Happiness Hack: Travel Tips

Readers, you may or may not know that I often travel for work. These trips mostly involve driving an hour or so from home, but I do get to take a longer, overnight vacat… very serious business trip a few times a year.

Cleveland does rock

Traveling used to stress me out. Once I reached my destination, and took about an hour to drink and decompress, I felt fine. However, the journey itself had me bellowing at other drivers or making snide remarks to the TSA agent wanding me (never a smart move).

When I moved to Baton Rouge a decade ago, I realized I would need to chill, or I would never see my friends and family back home. Thus, I compiled tips to make drives and flights comfortable and relaxing. I share them now with you, dear reader.

Tip 1: Remember you’re lucky

A mere 70 years ago, interstate travel was much more inconvenient today. Instead of cruising along highways at 70+ mph, driving was restricted to back roads that ran through speed trap towns. Now, a person can make it from Toledo to Nashville in around seven hours without sirens.

Additionally, airfare was much more expensive, which limited flights to those in the upper middle class. Now, travel apps makes flights cheap enough even for a plebe such as I.

Thus, whenever I want to grouse about traffic or delayed luggage, I remind myself that my excursions may have been impossible a relatively short time ago. I get a double dose of gratitude because I also have a job that actually pays me to take road trips with my dogs. Which leads me to…

Tip 2: Take a friend

Sammy and Max wish I would drive the speed limit

Or, in my case, three. Trips, like everything else in life, are more fun with a companion. It is much harder to hit the harmonies when you are road tripping solo, and when you’re at an airport bar with a friend, the weird dentist at the bar will have a tougher time cornering you.

And, who is going to share your king size bed if you’re alone?

Max is mad that he is just now enjoying this luxury.

Tip 3: Make a snack

Few things in life make me crankier than fast food or hunger, which is why I never leave for a trip without a snack.

On my latest road trip, I only had about a two-hour drive, but I would be driving through the lunch hour and knew I would feel peckish. Instead of wasting money on unhealthy junk that would leave me feeling bloated and guilty (or pushing through, getting hangry, and snapping at the hotel clerk when I arrived), I made myself a sandwich. It took two minutes, and it was a delicious treat midway through my drive.

PB&J is life

Tip 4: Clean before you leave

Full disclosure, in my entire adult life, I have never gone to bed after a trip without unpacking my bag and starting a load of laundry. Never.

On NYE 2000, my roommate, Katie, and I waited for the world to end in a dance club in Baltimore. The 0s and 1s managed to hold together, but we did hit a blizzard on the way home a few days later. While I can’t say for sure, I think the under two hour trip from Cleveland to Toledo took us closer to six or seven hours.

Once we reached home, Katie collapsed into bed as any rational person who had just spent twelve hours on the road would. I couldn’t. I could not relax until I had cleaned the cooler that had held our snacks, unpacked my bag, started laundry, vacuumed… you get the picture.

Part of being happy is knowing yourself, so I know I cannot relax in a messy house. Even if you are not as anal as me, consider doing the dishes and tidying before you leave for your trip. Then, when you return, your home will feel welcoming and relaxing. Also, if you do a quick once-over around the house, you won’t spend your trip to Hawaii worrying you had left the coffee pot on.

Of course, I will still have to return my parents’ Tupperware when I return.

These are just a few of my favorite travel tips. If you have any you would like to share, comment below!