Gail Kasper is an Author, Television Host, Certified Fitness Trainer, and Motivational Speaker
Like life, it is the journey, and not the destination, that can matter the most.
Travel, like any endeavor, is a potentially pleasant activity. Like any activity, travel can also be stressful. Stress follows from a lack of preparation and unrealistic expectations around what can be accomplished. Proper planning, research, preparation and time management, for any endeavor, including travel, is guaranteed to reduce stress and ensure your ability to elegantly execute your plan.
Most of this article is designed to support stress fee air travel, but many of the tips can be adapted to other methods of travel such as by train. First off, definitely research and invest in recent innovations to make travel stress-free. There are laptop cases, luggage and travel accessories, including locks, that are TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approved, and designed to help move travelers through airport luggage checks more quickly.
There are many things you can do prior to travel or even if you have no travel plans at all. Although fewer people may be traveling, for economic reasons, flights will continue to be full as airlines cut flights. Keep abreast of airport, airline and travel security regulations and innovations.
For instance, the TSA has a new program called Black Diamond Self-Select, currently in 45 airports around the United States, which allows passengers to choose a security lane that matches their travel style. The expert lane allows TSA informed individuals to move through security checkpoints rapidly, while those who choose casual or family lanes, possibly with special needs, can take their time and receiving assistance without feeling like they are holding others up.
Pre-Travel Advance Preparation
Again, advance preparation is a key element of stress-free travel, whether you have upcoming travel plans or not. With advance preparation you ready for travel so that when an opportunity comes up, your trip runs like a well-oiled machine, everything works properly and the experience is both satisfying and smooth. Complete every task on the following list as soon as possible.
a) Get or renew your passport (trips, such as cruises, that didn't formerly necessitate passports will eventually require them). Invest in a discreet holder for your passport, and other identification, credit cards and currency.
b) Replace your luggage locks with TSA-compliant locks and avoid having your locks cut off.
c) Get or repair your luggage. Airlines are charging fees to check bags, so check the airline restrictions and purchase the largest permissible roll-on or carry-on bag or duffel. If purchasing new items, be certain to buy TSA compliant or friendly laptop case(s) and/or luggage.
d) Research fees, rules, regulations, and any phone numbers or contracts of carriage.
e) Create a "Go" bag, some kind of weekender, duffel or backpack, large enough to hold clothes that mix and match (you can send them for laundering or dry cleaning), shoes, and a workout kit and other necessities.
f) Create a "Carry-on" bag, for longer trips, stocked with personal care kit filled with duplicates of your favorite products and items. Be sure that it meets airline regulations yet is large enough to carry what you need. If you don't like to travel light, try a compression bag (from REI or other sources).
Successful Travel Planning For an Upcoming Trip
a) Research your destination. Check if it’s in a territory that requires you to get shots or vaccines.
b) Inform friends and family of your travel plans and forward copies of important documents, such as e-tickets, to someone you trust.
c) Place a hold on your mail/newspaper delivery, and arrange care for plants, animals or other responsibilities.
d) Update your credit card companies about travel plans, especially if traveling for an extended period of time or out of the country, to be certain they do not place a hold on your account upon seeing unexpected charges.
e) Pay bills in advance or schedule their payment at their appropriate times online or otherwise.
f) Ship certain items (such as those containing liquid, aerosol, and gel items) ahead or plan to pack them in a checked bag. Check the http://www.tsa.gov for the most current regulations.
g) Do not wrap gifts you are taking on the plane; security may have to unwrap objects which are wrapped. Either ship wrapped gifts to your destination or wait to wrap gifts.
h) Purchase tickets well in advance (studies have shown that flights scheduled earlier in the day have better on-time performance. In the case of a cancellation, booking an early flight may also allow you to rebook your flight and arrive the same day).
i) Check departures at alternate, smaller airports, it could save you time and money.
j) Internet research will often reveal coupons for long and short term parking deals.
k) Avoid traveling, if possible, on major travel days/holidays (the Memorial and Labor Day weekends, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas).
l) Compare and purchase travel insurance online.
a) PACK LIGHT!!! A lot of unnecessary stress can be avoided in airports when you are not carrying or checking bags, smuggling a bigger bag than allowed on the aircraft, or hoping that your bags actually made the flight.
b) Use a packing list. Plan your outfits and take as little clothing as possible (that will meet your vacation or professional requirements).
c) Pack your items in an organized manner.
d) Avoid packing large electronics. They will have to be screened separately by x-ray which will take more time. Keep small electronics in your carry-on.
e) Remember to pack for the appropriate weather.
f) Research and avoid packing items on the Transportation Security Administration prohibited items list.
g) Be certain your self-care products (liquids) meet travel requirements. If possible, avoid travelling with liquids.
h) Consider bundle wrapping your clothes, a method of placing clothes less prone to wrinkling in the center of a bundle, and then wrapping other clothes around the bundle, with the largest, most easily wrinkled clothing on the outside of the bundle where, as the outer layer, they are less likely to be wrinkled (Remember to hang up and fold your clothes as soon as possible upon arrival at your destination).
i) Pack a few extra one quart sized baggies for over-looked items.
The Night before Travel
a) Check online about the availability of 1st class upgrades, if desired.
b) 24 hours before your flight, check in online and print your boarding pass and luggage tags.
c) Be certain to charge your cell phone or other electronics (and pack your chargers).
d) Check the Weather Channel, or http://Weather.com, for national and local weather forecast for cities worldwide.
e) Get enough rest the night before. You need more rest for travel, not less.
Prior to Leaving for the Airport
a) Water your plants (consider a service if you will be gone for some time).
b) Drop your pets off to be boarded (or introduce them to the pet sitter).
c) Adjust your thermostat settings in your home to save energy.
d) Turn off your main water valve.
e) Make certain a neighbor is picking up your mail.
f) Check timers that have been set to lights.
g) Inspect and lock all doors and windows.
h) Unplug, or connect to a surge protector, any electrical items at risk of short circuiting.
i) Wear comfortable clothes, shoes that are easy to remove.
j) Put your e-ticket, ID and other documents where they are easily accessible.
k) Metal will set off alarms at checkpoint security and could cause you to be required to undergo additional screening. To avoid this remove and pack in carry-on or checked luggage:
• Change from your pockets.
• All jewelry (including body piercings).
• Clothing with metal decorations including studs, snaps or metal buttons.
• Metal belt buckles.
a) Arrive early. Domestic flights may expect you at least two hours early and international flights may suggest you arrive three hours in advance. If you aren't at the gate prior to departure time, your ticket may be cancelled and you may not be permitted to board.
b) Try to avoid checking baggage.
c) If you've done your research, your bags and all items will be TSA compliant and you will move through security easily.
Myths of Travel
• It is a myth that rolling clothes reduces wrinkling, although it does reduce folds in the clothing.
• It's a myth that you can expect a free upgrade to first class. First class is generally reserved for first class ticket purchases, passenger upgrading with miles or purchasing upgrades, elite frequent fliers, and those passenger with promotional coupons.
• It's not true that you "can't drive overseas without an international driving permit." Many countries do allow travelers to drive for a period of time, generally six months, with a valid driver's license from their country of origin.
Extras to Pack
There are items you can pack that might come in handy or may make your travels more pleasant. An inflatable neck pillow will allow you to rest more, and protect your neck, during the flight. Ear plugs and an eye shade may make it possible for you to rest during your flight. An expand-a-bag doesn't take up much space but could come in very, very handy. A travel toothbrush and toothpaste make traveling more pleasant. Be sure to bring comfort items on board, a pair of socks, some healthful snacks, water, relaxing music, and/or something to read. A light shawl that can double as a throw will likely be useful.
• Holiday travel may mean more stressed out travelers, longer lines and wait times, as well as exposure to more germs. Definitely consider bringing hand sanitizer on your journey.
• Bring 5-10 sheets of paper, folded flat, if you don't want to bring a book or magazine. You can journal, doodle, create “to do” lists, or write if you get bored or have to wait an unexpected length of time.
• Pack healthful non-perishable snacks such as dried fruit and/or nuts to maintain energy levels.
• Be careful how much cash you carry on long trips. You really only need enough for a few days, instead carry credit cards, travelers' checks, and an ATM card.
• Avoid bringing unnecessary electronics. They weigh you down and you can probably get away without using them.
Foreign Travel Tips
• If you are traveling internationally then research your destination. A good travel guide can be an invaluable source of travel information. Research the local customs and laws and be especially aware of social mores so as to avoid offending locals. Don't dress in ways that conflict with customs or will draw unwanted attention.
• Learn basic phrases of the local language if you are traveling somewhere foreign.
• Avoid wearing conspicuous jewelry that might make you a target for theft. Don't carry large amounts of cash.
• Consider supplemental health insurance; your insurance policy may not apply overseas.
• Write down the address and contact info of your Embassy in the event you may have an emergency.
Upon arrival at your destination, be sure to let your friends and family know you have arrived safely. This article may seem like a lot, the gist of it is to plan, simplify and yet bring the things you need to help create a pleasant trip. Advance preparation ensures that your journey will be as pleasant as arrival at your destination. Here’s to your stress-free journey!
About Gail Kasper:
Mid-1998, Gail Kasper started her business from a small one-bedroom apartment, with no money and no clients. Today, Gail is the host of the late-night television show Raw Reality, one of the nation's leading speakers, author, Top 1% Club Mentor, advice columnist, Certified Fitness Trainer, Ms. Continental America 2008, and the creator of SAD-T™ (Systematic Attitude Development- Technique™). A former Contributing Editor to Success Magazine with the "Ask Gail" column and host of the "Ask Gail" segment on the Comcast morning show, Gail is the author of her self-help autobiography Another Day Without A Cage: My Breakthrough From Self-Imprisonment To Total Empowerment and the self-help parable Unstoppable: 6 Easy Steps To Achieve Your Goals. With national media appearances that include Inside Edition, The Today Show, FOX Business News, and Oprah and Friends, Gail has earned the ranking of an in-demand national media personality who has been the topic of discussion on Regis and Kelly. Also, the current host of the Philadelphia Visitors Channel, she has also made numerous appearances on network affiliates that include ABC, FOX, CW11, Comcast, and CBS, where she co-hosted the Emmy award- winning America's TVJobNetwork. www.gailkasper.com
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.