5 ways to travel stress free

Stress-free travel is an experience many want but few enjoy.

Over the last 30 years, I've traveled literally millions of miles. Most of those miles have been by air, including one year with three separate around the world trips - Los Angeles, Tokyo, Bangkok, Ubon Ratchitani, Vientiane, Pakse Taiwan, Frankfurt and then back to Los Angeles.

So many people stress out about travel. Perhaps the 5 strategies listed below will alleviate some of this stress. 

One of my first long flights was to Zurich, Switzerland and then onto the Ivory Coast and finally to Mali. There was plenty of reason to be stressed. Not only was I flying to a very strange land, but the itinerary included a flight from Bamako, the capital, to Timbuktu. During my visit, the whole country of Mali lost their telephone system. I don't know if Mali, being a French protectorate, had anything to do with the blackout but being shut out from the rest of the world was frightening.

Whenever I see someone boarding a flight carrying their own pillow, I say a little prayer for them. That security pillow is clutched so hard that ripping it from their arms is the only way to remove it. More recently, growth in the use of "comfort animals" is huge. At first, it was dogs but now you are likely to see anything from a lizard to a pig. Finding yourself sitting next to a peacock is somewhat disconcerting and yes, even scary.

We humans will seemingly go to the ends of the earth to relieve stress. Unfortunately flying is one of the most stressful activities ranking right up there with public speaking and underwater diving. Stress seems inextricably intertwined with travel, especially air travel. Now there are some that avoid ships like the plague. However, based on the number of people signing up for cruises, most handle those with a minimum of stress. 

So, let's move on to the 5 strategies as promised:

1. Stress before the flight.

Anticipating the flight is often more stressful than the flight itself. Getting to the airport on time, going through the TSA checkpoints and finding the gate are all stress producing. Even the experience of parking the car can be challenging. The antidote to these stress points is simple:

Be fully prepared with all the paperwork for the flight.

Make a reservation at an offsite parking lot. They will drop you right at the entrance door relieving a lot of stress. Try the company "The Spot." It is a good value and includes car to airport entrance service. 

2. Traversing the TSA checkpoint overly stresses many.

It costs $70 to be approved and has ongoing access to the TSA Pre-Check line. Not having to stand in long lines, inching forward, and checking your watch to see if you'll miss your connection is definitely worth it. You can take one more step in the stress reduction panoply of options and sign up for "Clear" too. It is a little more expensive but seldom has any line at all, which is wonderful.    

3. Get to the gate on time.

Knowing you've got a nice 30-minute wait at the gate is soothing. You can find a seat in the waiting area, stop at the restroom, and even buy a coke. When they call your flight, it is just like walking next door to visit a friendly neighbor.

4. Expect delays and cranky passengers.

Unfortunately, delays are just part of the experience. When they happen, take them in stride as there is nothing you can do about either the weather or a mechanical issue. Say a quick prayer to calm yourself and be thankful that you will be flying safely instead of in danger. 

I recently arrived at the Denver airport about 1:30 pm for a 2:15 pm flight. We were at the gate with time to spare and then the cascading events began. Without going through all the gory details, we finally left on a flight at 1:15 am the following morning. Finally, 12 hours after we were supposed to leave we actually left. We stayed calm and simply went from one delay to the next. When we finally took off, there was a sigh of relief.


5. Get excited about your destination.

When I'm asked about the amount of traveling that I do, my stock answer is this, "I put my mind and body into neutral and leave it there until we arrive." I'm always excited about the experience I'll have at the destination. There is an old adage that "God can't steer a parked car." The message is to keep moving and be available. Those who remain stuck do not have the thrill of victory by only experiencing the agony of defeat. 

Here is a quick review of the 5 key points:

  • Be fully prepared
  • Get to the airport early and be registered for Pre-Check
  • Arrive at the gate 30 minutes before flight time
  • Expect delays and put your mind and body into neutral
  • Anticipate the experience unfolding upon arrival

Technology gives us the opportunity to experience travel and varied cultures like no one else in all of history. Take that mission trip. Create your bucket list and start checking it off. Be available so you can be used to further God's Kingdom. Don't worry about your children living at a distance. Some distance is good and it takes 4 hours or so to fly from coast to coast. I recently flew on a Frontier flight from Denver to Charlotte for $95. Cost is not a barrier. Not only that but connecting via Skype is free. 

Take the stress of travel out of your life. It will only hinder you.

Not only that but if you are traveling with your spouse, business associate, or friend, a stress-free time of travel is a lot more fun. One last insight - on the long 10-hour trips, I've discovered that my backside goes numb and my twitchy leg syndrome stops after about 6 hours. After that, it really does not matter the length of the trip. Hopefully, this will be an encouragement to you and not keep you off the plan! 

Stay with us as we travel life's journey.


Bruce Bruinsma