For the Road

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These days, I sleep in hotel rooms more often than my own bedroom. I hop a plane five or six times a month to cities all over the country, and traveling that much has helped me figure out the best ways to minimize stress and maximize my travel experience.

Here are some tips that can hopefully help you too:

Plan before you pack
The best way to ensure you don’t over pack is to plan out all your outfits ahead of time. Throwing a bunch of clothes in a bag and hoping for the best rarely works out, and you’ll end up packing more than you need. I am guilty of this sometimes! Space-saving tip: Stuff your socks and other small items in your shoes.

A few essentials I never travel without:
Portable steamer – Easier and much more efficient than ironing
Power pack charger – Ensures I will have enough juice for my laptop and phone so I can work and listen to music on long flights
Book – Even if I have a ton of work to do, I always set aside time to read a few pages. Right now, I’m reading “Do Over” by Jon Acuff
Dryer sheets – They remove static from your hair and clothes and make your suitcase smell awesome!

Don’t skip your veggies
Traveling often is no excuse for getting out of eating healthy. Every now and then, grabbing fast food during a short layover might be your only option, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to chain restaurants and burger joints when you land. Before I visit a new city, I make a list of healthy restaurants near my hotel. I also call ahead to make sure my hotel has a gym, and if it doesn’t, I try to find one nearby.

Thank your flight attendant
Flight attendants have a tough job: Not only do they have to ensure the safety of every person on the plane in the event of an emergency, but they also have to keep passengers calm and comfortable throughout the flight and remain cheerful.

Tipping flight attendants is rare these days, but it’s not a faux pas: On a recent flight, I gave a flight attendant a couple extra dollars after he brought my drink and snack, which he appreciated. It isn’t about the tip; it’s about showing someone you’re thankful for what they’re doing for you. If you don’t have a couple bucks to spare, at the very least, don’t forget to thank the crew!

Talk to your seatmate
Instead of sleeping or playing on your iPad, try striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. I’ve learned so many random things from doing this. My favorite conversation was with an adorable 10-year-old boy named Tristan who was flying to Florida for his birthday. I’d had a horrible day, and I was coming from Michigan, which was super cold, and all of the flights were delayed. My travel arrangements kept getting messed up, and I felt like I’d be stuck in the airport forever. Then I met Tristan. He was so happy and immediately began talking to me when I sat down. His excitement brightened my mood, and I wrote down everything he said because I knew that these one-liners would come in handy the next time I was having a bad day.

Here are some of my favorites:

“Hi, I’m Tristan, and this is the best day of my life. Have you ever been this high? Are we in heaven? Can they see me waving? My butt itches. Do you get to slide on the slide when you land (referring to the safety book)?” When we landed, he smiled so big and said, “I am so happy.”

Skip the line
Call the airline directly for missed or canceled flights! I’ve found that everyone else rushes straight to the kiosk as soon as a delayed flight lands or a flight is canceled. To save time and headaches, look up the airline’s number before you leave, save it in your phone, and call them as soon as possible to negotiate a new flight. It’s WAY more efficient and productive.

Be nice to people because you never know what their story is
I was in North Dakota for a speaking engagement and I was waiting for a shuttle to go from the airport to my hotel. It was cold outside, and I was sitting next to a man who was frantically flipping through the phone book. I noticed him calling lots of numbers, but nobody ever picked up. I asked him who he was trying to reach, and he said his name was Dewey and he was a mailman. He was trying to call a taxi so he could go to church because he never missed a church service.

When my hotel shuttle arrived, I asked the driver if we could take Dewey to church, but the driver said no. As we drove off, I told the driver about Dewey and how I wished I could do something for him. It was only a minute later that the driver turned around and decided to pick Dewey up, even though it was against his company policy. I’ve always been glad I helped Dewey make it to church.