I’m sitting in a freezing cold airport for the 8th time this month. I wouldn’t say that I’m a travel expert but I can tell you that I have learned quite a bit in traveling for work as frequently. I still make mistakes, like booking a trip almost every week so I could get a training rollout completely done in one month… sounds good until execution time. You can’t survive on coffee and airport food for very long.
So, as an amateur traveler I thought I would put together a list of the do’s and don’ts of traveling for newbies:
- Wear socks and shoes, not flip-flops – You will have to take your shoes off unless you get the TSA Pre-Check boarding and you will be barefoot on the nasty airport tile/concrete. There is no telling what the person in front of you has on their feet, if they showered recently or if they have some sort of fungal thing going on. I see people barefoot all of the time and every time I cringe. If you are going to wear flip-flops put some socks in your pocket so you can slip those on.
- Wear a Backpack – I’ve done the beautiful carry-on bag thing and yes it was stylish but it was also heavy as hell. It left red marks on my shoulder and when I put it under the seat things would tumble out of it. I have a backpack with smaller zip pockets on the top so I can get my headphones, charger etc. out without having to dig for them. If you are dead-set on using a stylish over the shoulder bag, get one that zips up so you don’t have to deal with things falling out of it.
- Bring a charging device – You aren’t guaranteed to get a spot that has a charging outlet next to it so always bring a charging device. I don’t travel without my Mophie charger and a cable. I charge it up the night before I leave and it is good to go. I read books on my phone and it is perfect for charging on the plane. I’ve even let the people next to me use it because it has two ports to charge multiple devices. Some of them are much smaller but will fully charge your device in minutes. I highly suggest getting some sort of charging device (but not from the airport, the markup is crazy).
- Bring a jacket – If you’re like me and get cold when it is 65, then you want to bring a jacket with you. A light one like a Columbia fleece or similar would work fine but you will be cold at some point. I typically wear yoga pants but always see folks in shorts shivering because they keep the AC pumping in the airports. I usually leave my jacket in my backpack until after the TSA check because you have to take it off anyway. Once I get through TSA I throw it on, grab a coffee and find my spot.
- Get to the airport early – Sometimes you can’t help that your connecting flight is leaving out a terminal across the airport but you can control what time you get to the airport for your original flight. If you want to get through TSA, grab something to drink/eat, sit down, and not stress over making your flight on time you need to get to the airport early. I like to get to the airport a couple of hours before my flight is supposed to board so that I can get through TSA without stressing, find somewhere to sit, read emails and relax. With all of the stress that comes from traveling the last thing I want to deal with is running through the terminal to board my plane.
- Print your Boarding Pass – Most airlines have an app now so you can download your boarding pass without having to print it at the airport but if your phone dies, you drop it and the screen breaks or a number of other things you are stuck. I’m sure the airline can find a way to help you but if you have your paper boarding pass you can just whip it out and deal with the broken phone.
- Bring a bag for receipts – This is especially important if you are traveling for work and need to keep track of purchases. I know that there are apps you can download to scan receipts but again what if something happens to your device? I have a cute small bag that I keep in my front pocket of my backpack and I use that to store receipts. It’s simple and I know at the end of the trip I don’t need to dig through bags to find them all.
- Keep your boarding pass in an accessible place – You will need your boarding pass all the up until you are sitting on the plane so keeping it in a zipped up pocket or your wallet is best. You’ll need it to check bags, get through TSA and to board your plane so keep it close by. You don’t want to be the person in line at TSA digging through your bag because you put it away. Everyone behind you will be annoyed and TSA might make you stand to the side and have someone else come in front of you.
- Bring something to do – There is a lot of waiting while you are traveling. It could be waiting for your airplane to get here, waiting to board, waiting on the airplane, waiting to land, and additional waiting if your flight is delayed. I read books on my phone but people bring physical books, newspapers, magazines, iPads, Sudoku puzzles, and any other puzzle book you can think of. Sitting and staring off into the distance gets old quickly and being board can just add to the stress.
Delays and people who put their elbows on your side are impossible to prevent so save yourself the headache and use the 9 tips I’ve outlined. Flying doesn’t have to be a nightmare; sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.