Updated: Mar 25, 2018
Does the thought of traveling bring you stress? Learn how these 4 tips will help ensure you reduce travel stress.
A look outside from a terminal at Auckland Airport (New Zealand). (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
1. Arm yourself with the best credit card you can qualify for
Many people get stuck with one, two or more credit cards without even thinking of the benefits (or lack thereof) they might offer. Like most things, people get comfortable and don't like change. This is a big mistake. You need to understand the perks (if any) your current credit card(s) offer.
Did you know that there is an actual hobby regarding credit cards? I recently found out about this by just doing a lot of reading and research. One of my favorite places to learn about the best credit cards and the various ways to take advantage of rewards is www.thepointsguy.com
This website does a lot of the hard research and comparisons that many us don't want to do by reading all of the fine print on all the leading credit cards. They even break down what the value is of each credit card's reward points.
My personal favorite credit card, which I use when I travel is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I've written about my experience using it here. Yes, it costs a lot ($450) per year, but there are plenty of benefits that will make your traveling experience first-rate. One of them being having airport lounge access through Priority Pass.
When you use the right credit card that has a stand-out rewards program, especially during your travel, you might be close to earning a free hotel night or flight towards your next vacation.
German treats offered at the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Frankfurt. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
2. Lounge access offers free WiFi, food, drinks, maybe a hot shower plus it's an oasis inside the busy airport terminal
We've all been there before, to include those of you traveling while reading this now at the end of this holiday season. Packed airports all over the world. Everyone looking stressed, lost or regretful they are even traveling.
If you want to have a nice escape before you board your plane, you should really look into your current credit card or preferred airline to see if you already have access to an airport lounge. For instance if you have a United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, you have access to United Club, which is their title for airport lounges.
A glimpse into the United Club at Hong Kong International Airport. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Priority Pass, as briefly mentioned above, is a collection of 1,000+ airport lounges. You can purchase a specific Priority Pass lounge access package OR you might already have free Priority Pass lounge membership with a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You probably thought that airport lounges are only for first-class passengers? WRONG. Yes, there are airport lounges only for first-class passengers, but guess what, there are many accessible airport lounges.
Going to an airport lounge offers an oasis from all the stress traveling can bring. In many airport lounges you will have access to free hot food, free drinks (to include water, soda, tea, coffee, wine, beer and liquor), fast WiFi, private bathrooms, hot showers and quiet work spaces. Check out my latest review on the Strata Lounge in Auckland, New Zealand here.
Free liquor is usually offered at many airport lounges. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Wouldn't you rather experience all of that before you spend time in a busy airport terminal , then having to get on a packed airplane and flying 8 to 15 hours one-way to get to your destination? Trust me, it helps alleviate your stress big-time.
Here's an example. Imagine you are on the last day of your vacation and you have to check-out of your hotel by 12 NOON, but your flight isn't until 5:00 PM. You are in a country that is hot, humid and after you check-out you might squeeze in some last minute shopping or sight-seeing. You end up breaking a sweat and you feel nasty. Now you have to make your way to the airport to check-in for your flight.
Wouldn't it be a blessing to be able to go to an airport lounge to freshen up with a hot shower, but not only that, you will SAVE money by not having to purchase bottled water, food or other drinks because it's all FREE at an airport lounge.
3. Check visa requirements and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
If you are traveling to another country ALWAYS, make sure you visit the State Department's website. You're not only checking for safety reasons (i.e turmoil or diseases), but also to see if the country you are visiting requires a visa.
Wouldn't it just suck if you arrived to the airport all excited to start your vacation, but the ticket agent checks your passport, then asks for your visa and you don't have one? Now the stress that you might have had, just got boosted 100%. You'll be scrambling to figure out what to do with limited time or you might even miss your entire flight and delay your hard-earned vacation.
Avoid all of that with proper planning and check the State Department's website days, weeks or months ahead of time.
A screenshot of the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website. (Screenshot by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Another good move is enrolling in the, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This is a free service that is beneficial for U.S. citizens traveling or living overseas to enroll with the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate.
The benefits of enrolling in STEP are:
Staying in touch with the latest security and safety news in the country you will be traveling to
Helping the U.S. Embassy or consulate get in touch with you in case of emergency
Helping your friends and family locate you in an emergency
Interior of a United Airlines airplane. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
4. Enroll in TSA Pre-Check and/or Global Entry
To expedite your airport security experience (at least for travel within or entering the United States of America), it would be a good investment to apply for TSA Pre-Check (used for domestic travel) or Global Entry (used for entry into the USA). Both of these have fees of $85 (TSA Pre-Check) or $100 (Global Entry). Both memberships are good for 5 years if you qualify.
There is even talk now of both programs being merged them since they both almost do the exact same background checks and screening. This would be a huge benefit for travelers.
Both programs basically allow you to move in and out of airport security check-points faster because you've already have been pre-screened with a in-depth background check. It saves you a big chunk of time and stress by avoiding the long lines, we've all encountered while traveling domestically or internationally.
Inside an empty terminal in Jacksonville (Florida) International Airport. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
In summary, we've covered 4 tips on reducing travel stress. I can assure you that when you are armed with the best credit card you can qualify for (accumulate travel rewards), have lounge access (free food and drinks, hot showers), checking the State Department website (travel safety and visa requirements) and enrolling in TSA Pre-Check and/or Global Entry (expedited airport security lines) your next travel experience will have much less stress compared to the last time you traveled without these recommendations.
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I'm always interested in hearing your experiences, so please comment below and share your thoughts!