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Ten stress-free travel tips for people who hate to travel
Lets take a look at some great travel tips from those who don't travel much but enjoy travel and have figured out how to make it as stress-free as possible.
- Get a passport. Duh. Unless your trip finds you walking through a National Park, you need a passport. Cruise travelers that are U.S. citizens slide under the law by booking closed-loop cruises that begin and end in the U.S. The problem is that the birth certificate they use for identification to get on the ship will not get them on a plane. Flying? You must have one. A U.S. passport is simply the best identification you can have.
- Buy the largest carry-on sized luggage you can find and keep all the most important things you need with you on the plane, train or bus. To arrive at your destination wondering if your luggage made it is probably one of the biggest stress-inducing moments of any trip.
- Huddle for space is a game we play when traveling with our two kids. On airlines where seats are not assigned, find a row with three vacant seats, I sit on one end, put a kid on the other end, leaving the seat open in-between. Quickly, we stow carry-on luggage above and take our seats with what stuff we will have with us during the flight between us. Now we huddle over that center seat, pretending to discuss something very important and remain that way until the cabin door is closed. You would be surprised how many people will walk on by, even on a full plane, looking for a different seat. It does not work all the time but it's worth a shot.
- Have a backup plan on flights that includes airlines, flight numbers and times in case your flight is late/canceled/diverted. You will be the prepared person at the airline ticket counter with complete information, asking good questions that require a direct answer. "OMG what am I going to do?" is not going to get you on the next flight out. People that say anything remotely like that are politely told to take a seat and they'll "let you know".
- Buy travel protection of some sort. You may not need travel insurance but travel assistance that provides emergency evacuation might be the ticket for you. A cheap travel insurance company with basic medical coverage and cancellation insurance is a good idea that will keep you from kicking yourself for not buying better coverage later.
- Line it all out in an itinerary you make for yourself. I mean type up every detail of your itinerary on your computer with your own hands, not something you get from a travel agent or company. The physical act of organizing it all in a document you have created organizes it in your mind as well.
- Do everything ahead of time that you can. Boarding passes, luggage tags, joining frequent flyer clubs, anything that can be done ahead of time online do that. While you are there, on line, on those travel service provider sites, copy important information you might need down the road like emergency numbers, baggage weight and size requirements and the line. Alaska Airlines suggests to use kiosks for check-in and to print boarding passes ahead of time too. Most airlines have a page of tips that hold good information for those who don't really like traveling but are trying to make the best of it.
- Be prepared for security checks. You know they are coming at various times throughout your journey. Use a carry-on bag with outside pockets you can put stuff you want to have readily accessible, contents of your pockets and anything else you would have to take off to go through a security check.
- Go early to critical places like airports before flights. You want to be seated close to the gate (the door people walk through to get on the plane) and close to the gate's ticket counter (the place people go when there is a problem) so that you can respond to airline announcements quickly and efficiently. Procrastinators lose big time on this one.
- Be alert by doing whatever it takes to stay that way. If you are traveling with others you can take turns being alert OR being plugged in to whatever devices amuse you but you can't do both effectively. Banking sleep the week before traveling helps more mentally than physically but find someone who knows about stress reduction and "sleep" will be a hot topic with them.
Flickr photo by TheSeafarer