Little Travel Tips That Make a Big Difference
After experiencing thousands of international business trips and millions of miles in the air, I've compiled a few pointers to encourage the avoidance of the same mistakes.
- Double check on essentials. Physically check your passport, wallet, phone, and computer before departing for the airport. I've witnessed hundreds of desperate mad rushes home and missing flights, because people were sure "it" was in their handbag.
- Pens. Keep writing instruments handy. Filling out immigration and customs documents while flying saves time and gets you into the line-ups faster.
- Stay cool. When trouble occurs, don't panic. This should be rule number one. You might wait in line at the service counter, spend time on hold with customer service, or fill out forms at the lost luggage station, but there is always a solution.
- Know your rights and demand support. We once spent a week in Germany with only our carry-on-bags, while our luggage followed us from Berlin to Hamburg, and finally to Frankfurt. The airline supplied us with personal hygiene kits and covered $500 of clothing purchases.
- Damage claims. Check your luggage before leaving the airport. My suitcases have come down the ramp looking like they'd been run over by a tank. It's easier to receive compensation when the claim is made at the airport. Be firm and polite.
- Status counts with airlines. Select a loyalty program and work it. Lounge access, baggage exceptions, and preferred boarding are nice perks for frequent travelers.
- Body checks. Always know where your passport, wallet, and briefcase are positioned (Leaving anything in the seat pouch on the airplane is a formula for disaster). Be especially careful when checking into a flight, picking up your luggage, and waiting in public areas. Get yourself together before leaving the immigration stand, or check-in counter. This is when people drop things, and unfortunately, the sharks are circling, so valuables disappear. My passport stays in my front pocket for most of the journey.
- Buyer beware. Do your homework before committing to discount airlines or rent-a-car services. We pay for convenience, understand that you might have to travel a distance from a secondary airport or satellite rental office to get a better price. My hard-earned experience has proven that discount programs are great when the luxury of time is on your side, or until you have a problem...
- Not all airports are designed the same. Give yourself plenty of time at LAX, Frankfurt, Manchester, Houston, and Toronto. These airports are a walk in the park compared to some visited in Africa and The Middle East.
- Travel adaptors. Make sure you can plug in your equipment when you arrive at the destination.
- Enjoy the journey!