We all know how crazy travelling can be these days. Unexpected delays, mishandling of luggage, scary, turbulent, white-knuckling rides…and that’s just the cab to the airport!
Whether you’re going on a site visit or attending a conference you’ve toiled for months and years to plan, here are some tips to make your trip as smooth and stress-free as possible:
1) Download the “1Weather” app. It’s free, and has the most accurate and detailed forecasts and radar for your trip. Five minutes on this app will save you five hours stranded at the airport.
2) Google map the street view of your destination to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. It’ll help you avoid the inevitable parade of missed turns, u-turns, and wrong turns back on the interstate.
3) Familiarize yourself with the restaurants in the area of the hotel and check their reviews beforehand. Plan your meals in advance. This will save you more time than you can imagine, and help you avoid the questionable tacos at El Chalupa.
4) When renting a car, always check in-terminal vs. off-terminal locations. On most travel sites, this difference will be specified, and choosing the in-terminal option will shave off at least an hour’s worth of waiting for and riding the shuttle bus.
5) When packing, mentally walk yourself through each day of your trip and exactly what you plan to wear for each occasion. Don’t overpack unnecessarily and throw your back out lugging what feels like a rack of bowling balls.
6) When checking into the hotel, chat up the front desk staff. “How long have you worked here?” “How do you like it in Houston?” “Molly! What a lovely name. That was my grandmother’s name”. Most travelers are transactional – applying the human touch will significantly increase your chance at a free upgrade.
7) Ask the bartenders about the best places in town. If you need to entertain clients, eat lunch at a local pub and ask the bartender where to go – they have the pulse of the town and will let you know about the hidden gems that will make a big impression with your guests.
8) Get to know the cabbie who picks you up at the airport. Many of the cab drivers in town are happy to provide prompt, repeat service with a nice tip the first time around. Get their card and number, and they will be your go-to chauffeur for the duration of your trip.
9) Check into your flight online. This will help you avoid those horrendous long lines at the airport and go straight to luggage check. Also, weigh your luggage at home to make sure you’re under the 50 lb. threshold.
10) If you’re a nervous flyer, talk to the pilots when you board the plane. Very often, they’ll let you step into the cockpit for a few minutes and will break down the flight path, what to expect, and assuage any concerns you have. These guys are pros and seeing them up close and personal will significantly help to put your mind at ease.
11) Invest in Bose headphones. The noise cancellation effect will help you sleep on the plane as well as any Xanax, Ambien or glass of wine. It will also help you sleep at your hotel if you have the misfortune of sharing your floor with the Delta Kappa Gamma convention.
12) Check traffic and construction before you leave for the airport. Nothing puts a damper on a trip like a fender-bender on the interstate an hour before your flight takes off. Especially when it’s the last flight out that day.
13) Research the events calendar in the town you’re headed to. If you’re off to New Orleans for a site visit, make sure you’re not going during Jazz fest, the French Quarter fest, or the 3,000 other festivals that triple room rates and quadruple traffic rates.
14) Make a list of emergency facilities. Hospitals in case of an illness, a mall in case of lost luggage, cell phone store in case of a lost charger, etc. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
15) Buy travel-sized EVERYTHING! Toothbrushes, mouthwash, deodorant…all of it. Any CVS or Walgreens has a travel section that’ll ensure you fit your bare essentials in your toiletry bag without taking up valuable real estate in your suitcase.
Please add any tips you may have in the comments section below…