Do y’all ever get that niggling sense of dread that immediately precedes a trip? Ignore it, you decide. I’ll just ignore it. It sneaks barely into the very edge of your consciousness and settles in to torture you slowly (but efficiently) like a Gloria Estefan song on repeat. It begins as a vague disquiet, mimicking the smell of burnt popcorn. It gets worse the longer you leave it. You glance around, all furrowed brow and scrunched nose and you think, “where IS that coming from?” Read on for 6 ways to quiet that unwelcome visitor, before you even set foot out the door.
Plan ahead…but don’t overplan. Knowing that you’ve worked out the minutiae (annoying but crucial) gives peace of mind and clarity of action so you can focus on the journey, not the trip. It’s time you won’t regret investing. Consider the following: Is it worth it to you to pay for a preferred seat, and if so have you done it? Will you have lounge access at the airport? Upon arrival, how will you get to your accommodation? What time is check-in? Did you specify a non-smoking room? Did you think to make a booking at that buzzy new restaurant you want to stalk or at the spa that came highly recommended if that’s your thing? Have you notified the hotel staff of any special occasion(s)? Write down all the things- there is no shame in that game! I’m so old school in that way with my notebooks and my pencils, but it works for ME. Find what works for you and hug it to you like your childhood Winnie the Pooh.
Rushing to the airport is the WORRRRRRRST. What time do you need to leave your house? Work backward from when you’ll board. For international flights, 3 hours ahead is routine for check-in. Some will say that 2 hours is fine, but you don’t need that stress in your life, kay? (No, seriously, really. Give yourself that extra hour.) Think about traffic, your degree of familiarity with the airport, its size, how fast you walk. Think about how long the queue may be. Flying at an odd time? Everything will move more quickly, though unfortunately, the opposite is true, of course. Mr. Two’s and I tend to go to the airport with quite a lot of time to spare and treat it to be the start of our holiday from the time we arrive there. I load up on junk magazines, bad food and peruse the duty-free with wild abandon. I always know if there is a lounge for charging my devices, spreading out and of course having gratis Chardonnay. Sans stress, cheers to that.
Let’s all get over ourselves, shall we? Let’s remember how fortunate we are to have this opportunity. A century ago this wouldn’t have been possible. Embrace the excitement, lean into the unknown, trust the routine.
Do some research. What are you interested in doing? Don’t wait until you arrive to find out about that new must-do food tour or the artisan markets you missed because you didn’t know they were on and wasted your time in the hotel gym. Are you into animal excursions? Hiking? Shopping? You don’t want to plan yourself to death, because you’ll want some wiggle room, but you also don’t want to rock up with no basic knowledge of what’s available to you. Once you arrive, ask locals what they like to do, but don’t depend on them to have all of the intel.
Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.-George S. Clason
This is one of my absolute rules of engagement: Leave the house in the state you’d want to find it when you arrive home. Nate Berkus (he, at the right hand of Oprah) says, ‘Your house should rise up to greet you.’ Leave it clean and tidy. When you walk in you want to feel refreshed and happy to be there. The last thing you need to be doing is throwing the socks back into the drawers from when you were desperately searching for that pair that goes with your black boots and emptying the dishwasher because you were too hurried to do it before you left. As an added bonus, when packing to come home, put everything that needs to be washed together, so you can simply move it right to the laundry room. The things you didn’t get around to wearing can go right back in the closet.
Make your tiny piece of real estate on that plane your own private Idaho. Have a carry on list and check it twice before you leave the house- earbuds, check. Socks, check. Downloaded entertainment, check. Warm and quick folding wrap for cold planes, check. Previously mentioned junk food and reading material, check and check. I also carry a notebook and a pen and Aesop Flight Therapy because smells. Ewww.
What do you think, fellow traveler? What things save your sanity when traveling before you’ve even left the house? Do you have a checklist?