Travel Secrets by AskMcConnell

Plane Travel Secrets

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.

Boarding Pass

  • 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.

Timing

  • 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.

Seats

  • 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.

Travel Wallet 

  • 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.

Security/Safety:

  • 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

Cabs/Limos/Shuttles

  • 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.

Apps

  • 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.

Notifications

  • Set your Airline profile to notify your via text messaging of flight changes

Rewards

  • 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.

Hotel selection

  • 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

Technology

  • 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

Lingo

  • Learn the airline’s lingo (Watch ‘Catch Me If You Can Movie’)
    • PNR
    • Inbound
    • Outbound
    • 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,

Travel Secrets by AskMcConnell was last modified: March 21st, 2016 by Jim McConnell