I love traveling, partly because of the whole “going somewhere” aspect, but also because I feel wildly productive on planes and trains. That wasn’t always the case though, but when I was traveling a ton for school and work, I had to adapt or die. I want to share some of my biggest tips for making your travel time productive before we all jet back to school, off on vacation, or even home for the holidays.

1) Know your limits, set your tasks

Whenever I am planning to travel, I plan ahead what I’m going to get done on the plane or train, even if I’m on vacation. I take into account the time I’ll be waiting in the airport and the actual flight time, and because I know myself, I know what I can accomplish. In half an hour, I can probably send a good amount of emails. If I’ve got hours, I can tackle an essay or a good chunk of a book. Knowing my travel schedule and my own work ethic lets me make reasonable plans for myself so that I can both be prepared to do what I need to do and know I’m not going to inevitably disappoint myself by not writing a 20 page paper during a one hour flight.

2) Pre-download for internet free moments

Yes, we live in a super-connected world where you can get Wi-Fi just about anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you will be able to. Things happen, connections break, and you just have to go with the flow. When I’m traveling, I always assume I won’t have Wi-Fi and pre-download whatever I need. If I need to respond to emails, I will save those emails and type my responses in a Word document and send when I’m able to connect. If I’m writing a paper, I download PDFs of my research ahead of time. And if it’s a relaxing trip and I don’t have much work, you bet I’ve downloaded some movies, TV episodes, or a new album. You never want to be stuck with nothing, so of course a good print book is a must-have as well. Take a few hours before you leave for the airport/train station/yacht whatever to go over what you might need and pre-download it just in case.

3) Snacks & hydration

I have issues with my blood sugar, and airports and planes ZAP me, so I always stay hydrated and full of snacks. I’m that girl who brings granola bars through TSA, no shame. I stock up on ginger ale and water as soon as I’m past security. Know your own body and plan for delayed flights, long airport waits, or for your favorite restaurant to be packed. If I want to be super productive, I focus on drinking cold beverages and having small, but healthy snacks like granola bars and fruit, instead of gorging on a Starbucks latte or jumbo hamburger that I know is going to lull me to sleep the second we hit the sky. Pre-planning your snacks can also save you big money in the airport mania.

RELATED: The 7 Travel Essentials Every Woman Should Have

4) Get moving

I’m not the kind of person who regularly hits the gym, but when I’m traveling, I have to keep moving or I die. If I’m in the airport, I’ll take a walk and listen to music instead of settling in the same chair for an hour-long wait. When I get to a hotel, I also like to take a walk, get some fresh air, and acquaint myself with the building. Some people hit the gym. This is a great way to fight jet lag and prepare you for a productive time once you’ve arrived. A good run can also tire you out if you’re catching a red-eye and want to ensure you get some sleep. 

5) Portable batteries

It’s hard to get anything done if you’ve lost all electricity and your phone and laptop are both dead. I always travel with portable batteries that will charge my phone up. In a stitc,h I can do most things on my phone, so even if I don’t have a lick of charge on my laptop, I can still send emails, type basic documents, and get in touch with people via my phone. Being on the road with no way to contact anyone is a less than ideal situation, and it’s totally avoidable.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member