For those of us who travel for work, we’ve come to expect that certain things are bound to go wrong from flight delays to long airport security lines and luggage mishaps.
To prepare for this article, I spoke to several expert travelers who clock in at least 25,000 miles or more each year for tips and tricks to make your trip more enjoyable.
On my last flight, I asked my flight attendants who didn’t want to be named if they had any tips.
Let’s just say, they had lots of suggestions for fliers including:
1. Have all your travel items in hand.
Make sure you have all of your items like your headphone and magazines in hand so you aren’t holding up the boarding process.
2. Don’t check your luggage.
Flight attendants also recommend not paying to check a carry-on, but instead to wait until you can check it at the gate. This way, you know your luggage will make it to your final destination.
3. Something will always go wrong.
Flight attendants also said that many people need to prepare for something to go wrong because it almost always does.
4. Give yourself time.
Fliers are more in control than they think, like leaving themselves at least an hour and a half to get to the next gate if you are taking a connecting flight.
5. Goodies for the flight attendants.
“Bring something for the flight attendants–chocolate, a snack, anything small and nice, just to say thank you,” said Lowell M. Aplebaum, Executive Consultant in Silver Spring, Maryland.
6. Don’t miss your connections.
Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency in Reston, VA said, “Many of us road warriors don’t talk to seat-mates. We haul out our laptop, book, work, or noise reduction headphones. I say, “Keep your antenna up for a warm smile.”
“If your instincts tell you this is an intriguing person, ask a simple question like, “Heading home or on business?” Their response (both the content and tone) will let you know if this is a conversation worth continuing.”
“I’ve met astronauts, inventors and fascinating individuals as a result of reaching out when the vibes are right,” she added.
7. App to relax.
The Brainwave app by Banzai for noise reduction, stress relief and better sleep on planes is something Brian Carter, CEO of the Brian Carter Group in Charleston, SC, swears by.
He also recommends, “not to unpack at the hotel, until you’ve checked out everything in the room.”
8. Join the club.
One piece of advice by frequent fliers is to invest the money for the club lounge membership. The bonus is it is also a tax deduction.
“Keep the phone numbers of any “loyalty desks” programmed in your contacts,” Lawrence Leonard, Executive Director of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.
“If seriously delayed or canceled, call the desk immediately, don’t go stand in line,” he said.
Other advice that I heard was to use the same hotel chain to build up loyalty points, Marriott and Hilton and W Hotels seem to be among the favorites.The same goes for picking one airline to accumulate miles and rewards.
Luggage favorites include brands like TravelPro and Tumi and travelers recommend getting bright colored luggage that won’t get lost in the sea of black suitcases.
9. Pre-Check yourself.
Getting Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check was the number one tip to get through security the fastest.
The time to get to the airport seems to be a topic of great debate with some saying they always catch the first flight to avoid delays.
Garrison Wynn of Wynn Solutions in Houston, TX, says, “I travel many more than 30,000 miles per year and catching flights after 3:00 pm makes a huge difference. The airport literally has half the people in it then it does at 9am.
Fewer delays, airport employees in better moods and more willing to help, weather is more likely to clear up and you have a better shot at upgrades,” he said.
Carla Balakgie the Chief Executive Officer of the National Automatic Merchandising Association said, “If you are going on an international flight buy what you need at your destination, instead of taking everything with you.”
10. Roll with It.
“Roll everything.” And, she encourages female executives to “bring solid color clothes and pack a few scarves – they are interchangeable and can make your outfit look more polished,” she added.
For international travelers, do the research and understand how to communicate and persuade effectively across different cultures. The Hofstede Model is a tool many entrepreneurs use to keep abreast of cultural expectations.