how to travel like a pro (when you're type a)

Monday, June 26, 2017
I travel quite a bit for work and am also Type A, so airports, security lines and boarding my plane all bring on a special kind of anxiety that leaves me queasy and shaky, no matter what. For the first trip or two and for most of the other flights I've taken over the last couple of years, I've felt pretty much the same. But because I am Type A, I know if I plan ahead and prepare for everything, I'll make it through the trip with my sanity intact.

So, I wanted to share the tips that keep my head on straight and make flying a little easier when you want to be in control of your own circumstances all the time – and, obviously, cannot.

Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

This is the No. 1 recommendation I have for you if you have any sort of travel anxiety. Once I get out of the security line and to my terminal, I am totally fine. But I am always convinced that I don't have enough time. I combat this by making sure that I have at least two hours to get through security, get Starbucks, find my gate, etc.

If you have a layover, check a map of the airport you'll be landing in beforehand.

Please, tell me I'm not the only one who always has a panic attack on the plane every time I have a layover ahead of me? Especially if it's a short one. I always assume I'm going to miss my connecting flight, get lost, not going to be able to find a bathroom... all of the above. I check the map of the connecting airport before I fly so I know where I'm (probably) going to deplane and where my next flight departs. Most airports have restaurants and other things on the map, too, so I can plot my meal or bathroom break if time allows.

And, if you have the option, don't book a flight with a layover of less than an hour. 

For my flight today, for example, I could either have a 3 hour layover or a 50-minute layover in the Phoenix airport. I know most of you are thinking, "Wait, what? 50 minutes, please." But yes, I would rather wait in an airport for 3 hours as opposed to run to my connecting flight and possibly miss it and have to wait those 3 hours – or longer – for the next flight. And if you, too, would spend the entire 4 hour flight to Phoenix panicking over whether or not you would miss your connection, then I recommend doing the same.

Download your airline's app on your phone and add your boarding passes to Wallet. 

You don't know how much better I feel when I have my boarding passes on my phone, not printed out on paper. I never have the stomach in throat reaction that I've lost my boarding pass (as if I couldn't just get another one), because losing my phone is a lot less likely. I also love the American app – surprisingly enough. It allows me to keep an eye on flight changes and I can upgrade my seat, check in for my flight and anything else from the app. It came in a ton of handy on my last flight, which got delayed by about an hour; they didn't update the screens and only said the new departure time once over the speaker! But the app updated right away and tells you how long until boarding, so I could keep an eye on my flight until my computer was charged enough to leave the outlet I'd found.

If your airport is big enough, it will have multiple security checkpoints – find the one farthest from the entrance!

This is so so so important. It's not a secret, but no one seems to know about Checkpoint E in the Charlotte airport. I was worried it wouldn't be open this morning when I came through but it was! Not every airport has multiple security checkpoints, but if you're traveling to an airport that does, I guarantee you that the farthest one from the entrance will have the shortest line. Once I get through security, I feel a lot calmer, and knowing there aren't 90 people behind me waiting to also take off their shoes keeps security from being the absolute worst.

Organize your bag so if TSA has to search it, your heart doesn't explode and your stuff doesn't, either.

This happened today! But because I keep my bag so neatly organized, everything tucked into its own pouch, it was no big deal. Did you know you should be taking books and snacks out of your carryon bags? I didn't either, but it's a new thing that some airports are doing. Charlotte just flags bags and swipes your snacks down. I don't mind because, hey, I'm always plenty early for my flight. But it would stress me out if I had to reorganize my bag or if I misplaced or lost something because it had to get searched at the security checkpoint! I use cute little pouches I picked up from ThirtyOne and Charming Charlie for snacks, phone chargers, pens, bandaids and other first aid supplies, etc.

Happy travels! What are your travel-like-a-pro travel tips?


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