This year I travelled a lot back east and a bit in the southwest. I was on the road for several days a month every month from March to October. So I think I can safely say I’ve spent my fair share at airports, car rental lineups and in hotels. 🙂
Here’s what I found that really helped me save a bit of time, money and get around from point A to B more efficiently:
Packing just enough for carry-on luggage. There are several benefits here:
Saving time waiting at the airline counter to check in your bags, and at the baggage carousel to pick them up.
Most airlines are beginning to charge fees for checking in bags. Having carry-on baggage bypasses this. Make sure you check with the airline to find out what the carry-on luggage limits are. If you’re not sure what to pack and you’re going to the US, make sure to check out the tsa.gov website for more information.
Making up a packing checklist, for work and personal items.
Checking in online at the airline website the day before the flight. This also allows you in some cases to change your seating assignment or purchase a seat upgrade and bypass standing at the airline counter.
Printing out the boarding pass at home or at the airport kiosk. Again, another way to avoid lining up to go to the airline counter.
Carrying all your paperwork in one place (flight boarding passes, travel itinerary and passport) in a 2 pocket folder.
Bringing a GPS unit for driving. Saves having to fumble with a map and speeding down the highway!
Having printouts of directions from the airport to the hotel and back, as well as to the customer site as a backup for the GPS unit. Because technology can be fallible. 🙂
Asking around for good places to eat. The best places I’ve gone to eat on the road this year I wouldn’t have ever thought to give a second thought to trying out if I didn’t get a recommendation from a local from the area.
Signing up for memberships with airlines, hotels and car rental places. Even if you don’t think you will plan to travel much in the near future, having a membership allows you to take immediate advantage of perks like later hotel check-out times and faster car rental lineups.
Many airlines, hotels and car rental places also have affiliations with sister companies or alliances with competitors. Examples of this are the Star Alliance for airlines and the Priority Club for hotels. By doing this you can consolidate the points or miles accumulated in one spot so if you do travel a lot you can start racking up the nicer rewards such as free flights with the airlines or nights at the hotels. As always, read the fine print before signing up.
Looking for hotels that offer complimentary wi-fi access. Most offer this, but don’t expect lightning-fast speeds you may be used to at the office. 🙂
Staying hydrated. Get yourself a couple of water bottles to have with you at the hotel and on-site. Or if you want to be more economical, pick up a gallon of water plus a single bottle of water, and just refill the bottle whenever it runs low. A gallon of water will usually last me 5 days.