Last time I started sharing some of my favorite travel tips and hacks that I’ve learned after years of being on both sides of the business travel industry, but there are definitely more ways to save time and stress, and to deal with the would-be disasters that might come your way.
When you combine common sense with creative thinking, you’ll be amazed at how much this eases your travel headaches.
For instance, while the masses will run over each other to get to the shortest security line, ignore them and analyze the situation. It’s not the length you need to focus on, it’s how fast the security agent is working. Spend a few seconds to think and save minutes later.
Before you get to the airport, make sure you check in for flights online, as early as possible (usually 24 hours) to get the best seats. Also, sign-up for TSA Pre-check. The fee is nominal and the status will last for 5 years. TSA Pre-Check lets eligible, low-risk travelers enjoy an expedited and more efficient security screening.
However once you’re there, and your flight gets cancelled, don’t stand in the 50-person line at the service counter; get on the phone and have a call center agent rebook you. It’s almost always faster this way, and every person the service counter rebooks ahead of you means one less seat on a flight you might want to get on.
Some airlines will automatically “protect” you by rebooking you on other flights, but those flights may not be to your liking. Check what they’ve done and make sure it works for you. Agents will change it fee-free (or refund your ticket) if the new booking doesn’t work for you.
And don’t hesitate to ask for the upgrade (nicely). At hotels, the sweet spot for suites is at the front desk. When you arrive, ask if better rooms are available and politely state your bargaining position. You’d be surprised how often saying something like “Would $50 more get me a suite tonight?” actually works.
Pack like a champ
Anyone who has traveled enough, whether for business, pleasure, or both, knows that packing well is an art form, but there are easier ways to go about it.
I always do carry-on luggage so there is no wait at the airport. That way I’m at my hotel by the time other travelers are just getting their luggage. And to do so, you must be a good packer. Clothes on the bottom; suits separated by plastic from the dry cleaners (so nothing wrinkles), shoes to match all outfits, toiletries on top. Pack clothes a day ahead and put something heavy on top to get the air out so you have room for even more.
Always carry a basic first aid kit. Seriously, ibuprofen and Neosporin will take you far.
And it’s not just the carry-on that you need to worry about; make your personal bag work for you. As the TSA screening protocol has expanded, I’ve found small ways to save time during airport screening; I make sure that all metal (watch, keys, change, phone, etc.) is in my computer bag – not on my person. And since airport requirements differ, I always assume the TSA will need to see my boarding pass a second time, so don’t bother tucking it away just to fumble trying to find it again.
Finally, for those wearing dress shoes through airport security, consider trading in your laces for a pair of slip-ons. You never know when you may need those two minutes you’ll save.
Oh, and we know that plane is going to dehydrate you, so bring an empty water bottle and get water on the other side of security, that way you can be refreshing yourself long before the beverage service starts.
Come back next week as I finish up with getting the most out of flying Business Class.
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