When I was a little girl, I dreamed of traveling to big cities and exotic destinations. I still get excited when I look at my calendar and see an upcoming trip…no matter where I’m going.

With my tenth book about to be published and my youngest son now finished with college, I am traveling more than ever. And I love it. However, I have to admit there was a time not long ago when I dreaded getting ready to go. With all the stress of airports and poor service, traveling began to lose its appeal.

I’ve put together a few strategies for simplifying my travel routine to keep myself as happy and stress-free as possible.

My first tip is to be realistic with your schedule and protect your energy. I used to book my calendar solid until the minute I left town and had appointments set up with clients immediately after arriving home. I found myself packing clothes and prepping presentations at midnight. Sometimes I left conferences early to catch a plane. Now I block off the entire day before leaving and a full day after my return to prevent chaos and exhaustion. If there are any travel delays, I don’t have to scramble and let people know. No more rushing or being frantic. I use the blocked time to arrive early and prepare myself in advance. Now, I get to enjoy the time time to meet and talk with people at conferences or look around the town I’m visiting. When I return home, there is plenty of time to fully unpack, rest and organize myself for the next day of work. As a result, I’m no longer scattered, rushed and hectic the entire week before and after a trip.

Second, keep your expectations very flexible. I’ve come to expect that one in three flights have a delay or dilemma. So I am no longer surprised when there is an overbooking, mechanical issue, or a weather problem.

When I am speaking at a conference out of town, I no longer schedule myself to arrive the night before. It’s a must to have my feet on the ground at least 24 hours before I go on stage. This way,  if there are any delays, interruptions, or lost luggage, it’s not a crisis.

Next, I have a streamlined and stress-free system for packing my bags.  First, I completely unpack when I get home from a trip. Before I put my luggage away, I make sure that it is clean, empty and in good repair. The last thing you want is to begin packing late at night and find that your suitcase has a whole or a broken wheel. Also, invest in good quality luggage, as well as cosmetic and travel bags that last.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is getting a duplicate set of toiletries and cosmetics. This makes packing streamlined and easy. I created this duplicate collection without spending a lot of money. Whenever I am running low on moisturizer, lipstick or mascara, I reorder,  put the new product in my makeup drawer and the half-used item goes into my travel cosmetic bag. Within a few months, I had a complete duplicate set of hair care, skincare, and cosmetics. I’m always recycling products between home and travel to keep them fresh.

If I’m traveling on an airplane I use that time to catch up on my reading. Sometimes I have a stack of magazines and books that have been piled up on my nightstand. When I’m done reading them, I leave them for fellow travelers. Paul and I have a list of podcasts that we enjoy when we travel by car. Download them ahead of time to avoid data charges or streaming issues. When I’m home I always listen to business and personal growth podcasts but when traveling with Paul, I look for entertainment that we’ll both enjoy. While we wait for season 4 of Serial, we’ve been riveted by 22Hours and The Shrink Next Door.

Finally, Whether I am traveling by car or airplane, I always carry a tote bag with necessities. My tote includes reading materials, extra contact lenses, important projects, cell phone and computer chargers, wifi hotspot, change of clothes. If I wind up stranded or get separated from my luggage, I’ll still have everything I need.

No matter where you’re going, you don’t want to arrive stressed out or exhausted. Use these tips to stay positive and enjoy your time on the road. ✈