I’m a planner by nature. Most days leading up a trip I can be found incessantly checking the airline’s website to make sure nothing’s changed. I use apps like TripIt to manage all of my various tickets, hotel check-in times, and dinner reservations. But most importantly, I have a process I go through over the 2-3 days before I’m set to fly.

Start with some relaxation

All the details around a trip—whether for business or fun—stress me out a bit. So I’ve taken to making sure I do some relaxing things before I go.

This usually consists of getting a haircut and a massage. A haircut is always a good thing before I head to a conference I’m attending or sponsoring, and usually helpful before headed out for a vacation. If you don’t usually get a shampoo and head massage with your cut, might I recommend springing for the add-on?

Getting a massage, besides being relaxing, can do a lot to help how comfortable you stay on the plane. When I’m stressed I tend to get pretty bad lower back pain, and the couple of times I’ve flown with that pain have been miserable. A massage also helps me enter into those final preparations with a clear head. Highly recommended.

For me, these things usually are scheduled before I get into my final checklist stuff, but you might want to work it in the day before you leave or something. Obviously, do what works for you, but definitely plan some time to relax before you head into your travels.

Know your body’s sleep schedule

Related to relaxing, it’s a good idea to try and get consistent sleep before you leave. If you’re crossing time zones, a healthy sleep schedule can help you get adjusted quicker when you arrive.

When I travel to conferences, I always end up having late nights and early mornings—no matter how hard I try to keep things calm. The sleeping routine I build up before traveling helps me fall asleep when I need to and not feel too ridiculously tired for those 7 am breakfasts. And if we’re headed to the UK or Europe, that sleep routine helps me get over waking up at 1 am and not being able to fall back asleep.

Bedroom at South Congress Hotel in Austin

Think through the full day of travel

Jessica told me this is something she just doesn’t do… to be honest, I never thought it was that uncommon of a thing. But as I think about it more, this might be a sort of neurosis I have. Starting at least a week before I start mentally going through our day of travel making special note of certain things:

  1. What time is my flight and how early do I need to be at the airport?
  2. Have I packed everything I need?
  3. How much time do I have to make my connection?
  4. Are all my tickets on my phone or printed out?
  5. How am I getting to my hotel when I land?
  6. Are my electronics charged and in my carry-on?

US residents can also save time at the airport with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Getting to the airport early enough is important. If you’re leaving from your home airport, get to know its traffic rhythms. Our home airport of AUS gets a lot busier during the summer and certain huge festival events… While normally I’m checked in and through security in 10 minutes or less, there was definitely one summer morning I got stuck in a 25 minute long line to get through security.

Taking the time to think through the various stages of your travel day to know, and not just assume, things like where you’re connecting gate is or how you’re going to get from the airport to your hotel or AirBNB can save you a ton of headaches.

What are your pre-travel rituals to help get prepared for a trip?