When survival mode kicks in, any traveler is left to quickly learn how to manage it all on-the-go.
Yesterday, I left Panama City in the early afternoon, spent a few hours of layover in Miami airport then arrived in Cayman Islands late into the night. In twenty hours, my passport gained a few more stamps while I got really good at looking for electrical outlets at boarding gates. It’s tough to soak in all the fun and cultural elements each city has to offer in such a short period of time. When survival mode kicks in, however, any traveler is left to quickly learn how to manage it all on-the-go. Amid rushing through customs, baggage claims and security lines; I was busy working from my phone, doing lots of reading and writing on my laptop.
Packing it all in while enjoying the joys of traveling can be deemed draining, since this is the basis of my work, complaints go out the window. Now, I have gathered some new tips on sprinting through three countries in a day:
Wake up early and taking in the moment
Fortunately, my flight out of Panama City was around 1pm. Knowing that I had a pile of emails to sort through first thing in the morning, waking up at 6am helped. After a few hours of non-stop work, I sat outside the hotel balcony at Trump Hotel & Ocean Club Panama, sipped on two delicious cups of espressos and mentally meditated while staring at the gorgeous view.
Taking in each moment is so important when you’re on the road, but it’s easier said than done. From 5 minutes to an hour, one of the most spiritually healthy things we can all do for ourselves is to block out everything on our to-do lists for a moment and truly take in the present. Zen and appreciation for life do the body good.
Arrange airport transportation ahead of time
Thankfully, the day before departure, my team and I met a cab driver in Panama City who was honest and super jolly. Giovanni was so kind to us that I wanted to give him more business. So the day before heading to the airport, we had coordinated a set price (in this case, $30) and scheduled a time for his pickup to the airport. Getting this part out of the way is one less thing to worry about when you’re on a tight schedule. In addition, it’s also a great way to not get ripped off.
If you’re traveling in Panama and don’t want to get ripped off by random taxi drivers, here’s Giovanni’s contact info. Tell him “Wendy” sent you, and he’ll be sure to give you a good price to anywhere and everywhere in Panama City.
If traveling internationally, make sure the layover time is more than 2.5 hours
There’s nothing worse than the anxiety of waiting in line, knowing that you’re about to miss your flight. Easiest way to avoid such a fear is to give yourself a little more cushion room for time. This should happen when you book your flight. If you’re traveling internationally like I was, then it’s best to make sure you plan at least 2.5 hours between two flights. Domestic travels are a bit easier and I would highly recommend at least 1.5 hours between two flights, if you can help it. But international flights require customs, getting your bags again, checking in the bags one more time, then waiting in long lines at security. It’s a pain in the butt, so give yourself more time and chillax.
MIA’s Ice Box Cafe is a must!
Ice Box Cafe has several locations in both Miami International Airport (Terminal D) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (Terminal B, and another location is set to open in 2014). Their cakes are incredibly tasty, if not to-die-for. The restaurant menu is consciously prepared, with lots of gorgeous greens and well presented dishes. Ice Box is many jetsetters’ favorite, especially if you’re not hanging out at an airline’s executive lounge.
Take it easy!
Everyone has their own travel rituals, I personally prefer window seats located somewhere near the front or the middle of a cabin. But, you’re not always going to get everything you want. Especially when the flight is short, why not create good karma? On the way to Grand Cayman from Miami, I saw a father with two sons who weren’t sitting together. I casually offered my seat from a window to an aisle so they didn’t have to separate.
When it comes to traveling alone, there’s a lot more flexibility to your own preferences. If I could make the situation better for others, why not do it? There’s nothing better than a pleasant flight, I’m a true believer that being nice to others allows those around you to be even kinder. And you see that so clearly as a frequent traveler.
Arrive with presents!
Whether it’s the holidays or not, I’m quite the stickler of this rule. Especially when I spent so much time crashing at friends’ houses, I think it’s simply courtesy to arrive with gifts for the people you stay with. At the airport in Panama City, I made sure to purchase a bottle of Panamanian rum (Ron Abuelo rum) for my friends living in Cayman Islands. It was nothing extravagant, but it definitely kicked off a new staycation with good vibes.
I will be spending a few days here in Cayman Islands then off to airport hopping again. Life of a traveler may appear glamorous especially via social media, but people often don’t see the tough management of building a business, staying on top of a team while rushing through boarding gates. It’s important to remember the basics: planning ahead, taking in each moment, and doing it all with a deep appreciation for all that is around us!