Reducing the stress of travel

Feb 19, 2018

I have been traveling my entire professional career, and as much as I hate to admit it, that is 38 years now. I’m sure I could have flown to Mars or something with as much flying as I have done. Travel isn’t fun for me but it can be tolerable IF I do certain things. Here are some of them:

  • Eat before you get on the plane. You never know how long it will be before your next meal. You cannot count on the airlines to feed you much if anything these days and delays could mean that the luxurious layover you had planned for Chicago or DFW won’t occur. So eat up!
  • Bring a bottle of water. Buy it AFTER you go through security or you’ll have to throw it out.
  • Get the airline app. It can help you in so many ways. Like what gate your connecting flight is at. You can also check in from your phone and don’t need to stop at a kiosk. And it will tell you what carousel your bags are on.
  • Take the first flight out of Dodge. The first flight of the day is the least likely one to be delayed. And if you are delayed, you’ll still have all day to get where you are going.
  • Any time you can stand by for an earlier flight, do so. See my previous point above. Always smarter to play it safe.
  • Get your seats in advance if you are on an airline that offers them. Get an aisle seat so you can get up when you want to. You will feel less constrained. And the luxury of being able to use the bathroom when you need to is hard to beat!
  • Dress in layers. That way you can stay warm or peel off if needed. Sometimes planes are super hot and other times very cold.
  • Get to the airport early. That way if there’s an accident blocking the highway it won’t kill you. And if there are delays or problems you can reroute.
  • Get “TSA Pre” status. Saves time going through security.
  • Pack light and never check your bag. Checking means losing your bag about 10 percent of the time (Not to say they won’t eventually find it but who wants to go through that?). Do not gate check on commuter flights that have tight connections. You may wait 15 minutes on the tarmac and your flight was late arriving and that kills your ability to make your connection.
  • Carry all prescriptions and other drugs you need with you on the plane. Checked bags get lost. And keep the drugs where you can conveniently access them if you need them (side pouch?).
  • Bring a spare pair of pants. I used to travel with a guy who would wear a pair of khakis for a two-day trip with no pants in reserve. Bad idea! You could have an accident and spill coffee on them. Whatever happens you want to be prepared.
  • Have an auxiliary phone battery – charged. Always bring a spare. Get a good one. I have one that will charge my phone three times over. It cost $50. That is a big stress-reliever.
  • Get noise-cancelling headphones. Chad Clinehens, Zweig Group’s president and CEO, bought me some of these for Christmas. Fantastic gift. They make every flight a pleasant experience. You can really zone out and relax
  • Use Uber when you get to where you are going. Dealing with rental cars takes time and is a big hassle. Cabs are dirty and have bad drivers who don’t know where they are going. Uber has an app and pre-stored credit cards and the driver has GPS.

I could go on but hopefully you’ll try some of these and have a less stressful travel experience next time.

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

Subscribe to the electronic version of The Zweig Letter for free.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.