Another by request blog here. It seemed appropriate to do in an airport waiting on a plane. I spend a good bit of time in airports and other cities these days and have developed some routines. Everyone has their own things they like or struggle with when traveling. Here are some pointers which work for me. I swear at some point I promised never to use bullets in a blog entry. This one isn’t serious though so I’m going to break a rule.
- I hate wearing a suit or even dress pants on a plane. Given the opportunity, I’ll wear jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie, comfortable shoes, and the like when traveling. I’ll also make sure I have the option of wearing something dressed down after work. The jeans are coming with me on the plane and they’ll get worn.
- Pack what you want to haul with you. I’m guilty of stuffing my rollaboard bag to the gills at time, but I don’t carry what I don’t want. I’ll also put things I don’t need in route in the rollaboard like my iPad charger.
- Keep your carryon to a reasonable size. I used to use a backpack for a computer bag. It was awesome. I could carry anything I wanted in it – and I did. The thing weighed more than my suitcase, took up all the room by my feet on the plane, and was a tangled mess of junk even though I used ZipLock bags. Now I use a smaller messenger bag which is mamma bear sized – just right.
- Charge your gear. Charge your gear. Charge your gear. Don’t be that poor guy hunting around for a power outlet to charge his phone at 9AM in the airport. Plug your phone, laptop, tablet, toothbrush, etc. in the night before.
- Know the TSA rules. There’s just no excuse for not being aware of the baggage rules these days. Don’t get mad if they tell you that you’re not allowed to bring an unopened bottle of Fiji through security. It is what it is. Also, if you’ve got PreCheck, keep those shoes on and the laptop in its bag.
- Leave plenty of time to get to the airport and check traffic before you go. The stress isn’t worth it.
- Look at the boarding pass. It’ll have your boarding order on it. Decide if you want to get on ASAP and stow your bag or if you’d like to be the last person on. If you’re in Zone 1734, the bins will be full.
- Food. Are you going on a long flight around meal time? Get something in the airport to carry on. Just beware of pre-made items which will disappoint you every time.
- Get an idea of where you’re heading before you start. It sounds easy, but know your next move.
- Think about transit options and how you’re going to pay for them. Taking the El into downtown Chicago during rush hour will make you laugh at traffic. The alternative is sitting in a cab ringing up a big bill and watching the train speed past.
- More and more rental cars these days seem to have Bluetooth built in. That’s nice but some systems can be a pain to use. Having a spare cable in your bag to plug your phone into the radio can be nice. You get navigation over the car speakers and your own tunes.
- Use an app like Tripit (on iOS and Android) to sync your plans to. It’s very easy and all your details including hotel address are right there.
- Travel can be a pain at times. Don’t let it get you down. Give yourself enough time and take deep breaths. It’ll be OK.
- Find some places to eat which you won’t find at home. There’s an Applebee’s in every city. Where’s the fun in that?
- Use an app like CamScanner to make expense reports easier. This can be a big time saver.
- Bring clothes to work out when possible. Don’t worry about sweaty shirts in your bag. Those plastic laundry bags the hotels put in the closets work fine keeping the rest of your bag from stinking.
- Take advantage of loyalty programs where possible. Don’t overpay for a flight or room and don’t stay an hour away from where you need to, but be aware of benefits. Airlines will put you into PreCheck which is sweet in every case, hotel chains will upgrade you. You can take vacations with your family based on the benefits.
- Take care of those at home when you’re on the road. Call, text, and communicate in general. Do the odd nice thing which surprises them to make sure they know you care.
- When you are at home fill up your time doing worthwhile things with worthwhile people. As a friend said, “Life seems full enough that I don’t feel I need a bucket list… just keep the bad stuff the heck out of my bucket and I’m good.”