Travel and conferences tend to come in cycles for me. When the job description said travel up to 20% of the time, it didn't say, all of that would be in 2-3 months of the year, but it tends to be. April - May, and September -October are heavy office travel cycles. I will see a lot of airport terminals in the next couple of months. By the end of this cycle, I will be really ready for a couple of quiet months at home.
I like airports. Airports can be stressful, but they are also places of amazing adventures. My top five tips for not being stressed at the airport:
- Arrive early, the standard recommendation is two hours before flight time. Most of us squeeze that down closer to an hour, but the closer you cut it, the more likely you are to get caught in a slow line at check in, bag drop or security and get stressed about missing a flight.
- Know what is allowed through security and be prepared. You need to be metal free, seriously I have seen people with half a pound of jewelry surprised that they set off the security scanners. Move everything into your carry on bag, or put it all in the pockets of a jacket and run it through the x-ray machine. In the standard line, take your shoes off, you laptop out, take out your liquids bag. In Pre-check, de-metal, and as soon as your bag goes into the x-ray machine walk through the scanner, don't take your shoes off or you laptop out.
- Fly just a couple of airlines so you can learn the check on and bag drop procedures.
- Allow yourself sufficient time to make connections. On a recent trip I had a choice of a 45 minute connection at DFW or a 3-hour connection at DFW. I took 3-hours. DFW is a huge airport, 45 minutes is barely enough time if the incoming flight is on time, running through airports is stressful, I'd sooner have time to walk, shop, have an overpriced lunch. No stress. It is all about attitude, I see it as three hours to explore a wonderful airport, not three hours stuck in an airport.
- Check your bags. Maybe once a year I will do a trip with a carry on only, and even then I will sometimes check the small "roll-aboard" so I don't have to lug it around with me. Yes, it costs to check bags on most airlines - but if you are hauling all your worldly possessions around you pay in stress for the few dollars you saved. I have airline credit cards with my two primary airlines that include free checked bags, I pay about $100 per year for each card, what I would pay in checked bag fees on two round trips on the airline. In the long run it is a great deal for me.