As of this writing, I’m preparing to attend QB Connect in San Jose, California. And many of us will be preparing to travel across the country to visit relatives and friends during the approaching holidays. Therefore, I thought it would be great timing to share some of my ideas on how to maximize your travel experience and minimize your stress!
The scenario: I’m using my upcoming trip to San Jose as a real-life example. I’ll be flying solo to/from Atlanta, Georgia with connecting flights through other major cities going both ways. I plan on bringing one (1) carry-on and one (1) handbag. I will avoid bringing anything that I need to check into the cargo hold.... I’ll explain my reasoning for that a bit later.
Pre-planning is key. First, you want to be sure to compile a general itinerary on what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going as well as how long you’ll be gone. Having this information handy will assist you in determining what to bring with you and what to leave behind. For example, if you’re attending a three day conference by yourself where you’re flying across the country, then that’s going to set certain limitations on what to bring and how to pack.
Nail down transportation options early. If you’re staying in a hotel or similar accommodation, call ahead of time to see what types of transportation they provide, if any. In my situation, the hotel where I’m staying does not provide shuttle service from the airport, but the conference organizers have indicated free shuttles are available – so hopefully I’ll be set. However, it’s always smart to have a back-up plan, so I’ve downloaded the Uber app to my Smartphone to include adding my payment method to the app beforehand so there are no unforeseen snafus or delays in needed transportation.
Be prepared for security checks. If you’re uncertain of the current security guidelines for airport travel, then visit TSA.gov/travel/travel/travel-tips/travel-checklist for a comprehensive and downloadable listing of items to bring – and avoid – to pass those security checks with minimal disruption or aggravation. Some of the biggies are listed here – but please note that this list is NOT by any means comprehensive:
• Arrive early enough to anticipate long waits in line (check with your airline or airport for their current policy).
• You’ll need to limit any liquids you bring to what will fit in one (1) quart size Ziploc-type baggie and insure that each item is less than 3.4 ounces in size. These items will need to be removed from your carry-on and placed separately in the bins for x-ray. Many discount retailers and drug stores sell sample-sized toiletries which are well within air travel regulations. Better yet, you may want to consider waiting until you arrive at your destination to purchase the bulk of what you need, or use what your hotel provides in the way of shampoo, soap, etc. The key is to think small quantities and small portions.
• It’s also advisable to wear shoes that are easy on / easy off for the security checks as these items will also need to be placed in the bins for x-ray.
• Also, make sure your large electronics (laptops, cellphones, Kindle devices, iPads) are easily accessible as well as they will be placed in the x-ray bins, too. NOTE that certain Galaxy phone models may have restrictions, so read the TSA policy.
• Limit items containing metal such as belts, keys, loose change, or chunky jewelry (or be prepared to remove them and place in x-ray bins).
• If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to consider enrolling in the TSA PreCheck program – visit TSA.gov/precheck for more information.
What to pack: Only bring what you can physically handle. As stated earlier, you may consider waiting until you arrive at your destination to purchase what you need and/or use what your hotel provides in the way of shampoo, soap, etc. – especially for trips of a week or longer duration. Of course you’ll want to bring your toothbrush, shavers, medicines, etc. To save room in your suitcase, you can also roll up your clothes to fit in more stuff. Leave some room in your suitcase if you anticipate buying any souvenirs or scoring any swag. The key again is to think small quantities and small portions to best manage what you can physically handle both to and from your destination.
Know your airline carry-on policy. Check with your air carrier so you know their carry-on policy. Most airlines limit carry-ons to one (1) travel suitcase and one (1) extra handbag. But if you’re traveling by yourself, you should consider limiting your carry-ons to what you can physically manage. That is why pre-planning what you’ll bring ahead of time will help you in knowing what you can carry-on and what you need to check on your way back.
Avoid checked baggage. If you’re traveling solo, then try not to bring too much stuff that you end up having to check ANY bags. I know I’ve stated this before, but it’s important that when you’re traveling solo, you don’t want to be struggling with too much stuff at one time… AND on top of that, having to deal with baggage claim. Traveling light will provide you with the flexibility to get in and out of your intermediate stops fairly quickly as well. So the less you bring, the better you’ll manage.
Traveling is stressful as a general rule… but with a little pre-planning, you should minimize your stress levels while looking forward to all the fun and connections you’ll experience. Enjoy!