Seasoned travel vets may claim that travel is always a breeze and that you ‘just get used to it’, but let’s be honest. All humans have some limit to delays and chaos and things over which they have no control.
I just flew home from PUJ (Punta Cana, DR) last night, and that was an airport that tested my patience. Most of it wasn’t air conditioned, there didn’t seem to be anyone “in charge”. You can’t hear the announcements, and the gate number changed repeatedly for our flight- and often wasn’t posted at all. It’s as though the airport was designed to accommodate 500 passengers and there were about 2000 people in there fighting for a seat, and waiting in a 20-person lineup for the women’s washroom.
Here are the best tips I have for dealing with travel (namely airport) stress:
- pack less stuff and pack smarter
- have your travel docs in order
- manage your expectations
Here are some details:
1.Pack Less Stuff and Pack Smarter: Remember that the liquids in your carry-on need to be packed separately in a 1 litre plastic zipper bag. Pack this bag on top or in an accessible pocket if you need to take it out at security. And limit the liquids you’re carrying because liquids are heavy! Carrying a lot of weight while waiting in lines will make you feel more tired, stressed, and uncomfortable. Good carry-on options include backpacks and wheeled luggage. At the very least it should be a cross-body bag. See post here about Carry-On bags. A hand-carry bag is not a smart option for getting around the airport. A hand-carry bag will be awkward to hold and you need your hands to get out IDs and stuff at all the checkpoints. Which brings me to this:
2. Have Your Travel Docs in Order: On my last flight I think my ID (passport and ticket) got checked at least 4-5 times before I was in my seat in the plane. There is nowhere to put your bag down and dig out your passport and ticket. Just have them handy in a fashionable neck pouch (ha ha!) or a nice little cross-body bag like the Coach Hayden. I know it’s old school, but I always print my boarding pass when I can. Phone scanning isn’t perfected everywhere and I’d hate to have a dead battery or something when I need my boarding pass.
And finally, the grand-daddy rule of de-stressing and finding joy in travel:
3. Manage Your Expectations. Although last night’s messy, over-crowded, noisy, smelly airport experience in Punta Cana wasn’t fun, it would have been ten times worse if I hadn’t been expecting it. When you are going to the airport, expect long lines, expect silly rules you’ve never heard of (like a sign that said no makeup in your carry-on?! That was a first…), and expect outrageous airport prices (like $5 USD for a little bottle of water). When you expect it to be tedious, it’s more manageable when it is IS bad. If things turn out to be great, you are thrilled. For example, if you tell yourself it’s going to be ten minutes in line at Customs, you’re awfully upset when it’s 45 minutes. If you plan for an hour wait in Customs, you’re thrilled when it’s only 45 minutes!
Stay well-packed! 🙂