When traveling domestically or internationally, I always do a few things to simplify the travel process. Take my Sage Travel advice and use these travel hacks to make what can often be a high-stress situation at the airport a little more enjoyable.
The best way to simplify traveling is to bypass lines to save time. There are a few ways to do this;
1. Become a Known Traveler
Going through security and customs is easily one of the most tedious parts of travel. When you are a Known Traveler, you get certain perks that make this process much less of a hassle. You don't have to take off your shoes (sometimes heels still have to come off because of the metal shank in the heel or arch), electronics and liquids can stay in your bags, and you do not have to go through that full-body Xray, but instead, you can go through a metal detector. TSA precheck is such a time saver. For international travel, Global Entry is a must-have for returning to the USA; NEXUS is excellent for travel between the USA and Canada. Many different credit cards, like American Express Platinum and other loyalty programs, will cover the cost of enrollment.
Another program that is useful for both traveling and attending events is CLEAR. One time I lost my ID while on a trip, and I was unsure how to handle this at the airport the next day. Then I remembered they had a CLEAR line in that terminal, so I did not even need my identification because my fingerprints brought up my picture and profile.
What is the difference between these programs?
2. Carry on only
Traveling with just carry-on luggage is such a time saver. Not only does it bypass the check-in desk and baggage claim, but it illuminates the risk of losing luggage. It may be a lot of work on the front end, but it makes everything easier for me. I plan my outfits, so I'm less likely to overpack. The best way to do this is to choose pieces that are easy to mix and match. Sometimes I'll plan all my outfits around one pair of heels, flats, and a bag that goes with everything. I use this carry-on roller suitcase and a large tote that I can also use as a beach or shopping bag. I have been using this one for years and also have this one that I love. I have a few other blog posts about packing carry-on only here and here, plus I often share what I packed for a trip on my Instagram stories. I always stuff a blanket-type scarf and a pair of socks in my tote for the plane if I get chilly or have to take off my shoes for security.
Sage advice: In the winter, packing different scarves gives the illusion of wearing different outfits while rewearing the same warm sweater or coat.
3. Navigating Airports
Most airlines now have apps, which make checking in ahead of time and monitoring flights so much easier. Usually, there is an airport terminal map in the app that will list bathrooms, lounges, and restaurants. I like to study the airport maps a bit before my trip so that once I go through security, I have an idea of where I am going. If I have time, my destination before going to the gate is usually a lounge. When traveling internationally, I often make time to check out the lounge. There are many ways to get into a lounge. Some plane tickets include lounge access, sometimes there is a fee to enter, certain credit cards grant entry, and sometimes it comes with status in a loyalty program. Typically the food and drinks are complimentary, and sometimes, there are little spas inside of them offering mini services that only require signing up. Lounges are a great place to relax and recharge in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a busy airport.
Sage advice: The electric carts at the airport aren't just for the elderly or injured. Anyone can politely ask to be driven to their gate for free within the terminal whether running late, traveling with kids, or simply tired of walking. Just be sure to give the driver a small tip for the convenience.
4. Stick to My Routine
Some people need their morning coffee; I need my morning protein drink. Besides water and my vitamins, it is the first thing I consume after waking up and serves as my breakfast. It has become so ingrained in my routine that it is the one thing I would miss when I traveled. Since I travel with only carry-on luggage, bringing my beloved shakes with me was impossible since they are over 3.4oz. That is until I found out that I could get them through security if frozen! I don't remember where we were traveling home from, but the ladies going through security behind us pulled out frozen water bottles from their bags and sent them through the scanner in a separate bin. I had never thought about what a simple solution that is. When I travel, I make sure to put the number of shakes I will need for the trip in the freezer a few days before we leave and place them in my tote just before walking out the door. I keep them in a gallon-size ziplock bag, so they are easy to pull out and place in the bin at security. Be sure to tell the TSA agent that they are frozen to avoid them being pulled aside to be checked over, which can cost you valuable time in getting to your gate.
I also bring my travel yoga mat with me. This mat folds up so small but has an ample footprint so I can do my Peloton barre, pilates, and yoga classes in the comfort of my hotel room.
Sage advice: Freeze liquids over 100ml/3.4oz to get them through security. This works for water bottles, breast milk/formula, protein shakes, etc
4. Stay in Charge
These pocket-sized chargers are great because many airports (and Disney) have kiosks where you can exchange a dead cartridge for a fully charged one... for free! The kiosks also sell the starter packs with all the mini charging cables, but I got mine cheaper here and always carry one with me. I love how convenient they are and that they easily fit into a small purse. It may not fully recharge a dead phone, but it is usually enough to get me to where I need to go to find an outlet.
Sage advice: Use this map to see if there are kiosks on your travel itinerary.
5. Use Your Words
I travel internationally as often as I can. I enjoy seeing new places, meeting new people, and eating new foods. My work with Rotary International feeds this passion in me, and through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, I get to nurture that travel bug in others! One of the most important things when traveling abroad is to learn a few key phrases in the language of the place you are traveling to and then to USE it every chance you get. Even a simple hello, goodbye, please, and thank you in the native language of the country you are visiting can go a long way to show appreciation and respect. I do lessons on DuoLingo every day in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. If I want to do a crash course to practice my pronunciation and speaking skills with a native speaker, I rely on this site. Finding an inexpensive tutor that fits your schedule and learning style is simple. I've also used Babble and Rosetta Stone. They all serve their purpose, but I find DuoLingo's easiest to stay consistent with because the lessons are so quick.
Sage advice: In addition to pleasantries, learning basic directions (enter, exit, left, right, straight) will help you read signage in airports.
My husband and I love to travel. We have our favorite places, like Nantucket, France and Disney's Epcot, but we love discovering new ones too. We have vowed to visit a new country every year, as well as discover a new place within our own continent. Together we have visited; France, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Italy Luxembourg, Monaco, Bahamas, Morocco, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Aruba, Sweden, Bermuda, and The Netherlands. Our next destination - TBT!