Guest Contributor: Benjamin Hagerty
I’ve been a travel agent for several years now, and one of the greatest rewards that comes with the job is to hear that my clients’ vacations were not only thrilling but that every important detail ran like clockwork.
We are currently in a high season for travel. To prepare for flights booked to capacity and airports filled to the brim with passengers, here are a few of my favorite tips to keep you relaxed, prepared, and stress-free on your next trip.
Simplify Your Accessories
After weeks of wearing the same work clothes over and over again, it’s freeing to be able to wear whatever you want on vacation. While that ambition is great to have when you’ve arrived at your destination, wearing that large belt, dangling jewelry, broad-rimmed hat, and knee-high boots will only hinder your progression through the security check points. Think how much time it takes to take them on and off. If it’s minutes instead of seconds, leave it in your suitcase. To save time in line without sacrificing your style, think basics; switch out boots for slip-on sandals, avoid large jewelry, and wear as few layers as possible. You’ll speed through the line faster than The Flash on caffeine!
Arrive at the airport two hours before your flight’s departure time
As a travel agent, I always follow the same procedure when arranging flights for my valued clients: confirm the flight details and airfare, issue the tickets, and advise them to arrive at the airport two hours before each and every flight. This might seem like over-kill, but keep in mind that with a record-231 million passengers passing through U.S. airports this summer, check-in and security lines are bound to exceed their capacity. To save yourself the stress of rushing to your flight on time, plan on getting to the airport with time to spare so that no matter what delays may occur, you’ll be able to take your time with a smile and an “I-got-this” piece of mind.
Avoid impulse purchases at the airport
So, you’ve gotten to the airport with plenty of time to spare, you’re already in the lounge or at the gate, and now you are looking for something to kill the time – again, it beats the stress of arriving and rushing because of arriving to the airport late! Typically, the first go-to is to peruse and purchase the latest magazine with Lauren Conrad’s face on it, or buy the next book in whatever series is hot right now. That book and magazine may not seem expensive at first glance, yet considering that most goods are at market price in airports, they’ll end up burning a hole in your wallet before you’ve even taken off! To save yourself buyer’s remorse, shop and download books and magazines on Amazon or other online stores a day or two before you leave. They’ll be below market price – saving you money – and you’ll be gaining that time back to actually enjoy what you’re reading instead of scavenging the shelves. (I recommend downloading the latest issue of VIVA GLAM.) As for food, instead of going for that overpriced salad, prepare several simple and nourishing snacks to take with you before you even leave home. Nuts and raw veggies travel well.
BRING collapsible, portable water bottles
Speaking of buyer’s remorse, the greatest source of it comes from the purchase of something that we understandably need: water. It’s an essential, but relying on bottled water purchased from airport vendors can burn yet another large hole in your wallet. Instead, bring a portable water bottle with you. There are so many fashionable and TSA-friendly designs to choose from these days, and not only do many of them feature filters, but many of the major airports in the U.S. are installing drinking fountains with filters as well. Plus, it’s more eco-friendly and saves you from water with a high acidity, which most bottled waters have. Also, if you find yourself at a restaurant at the airport or at your destination, never be afraid to ask your waiter to fill your bottle for you. It’ll save you time looking for a fountain and you’ll have extra water during your day out!
Know and choose how you’re going to use your data
One of the most-common concerns that my clients express is the issue of staying connected to their mobile data when they’re outside their carrier’s range. My advice to them and to you, dear readers, is to think about what you think you’ll need your data/phone for whilst you travel. If you have a large budget and need to be able to make regular calls no matter where you are, then consider getting a global SIM card. They can be easily installed in most Android and iPhones, and will allow your phone to access the local network of wherever you are. However, if you’re looking for a more frugal solution, then here are some easy steps:
- Make calls via FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, Skype, or any other VoiP app or program from your cafe or hotel (more of them have strong wi-fi than ever), for the majority of them are free when calling another user.
- Download the maps of the cities that you’ll be visiting from Google Maps, which will then allow you to navigate offline.
All in all, if you anticipate your needs by planning ahead, your stress will be minimal – or even eliminated – when traveling. Bon voyage!