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Joan’s Travel Corner

I love to travel and have enjoyed a career in the travel industry for 27 years, but as we are all aware, travelling brings with it certain challenges such jet lag, long flights and boring layovers. Travelling for work often means you need to hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination or return home to a desk loaded with many items that need immediate attention. Many of us are under the impression that once you retire and think about travel without the work stress that it will be a breeze. However, as we age, our bodies do not recover as quickly as they once did. So planning ahead to deal with travel challenges can speed recovery and make your travel time more comfortable. Here are some tips I have learned along the way to help make my travel experience less stressful.

Wearing layers: I find airports and planes vary in temperature and are more often than not cold. Having layers, I can easily remove during security and in the confines of the plane is a must to ensure my comfort during every flight. I avoid wearing anything I need to pull over your head and stick to a zip-up style sweatshirt or cardigan to avoid a struggle especially in the tight space of a plane. There is nothing more embarrassing then find you have removed your shirt during the over the head struggle.

Jetlag:  Crossing time zones disrupts our “circadian rhythm” or our bodies natural time clock. Often it is not the length of the flight that causes the problem but the change of time that is the culprit. As a result of the time change you may experience, disturbed sleep patterns, exhaustion or headaches.  By planning ahead, some if not all affects can be alleviated.  For example, if I am flying east, I start going to go to bed earlier about 10 days before leaving to help my body get in sync with the new time zone. I start with just a half hour for the first three days and increase it to an hour or more depending on where I am going.  A stop over, if my itinerary allows also helps me adjust to time changes. In addition, there are over the counter products that lots of people swear by that may work for you, like melatonin or No-Jet-Lag.  Caution: Sleeping pills are not recommended by the medical profession as they may reduce natural body movement, and it is well documented that prolonged immobility during flights can lead to blood clots.

Airport Security: Getting through security can be pretty stressful, but planning an in route wardrobe can really make the whole process a lot easier. Yes, arriving in style is important, but choose function over fashion to make getting through that security line up as seamless as possible. Here are some things I avoid wearing prior to airport security:

A belt: It is a pain to unbuckle and put it through the scanner, and then remember to pick up and annoying to put it back on once you’re through. It is easier and a time saver, if your belt is necessary for your outfit to keep it in your carry on until you are through security. Be sure never to wear pants that require a belt to stay in place. If they require you to go through the body scanner you will need to put your hands over your head reveling items you may not have wanted to display.

Jewelry: No need to skip looking chic but delaying putting on that beautiful necklace or watch can save you time in the security line. I keep my watch, necklace and bracelet in my carry on until through security. I put it on just after security or just before arriving at my destination.

Shoes: Keeping it simple and comfortable with slip on and off loafer type shoes I have found are best. No laces to tie or buckles to fasten increase my efficiency and I am less likely to forget something. I do not recommend wearing heels as the walk to airport gates can be long and involve stairs and escalators. You certainly do not want to trip or fall so think comfort and safety. While we are on the subject of shoes did you know gel shoe inserts are not permitted in your shoes through security or even in carry-on luggage. Rather than leave them behind just put them in you checked in bag so you will have them for the journey.

Above all, remember airports can be a stressful for everyone, fellow passengers, airline employees, and security personnel.  Being patient and polite can have unimagined rewards. Twice I have been moved to business class on delayed flights because I was polite, while many around me were acting as though the sky had fallen and their entire holiday was ruined by a delay due to mechanical or re-routed due to weather. Travel is fun and exciting so take the unplanned bumps in the road in stride and get out there and explore this world we live in.

Written by: Joan Niemeier