A few years back, I was traveling with two colleagues. I tend to be a considerate traveler if you, in turn, are a considerate; however, I have little tolerance for the inexperienced traveler. On this journey*, a junior colleague forgot to pack the laptop adaptor, checked a bag, and had to go through security twice because of a forgotten water bottle. As I sat there stunned, waiting impatiently, I thought to myself, “my nine-year-old is better at this than you – he would never go through security with a filled water bottle!!” The trip left me more irritable than usual, but it also gave me the inspiration to teach others how to travel like a frequent flier.
As a PR pro in the Travel and Tourism industry, I have tracked close to a million miles in the skies. I have rented countless compact fire engine red cars (why a red PT Cruiser?). I have a stack of hotel card keys that can probably circumvent the globe. While traveling miles and miles in uncomfortable seats, eating bad meals and sleeping in suspect hotels, I have learned a thing or two about making travel less painful. Here are the top five pieces of travel advice I have collected like shot glass souvenirs from Sioux Falls and San Francisco.
1. Silence is Golden: You know how the frequent fliers can spot the non-frequent fliers? The absence of headphones and the need to chat with a stranger, or worse yet – your boss. One of my first times traveling, I arranged to sit next to my boss because I thought I could entertain him with my witty banter. Half-hour into the flight he put on his headphones and ignored me. Not so witty. Time on the plane is meant to catch up on emails; time to prepare for meetings; or time to mentally check out. Only old ladies and those with “emotional support” animals want to chat. Want to be the bossest babe or boy on the flight? Grab some boss-like headphones like these (I have Beats in rose gold).
2. Membership has its Privileges: Join every loyalty program you can find. Why? Free stuff, that’s why. I flew my entire family to Hawaii on a non-stop flight for nothing! Another perk? Status. By joining these programs, you can start to gain incentives such as upgrades and premiere grouping. Ah yes, grouping. I’d rather cut off my pinkie than be in group three. Dramatic yes, but once you have been in group one it is hard to go back. I know a colleague who took a trip to L.A. for a day, just so he could jump to the next status level. Status is everything when traveling. Check out this link for some “perky” travel loyalty programs.
3. Everyone Comes with Baggage: The saying goes “everyone comes with baggage,” but I would like to add … “but it better not be checked in.” I am putting this part in all caps to make sure the point is clear – DO NOT CHECK A BAG ON A BUSINESS TRIP. I repeat – DO NOT CHECK A BAG ON A BUSINESS TRIP. Or, quite frankly, ever. Don’t say, “I can’t do it.” If I can pack for a week-long conference with multiple outfit changes and several shoe options in a carry on, you can too. If you check a bag, you are holding up your entire party, so don’t get upset if your entire party does not wait for you and your bag. Here are some stylish options that can help get you carried away.
4. Security Blanket: The security line separates the boys from the men, and the girls from the women. First, take the time to apply for TSA Precheck. If you don’t have it, open the link provided and do it right now. This will save you invaluable time; especially, if you are running late and the traffic in Chicago is insane getting to O’Hare and you want to make the 4:00 pm because you know the 5:30 pm is always, for some reason, delayed two hours. Check your carry on for a leftover water bottle from the meeting. Start prepping on the line. I tend to take larger, clunkier pieces of jewelry off before I hit the screening. I also take jackets off and unlace my shoes. Have your ID ready for when the agent requests it. This shouldn’t be a surprise moment. If you are traveling internationally, have your passport open to the identification page. Take your laptop out and, as of last week, they also wanted you to take out iPads or anything bigger than a cell phone electronic wise. Put these items in a separate bin with nothing else, unless you want the TSA agents to be even crankier than usual. Remember, as for liquids, the rule is you can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes – they are limited to no more than 3.4 ounces. In the U.S., they usually do not make you take out your “liquids” bag, but I have found that in foreign countries, they often do request they be removed from your carry-on.
5. Be Humane: Act like a person, not like an animal while in the airport and especially ON THE PLANE. Keep your shoes on. For God sakes. Even if you have the sweetest-smelling feet in the world. No one wants to see it, and no one wants to smell it, even if it is sweet. If tuna is your favorite sandwich, eat it at home. This rule pretty much covers all fish and mollusks. I once sat next to a gentleman enjoying white fish and crackers. Save that for a dinner party, not close quarters. I’d rather smell raw sewage than whitefish. If you decide to act like an animal, you might end up here: @passengershaming on Instagram or @passengershame on Twitter. Be warned!
Randomly, don’t bring booze on a flight and drink it – unless you want an air marshal to escort you off the plane. A few other tips to remember: pack good snacks and Gas X; sanitize your tray table and hotel room TV remote before use; decline the “extra” car insurance; move on the people mover; don’t eat the airplane food; and stop taking pictures of the airplane engine and clouds – there isn’t a unicorn out there, I promise.
*The story, all names, characters and incidents portrayed in this article are fictitious. No connection to actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings and products is intended or should be inferred.
Learn more about Coyne PR’s Travel and Tourism experience.