Friday, November 11, 2016

Let's travel!

I'm back! I know it's been awhile since I posted, but I've been bouncing around for the past few months and scarcely in one place long enough to get a post up. Since traveling is my jam (ok, and my bread and butter, literally--> I travel a fair bit for work), I thought I might share a little bit of what I have learned about traveling and airports over the years. Sometimes I feel like airports and airplanes are actually designed to be as uncomfortable as possible, so I am constantly looking for better ways to be more comfortable and efficient when I travel.

I was bit with the travel bug early. I traveled a lot growing up, in part for my dad's job and in part because my parents loved it. I used to love going to the airport because I felt so grown-up and important- I had somewhere I needed to be! It was thrilling.

Fast forward to now. I still love to travel, but I do not love airports (I also still don't quite feel like a grown-up, but we'll save that for another time). Now, I spend a fair amount of time traveling not just for fun but for my job as well. I literally consider packing a suitcase one of my more refined and fine-tuned skills (let's pretend this is a real skill, ok?).

Below are a few tricks I've picked up for long-haul or international travel.

  • Get TSA pre/Global Entry. I have Global Entry for international travel, but it also gives me access to TSA pre security lines in domestic airports. DO IT.  Even if you don't travel a ton, it is worth the $100 and the 10 minute appointment. I absolutely love that I don't have to wait in crazy security lines or remove my shoes. I especially love that I don't have to wait in any customs lines when coming back to the US (and I have literally waited hours before). I'm a fairly anxious traveler, so the peace of mind that I won't get stuck in a ridiculous security line is worth ever penny
  • Wear compression socks. Ok, this is really more for longer flights, but still one of the best things I have ever done and right up there with TSA pre/Global Entry. I literally love my compression socks to a point where my husband has asked me to please stop saying the words 'compression socks'. A few years ago, my legs suddenly started to swell after long-haul flights (and yes, I am getting old).  Now I put on my socks as soon as I'm in my seat and I don't have to worry. I also purposefully ask for an aisle seat so I can get up and move as much as possible on a plane without disturbing anyone.

  • Drink water. And only water. Ok, I will be the first to admit that I will sometimes drink coffee if I have a long layover, especially if I'm on overnight flights or if I am in any European airport (why is European airport coffee so much better?). However, staying hydrated is very, very important to me and I make sure to drink a ton of water before, during, and after the flights (see above about aisle seats). It's always tempting to drink alcohol on flights (I'm a sucker for anything free) or in airports, but I avoid it at all costs. Airplanes are very dry and it's so easy to get dehydrated, which makes jet lag much worse. I like this water bottle, because it's easy to store when it's empty.  Additionally, if you are going to a place that doesn't have drinkable water, this water bottle the perfect solution.  
  • Sanitize everything. I completely wipe down the seat before I sit down and I mean completely. I wipe down the headrest, the arm rests, the seat belt (yes, this too!) and my tray table. I don't leave anything to chance. Just in case,  I also drink an Emergen-C on every flight. 

  • Pack snacks for the plane and possibly your destination. Sometimes the airline forgets my special diet meal. Sometimes (and more often than not) the airplane food is inedible (especially said special diet meal). I always pack snacks, not only for the plane, but for my trip as well (this varies depending where I am going and availability of food there). For in-flights, I like to bring dates (because airports ALWAYS make me want junk food and this satisfies my sweet tooth), nuts or trail mix, nut butter (for carry on I bring these, but I have also brought this in my suitcase) and accompanying apple,  some sort of hydrating vegetable like sweet peas, and protein bars for backup. To answer the question some of you might be wondering: yes, I usually bring a small shopping bag for my many snacks. I have also been known to bring a homemade dry oatmeal mix that just needs water for morning flights. I try to find out the food situation at my destination and plan accordingly (options can be especially limited as I have diet restrictions). I often bring extra peanut butter, protein bars, oatmeal, and nuts with me to eat at my destination. 

  • Wear comfortable clothes for the airplane. I always been impressed by people who look amazing after a 22 hour flight. I've accepted that I will never be one of these people.  I wear Toms (I can easily slip these off for security lines), yoga pants, and layers as I get cold on flights.
  • Have toiletries handy. I put dry-shampoo in my hair before flights to minimize greasy hair after long days of travel. I always have this facial mist to keep my face moisturized and my toothbrush and face wash handy. Washing my face and brushing my teeth always makes me feel slightly less gross. 
  • Have frequently used personal items handy. I have a bag with facial mist, hand lotion, sanitizer, lip balm, my kindle, adapter plugs, and other electronics that I can store easily in the seat pocket in front of me, which saves me from going into the overhead bin all the time.
  • This airplane pillow. I will fully admit that I spent many hours researching airplane pillows. I never liked airplane pillows sold in airports, as they don't have enough neck support for me and you can't wash them. This pillow is the perfect solution. I love that you can wash it and it can even double as a regular pillow if needed.
  • Pack smart. These travel cubes save SO.MUCH.SPACE. I love them. 
  • Longer layovers.  Did I mention that I'm an anxious traveler? My husband hates that I do this as he does not like layovers, but I refuse to sprint to my next gate or miss another connection.  I now make sure I have AT LEAST 2 hours to make a connection (ideally 3 if you have to go through customs), which has greatly reduced my stress and anxiety. You never know what might arise:  flight delays, different terminals, or additional security lines. If I'm coming back to the US, I'll allow even more time to clear customs before heading to my next flight. 

Did I miss anything?  What are your travel tips?

Happy travels!