5 Tips for Stress-Free Travel

5 tips for stress-free travel featured on 45 Fairmount by Monica Woodhams My recent travel inspired me to put together a list of my top 5 tips for stress-free travel.

No time to read? Check out my mini-podcast here!

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Living well: The first thing I do when I'm at the gate is to buy a bottle of water to stay hydrated

Side of bliss: my airport comfort food is flaming hot cheetohs

Ok, so I consider myself to be somewhat of an "expert traveler." I've been traveling internationally since I was 6 months old and love the feeling of being in constant motion.

But my theory on being an "expert traveler" came quickly to rest the first time I traveled with Sam. And basically every time I traveled with him after.

The first time we flew together to Dallas, I overconfidently walked through the detector at KCI and of course I got flagged to do an extra screening which ended up taking like 20 minutes.

Another time we flew together I was so excited that I was going to be able to get through customs faster because I had Global Entry, but he ended up going through customs faster because I'm too short for the camera on the Global Entry machines so when it took a picture it was just of my forehead so they had to make sure it was me.

Another time I was feeling good and the line was short and was like yes, this is going to be EASY. I go through TSA and of course my shoes are the one pair of shoes that set off the detector.


So now are you like, why are you giving out the stress-free advice, not Sam?!

While I may not be the expert traveler that I once though I was, I do know a thing or two of traveling comfortably, efficiently, and stress-free.

These are my tried and true steps that I take no matter where I'm flying to that I've cultivated over the last few years.

Sign up for TSA Pre-Check and dress for security ease

I'm honestly surprised that not everyone has signed up for TSA pre-check yet. If you just take TWO trips a year, I promise it's worth it to be in the line where you don't have to take out your laptop, liquids, or layers.

If you fly internationally and have been thinking of getting Global Entry, TSA pre-check comes with the package so you don't have to apply for both.

Getting TSA pre-check is SUPER easy. You apply online and then they do a background check on you in the form of a no more than 10-minute in-person interview (seriously, it goes by SO fast). That's it! So worth it!

So a caveat here: Sometimes there are gates that don't have pre-check. This is actually the most annoying thing in the world. If you're flying Spirit (which wait now THAT's the most annoying thing in the world) or a gate that shares with Spirit, chances that you'll be able to find a pre-check line are very slim.

In this case, it's important to dress for security ease. Here's what that means:

+ Wear shoes that are super easy to slip on and off. You don't want to be that girl who's holding up the line because she can't get her shoes back on and then you hobble over to the closest chair.

+ Keep your liquids in a zip lock back that sits at the top of your bag so that you can quickly find it in case there's no pre-check line and you have to get them out.

+ Take your coat off and put it back in your carry-on bag BEFORE you get to the security line

Use pouches in your carry-on bag

I've been making pouches a non-negotiable when I pack for years now and I don't think I could ever go back. It makes sifting through a carry-on bag so much easier especially if you're already on the plane and don't have room to take everything out of your bag.

It also is a very discreet way to go through your things at the gate, so people can't see everything that's in your bag...they'll just see a bunch of pouches.

Here's what I keep in my pouches:

+ Pouch 1 = cords/chargers

+ Pouch 2 = health things like vitamins, supplements, etc.

+ Pouch 3 = (in the form a of a ziplock bag) my liquids

+ Pouch 4 = makeup and skincare

The pouches I use are random pouches that I've accumulated over the years. I've been eyeing the Truffle ones though! If any of y'all have those, let me know what you think!

Buy a water

Did you know that dehydration can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress? Not only does a plane totally dry you out, but it can make a situation seem more stressful than it actually is.

Common airplane beverages like soda are caffeinated so they can also lead to feeling anxious.

It's SO important that you have water to balance this.

One of the first things I do when I get to my gate is to find the closest little shop to purchase a bottle of water. Depending on where I'm headed to, I'll buy a giant SmartWater or a normal sized water.

Sometimes I find it best to go with the giant one because it means I have water already the second I get to my destination and can drink up on the cab ride to wherever I'm headed.

A lot of airports are now starting to have filtered water fountain stations to fill your bottle with filtered water. If you know your home airport has this, I would totally recommend bringing you water bottle! 

Create a travel routine

Creating a routine that you stick to each time you travel can really take the stress out of airport travel. What a routine does it allows you to realize what it is that makes your airport experience better and you know exactly how much time to allot to that.

Meaning, you can stop stressing out about trying to figure out when to leave for the airport, because you know each time you leave the same amount of time in advance.

My airport routine looks like this:

+ Go through security

+ Stop at the restroom

+ Buy a bottle of water

+ If it's a short flight I'll buy Starbucks)

+ 15 minutes before boarding I'll run to the restroom again. I avoid airplane bathrooms at all costs.

This routine makes it less hectic. I have a direction of where I'm going and can estimate how long it's going to take me so I don't have to frantically check the time every 5 seconds.

Pack an external charger

I'll admit when I forget this one a lot, but when I do remember it it's a huge stress-relief. This comes especially handy when you're flight is delayed and you saved up JUST the right amount of battery for an on-time flight. This is a game changer and gives a huge piece of mind knowing that you will have a phone that turns on when you land.

I've tried out a few different ones and some don't really give as much juice as you would hope, so I strongly recommend reading reviews online before buying one. I've also wanted to try the Mophie iPhone case, but I feel like I drop my phone way too much to be able to keep it alive.

I'm also eyeing the Away suitcase which has a charger built into the suitcase. YAY 2017 TECHNOLOGY!

I want to know! What are your favorite stress-free travel tips? Where are you headed to next?

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P.S. When I was searching through external battery chargers to share with you I came across this faux fur pouf charger. It's only like $12 and I've never felt like I needed something more.