Productivity Booster

Travel Secrets that Will Save Your Life

Ok, maybe not save your life, but at least take some of the headaches away:

  • Never check a bag
  • SeatGuru
  • Bring twice the money, half the clothes
  • Remember that for nearly all business travel there are still stores where you are going. Only pack the things you need, not things you might use
  • iGo universal charger – unless your laptop is a Dell, which uses a proprietary charger and I swear to god one day I will find a way to get Dell back for this
  • American Express Platinum Card – gets you into the flight clubs and 4 free companion tickets per year
  • Get the lightest laptop you can, and if possible one that allows you do use a drive bay as a battery. With 2 regular batteries and one in the drive bay I can get a good 9 hours.
  • Sit on the aisle so you don’t have to climb over people to get to the bathroom
  • Never sit for more than 2 hours without moving around
  • Rip a solid 10-12 hours of movies or TV shows from DVDs you’ve bought to your laptop, you never know when you will be stuck someplace with time to kill
  • Have a second set of toiletries ready to go, you never have to pack and see what’s missing, leave the bag in your wheelie cart and go.
  • Kayak
  • Priceline for hotels, it’s nuts, I’m consistently paying half what other guests pay
  • Always have a small flashlight, sharpie, business cards
  • A hidden $20 bill – mine fits in the battery compartment of my cellphone
  • Get a friend that’s in one of the mega miles programs, if you travel with them they can pull you into the good seats or the exit rows
  • Drink lots of water
  • Be nice to the flight attendants

Addendum: After some great comments from Geoff and Chip, here are a few more:

Nice additions, that reminds me of a few more:

  • Chip is right on – GPS is an absolute requirement
  • Bring a 2 ft headphone cord, your rental car may have a jack so you can listen to your iPod
  • I always introduce myself to people on the plane as it is a great place to network (do you know how expensive it is to advertise in an in-flight magazine? That’s because the people on the plane are so cool), but I don’t do it until the pilot announces the approach to our destination, that way if someone sitting next to you is crazy you only have to talk to them for 10 minutes or so.

6 replies on “Travel Secrets that Will Save Your Life”

good stuff and I agree with you on most of these tips. I would also add that you should
* get a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle so you can have lots of electronic books instead of piles of paper ones.
* wear slip-on shoes,
* don’t be bashful about asking the gate agent for a better seat (nicely),
* when your flight is canceled go to the club or call the 800 number (as long as it isn’t crappy weather over a large area) to re-book (not the gate line),
* check the monitor to see when the inbound equipment is expected to arrive to know if you are really going to be delayed (or ask the gate agent nicely),
* if your flight is canceled and you don’t think you’ll get out that day move quickly to get a hotel room before everyone else realizes they need one too,
* if you travel a lot at the last minute consider sticking with one hotel chain (some guarantee rooms to regular clients),
* make friends with bartenders in cities you visit regularly as they often have great connections/info,
* make the hotel concierge give you recommendations, stay away from chain restaurants and tourist hotspots in your free time and explore places the locals like,
* sit near the middle of the first class cabin if you care about meal selection (they start at either the front or back and often run out of one choice before they finish),
* carry snack bars/nuts/etc in your bag for unexpected tarmac delays
* check the hotel alarm clock to make sure the idiot before you didn’t set it for 3 am and then forgot to turn it off when he was done (and housekeeping forgot to clear it, too)
* if you really, really need to get up at a certain time, use a wake-up call plus that strange alarm clock since neither one can be fully trusted
* get GPS in your rental car (or bring your own from home) if you are in a city you don’t know well, it can be a real timesaver when construction or an accident strikes and you don’t know where to go
* use your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn or other tools to get ideas for what to do when you are in a strange new town
* get one of those travel cases with retractable USB/ethernet/other cables to keep things organized and compact
* keep a bag packed with that second set of toiletries John recommends plus other essentials so that it is easy to add clothes and leave on a moment’s notice
* board as early as you can to make sure you get overhead bin space
* dress for where you are going not where you are coming from

– Join the miles programme for whatever airline you happen to be on that day. My colleagues laughed as I double checked at checkin that the (London -> Charlotte) miles were there, until I pointed out that that flight alone earnt me enough to fly London -> Paris with my wife.

– Turn off the laptop for at least an hour. The phrase “blue sky thinking” has a nice double meaning. It’s the one place you can just think things through without the (*£@ mobile going off.

– If you MUST check-in your baggage, make sure that there’s at least a clean set of underwear in carry-on in case those hold bags go walkies.

– If you’re going straight into a meeting from the plane, clear your teeth on the plane just before the “prepare for descent” light comes on.

– If you have checked in baggage, sit tight once the plane lands. Don’t try to fight passed the “in a rush” crowd who are flying HALO (hand luggage only). Stick in the comfy chair – even if you’re last off the plane, you’ll still beat the handlers.

– Upmarket leather hold baggage indicates the handlers that the contents are valuable and probably easy to fence. (Have to admit, theft has mainly been an issue flying in Africa for me.)

– If you do have a pile of magazines to read. Tear out the bits you want to keep, and leave the rest in a bin somewhere (or on your seat if you’re feeling uncivil.)

Carry a 3-prong extension cord (for US) with additional plugs on the end, as airports never have enough outlets (hello, Logan!). That way, if they are all full, you can ask nicely to unplug someone, plug in your cord and them into it, and you have room to be nice to someone else.


Just for SeatGuru alone this post is worth the read. I am flying to London next week and knowing that World Traveler Plus has the outlets for laptops has saved me a bunch and encouraged me to upgrade. I just want to add two more things here which some people have mentioned.

– Always carry a basic set of clothes in your carry on. You never know when you might get stuck in an airport overnight or what may happen.

– Dress nicely! You are much more likely to get a seat upgrade if you look like you should be seated in that section. (1)

– Travel with people in the travel industry if you can. They have industry cards which gets them top priority to get upgrades and access to every airline’s miles club lounge.

(1) My ex-girlfriend was a travel agent and we were flying to Bermuda. On the flight out the airline upgraded her to First Class but would not upgrade me because I was wearing sneakers and didn’t look professional. The attendants were nice enough to let us sit together but I got none of the First Class perks. Before the flight back we stopped at Marks & Sparks and bought shoes so that didn’t happen on the return flight.

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