My Travel Secrets
- Read you company’s travel/expense policy word-for-word. Keep a copy at your desk. Any questions ask!!
- Yep, I try to never check baggage on business trips, but ALWAYS be prepared that it may get checked for you and you need to buffer in time on the destination.
- Signup for Global Entry and that will help with TSA Pre-Check and if you do ever go overseas (on work or personal)
- I carry a roller board and a backpack. Backpack is where my day-to-day papers/tech stuff goes. If you are a backpack fan, spend the money on a TSA approved backpack so 99% of time you won’t have to remove your laptop/tablet/cell phone/stuff from this bag
- Book your own travel, don’t let a “travel desk” or assistant do it (unless it is international….again….differet set of bullets)
TSA (USA Transportation Security Administration)
- Get PreCheck (Great for domestic and international) and/or Global Entry (International)
- (Guy thing) I empty pockets, watch, jewelry, etc. before going through TSA. I put most everything in the backpack or pockets of my jacket so when I take the jacket off for TSA, I’m all set.
- Remember the TSA agent is a human being, you say: “Good Morning Ma’am / Sir”, and “How are you doing?” Questions, the answer is “crazy times” or “awesome” even if you are having a tough day, they want to talk to another human that is as bored as they are.
- Cell phone – QR Code based boarding pass, don’t like them at all, most of the time they don’t work….I do the paper boarding pass at home or kiosk/counter at airport. Plus the paper record helps better track trips for company records or if there is a missing mileage issue.
- Assume from the time you land and you get in your rental car and you are on the road averages 60-90 minutes.
- Plan your time to be at TSA with minimum 1 hour to spare is always my goal (use of Kiosk and PreCheck help this) for domestic flights.
- If you see lightning in the area, assume a minimum of 30 minute delays
- If I don’t know my exact schedule coming back, I always get the last flight back (not red eye) and then go on standby. Only had to stay over once, but get on earlier flights almost always.
- I change to the destination timezone AS SOON AS I SIT DOWN on the outbound flight. My weird body is blessed with easy adjustments to time.
- When you book your ticket, select a good seat, wait about 60 minutes, then logon to the airline’s website and move to the best/free seat. The booking systems don’t recognize your airline status as well as the airline’s website.
- 23 hours 59 minutes before your flight, most airlines will open up most of the reserved seats and all their pre-arranged upgrades have been cared for by this time.
- Check on the kiosk when you check in for a better seat. remember a “better seat” (http://www.seatguru.com) is not necessarily in front of you.
- I am primarily an aisle person for the same reason many others might mentioned, but if I am in a no-work/sleep mode, I might change to a window seat to lean my head. (Note: I can sleep from the minute I sit down to when we land, I’m weird in that way).
- Most aisle seat arm rests actually can go up to make getting out or moving out of the way easy. Feel under the arm rest for a small button.
- I have changed seats 4-5 times from booking to sitting.
- I have been sitting in a seat and they moved me to a better seat so never be afraid to ask, but don’t let me take your boarding pass and say “we’ll call you”.
Car (Domestic USA only)
- I don’t rent a car in NY (Manhattan). I don’t rent a car in Washington, DC, if I am covered well with the Metro. I 50/50 rent a call in Atlanta if I can use the MARTA. Depending on the time and location of venues/office/hotel, I may stick to cab or arranged car, I am not a security/timing fan of Uber quite yet. But I like having the control with my own car and since I don’t drink, I sometimes become the designated driver.
- I don’t like to arrive in a city for the first time at night (car+dark+directions)
- Remember that some airports do not have a gas station close by when returning if you care to refuel.
- Don’t carry passport unless going international (keep in safe at home)
- Carry passport in USA if going to government buildings
- Calling Card (yes, a calling card)
- Remember room key can get erased with certain wallets.
- I split cash between regular wallet and travel wallet (and other areas, if international), but always have a few bucks available for tips.
- Wallets never leave my person.
- Get you a rubber door stop, great for room protection when used in reverse to keep the door closed.
- Don’t rely on cell phone alarm, get you an alarm that is LOUD and some of them have a built in flashlight
- Don’t carry the hotel sleeve with your hotel name/room number with the key
- Assume hotel room does NOT have a safe, and if they do, it will be too small for most electronics.
- Plan on locking your roller board and backpack in the room with a TSA lock when leaving the room.
- If you leave your laptop out (hotel or office/client), cable it down to the chair or something and screen saver locked
- Biggest USA travel safety risks, believe it or not is:
- Electric / water outage at the hotel (I had to shower with (cold) bottled water one time)
- Fire/smoke at the hotel
- Always hail a cab from the airport support staff or pre-arrange one with a receptionist
- When getting in a cab/shuttle, never let them put your backpack in the trunk/”in the back”, it stays with you.
- If getting picked up at airport, have driver hold sign with just your last name (no hotel/company information) and if you really want to do good, use your maiden name, ladies.
- If you don’t recognize the knock at the door, call the front desk
- Be careful some hotel peep holes are TWO way….yes for safety reasons.
Packing (these come from a GUY perspective)
- Credit my brother Sam for most of these:
- 99% of time there will be an iron in the USA hotels (not that I know how to use one)
- PACK like you are leaving the hotel to come home, UNPACK like you are leaving the hotel to come home. You might have a change of plans quick.
- Each night you pack used stuff, like you are leaving the next morning.
- Shirts first, they wrap up around (“hug”) the other clothes….
- (don’t shoot the messenger) – ALWAYS assume you only get one pair of shoes and that you will walk outside 10x more than you thought you would. Great for the fitbit, hard on the feet.
- Small umbrella if you can fit it.
- When leaving for the airport (either way), remember there are only 2 critical items, your wedding ring and your (travel) wallet, your company laptop/documents, might be a close second. Clothes, shoes, suitcase, ipad cable, all can be replaced.
- Primary Airline app
- Home Airport App
- Either Flight Aware, FlightTrack and/or FlightBoard (good for tracking the INBOUND flight that you will be getting on).
- Google’s Flight tool is a good independent quick check tool for flight options.
- Set your Airline profile to notify your via text messaging of flight changes
- I push all my awards (car, hotel, airline, credit card, etc.) to miles if I can. Some of the hotels will let you gather miles AND points. For me, miles are more important and have higher “value”
- For American, 25000 miles = Round Trip Ticket (unless you do some shopping). For American, a reward mile used to equals about .01 dollar value. So compare your airline to this vs. points vs. buying tickets.
- Look for cross reward partnerships for example, American / Citibank / Marriott are all partners with each other, so the “deals” add up better since they are partners.
- For American, they many times have bonus miles that your should look for BEFORE booking.
- Outside of Company approved / price……
- Think about location…..sometimes closer to the airport is better than closer to the office / client…..sometimes better to be closer to a subway/metro train….
- I don’t stay long so the ones with a kitchen don’t do much for me.
- I like one big bed
- (free) wifi is hit or miss
- Always assume you can NOT get good quality wifi or good signal for cellular. Most popular now-a-days is a Mifi Access Point.
- Get a laptop power adapter that has BOTH regular plug and car plug via interchangeable cable.
- I carry an external mouse always
- Privacy Screen for Laptop (and ipad)
- Phone / ipad chargers (car and outlet) and/or get a good battery brick (I carry all of them)
- Pack cords in ziplock
- Learn the airline’s lingo (Watch ‘Catch Me If You Can Movie’)
- Dead Head
- Non rev
- Fare Code
- Open Jaw
- Hidden cities
Service at hotels
- If you stay at a particular hotel a lot or frequent a particular restaurant, one of times upon check in, ask for the MOD or general manager (make sure you tell them that you don’t have a problem)
- Give them your business card, ask for theirs
- Ask for recommendations for staying often
- Before your next visit, email them and thank them and ask if there any suggestions / specials.
- Build a rapport for the manager / chefs and it will pay off!!
Those were random and I may add to them as time permits,