop charged in the event of an extended break to either read or get to work on the book that is literally due January 31.