I realize on a daily basis how much traveling absolutely terrifies some people, and really y'all, there's no need for it. So I was inspired this past week to write a post that hopefully helps some people as they begin their travel adventures. Not only as somebody who has traveled extensively, within and outside the United States, but as somebody who works for the airlines, I consider travel and air travel something I know a little something about.
To Be a Savvy Traveler:
1. First, RELAX. It's easy to get stressed out in an airport when it feels like there's a lot of demands (confirmation number! driver's license! liquids-under-3-ounces! how many bags?! etc...), but simply relax and take it one step at a time.
2. Arrive at the airport at least an hour before your departure time. I am an airline employee and am not subject to lines and extra screening, and I still show up an hour before. And by hour, I mean that our car is parked and we are at the counter an hour prior (most of the time). You never know what issues may come up (ticketing, long TSA lines, staff shortages, etc.), and it's best to be prepared. (I'd also like to note that in my travels of 19 countries, many of them multiple times, and nearly-monthly travel, I have never missed a flight. Ever.) Play it safe, get there early.
3. Take everything out of the ordinary in stride, and do not use "you" language (i.e. You lost my baggage, you canceled my flight, you made me miss my plane, etc...). Very rarely have I ever flown to Yemen, found your bag, and lost it. Also very rarely have I ever tied you up, locked you in a closet, and made you miss your plane. The same is true for the person standing in front of you. Use respectful language and common sense. If a flight is canceled, the agent in front of you had nothing to do with it. He/she is merely there to help and get you to your final destination as soon as possible.
4. Have back-up plans, and plan your trip a day early if possible, in order to give breathing room for any sorts of issues that may come up, especially during the winter holidays. Not only do you have record amounts of people traveling in every airport in the world, you have the propensity for winter weather to compound any problems.
5. Have entertainment available. Bring movies, games, books, etc. These help pass the time. Related to this, become a people-watcher. You wouldn't believe what this does to pass the time and makes anywhere you are infinitely more interesting.
6. Pack smartly. If you have two 50lb. bags, I sincerely hope you're moving to Venezuela for two years. And if you're not, then I more sincerely hope that they're packed full of shoes for children in Vietnam. You do not need as much as you think. I'm as fallible as you are in this area, but it makes your travels run a lot more smoothly if you are not bogged down with things.
In summary: relax, arrive early, be respectful, plan ahead, have back-up plans, bring entertainment, and pack smartly.
May your next adventure be amazing!