In the past 2.5 months I have traveled both internationally and domestic to five different cities. It may not seem like a lot, but given that I hadn’t been on any major trips lately, it feels like I’ve constantly been on the road. I’ve been to Rome and Positano, Italy; Chicago, IL; Asheville, NC; and the Eastern Shore, MD. While some of the trips have been a complete breeze, others have been filled with tons of travel anxiety, canceled flights, spider infested hotel rooms, and unmet expectations.
I decided to write a post about How to Keep Your Cool While Traveling, since we so often hear about the great things that come with travel, and we don’t hear as much about how to cope with the downsides of travel- like trip delays, cancellations, culture shock, and more. Coming in off a major travel delay from my trip to Asheville, NC, this past weekend, I found the inspiration to write this post, with my tips on keeping it cool while travel. I hope you can relate!
The above image taken just before finding out that BWI Airport and my airline was *NOT* going to get me to my travel destination, LOL.
Tip #1: Be Positive. Ultimately, when you travel, you have zero control on what’s going on. Whether it’s a canceled flight, horrendous traffic in the middle of the night for roadwork, or a hotel hiccup, it is all out of your control. The only thing you can control is yourself and your mind. While travel delays, failed expectations, and other hiccups are frustrating and annoying, try to make a positive out of the situation.
For instance, this past weekend on our trip to Asheville, our flight was canceled WHILE we were at the airport with 20 minutes until boarding. We ended up having to rent a car and drive 8 hours through the night, which I was angry about at the time, but in hindsight worked better for us. With a rental car, we were able to get around Asheville much easier than taking Ubers everywhere (as we had been planning to do), and I even was able to bring home a super eclectic one-of-a-kind piece of vintage art that I wouldn’t have been able to carry home on an airplane and the dealer wasn’t keen on shipping it! And on the drive home, we stopped at my alma mater, Radford University, since we passed it on the way and it brought back a ton of fun college memories! I hadn’t been to Radford in 13+ years so it was a nice little detour since I don’t know when I’ll be back again!
Tip # 2: Take a Break. Whether it’s a travel delay or culture shock in a new environment you’ve never been in before, sometimes the best thing to do is take a break. Find a local café, airport restaurant, or a good place to exit off the highway, order yourself coffee/tea (or wine if you aren’t driving!) and relax for a few to get your mind right. When my Aunt Pam and I were in Rome in May, I felt a bit of culture shock the first day. We got lost for 2 hours while looking for the Trevi Fountain <the streets in Rome are SUPER confusing, FYI> and we were both feeling defeated in a new city. We took a break at a café in a pretty square, had a glass of wine and split a cheese board and relaxed. We took in the sights and people watched, and by the end of our break we were laughing about our lost for 2 hours expedition, instead of being upset about it while we were in the moment.
Tip #3: Trust Your Gut. If you feel uncomfortable in a place, its normally for a reason. I recently had an awful experience finding spiders in my first hotel room while in Chicago and it was terrible. After the hotel tried to fix the issue in a failed second attempt for a room, I knew I needed to get out of there. I ended up checking out and finding a new hotel and I felt so much better. If you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with your hotel, a taxi ride, or a location that leaves you feeling uneasy, get out of there immediately! Don’t settle in this case as you’ll be on edge and won’t be enjoying your vacation.
Tip #4: Always Have a Charged Phone. You never know what may come up when traveling and most of the time if you encounter a delay or issue, you’ll need your phone to be able to fix the problem. Travel with your phone fully charged and bring a back-up charging brick with a cord always. When I was dealing with the crazy hotel issue in Chicago, my phone was at just 10% and I was desperately looking for a place close by I could go to charge my phone. It just added additional stress to an already stressful moment. I managed to find a Starbucks close by, but had my phone died before I made it to Starbucks I would’ve been stranded in a city I’ve never been and am not familiar with, walking aimlessly through the streets in search of a place I could sit and charge my phone for a bit.
In addition, download the apps for your flight, hotel, train, or rental car and sign up for text message updates. This will keep you informed real-time of any delays so you can plan accordingly.
Tip #5: Be Active. When Caroline and I were both stuck for extra time at the Chicago airport with flight delays, we decided to walk through the airport terminals to get our blood flowing with a little bit of exercise. This helped take our minds off the fact that we had longer wait times and made us feel better that we were being active rather than sitting at an overcrowded gate around other annoyed travelers. Some airports also even have Yoga rooms- we saw one in Chicago and had I been in the right clothing, I would’ve totally utilized it!
Blonde in the District