Tips for Stress-Free Air Travel
You've seen the disturbing viral videos of long lines at crowded airports and angry passengers on planes. Maybe you've even witnessed these scenes yourself. Inclement weather, an airline computer outage, or even just bad luck can disrupt travel plans for anyone at any time. Before your next flight, consider these tips to help reduce stress on your next airport visit.
Certain days and/or times are busier than others. As a result, you may want to avoid peak travel times, such as during the holidays or the afternoon/evening. By adjusting your travel schedule by one day or even just a few hours, you might face fewer crowds and decrease your travel time.
Take the road less traveled
Avoid travel hubs with the most air traffic. Instead, try searching nearby, smaller airports to see whether they offer flights to your destination. Smaller airports may offer cheaper flights and often have fewer delays and less traffic to and from the airport. You can also research whether a specific airline or flight route is usually on time or late by checking its on-time performance.
Do your homework
Save time at check-in by doing what you can before you leave for the airport. Most airlines have a streamlined ticketing/boarding process that allows you to select your seats and complete the check-in process at home.
The lighter, the better
Most airlines have restrictions on the number of carry-on or check-in bags passengers can bring. Many also charge extra for heavy bags. As a result, only bring necessities and try to avoid overpacking for your trip in order to stay within your airline's luggage limits.
The early bird gets to relax
Avoid the long lines and traffic by leaving as early as possible on your scheduled day of travel. If you're worried about waiting around the airport for too long, bring your laptop or extra reading material to keep yourself occupied.
Have a backup plan
No matter how much you plan ahead, flight delays and missed connections can happen, so you'll want to be prepared to make adjustments to your travel plan (e.g., renting a car if you miss your connecting flight). Keeping an open mind and being flexible can make it easier to deal with any travel glitches that may arise.
Don't forget the essentials
Keep copies of your travel itinerary, necessary photo identification (e.g., driver's license, passport), medications, and a change of clothing with you in case your luggage is lost or delayed en route to your destination. You'll also want to make sure that you have plenty of snacks and beverages to help tide you over if your flight is delayed. Make sure that your electronic devices (e.g., laptop, phone, e-reader) are fully charged and bring chargers so you can plug them in, if necessary, at the airport. And if you are traveling with kids, be sure to bring along toys/games to keep them occupied.
Want real-time flight information on departures and arrivals? There are numerous mobile apps that can help make air travel more efficient. Check with your airline to see if you can sign up for flight status updates that go directly to your phone.
Prepare for the worst
It's important to remember that even the most well-thought-out travel plans may not proceed without a hitch. The important thing is to stay calm and be prepared for the unexpected travel mishap.