I have travelled my whole life, not for pleasure (well, some of it has been…), but mostly for competing in professional tennis tours. My career demanded that I be in Japan one day, and two days later, I was waking up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Was it fun? NOT at all, it was work! However, I was passionate about it, very disciplined, and driven, so I succeeded.

By travelling, I learned to stay calm at busy airports, to adapt different to time zones, manage jet lag, and to stay healthy, but most of all I learned to always expect the unexpected. After all, no matter how much we try to plan everything perfectly, life happens.

Here are my best personal tips to enjoy your travel and make it stress-free:

  1. Pack Ahead of Time

I was on the road every day of the year, so I really never had to unpack a bag. I would be home for maybe two or three days, then leave again on tour for months at a time. When I was home, I made sure my bag was always ready to go, so I would not forget anything last minute. Now, when I travel with family, if our flight is on a Friday, I start packing the week before – instead of the night before. I make sure all my toiletries and medications are in their Ziploc bags and ready to go.

Every day something new pops in my head that I need to take, so I neatly go and pack it. The night before everything is set, so packing is stress-free!

  1. Leave Early, Arrive Early

One of the biggest stressors in life is when we are rushing. I would rather be one hour early than right on time. Yes, that might be a little extreme, but you never know what you will come across – traffic, accidents, or long security lines, the possibilities are endless. If I give myself plenty of time, I will not be sweating on the way to the airport or trying to use my athletic ability sprinting to the gate. No thank you!

Instead, I get there early and sit and read before I board my flight. If you have anyone in your family that is always slowing everyone down, set the clocks in house 10 minutes ahead of time (Hide their cellphone too…). That way, they will think it is later than it really is, and you can get out the door on time.

  1. Prepare In-Flight Necessities for Kids

I plan ahead and make sure I have enough snacks and medications on hand for my son that has severe food allergies. I also make sure I have brought along plenty of entertainment for him – sketch books, markers, favorite small toys and an iPad. You never know what can happen mid-air and you want to be prepared, but I do love how most airlines now have so many kid-friendly entertainment options, making it much more manageable.

  1. Cozy Socks, Sweaters and Water

Even if I am travelling to a tropical place, I will freeze on the airplane. So, I like to make sure I have a pair of warm socks and my favorite sweater-blanket with me. I also like to drink plenty of water, those little glasses on the plane just don’t cut it for me. Once I am inside the terminal, I buy big bottle of water. It also helps you stay hydrated, so you do not feel so exhausted.

  1. Expect the Worst; Hope for the Best

If we always think everything will fall into place perfectly, we will be extremely disappointed. Travelling is full of delayed flights, busy airports, annoying travelers, foul airplane smells, lost luggage, etc. Unfortunately, it all comes with the territory, but try to just stay in the moment. When things would not go as planned, my beautiful father who travelled with me a lot would tell me, ‘Mijita son aventuras de la vida’, meaning, “My love, it’s life’s adventures”, which always made me feel better.

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid some of the most common headaches of traveling and allow you to make the most of every trip, whether it’s for work or for fun.