If you travel frequently you know that it can be a hassle. It doesn’t have to be that way. A little advance preparation, or to use a phrase popular in the military, proper prior planning, can make your travel relatively stress-free.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, getting through airport security has become one of the most dreaded components of travel. Long lines at security, apparently inconsistent security procedures, the requirement to remove your shoes (which, by the way, is done mainly in the U.S.), all combine to rank going through airport security right up there with getting a root canal. Here are a few tips to take the hassle out of your travel and enable you to survive the getting there and enjoy the being there more.
Pack intelligently. Hassle-free travel starts even before you leave home. Nowadays, most airlines charge for checked baggage, causing a lot of travelers to try and cram everything they need into their carry-on luggage. This can complicate getting through security, and present a nuisance to your fellow travelers. The first rule of packing intelligently is, pack light. Take only what you absolutely need. Things you might need in flight, or immediately upon arrival, such as prescription medicines, should be put in your carry-on. Liquid items (in the appropriate size containers and enclosed in a zipped close plastic bag), if in carry-on, should be easily accessible so you can take them out at security without holding up the line. It might not be a bad idea to put them in checked luggage. If that luggage is delayed, you can easily replace most toiletries.
Check your luggage carefully (especially carry-on) for any objects that might be prohibited, like certain sharp objects, inflammables, etc., and remove them at home. If you simply must take something valuable on your trip, don’t put it in checked luggage. If you’re traveling with a laptop computer, that becomes one of your two carry-on items – under no circumstances should you check a computer, as you are almost guaranteed that it will not arrive at your destination.
Arrive at the airport early…. For obvious reasons; if you are not rushed getting checked in, through security and to your boarding gate, there is less stress and hassle. Consider investing in an airline lounge membership. United Airlines Red Carpet Clubs, for instance, offer day access, or if you are a frequent traveler, you can purchase an annual membership with miles.
…and leave the attitude at home. The TSA security officials have to deal with hundreds or thousands of weary travelers on a daily basis. Not all of them will be prepared or friendly. They are there to ensure your trip is safe, so give them a break. It never hurts to smile and thank them for their service; they will appreciate it as much as you would.
Chill out on the cocktails and stay hydrated. A small drink or two before you board, or in flight, are okay, but exercise caution. Alcohol causes dehydration, and when you’re dehydrated the effects of jet lag are more severe. In flight, drink water frequently.
Watch the calories. You might not think it, but overeating can also cause you to have problems overcoming jet lag, not to mention that the enforced idleness when coupled with a large intake of calories can caused unprogrammed expansion of your waistline. Space yourself, and pass up a meal if you fell full, especially on long flights where you are apt to be fed two or three times.
Get your circadian rhythm on local time. After flying all night, if you’re one of those people who find it difficult to sleep on planes, it is tempting to fall into bed. If you arrive at your destination during the day, force yourself to stay awake until around nine or nine-thirty, and try to get eight hours sleep. It won’t keep you entirely from feeling like a worn out rug the next day, but it does help your body adjust to the local time more quickly. If you have a lot of hours of daylight left after arrival, take a walk or read a book, do anything to stay awake, except drink or eat a lot.
This not an exhaustive list, but if you get these right you will find travel less of a headache, and more something to look forward to.