Thanks to Avis for partnering on this post.
It’s hard not to dread holiday travel. Sure, you end up somewhere great— visiting with family, sunning yourself on a tropical island— but the getting there? It can be a nightmare. There are a few tried-and-true tricks that I employ whenever I travel that make the experience more tolerable. The key, I’ve found, is to plan ahead, control what you can control, and surrender to the rest. Sometimes your flight will get delayed (as mine did recently… for 5 hours), or you’ll spend a night sleeping in your clothes in a city you hadn’t planned visiting (like I did last month, in Chicago… good times). The rest of time, you can streamline your experience by planning ahead and arming yourself with the right tools.
I’ve got my routine down to a science— from the luggage I tote to how I move through the airport, to how I rent a car for a speedy getaway. I’m a new Avis member, but after using their Avis Now app (iOS and Android) for the first time on a recent trip, I was hooked. It was the easiest, fastest and frictionless car rental I’ve ever experienced. Yes, they’ve partnered with me to write this post— from one frequent traveler to another, I promise you won’t be disappointed if you give it a try.
Here are a few holiday travel secrets that will help you get from A to B with less stress this season.
Get through fast
I made the investment in TSA Precheck or Global Entry years ago and it’s some of the best money I ever spent. Those are the magical membership programs that let you breeze through airport security without having to take your shoes off, unpack your bag or otherwise inconvenience yourself.
On the other side of my trip, I use services like Avis Now to bolt through the airport and right into my rental car. The app lets you book your rental car with a few taps, then find your car on arrival, get into it and drive away without having to stop at a counter or talk to a human (unless you want to, in which case the Avis folks are very nice!).
The Avis Now mobile app lets you choose the exact car you want, with no surprises down the road. Sometimes, a car size is critical— when you need room for 7, a compact car is not an option. (Fun fact: Minivans are the first to book up during the holiday season). So it’s reassuring to know that the car I see on the Avis Now app is the car I’m gonna get. And while you’re booking your car, you can specify SiriusXM (I’m addicted) and GPS (a godsend in an unfamiliar city) and know that your car will be equipped with everything you need when you get there.
Traveling wreaks havoc on your body, and all those miles in the air in a low-moisture environment can lead to significant dehydration. To stay healthy, and avoid everything from jet lag to constipation to chapped lips, it’s important to stay hydrated. I bring an empty water bottle on the plane (to avoid buying one of those ridiculously-expensive ones at the airport) and have a flight attendant fill it when I get on board. Then it’s chug chug chug til touchdown. I also try to stay hydrated from the outside in: I wear a thick, nighttime moisturizer and lots of lip balm to keep my face from drying out.
This one’s a toughie, but I try to eat especially healthfully for a couple days before I travel, and all the way through the trip. Specifically, I try to eat a low-inflammation diet, which means no dairy, no sugar, and no wheat… I also try to rule out caffeine and alcohol too— sounds like no fun, I know, but I got tired of how chronic headaches, swollen fingers or always getting sick messed up my trips, business or pleasure. On this diet, I feel like I’m giving my body the tools it needs to keep my immunity strong and fight the perils of travel.
Never, ever, check a bag
OK, if I’m traveling for more than a week with no access to laundry, I might relent and check a bag. But the rest of the time I pack whatever can fit in my trusty carry-on, and that’s it. I detest waiting for my bag at baggage claim (at JFK it can take 30 minutes!) and I detest losing my luggage even more. I am in love with this smart suitcase, whose built-in battery can charge my phone at the airport, and it’s lightweight polycarbonate shell and four rollers make it a delight to wheel through the airport.
I have some regular carry-on stand-bys and some toiletry must-haves. I keep them all pre-packed in zippered bags and pouches so I’m half packed before I even start. Toiletries are kept in a spill-resistant bag, and my plane accessories (charging cables, earbuds, smartphone battery) are ready to grab in a see-through pouch that makes finding things a cinch on the plane.
Everything matches. That’s my mantra when packing for a trip, from the shoes to the clothes to the accessories. This way, I’m not limited in how I layer, and I end up packing fewer pairs of shoes. This usually means I’m in a lot of black, grey, white and denim— it just works.
Be as paperless as possible
When I travel, I have everything I need scanned and stored in a cloud drive like Evernote or Dropbox. This way, if I ever need to look up my hotel itinerary, my restaurant reservation, or my airline record locator, it’s all on my smartphone. I also take a picture of all my ID— my license, passport or the kid’s birth certificates— which could be a life-saver if things were stolen. Putting my airline ticket in my phone’s wallet, or on my Apple Watch also helps in my quest to be paperless.
Fanny packs rule
But not the ones that made your dad look uncool. Whether I’m sight-seeing in a new city, or traversing Manhattan on a business trip, there is something liberating about having all my valuables around my waist. I can be hands-free and not have to worry about theft, or lugging a handbag around. Wearing a chic fanny pack (shop pretty ones here) adds some cool to your outfit, and puts all your valuables in front of you so you can keep an eye on them. I’ve been using this ultra-slim pack for years— it expands to fit only what’s inside of it, so with a couple credit cards and a small pile of cash inside I can wear it under my shirt and walk around unencumbered.
Bring stress busters
When your flight gets delayed. When fellow passengers are bickering. When a flight attendant spills soda on your shoes… you need a reliable stress-buster that can pull you from the brink and deliver you to equanimity. I travel with an essential oil roll-on, a few drops of which can restore my sanity, and also try to drink lots of stress-relieving tea while I’m on the road. Oh, and this candle is my new addition… it’s small enough for me to pack, and it’s scent provides an instant familiarness that makes any hotel room feel homey.
I was compensated by Avis for this review. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting our sponsors— they help keep things going here at CKHQ.