10 tips for frequent travelers

May 31, 2007

I’ve been traveling more in the last three months than I ever have before in my career. The experience has given me a new appreciation for the protagonist in Anne Tyler’s book The Accidental Tourist who was obsessed with conducting painless business travel to the point of re-creating the comforts of his living room and bedroom on the plane trips and in his hotel rooms.

Despite my short time on the road, I’m ready to dispense advice to the “newbies” behind me in line at the security checkpoint

  1. Wear shoes with socks—not sandals—to the airport.
    You do not want to walk barefoot at Hartsfield-Jackson (or any other airport) where millions of stinky, germ-infested feet have trod.
  2. Stuff a few healthy snacks into your bag.
    You never know when you’ll be one of those wretched victims forced to sit elbow to elbow with other hapless souls on the tarmac for hours. (Why don’t they let people off the plane?) On my way to the Seattle STC conference two years ago, I sat next to a fellow STCer who mistakenly though that the M on her ticket meant “Meal.” It was, after all, a five-hour flight spanning the lunch and supper hours. (It actually meant “Movie.”) Fortunately, I had packed a sandwich and was able to give her half. I made a friend and prevented a seatmate from getting grumpy. Win-win
  3. Collect your points.
    Virtually every hotel chain has a points system that rewards you with freebies. “Starwood is the best” I was told. With Delta emerging from bankruptcy, your SkyMiles will still be usable.
  4. Consider the Crowne Room or other airline executive club.
    Last summer we were grounded in Atlanta for seven hours on our way to a family reunion in Maine. We paid for a single visit to the Delta Crowne Room where we got snacks, drinks, wireless, and comfortable chairs to curl up in. If you are stuck in an airport, you can buy a one-day pass to the Crowne Room for only $25 and save yourself the noise, stress, and discomfort of “steerage” waiting areas. Your boss might even allow you to expense it if you explain the circumstances.
  5. Pack your swimsuit.
    It doesn’t take up much room and a refreshing dip in the hotel pool can be just the ticket at the end of a long day of meetings.
  6. Wear black.
    It hides the dirt and looks classy in almost any situation.
  7. Check your bag.
    Unless you’ve managed to dump all your toiletries in to 3-oz. containers and can survive without a nail file or scissors on your trip.
  8. Pack for contingencies because stuff happens. Here’s a good checklist from David Allen’s Web site.
    • I always bring flipflops or slippers in case the hotel rug is scuzzy.
    • Earplugs take up no room and can mean the difference between no sleep and a restful night.
    • Throw in one dose of standard meds: for stomach upset, congestion, headaches, etc.
    • Bring a small, strong flashlight.
    • A simple closepin will do wonders to keep those pesky hotel curtins closed.
  9. Bring a book (or two) to read.
    I’m going through two novels on every trip. They are great company when I have to eat alone at a restaurant. When I can’t sleep, I read until I can’t keep my eyes open. And a good story takes your mind off of delayed flights, bumpy turbulence, or taxicabs stuck in traffic.
  10. Adopt healthy on-the-road habits.
    It’s tempting order the comfort foods on the menu after a hectic day of travel and meetings, especially if the company is paying the tab. And if the hotel fitness center isn’t your thing, it can be hard to find ways to exercise.
    Here’s a good video from Spark People with exercises you can do at your desk or in your hotel room.