Let's face it; the act of travel has become stressful. We go on vacation to get away from the pressures at work and at home, but navigating through the airport and getting on your flight can be the most stressful part of your trip! So, we've compiled a list of stress free travel tips to help you have a happy vacation from start to finish.
You don't want anxiety to build before you've even left the airport, so we have some tips to help you travel stress free and enjoy your vacation from the minute you drive up to the terminal.
1. Arrive Early
Gone are the days when you can show up an hour before your flight. Give yourself plenty of time to account for any unforeseen circumstances. We've seen people standing at the parking lot waiting for a shuttle for half an hour complaining that they’re going to miss their flight if the van doesn't come soon. That's why we always arrive three hours early regardless of where we're flying. I can't remember the last time I was worried about missing my take off.
Tip: If you don't want the hassle of dealing with shuttles, take advantage of the Valet Service. When you use valet parking, you simply pull up to the terminal, drop off your keys and walk through the door to check in. Our American Express Platinum Card gives us complimentary valet service at Toronto Pearson , plus a 15% discount on parking. We get elite service without needing to rack up miles for elite benefits.
2. Pack Light
We've always used to struggle with packing light, but we are slowly becoming advocates of the ‘carry-on only club for short trips’ If you can, try to pack light and travel with only a carry-on bag. Since you won't have to check your bags, you'll save plenty of time at the check in counter. You can walk straight up to the computer, check in and be on your way through security in no time. Believe me, lugging a heavy bag anywhere can cause stress. You’ll find that you don’t need half the stuff you bring with you and you’ll feel more relaxed and happier by not having clutter with you on vacation. Less is more when it comes to packing. Plus less stuff will be easier to store on the plane. I’ve seen so many people freaking out as they try to stuff their oversized baggage in the luggage compartment overhead while I’m relaxing in my chair already starting to watch a movie.
3. Check in Online
Checking in 24 hours in advance will save you a ton of time at the airport. We always check in online and either print out our tickets or save them onto our smart phone. That way, when we get to the airport we don't even have to go in to the check in counter. Instead, we walk straight to security. If you can't print out your ticket or don't have a smart phone, you can still check in online and then print out your boarding passes at the kiosk when you arrive. That step will still save you valuable time, as you won't have to go through the hoops of checking in.
Check out: 10 Items to Make Air Travel Easy
Tip: If you don't have elite status with Air Canada, the American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card lets you bypass the regular check-in line and head straight to an Air Canada Priority Check-in Counter at Toronto Pearson International Airport regardless of what fare you paid for your ticket. As any frequent flier will tell you, it's the little things that make your life easier.
4. Skip the Security Lane
This can be a tough one as it takes a lot of frequent flyer points to gain elite status on airlines, but it's worth it. We've walked up to a jam packed security line and skipped right to the front as other passengers looked on yearningly. But how can someone who doesn't travel a lot, get access to skipping the security lane? A lot of cards are offering status perks without the flight time. With Toronto Pearson’s Cloud 10 benefits select Cards like The American Express Platinum Card allows Cardmembers to skip to the front of the line simply by flashing that beautiful platinum plastic. It feels so good to know that you've just cut off time and cleared away stress. I can't tell you how many times I've stood in line watching people go through security in front of me, stressing out that I got in the wrong lane, the slow lane. When you are in the Pearson Priority Security Lane , it moves oh so much faster.
5. Be prepared
Speaking of security be prepared when you get there. I keep all the items that need to go out onto the bin readily available. When I get to the conveyor belt, everything is out in a flash. All liquids (100ml or less) are packaged together in a small plastic bag, computers are pulled out of the front of my carryon and pockets are empty. Everything goes quick and easy into the bins and with no belts, spare change in my pockets, or metal jewelry on my person, I'm through the scanner and packing up while others are still trying to figure out what goes where. Make sure to have easy slip on shoes as you'll have to take them off, and don't wear any hats or jackets.
You've made it through check in and security. Now it's time to relax. We do a quick scan of our gate to have an idea what direction we'll be going at boarding time and then we b-line it for the lounge. We lost our lounge access in most airports this year as we were demoted from 50k Elite to 35k Elite with Star Alliance, but we're not worried. We have our Card. It gives us access to the Maple Leaf Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounges in 11 countries. Lounges offer an escape from the chaos of the airport while enjoying complimentary food, drink, Internet and lounge benefits like comfy chairs, big screen TVs, magazines and newspapers. With our Platinum Card , we automatically receive Priority Pass access as well giving us even more lounge choice around the world in 100 countries. Lounges offer reprieve from the noise in the airports and make you feel calm and relaxed before your flight.
7. Create a Care Package
Before boarding, we put everything we'll need during the flight into a separate small bag that we keep with us in our seat. Ever since we started using a care package, our flights are far more enjoyable. We have everything we could possibly need at our fingertips. Here's a list of what we put in our flight bag:
- noise cancelling ear buds (we also have a two prong adapter for the airlines that have the old style headphone inputs)
- small tube of moisturizer
- travel toothpaste and toothbrush
- face mask
- Credit Card (to buy food)
- iPads (for movies when the entertainment system doesn't work which is a lot)
- Tylenol, anti nauseant, decongestant (sometimes you just don't feel well on the plane)
- tiger balm (I use this in case I have some bad odour around me)
- small packet of handy wipes
- small packet of tissues
With all these items within reach, we don’t have to rummage through our overhead storage. We can sit back and relax, dreaming of our vacation ahead.
So the next time you go on vacation, make it pleasant from the moment you reach the airport. Travel shouldn't be stressful. Even in today's world, it can be comfortable. We love having Toronto Pearson as our usual departure airport because of all the Cloud 10 benefits we get from American Express. When we get to airports around the world and see that they don't offer free Wifi we can't believe it! I mean what kind of world are we living in? Luckily Toronto Pearson has free Wifi throughout the entire airport for everyone regardless of status or card holder thanks to Cloud 10 with American Express. Wifi shouldn't just be for elite members of airlines, it should be for everyone.
Do you have a tip for stress free travel that you've found makes your vacation easier? We'd love to hear.
This post was brought to you by American Express Canada. Find out how you can breeze through Toronto Pearson International Airport with Cloud 10 benefits.