I really, REALLY like the adventure of travel.
Going through TSA efficiently without getting stopped (my person or my bags), getting to the right gate and in my seat with ease. Takeoff and landing. Meeting up with the people I’m supposed to connect with. Trying new foods, people watching, seeing new places and making new memories. All of it forces me to grow. And I really enjoy that!
But it can be stressful; e-s-p-e-c-i-a-l-l-y when all of the things with (air) travel do not go as expected.
Last week, I had the adventure of traveling to Los Angeles for what was to be a 26-hour trip. Super exciting and manageable, right?
Well yes – until the flight is delayed by two hours and forty-five minutes AND there is already a two-hour time difference. Y’all! I think my body has finally forgiven me.
I am grateful for the experience of travel but when it is such a short trip like this one, into a new experience there are a few things I did and planned well and a couple of things I wish I’d cued up better before leaving from Texas to California.
1 | MY LUGGAGE
This may sound silly, but I was not going to bring a suitcase one night. It was on principle y’all.
When I was married to Chad, he would also say, “you pack it, you carry it”. It was definitely the Marine Corps training in him, but I was also a horribly bad overpacker. I packed for situations that could not have been humanly crafted and then attempted to bat my eyelashes at him to carry it all. He wasn’t chivalrous like the movies and looking back on it now, I’m kind of grateful.
I now pack with preparation but also in the event that I’m traveling by my lonesome – which I was on this most recent trip – I can handle all of my possessions and keep them under my care without looking as though I was a performer in the Cirque De Soliel.
One day, I’m going to have an AWAY set of luggage to jet set around the world. A former co-worker allowed me to borrow her white “Bigger Carry-On” for our honeymoon to Sonoma last year and I’m still crushing on it. Seriously, I see people rolling their bags through the airport, I’m all like, “someday cuties, someday” (talking about the navy and white suitcases, not about the people).
For now, my extra large duffel from Target – which they still have – has traveled all over the world and was perfect for my most recent trip to L.A.
And a quick half-tip:
One thing I have to say is that Apple and American are not on the same page with the headphone situation. Since upgrading from an iPhone 6 plus to an iPhone 8, I have had to learn to adapt to the one outlet challenge. For those who don’t know, the same portal you use to charge your phone is the same one where the headphones go. I’m glad I had a book to read and a backup charger because I couldn’t listen to music or watch movies from the headrest in front of me (and drown out all the sniffling, coughing and other weird, super loud noises people make when they get settled into their seat on an airplane) and charge my phone at the same time – which I used to be able to do. When I went to research it, the solution was to buy a special adapter.
Which I did not. But fellow iPhone users, be warned and look into this before you travel.
2 | APPS ON MY PHONE
I used to silently judge other travelers for having their tickets on their phones. Thinking they were being “extra” by trying to be too hip and up to the trend of doing everything digitally.
Now, I’m one of those travelers.
For the few airlines that we consistently travel on, American + Alaska Air (in that order), I have their apps on my phone and am able to do everything from checking in, selecting my seat and pulling up my ticket – from my phone. It’s phenomenal!
And thanks to the diligence of my Mister, I now have an Advantage Air number/account with American and am collecting them miles.
And because my flight on the way home was delayed, I got all updates via text and call. It was so easy. Annoying because we were repeatedly delayed, but easy because I didn’t have to do anything but receive the communication. I so appreciate that!
The one app I struggled with on this last trip was my Uber app.
I’d used it before but when I got to the airport, my cell phone coverage was horrible because I was basically in a basement and I couldn’t get the app to open. Eventually, after 20 minutes of fiddling with it, I was able to get my account working again and request an Uber Driver to take us from LAX to our hotel in Woodland Hills.
Recommendation? Make sure all apps and gadgets are charged, downloaded, connected properly to payment accounts and ready to go before you leave your home and working Wi-Fi.
3 | LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD
When I travel, I want things to be easy peasy. I want to be able to access things (cords, extra charger, essential oils) quickly and without holding up the line.
And let me say, that while traveling is an adventure, it’s also a massive opportunity to be considerate of other travelers. I’m not going to go into all of that right here, but let me say, stuff you do at your house as far as personal grooming goes, should wait until you arrive at your next private location. I’m looking at you dude who took off his shoes and put his feet up on the seat in front of him.
The way I lighten my load is to wear the same pair of pants both days. Or I take photos of the Bible Study devotional so that I don’t have to bring the entire book to cover one page. I will bring items that I can use once and toss while keeping costs low or even forgo my natural regular skin care routine for what is provided for free (and without weight) in the hotel room.
Another thing that helps me to lighten my load is to think ahead about my return.
4 | CONSIDER YOUR RE-ENTRY
I catch a lot of flack for being an “over thinker” but here is an area where I find it comes in handy!
No matter the reason for the trip or the experience, even as I’m packing to go, I’m considering the return. And I make adjustments in my schedule accordingly. Where people are relying upon me, I stock up on coffee and godly grace to be present and do what it is they need and then there is clear communication about when I need to unplug and just sleep. That has been a remarkable help in getting back on track.
Be intentional about your schedule when you return from any amount of travel. Give yourself permission to take something off of your plate and give your body a little extra time to recover. Do as much planning and preparation for events before you leave so that you can really enjoy down time guilt and pressure free. I did well with this but know that I could do even better.
I’ll be using these tips during the coming year as I go back and forth between DFW and LAX to do volunteer work to support Gold Star spouses. I hope to get better and better at implementing these four (and a half) tips so that I can focus more and more on the people I’m flying to meet and serve and enjoy the scenery too.