We have all heard that holiday traveling can be a little hectic, and that you can run into situations that may be out of your control i.e last minute baggage fees, looooong lines at security, rude workers/passengers, last minute gate changes, delayed flights, etc. The first instinct we may have (because it’s happened to all of us) is to let our emotions get the better of us. However, what good does it bring getting mad or worked up about these exterior situations in resolving them any quicker? In today’s post, I want to share with you all 11 tips that have helped me keep my cool at airports during busy and holiday traveling. My hope is that regardless of where you go, or how far your holiday traveling will be, these tips will help you maintain inner calm when everyone may be running around aimlessly and cursing each other out.
** Also make sure to read it to the end, as there will be a downloadable freebie to help you plan ahead and make your travels less stressful! **
Travel with a carry-on only – if possible
Now, I know that we are talking about holiday traveling so it can be a little unthinkable to imagine packing all your belongings, in addition to any possible gifts in a carry on bag. Here’s the thing though, holiday traveling is a time in which many flights either overbook passengers, have at least one layover per flight, and if that isn’t enough, there’s the possibility of winter storms delaying and even forcing flights to do emergency landings in other airports and remain there until further notice. The bottom line is that there are many opportunities for your purchased and checked bags to be lost, misplaced, or left behind. When you travel lightly, you have less to worry about as far as your belongings go, and having only a checked bag also will mean not having to wait around the carousel, only to get the notification from someone that your bag was one of the bags that was left at the airport for reason x,y, and z. Save yourself the headache and extra mental space by trying to only fit the necessities in your carry on, and if you are planning on bringing gifts, consider shipping them. If you are traveling with someone else, try dividing up the space so that you have enough room to compartmentalize your personal items and your gifts.
Check-in ahead of time
When you do this, you eliminate the wait of the obnoxiously looooong lines at the check-in desk, especially if you are following my previous advice and you are only traveling with a carry-on bag. You get to skip that and go on your merry way to security, and that my friend, is one less thing to think about, and that is what this is all about.
Actually arrive at the recommended time at the airport
Doesn’t matter if it’s a domestic flight and you’re taking a carry-on bag only; please arrive early. If you arrive early, you have the luxury of doing everything at your own pace. Go to the check-in counter if you have any questions, carefully read TSA’s instructions on what they actually need you to take out of your bag and what you can keep on, go have a drink of choice, go to the bathroom, check out Duty Free, people watch, snag the seat closest to the outlet at the gate, etc. All possibilities are endless, and the sheer fact of having the time to do all these things if you make the effort to be on time at the airport, is a luxury that not many have. Also, if there is last minute changes to your flight, you will have the sufficient time to calmly take action. You will be in a good mood, and that is what you and the airport needs in times like these, happy people that have enough time 🙂
Charge up all your electronics beforehand
Make sure that all your electronics are charged up and ready to go! Don’t add stress and add more to your plate if you are holiday traveling by having a half charged phone or device, as you will be needing them to entertain yourself, possibly check your flight status online, or the weather conditions at your destination. You’re not guaranteed to be able to sit close to an outlet at your gate, so if you want to feel 100, make sure to keep all of your devices all charged up and also at 100%.
Pack a portable charger
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip, if you can, definitely purchase a portable charger! They are super inexpensive nowadays, and you can pick one up anywhere from Best Buy to Walgreens and even TJ Maxx here in the states. Like I said, your devices will more than likely end up being your only source of entertainment, and even if you have all of them charged at 100%, you never know with holiday travel how long your journey may actually be. Also, there are only so many power outlets available despite the airports efforts to make it more mobile friendly, but maybe not at your specific gate and you don’t really want to risk that. So charge up, and also bring a portable charger.
Bring a physical item to read
Though you will have your devices ready to go along with a portable charger, let’s say you either get tired of looking at your screen or your batteries die on everything *gasp* bring a physical item to read, like a book or magazine! Though all those things are possible, in order to save your important phone battery (and maybe sanity) bring some physical reading material to help not only entertain you, but also distract you. It may even offer itself to making conversation with someone because of what you’re reading, and that will extend into another good form of entertainment and distraction.
Download movies/shows, podcast, audiobooks, music onto your device
I love how nowadays, almost every entertainment platform caters to travelers as well, and they have the offline option! So now, you’re able to download content and media such as a movie or show, music, an informative podcast or audiobook such as with audible (not sponsored), and nowadays even meditation sessions! All of these are great options to serve as entertainment, but also as an opportunity to learn and get lost in something that you may not seem to have the time to focus on before. Especially with the meditation, that’s an option that can make you feel good in times of stress. The beauty of the offline option, amirite? Just make sure to make the space on your device beforehand 🙂
Psssst! If you need a list of recommended movies/shows to check out on Netflix chosen by yours truly, check out this, this, and THIS post of some of my favorite international movies and series on Netflix!
Dress comfortably and as light as possible
Yes, it’s the holidays, yes it’s cold most likely, yes you’re only taking a carry on. However, because there is the possibility that flights can be delayed, and that your time at the airport will be longer than expected, you have to keep in mind your belongings and constantly having to watch over them. You don’t want to be *that* person who is always looking around to see if they have all of their belongings nearby, or *that* person whom when they tell that their gate has changed to other extreme of the airport, they are frantically trying to take everything as fast as they can without tripping on their sweater sleeve/scarf, and making sure they don’t forget their snack bag with them. Trust me, on more than one occasion unfortunately that was me, and I will tell you that it adds more stress and more (literal and figuratively speaking) heaviness to your travels. I know I just said that you should just bring a carry-on rather than a checked bag, but it’s possible to only travel with your most important necessities. It all doesn’t have to take up 2 additional seats. Just do yourself a favor and lessen the amount of items for your physical and mental sanity. Minimalist packing anyone?? Here’s a link to one of my favorite posts by Courtney over at Be More With Less that details how to pack only necessities, and how to get rid of the “just in case” mentality as you pack (we’ve all had that!)
Pack your snacks
Come to the airport with a small variety of snacks that will not only take your hunger away, but also genuinely fuel your stressed body. As you have heard, as much as flying and traveling is fun, it can be very hard and draining on the body. From breathing in recycled, stale air on the plane, to fluctuating temperatures, the strength needed to carry around your bags, the leg cramping of sitting for too long, to even the quality of food that you may receive on the flight, it’s just good to prepare yourself for what you’re about to go through. Bring snacks with nutrients that you know you will need: bring a power bar that will hold you over for a while,, or bring snacks like almonds that have healthy fats, or even making yourself a tea. Make yourself a soothing tea to calm both your stomach and mind that will help reduce any craziness involved in your holiday travel. Bringing your snacks will not only alleviate your hangry, but also your mind – both equally as important if you ask me.
Come prepared with extra cash
When you travel, you should expect the unexpected, especially when you do holiday traveling. I always tell my friends to carry extra cash with them if they are traveling. Why? Because not many airports (trust me I have seen them) accept cards, or the chip just so happened to break right before it’s your turn to pay for your items at Duty Free (this has happened to me). So definitely come prepared with cash and also the mindset that you may have to spend on some overpriced water or additional snacks or a meal if the airport wait is really long, which can happen during holiday travel. Accept this potential fact before even getting to the airport, and have your cash ready to go just in case.
Research wifi codes, and airport services offered beforehand
This falls under “things to prepare before you travel” because this can become a lifesaver, especially during holiday traveling which can have you at an airport for longer than you’d like. Check out what other amenities and services the airports have, as many of them offer some really cool services such as Yoga rooms, workout rooms, beer gardens (ahem Munich), spa’s, casinos, praying rooms, museums, and extended amount of restaurant options and stores to check out with local foods and brands – there’s so much to do! Also nowadays, there are so many online hacks to get free extended wifi (like this post!) at different airports across the world, so definitely check that out especially if you are traveling oversees and don’t have a phone plan with data.
Take a deep breath and be nice, always 🙂
Whatever you take from this post an actually implement onto your upcoming holiday travels, I urge to just remain calm and be nice (not that you wouldn’t obviiiously :)). I understand that travel especially during the next few months will be hectic whether it’s flying, taking the train, or driving. Someone/something will upset you and being in an environment of angry passengers isn’t going to make anyone feel good or fix the fact that there are delays. Just take a deep breath, focus on something else like your breathing if something unexpected happens. There are many triggers to get angry, yes, but that’s why I am confident that if you focus on these tips and if you utilize them, they will help you not think about the potential problems at hand.
I know that this was a lot of information to take in, but I also think it’s valuable, and they have been tested by yours truly. I do all of these things, to be as calm as I can when I travel during the crazy holiday season. So, as promised below you will find the link to my holiday travel packing list of items to bring on board (long name lol). Here you will be able to have a list where I break down the items I recommend you to take to entertain and fuel you throughout your journey, as well as other suggestions.
BONUS FREEBIE ALERT: You can find the downloadable link to my Holiday Travel Packing List here! A guide to help sort out the essentials to bring on flight and not lose your cool during this hectic holiday travel season. Enjoy!
Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments below as well as the places you are planning on traveling to this holiday season! Happy holiday traveling from Travel Notes and Things!