Travel travel travel - how to get there without going insane
This past year I spent 135 days on the road and flew almost 250,000 miles. Out of those 135 days on the road, 25 nights of that were spent on an airplane. This year, I have already passed the 120,000 mile mark. I am writing this sitting on a Continental 767-400 and am about to spend the next 2 nights on an airplane. Do I like to travel? I don't like the traveling part, but I like the "being there" part. People ask me how to cope with so much travel (or even lesser degrees of travel.) Here are some tips to make the experience more palatable.
- Pick an airline that flies to most of your destinations and stick with it. If it does not fly everywhere, pick an airline that has partners that fly to your other preferred destinations. When your work wants to put you on the cheapest flight, stand your ground.
- Once you have picked an airline, if you spend much time in airports, get a airport lounge membership. This will make those long layovers (I have a 12 hour layover in Houston tomorrow), flight delays and extra time much better when you can get out of the hustle and bustle of the boarding gates.
- Fly enough to get frequent flyer status. This helps improve your seating priority, gets you upgrades, lets you get in the shorter security check-in lines. People think it is about "the miles". Trust me, it is not just about the miles.
- When choosing a hotel, pick a decent hotel with a restaurant, and a good breakfast in the mornings. The bed is important and the better hotels are all in a race to see who can provide the most comfortable bed. Westin and Sheraton are winning, IMHO. An extra $50 per night can make the difference between a decent nights sleep and a back ache the next day. A desk in the room is essential for me and having a suite makes the room even more comfortable.
- If possible, pick a hotel chain and join their frequent stayer program. Their "business" programs will not only get you points, but also room upgrades, free Internet, and even free breakfast. Again, stick to you guns if your accounting people want to stick you in a Motel 6.
- Travel as light as possible. Trust me. I used to be a "heavy" traveler and took everything I might ever possibly need in case of nuclear holocaust. It is not worth lugging all that stuff around between hotels, airports, and home.
- Allow yourself enough time to be early for your flights. The stress of arriving late is just not worth the headaches and confrontation with airport / airline staff.
- For long flights, a personal DVD player rocks. It lets me catch up on movies or TV shows and my portable's battery lasts about 4 1/2 hours. About 4 times longer than my notebook computer lasts when it is playing a DVD.
- Pick a lighter computer for traveling. Here is where I break my own rule. I travel with a heavy (portable desktop-laptop), cables, converters, an external hard disk, etc.... Most people don't ever need all this crap. Scale it back so that your laptop bag is light. Your back and neck will thank you for this. - Pick a cell phone provider that allows extensive roaming. Many of my friends plans only work in a certain regional area.
- While in transit, eat light. Salads, chicken, turkey, and vegetables are good choices. Anything with a lot of cheese, cream sauces, steaks, and fried foods are not. Avoid colas and carbonated drinks before or during flights.
- Keep on eye on your time schedule. In the airport lounge, be aware of your departure time and how much time it will take you to get to your gate. When leaving a meeting or hotel in a new city, allow enough time to get around. Ask your hotel staff about traffic to ensure that you are allowing enough time.