This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.
I have found the equation for a very low-stress travel day. First, you have to plan ahead. Plan on working the night before a 6 A.M. flight. Plan on getting home around 10:30 P.M. after working, having dinner and finally getting into bed around midnight. Plan on your airport being at least an hour away so that you have to leave by 4 A.M., which means you wake up at 3:30 A.M. Then when the travel day comes, you actually wake up at 3:45 A.M., devour a quick breakfast, get to the airport without hitting traffic, have a small window to say your goodbyes to your significant other, check bags, get through security fairly quickly and arrive at your gate just on time to board.
The beauty of the 6 A.M. flight is that all of this typically goes smoothly, because you're on the first flight and flights and people coming to the airport before you can't possibly screw things up. And because your flight is at 6 A.M. and you only got four hours of sleep, you invariably sleep the entire flight. What would be ideal is a direct flight, and if you can't have it that way, a short layover. I had the latter after sleeping the half hour from BWI to Philly. And then I slept for about 4.5 hours out of the 5.5 hour flight to Seattle. It was awesomely quick and stress-less. So remember: an early flight, very little sleep the night before and limited down time at the airport will make for a low-stress travel day.
Also, flying into a cool city helps. We were able to hang out a bit in Seattle, and it seems like a low-stress, laid back, cultured city. There was a lot of coffee, some guy playing the oboe outside of a bookstore, fish being thrown around at the market, bluegrass (those banjos don't sound like the ones from back home, do they, Street?) and a lot of happy people. All in all it was a good first leg of this tour.