Getting to your travel destination can be a frustrating experience, especially during busy times of the year when lots of other people are traveling and joining you on the roads or at the airport. There are lots of apps, websites, and Twitter accounts that can help make travel easier, but my primary travel strategy is simply to leave plenty of spare time, whenever possible. This gives me the best chance of arriving at my destination unfrazzled and ready to go.
Leaving extra time when driving
I live in an area where the two roads out of town are both twisty ones with a single lane in each direction. If there’s an accident on either one, traffic is horrible. On top of that, the area can get ground-hugging fog that makes it difficult to see. Therefore, I learned long ago to leave plenty of extra time if I need to get somewhere by a specific time.
Other people might not have quite the road situation I have, but anyone can be delayed by bad traffic or bad weather. Leaving some contingency time helps ensure those delays don’t cause problems.
Leaving extra time when flying
I get to airports early, partly because I’ve left plenty of spare driving time to allow for problems that usually don’t materialize. But I also like to be prepared for things going wrong at the airport, especially the extra long lines that you sometimes encounter when going through security.
I also like to book connections that aren’t too tight, because flights do get delayed. I check the on-time performance of my possible flights and try to choose those least likely to be delayed, but there’s never any guarantee.
And, when possible, I try to book flights that get me to my destination somewhat earlier than necessary (if there’s a specific event that I’m attending) so that if a flight is delayed or a connection missed, I have a chance to rebook and still get to the event on time.
Using extra airport time productively
As an adult traveling without children, I have it easy. Many airports have free WiFi, so if I have a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone with me, there’s always plenty to do. Sometimes I’ll just use the time for reading: a magazine, a book, or an e-book. Without any of the distractions of home (cats demanding attention, laundry to be done, etc.). I can have a bit of focused time to do some work or enjoy some leisure.
I know others who use spare airport time for exercise, making sure they get their 10,000 steps (or whatever their personal goals are) for the day.
And some airports actually have interesting attractions you can visit. For example, the San Francisco airport has its own museum, with exhibits at every terminal.
For those traveling with children, extra airport time might be used to just move around before the enforced airplane sitting begins. Some airports have play areas to help younger children pass the time.
And, of course, there’s food. I’ll often grab a meal at the airport, or pick up something tasty (and not stinky) to eat on the plane. I’ve used the GateGuru app to help me choose an eatery at an unfamiliar airport.