As a CRA you are probably well acquainted with incessant travel. You may even think you know every tip or trick in the book to make traveling less painful, but do you still find yourself dreading even short flights to sites you are responsible for monitoring? If so, one of the most important things you can do to take the dread out of travel and to ensure the best travel experience possible is to prepare for your trip before you head to the airport. Although you can never be fully prepared for things outside of your control like flight delays or cancellations, you can take measures to lessen the stress and frustration of frequent travel.
Start with a Checklist
This may seem obvious but a checklist is something that is often overlooked when preparing for short trips. It can be overwhelming trying to remember every item you will need for your trip off the top of your head. Packing and preparing “on the fly” will almost guarantee something will be missed. You will have to consider not only personal items needed for overnight stays, but professional items needed as well. Start with one category (Personal or Professional) and begin listing every single item you will need. Try to start your checklist days in advance and give yourself time to add things as you remember them. If you’re not a fan of pen and paper, there are a number of travel checklist apps out there that will make your checklist process much easier. The most popular travel checklist apps for Apple devices are TripList (free), 365 Travel Packing (free), and Packing Planner Pro ($.99). For Windows device try the PackMate app (free).
Prepare Your Body
Frequent travel can put a lot of strain on your body, so it’s important to take care of yourself and to keep your body healthy and able to travel for years to come. The best way to prepare your body for traveling is to keep track of what you’re eating and to drink plenty of water for at least a week before your flight. Healthy foods full of vitamins and nutrients are essential for keeping your body happy through altitude and environmental changes. Coconut water is a fabulous way to provide your body with all the H2O, minerals, and electrolytes you need and it can be found in most grocery stores and airports. Stretching is also a great way to prepare your body for travel as spending as little as an hour in a car or plane can lead to poor circulation. The best way to prevent circulation issues is to stretch every day in addition to your regular workouts for at least three days before and after travel. Foam rolling is very effective in preventing and treating stiff or sore muscles. You can also stash a tennis ball in your personal bag and use it to roll out knots in your feet, back, hips, or glutes while on long flights. You can find foam rollers for a great price here and here, and you can find tennis balls here. If you are new to foam rolling or tennis ball rolling there are some great tutorials here, here, and here to get you started.
Fit Everything in a Carry-On
After you create your checklist and take steps to prepare your body, it’s time to pack. Most airlines allow you to carry-on a small suitcase and one personal bag. If you have an overnight trip, you can even purchase a mobile office bag to function as both. Carrying a bag on can save you between $25 to $50 depending on the airline and at least 30 minutes after your flight that would be spent waiting in baggage claim. And, everything in a carry-on will never get lost. You will also have quick and easy access to all of your work materials should you need them, so if flight delays occur you don’t need to stress. There are many articles and videos online with tips and tricks for the most efficient way to pack a carry-on like this one and this one. Also, if you are a member of AAA, many of their travel centers offer free packing demonstrations not to mention a host of other membership benefits including hotel and rental car discounts, and deeply discounted luggage and packing gadgets.
Be Comfortable and Reduce Stress
So far we have planned, stretched, and packed and now it’s time to head to the airport. Before you leave your house or office, check in online to reduce your wait time at the airport and kick start your trip stress free. Be sure to wear shoes without laces in case you are required to remove them. Ladies should refrain from wearing jewelry or accessories, and gentlemen be sure your pockets are free of coins or other loose metal objects that could slow you down through security. Keep any of these necessary items in your personal bag so you can put them on later.
To best way to prepare for your US travel for years to come is to submit your TSA precheck application online. It’s easy to complete and only costs $85 for 5 whole years! That’s a great deal for reducing a whole lot of stress at airport security.
Another great way to reduce stress is to wear comfortable clothes. Pick clothing that can quickly and easily be transitioned to professional wear when you arrive to your destination.
So whether you are new to travel or are a seasoned jet setter, following these tips can provide you with a solid foundation to travel stress, or almost stress free.