My Best Tips For Calmer Travel
It only occurred to me recently that I am someone who loves to travel; somehow this nugget of self-realisation passed me by for a good twenty-three years, despite the fact I have spent a healthy chunk of my adult life abroad.
Though many find travelling stressful, I'm not sure I ever feel happier than when I am on the road someplace new (or even old, for that matter). Planes, trains and subways became familiar territory during my travels in the US and during that time, and my other ramblings around, I've come to learn a thing or two about making travelling that little bit easier.
While we are here if you have yet to travel somewhere on your own, I urge you to give it a go - flying solo is arguably my favourite way to get around. If the prospect of heading off on your travels scares you, I hope that these tips will see you on your way...
The main factor for my flying stress is that I may miss my flight. It's the kind of thing that I have nightmares about, in all honesty.
My solution is to always aim to arrive at least an hour before an airline's guideline's state I should be. To my mind, though there is most certainly such a thing as being too late for a flight, it is pretty much impossible to be too early.
Friends and family members will often tease me for this approach; sometimes I'll get a text two days before I'm due to travel somewhere, asking if I've made it to the airport yet.
Jokes aside, by being obnoxiously early I know that if there is a delay in arriving at the airport or a holdup during security, I have given myself more than enough time. The result is that I am now arguably one of the most relaxed fliers I know (and I am excellent at finding smoothies in airports).
PACK LIKE A PRO
I used to be a serial over-packer. Awash with panic about what I may or may not need, I would opt out of logical thinking altogether and just cram everything into a suitcase (often to the detriment of said suitcase's handle... Never fun on the way to the airport.) The result would always involve me struggling to drag or carry a bag that was overloaded, adding undue stress to any journey.
Nowadays I pack light. Instead of getting home to find I hadn't worn a worrying slice of my holiday wardrobe, I plan ahead and take as much clothing as I will actually wear, and no more.
Invest in an e-Reader. My Kindle has also made travelling light a great deal easier, as it has ensured that carting around a dozen books (that I would never finish) is now a thing of the past.
Rolling clothes is a more efficient use of space than folding - it's how the army do it, so it must be good. If you are using a single compartment rucksack, use a few cloth bags to organise clothing more easily; this summer I had separate bags for my work clothes, day off gear, underwear and for dirty laundry and it made life infinitely easier.
GET EVERYTHING READY THE NIGHT BEFORE...
Though I rarely sleep normally the night preceding an early start, I do rest far easier when I know that there is nothing left to organise the next morning. Wherever possible, I like to make sure I am packed and ready, with an outfit chosen and any directions I need saved on my phone.
... OR LEAVE YOURSELF A NOTE
Too tired to get things done the night before? Leave a note. Sometimes I will leave myself a note even if I have already packed everything, just to give myself a plan that will keep me calm.
EARPHONES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
Loud planes? City sirens blaring? Noisy neighbours? I'm sorry, I can't hear you because I have my earphones in. If you need some shut-eye, earphones are your very best friend - I got into the habit of sleeping with these in to reduce background noise.
As a bonus, if you find yourself in a communal living situation like summer camp, earphones can be essential for times when you just need to switch off.
CONSERVE YOUR PHONE BATTERY
There's nothing worse than a dying phone on a day of travel. To prevent this situation, travel with a charger and keep an eye out for plug sockets. Use flight mode and low-power mode to minimise your mobile's activity, and dim the brightness to as low as possible. Most importantly, avoid using your phone unless strictly necessary on days you will be out and about for an extended period.
There you have it - my top tips for stress-free travel... What advice works for you? Come to the comments and let me know!