Things I’ve Learned from Long Travel Days

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After 17 hours of traveling, we finally made it to Anchorage. The trip was, of course, not without it’s fair share of hiccups (read: freezing rain, missed flight, added connection, not being able to sit together, no naps…), but after so many years of traveling Kyle & I have learned how to make the most of it. I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to the things I’ve learned & wanted to share for anyone traveling, whether it’s a 3 hour flight or a 17 hour full day, to help you get through the inevitable travel hiccups.

Top 5 “Lessons Learned” From Long Travel Days:

1. Expect the unexpected. Hindsight is 20/20, so we probably could have avoided the mess of our day if we would have been able to foresee the original delay in Philly. And it’s not like we didn’t have a decent layover in Minneapolis. But how would I know we would have to de-ice TWICE, after our plane was LATE to even get to Philly??? It’s all par for the course, though with travel. You really have to learn to loosen up control and just go where the day takes you. We expected to miss our Minneapolis flight to Anchorage, and while frustrating, it really helped us to make a game plan for Plan B. When we found out Plan B meant an EXTRA connection in Seattle with an “illegal connection”, we expected to miss our flight to Anchorage. Because of that, we got waitlisted on 3 MORE FLIGHTS, just in case. By being prepared, it really helped us lower our stress. By expecting the unexpected, you can plan for alternatives.

2. Be flexible, yet firm. Maintaining your composure, peace & sanity, whether traveling or just in your normal life, is all about mindset. I’ve observed travelers who are always stressed, panicky, easily agitated, and can’t imagine they are having a good travel experience. Referencing point #1, if you learn to expect the unexpected, and remind yourself it’s outside your control & getting upset or freaked out will only hurt the situation, you’re bound to have a better day. Learn to be flexible with your travel plans. Kyle & I were joking that worst case scenario we’d just fly to Hawaii, although we’d only have snow shoes, puffer coats, & leggings…But, be firm with the airlines when your plans DO change. We had to FORCE Delta to book us the “illegal” connection since it’s out of policy. We had to tell the flight attendant that we knew there were flights going to Seattle & out to Anchorage vs. being stuck in Minneapolis. While it’s important to be flexible when things outside your control go wrong, it’s important to be firm to influence what you CAN control. It’ll help you get what you want without too much additional stress.

3. Dress for the occasion. I see airport fashion posts all the time, and just have to laugh. Sure, if you’re on a direct 1.5 hour flight heading somewhere for work, dress up. If not…why put yourself through it?? I love having my hair back, in a sweatshirt (granted, it’s a nice sweatshirt…), wearing a scarf to keep you warm. And as for that carry on luggage you’re wearing? If a backpack is easier on your back & fits the most stuff with the least amount of weight – I say go for it. Yeah, there are cuter options, but save that for your purse. I took my Better Life “Nadia” Bag in grey & white stripes packed with my iPad, books, neck pillow, & snacks. My backpack had all the “heavy” stuff: my laptop, my camera, more books & magazines, all the cords…

4. Pack snacks. And entertainment. And a blanket/neck pillow. When you’re traveling as long as we were (11:30AM EST to 4:30AM EST), your body will be completely out of whack. And while I ended the night with a bad stomachache (doesn’t help being 18 weeks pregnant), I’m so glad we thought through bringing GOOD snacks and TONS of entertainment options. I’m talking KIND bars, pretzels, and lots of water. We originally weren’t going to download movies on our iPad since the flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage would have individual TVs. Luckily, we did anyway…and that saved us on our “additional” flight to Seattle that was over 3 hours with NO in flight entertainment. And that neck pillow & blanket scarf?? Sitting on a plane for almost 9 hours is anything but comfortable, so having something to cuddle up with is extremely helpful.

LASTLY…

When your travel day is going perfect, and you realize people have a tough day: be nice to them. Do they want your seat? Give it to them. Do they need help putting their bags in the overhead? Help them. We ran into our fair share of “unhelpful” people and that was frustrating. Traveling can be stressful for everyone, so don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

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