Having just flown 10,000 miles in two weeks, I’d like to pass on some tips to make travel a little easier. Every flight I was on was packed, middle seats and all. Along the way, I learned some things that are good to know, for comfort and for cost-savings if you own your own business.
1. Plan ahead. If you know you are flying, start looking at the Internet sites early. Yes, you can find great last-minute savings, but if you have to be somewhere on a certain day and don’t have a lot of spare time, book earlier rather than later. Always choose a seat for your flight. Don’t leave it to the gate agent who cares more about filling seats that your comfort.
2. Ask, and you might receive. At the hotel, ask if you can have a microwave or refrigerator in your room. Sometimes, they are free for the asking. Sometimes not. But you should give yourself the choice. Chilled drinks, heated snacks or meals made from restaurant leftovers can be a big cost saving.
3. Carry easy food. You don’t get food on a plane if you aren’t flying first class. Carry a granola bar, trail mix or raisins for snacking and to stave off the hunger that encourages you to make bad food choices when you arrive. You can also carry an orange, apple, or a bag of grapes, but I found I didn’t want to have to watch out for my food in travel. There are many small spaces in the travel world, spaces that will squash your carry-ons.
4. Ask your hotel about wi-fi. Most hotel websites are out of date. What cost $10 on the website (and lets you pre-register) was free at the hotel. Without the hassle of having to fight over the credit card charge.
5. Find your favorites ahead of time. Before I left, I used Google maps to help me find wi-fi spots, a coffee shop, a bookstore, and other places of interest for me. I printed out directions from the hotel to these places without having to ask for directions.
6. Know where to find a drugstore. A good source for bottled water, toothpaste, hair product, sunscreen and other things you don’t have room to take (or that doesn’t come in small enough containers) but want to have.
7. Use tools at hand. My cell phone screen lights up when it is fully charged. Annoying when it’s on a nightstand, quite useful when I plug it into the hotel’s bathroom plug and let it serve as a night light. Also makes me get up to turn it off when I use the phone as an alarm clock.
8. Going to a convention? Staying in a hotel with a kids’ sport convention? Most conventioneers are noisy and not thoughtful of sleeping guests. Carry earplugs and a CD of soft music. Many hotels now have radios with CD players. I have a friend who bought cheap, wafer-thin speakers and connects his i-pod at night.
9. Check the radio. Figure out the alarm or how to turn it off before you go to bed. Hotels often have off-brand and older clock radios with the writing worn off the buttons, or just baffingly difficult to work. The person before you needed to get up at 4:30 am, you don’t. I unplug the extra-bright clock radio and bring my own small (about $30) LLBean clock radio that has a far better sound.
10. Lines at airport security are horrible. Wear a jacket with pockets or carry a bag with an outside pocket to hold your license, boarding pass and receipts so you don’t have to open and close bags in the quadrillion steps it takes to show certain documents. Then carry a big envelope (at least #10 size) to put in all your receipts so you can have them when you create your travel expense account.
–Quinn McDonald has traveled to all the continents except South America and Antarctica, which she hopes to do before travel gets too weird to make it worthwhile. She is also a writer and artist. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007 All rights reserved.