Monday, November 7, 2011

Stress-Less Travel Tips

While I certainly don't fall into the same category of frequent flyer as those who fly about every week, no one would argue that I do travel more than the average American. I realized that over the years I have developed my own guidelines for taking some of the stress out of flying. So, I thought I would start a series of posts over the next few months on Stress-Less Travel.

Today's tip is take advantage of non-traditional airport services.

To get where I needed to go this past weekend (Boston) from my home (Rochester, NY area), I was forced to make a slightly ridiculous connection through Philadelphia for my return flight - there simply were no through flights from Boston to Rochester on Saturday. The trip was fairly important to me and driving was not an option so it meant a two hour layover in Philadelphia. Fortunately, Philadelphia has an awesome array of airport stores and restaurants and, as I looked about, I recognized two of my favorite ways to make use of my time when I am faced with extended layovers - massage and non-fast food meals.

Many U.S. airports now have convenient spas where you can get a quick neck and shoulder massage. In this day and age of carry-on luggage, we give our bodies a real workout lugging along our suitcases on wheels. These spas offer anything from 10 minute to 30 minute chair massages that are fairly reasonably priced. There are several companies with locations in major airports across the country:
  • XpresSpa is located in airports in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Orlando and several other sites. I have used their services at LaGuardia and now Philadelphia. What is exceptionally nice is that they will let you spend a few extra minutes in their ultra-sophisticated lounge chairs after your massage, if your schedule permits. Beats sitting at a gate for an hour any time.
  • Massage Bar is another chain that operates in Seattle, Washington Dulles, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Nashville, and Sacramento. I have used their services in both Seattle and Washington Dulles for years. They offer a frequent customer punch card that has no expiration date so you might even be able to earn a free massage.
Another tip that I have learned over the years is to take advantage of sit-down restaurants serving other than fast food. It is great when you are running for flights to grab one of the pre-packaged meals readily available in airports. I have eaten many a dinner sitting at my gate prior to boarding, or taken my Chicken Caesar Salad in plastic packaging on a plane when time was really short. But, if I have a longer layover, actually being served is really nice.
  • Vino Volo is my favorite sit-down airport restaurant. Billed as a wine bar, it serves really well prepared meals at surprisingly reasonable prices. If you wish a glass of wine, the selection is outstanding and varies from location to location and over time. I discovered one of the early Vino Volo's at Washington Dulles buried back in the C concourse near where many of the evening flights to Europe depart. It was filled with Europeans having a glass of wine before their flight. That was several years ago. Now, Vino Volo has expanded to a dozen airports around the U.S. and their venues are often open and look more like regular restaurants than bars.
In summary, some times long layovers are unavoidable (there are times when they are a good idea too but more on that in another tip).  Sitting at a gate for hours is unpleasant and uncomfortable. Wandering aimlessly is fatiguing. Taking advantage of the time to care for yourself through services such as massage or with a good meal sends you on your way relaxed and more likely to arrive at your destination less stressed.

Happy travels!


  1. Great tips, Judy! When I had to fly east to go south last spring (Calgary to Minneapolis?! to Denver), I looked around for the nearest good-coffee vendor, and the bookstore. With those two available, I can while away the better part of any lay-over. And with my knitting (usually a sock), of course! :-)

  2. Nice article, thanks! I learn something new on blogs everyday and yours is stimulating and provides new ideas. Thanks and keep up the good work!
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