Do you sometimes feel like travel can be an exhausting and expensive experience? Everyone deserves to travel the world and experience new things without ending up broke or feeling burnt out from it. The choices you make before and during travel will lead to how you feel after.
Having traveled internationally for business and pleasure for over 15 years I’ve utilized the following tips to ensure I keep my money in my pocket and get home from my trips without requiring excessive recuperation time.
Pre Planning Tips:
Book flights earlier than you need to actually arrive at your destination. Rushing between connections or to rental car pick-ups can wreak havoc on the body and leave you stressed out and sweaty. Remove the stress factor by booking earlier flights and if there are delays you prevent your body from going into fight or flight mode. Why is this important? Well, unnecessary stress can actually cause the body to send out certain signals of distress that make it think that can cause an immune system response which will also affect your mood, appetite and metabolism.This can leave you feeling depleted and craving not-so-healthy things. Allow plenty of time to avoid those scenarios. Having RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) requires me to think about these things but they are good tips for anyone. Booking earlier flights also allows some wiggle room in your schedule so if your flight becomes overbooked you can give up your seat for a later flight in exchange for a travel credit voucher. Use the voucher towards the purchase of a future flight ticket. Cha Ching!
Be Consistent. Pack the same way every trip. Leave your suitcase and travel necessities in the same spot between trips. Use the same airline when possible to accumulate travel points and also to be familiar with the layout of the terminal, which also assists on knowing the stores and food spots to hit up that will have inexpensive and healthy options if you aren’t bringing your own grub.
Less is more. This one is pretty simple. Only pack the necessities. Overwhelm leads to stress, stress leads to unhealthy decisions and honestly you don’t really need four pairs of shoes, trust me. This also leaves room in your suitcase for any travel purchases without running the risk of an overstuffed suitcase. Sometimes an overstuffed suitcase can lead to additional baggage fees. I am able to pack so light these days that I typically use my carryon and 1 personal bag exclusively. However, you should always pack a bathing suit. Going to Alaska? Not sure you’ll have any down time? Pack one anyway. Hotels generally have heated pools and hot tubs which are great for joint- friendly exercise and overall relaxation.
Scope out the area you’re visiting ahead of time. Locate any parks or restaurants that interest you. Following this tip assists with planning out any walks or meals and eliminates the risk of skipping a workout or somehow finding yourself at a fast food joint. You can also use an app like foursquare, opentable, groupon or yelp to check out reviews and pictures. I’ve also used those apps to scroll through comments of hotels to see if any free wifi info is listed! Use social media to ask your friends for recommendations of the area you’re heading to. In facebook you can even use the graph search for friends who live near the place you’re headed to like ‘friends who live near Las Vegas, NV’ to reach out to them personally. Whatever you do, don’t try to wing it too much.
Pack Power. Not all airlines have power outlets on the plane. Utilize terminal charging stations and always have a battery backup source for emergencies. I also pack a car charger if I have a rental car and have an extended USB cable to borrow some power juice from my laptop in emergency situations. I guess you can say I recommend having a backup for your backup.
Ditch Driving a Yourself to the Airport. Use Uber or a decently priced personal driving service. When you factor in the additional travel time, parking daily rates and stress of needing to walk your way from arrivals back to security its typically more convenient to pay someone else to drive. 99% of the time I opt to do this instead of driving myself to the airport. Less stress leads to a better travel experience and the more likeliness that I’ll avoid stress eating or getting wiped out from exhaustion. I wouldn’t ask a friend or family member to drive you though, because then you’ll owe them one, which can add stress down the road. So weight the pros and cons of driving yourself vs taking a service to the airport.
During your travels:
Price Shop. If you’re a water snob and only drink bottled water be sure to ask the prices before buying. Airports don’t always have prices listed and I’ve found that the middle sized bottles are actually MORE money than the large sometimes! I had an interesting conversation with an airport employee once where he said they expect everyone to go with the middle size. So check this out during your own travels and report back to me on your findings. You may find the larger bottles to be cheaper.
Boarding. When they offer boarding for special assistance, and you’re having a crappy day, board. If you’re embarrassed to do so here’s another tip. Have your boarding pass on your phone since you scan the ticket yourself you could technically board in an earlier group. I have ONLY done this when I was feeling too weak or achy to last much longer standing in a crowded boarding area. Please, please, be respectful and do not do this unless you really require it. I haven’t done this in a long time since I’ve been feeling so great! I hope the ticket police don’t come after me now.
Plane Seating. On the plane I prefer the window seat and use my neck pillow to lean on for extra space or to alleviate any joint discomfort I may be having. Some argue that there’s more leg room on the aisle seat however I’ve been bumped into one too many times being left with extra achy arms or legs. Additionally, I put the arm rest that’s in between the seats in the up position for even more space. Normally my neighbor doesn’t even notice but on occasion I’ve been asked if it can be put down. If I’m feeling ok that day I comply but if not I politely explain my elbows start to ache if confined for too long up against the hard arm rest and ask if it can stay up and then crack a joke saying I don’t mind being a little cozy as long as they don’t. Smiling and being nice goes a long way. If you require extra leg room for knee or foot issues try to scoop up an exit row seat or upgrade to the extra leg room section just keep in mind that you may not have a spot to place a carryon item in front of you. Check out the seat map ahead of time.
Keep Cooties Away. Carry hand sanitizers and wash your hands frequently. This is a simple one. I like to use a natural essential oil based hand sanitizer that I keep on me. I also use essential oils on scarves and bring a mini usb diffuser with me for my hotel room if space allows.
Listen to Your Body This is a biggie! You may want to try and cram in as much activity as possible but be sure to listen to your body. Are you staying hydrated? Eating decently? Getting enough rest? Don’t overdue it so much or neglect your normal regimen causing you to be in bad shape when you return home. Limited time to exercise? Try walking extra or doing simple workouts or stretches in your room. May not seem like a mind blowing tip, but your body will thank you if you are treating it nicely.
Be Nice! Your travel experience will be so much better if you don’t allow delays or disruptions to foul your mood. Smile, say hello, make eye contact and things will go much better. On several occasions I’ve been offered complimentary beverages and also bypassed security lines by being genuinely nice, offering a smile or asking someone how they are feeling today. Do not go into it expecting anything in return other than feeling good about spreading some love. Who knows, you may even end up with a new, super-close friend. When I was in Australia I acquired a lifetime friend from complimenting her adorable pigtails while eating breakfast in my hotel in Sydney. Since then, she’s stayed with me in the US and she and I have traveled to the Australian outback together and Uluru. How cool is that?
What tips do you have for saving money and feeling great while traveling? Please share, I’d love to hear them! Tried out one of my tips and loved it? Let me know in the comments or connect with me.