This article will provide you with a clear and stress-free path for your holiday travel plans especially if you’re really busy and want to keep your chill this season.
During this holiday, if trends are similar to pre-pandemic years, about 40% of an estimated 112.5 Million Americans will fly to visit their “loved ones.” Notice the quotes around the words loved ones. Yes. And that’s because for many people, their travels during the holidays are based on obligations to see their “loved ones” aka family vs. traveling to see those they actually love seeing and spend time with who may not be blood related.
By the time you’re done reading this, you should be very clear about what stress-free travel should look and feel like for you. The tips, tools and recommendations provided here are what has worked for me and I’m almost certain will work for you if you are classifiable in the category of “really busy people”. And by “really busy” I mean, you are a business owner, entrepreneur, professional and or someone who’s used to working even during your downtime. And you also have a lot on your mind when you travel and don’t need the stress that comes with one more thing to think about.
Now, if making sure that you have everything i.e. passport/travel ID, toiletries that don’t exceed carry-on limits, the right clothes based on anticipated weather, the right shoes in case you decide to workout AND making sure you don’t exceed the carry-on personal item limit to avoid evil extra bag fees in preparation to leave your comfy home 2 hours ahead of time to get in a cab or schedule your Uber pick up to get to the airport, to stand in line for 20-40 minutes, to take your jacket off, shoes off, belt off, jewelry off and don’t forget to take your laptop out of the bag folks…If that’s not stressful enough for you during any given trip let alone the holidays, I don’t know what is.
And like many Americans, you will do all of this to see family and friends that you either don’t like or can only tolerate for a few hours at a time or up to 3 days max! That’s CRAZY.
This is what travel during the holidays has become, a stressful logistical nightmare disguised as an annual pilgrimage to see loved ones. And although few are admitting this out loud, we all feel its truth at a gut level.
Some Clear, Stress-Free Solutions to Holiday Air Travel
So, what’s the solution to the intrinsic holiday air travel stress? Well, to keep this post short, I’ll say this: The best solution to stress is to not have something to stress about at all. And so, that means looking at all the logistics of your travel activities and eliminating extra steps to give your mind one less thing to think about.
And the reason why this is important is because stress begins to show up within when there’s more to handle than the conscious mind can immediately process. When there’s more steps and aspects of something beyond the immediate processing capacity of the conscious mind, stress starts to build up from fear of the unknown, unpredictability and uncertainty of the actions to be taken and so on. This is where the stress thrives. So, the goal here is to provide small bite-size steps you can take to ease your holiday air travel stress burdens.
Depending on how often and regularly you fly, I have 7 suggestions and recommendations aka tips for you to consider before your next jet-setting holiday or even non-holiday trip. This works when your trips are 3 days or less – this also includes your day of arrival and departure. Some of the suggestions below may not apply if you are traveling in a group of 3 or more but the recommendations can still come in handy if you find yourself having to travel solo or in pairs from time to time. But most of all, these tips are malleable; you can make the adjustments needed to fit your travel situation.
Before the Trip: Preparation
- Be Luggage Lazy
Always have a luggage bag with one set of the following essentials to change into inside (and this includes light toiletries). Here’s what I mean. I suggest a garment bag for simplicity, a weekender bag or a small rolling laptop/duffle bag. These are perfect for carry-ons you won’t be charged for. Using the garment bag as an example, you should have the following already to go:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, travel size mouthwash
- Dress to De-Stress
Have a favorite or go-to travel outfit that you can wear anytime you go to the airport.
Remember, you’re going to the airport, NOT a fashion show! This means you need to have a set of pants, a top/shirt/blouse and a blazer that you feel and look great in so you’re not worried about running into someone or messing your gear up when you get to the airport and have to toss it into the TSA bin. The same goes for shoes.
- Give Google (and Your Calendar) the Glory
Let Google be your personal travel assistant.
Although it’s kinda creepy, you’ll notice that when you book a flight these days and receive a confirmation in your Gmail inbox, Google’s email-calendar algorithm will automatically add the event to your calendar. Sometimes if you don’t have this happen, the booking site you’ve used might give you the option to add your trip to your digital calendar such as Outlook, iCal, Google Calendar etc… If you haven’t noticed this happen for you, pay close attention to the page you reach after you’ve booked your next trip. You’ll see.
You can start here to learn how to get Google Assistant works with your phone and how to leverage Googles power as your personal assistant.
When Google adds a flight to your calendar, look to make sure that it sends you reminders when you need them. There’s section in your google event for setting notifications and types. Use that feature as shown below.
- Don’t Leave Home Without It – Your Digital Boarding Pas-
Don’t get too far from home or into the preparing for departure without at least having your digital boarding pass downloaded (or printed). This one is a no-brainer but I can’t let it go by without saying something. Make sure you have a digital boarding pass downloaded on your phone from your airline as soon as your airline lets you know via email that you can pre-board check-in.
Don’t delay on this because it’s easy to forget to do it. Failure to do this means getting to the airport and realizing you still have to do check in at a kiosk with lines of people or stand in line to have a boarding pass issued by airline personnel and sometimes be charged for it. I know this is true for Spirit airlines. Trust me on that. I’ve been there and it’s very annoying. So, just make sure you have your digital boarding pass ready before you leave the house. At the very least, download it on your phone while you’re in route to the airport.
And MAKE SURE YOUR PHONE IS CHARGED!!! You’ll need to show your ticket to be scanned through the TSA checkpoint. Because if you’re phone is not charged enough and dies, that means you’ll have no boarding pass to show.
At the Airport
5. Skip the TSA Waiting Line – And CLEAR the Line
When I say “TSA” … I hear you groan, “Laaaawd Please Gawdd Noo!” (Also pronounced: Lord Please God No!)…As you close your eyes. Take a deep breath… And exhale “Woooosah!” And I’m betting your eyes roll and your neck starts to cramp up at the thought of the next TSA walk-through. There should be a shirt that says, “TSA – The Super Annoying: Disrupting travel since 2001”. I know…I know. It’s mean. But it’s true. How much can you handle the experience of waiting for the inevitable and eternally startling announcement,
“Ladies and gentlemen, please have your boarding passes ready before you get to the check-point, shoes off, electronic devices larger than your phone, laptops go into the tray bins…” you know the drill. And if you’re tired of this harassing ritual then I’m here to tell you there’s help. And this is one more thing you can eliminate from the logistics induced stress of the dreaded TSA waiting line.
So, are you ready for the TSA line wait remedy?
Here it is: Since you have to stand in line anyway, I highly recommend getting a CLEAR pass so that when you get to the airport, all you have to do is just check-in with CLEAR. Their team member will walk you right over to the TSA Check-point and you can put your items in the TSA bin for checkout.
The peace of mind of knowing that all you have to do is show up to the airport and go straight to the checkpoint vs. getting to the airport, waiting in line for some unanticipated length of time before you reach the checkpoint and then going through the conveyor scanner is worth the free trial offer alone. There was a one month free trial when I started using it with a $119* annual subscription charge after a month. (*Subject to change) It’s so worth it given how I don’t want to be bothered anymore with lines and waiting.
Getting a CLEAR pass is one simple stress-free move you can make to remove that one step in your travel path that can give you more energy to show up happier at your destination.
At The Gate
6. Board Last
Unless you’re in First/Business Class seating when you get to your gate, you should wait to board last. It’s never made sense for me to stand on a line in the boarding area, wait for my seating zone to be called and then stand some more as I walk behind a slow backlog of people getting on the same plane that’s going to be stationary before taking off with all of us. I mean, why not sit down? Wait till just about everyone’s gone toward the plane and then take YOUR time to get on. You’re going to be standing for a few minutes anyway so, why not enjoy the extra 15-25 mins of sitting down and nibbling on a snack and take your time to get on the plane 10-15minutes before the gate closes.
This step gives you again more energy to depart and arrive happier – don’t you agree?
7. Don’t Rush off the Plane – Chill!
Unless you have a connecting flight or have someone who’s crying that they’re going to get towed waiting for you, you have no business rushing off a plane when it lands.
Now, since you’ve packed lightly, you also don’t have to rush to a luggage area or scramble to figure out which carousel your items are going to be on. Now, doesn’t that already feel stress-free.
Just like in the step above where you didn’t have to rush onto the plane, you don’t have to rush off. I still don’t understand why people rush to get up only to wait for the cabin doors to open and even then, go on a slow march to the baggage claim area…AND then on to wait for their luggage which usually isn’t their when they get to their baggage claim carousel!
Do yourself a favor this holiday season and stop rushing. Take your time. Give yourself one less thing to think about and one less unnecessary adrenaline rush which doesn’t help your cause to keep your chill for the holiday.
The holidays have enough drama, trauma and stress from encountering unpleasant memories and family members we’re stuck with for life, apply any of these 7 clear and stress-free solutions and you should have enough energy to handle it all the season throws at you.
Now, if you have the perfect family, then you’re 99% there. The suggestions above should make your holiday season all the more magical.
Here’s to a chill and stress free holiday!
Buihe Madu, Stress-Free Holiday Travel Activist