This article comes to you from 39,000 feet, seat 14C.
I love to travel. Fortunately, I don’t travel SO much that the thrill is gone. I still love waking up in one city and going to sleep in the other and, at a whopping 5’4” the shrinking legroom hasn’t gotten the best of me. So before the hum of the engines lulls me into sleep, I will share some of the travel tips in my personal arsenal.
Technology Reigns Supreme
First, if you are not using apps you’re missing out. I don’t know what I would do without TripIt to consolidate my travel details and easily share them with others. You simply forward your confirmations to TripIt and, voila, it magically creates a detailed itinerary for you. The free version is very robust, and for small fee the PRO version provides real time updates, such as gate changes or flight delays, and offers a pointer tracker feature.
Before booking a seat on long flights, I always check out SeatGuru to give me the scoop on seats to avoid and other info such as if the seats have power outlets. If you are craving Cinnabon, GateGuru is your app. It lists all of the vendors throughout the airport by terminal. GateGuru was recently bought by Travelocity and added a bunch of new features that look very handy as well.
One thing to remember is that many carriers now have entertainment systems that work on your own device, but you must load the player BEFORE you board.
I have found the best deals on a site called GoSeek. They seem to be able to track down not only the best rate, but special discounts or coupons that don’t show up on the consolidators such as Kayak or Trivago. Also, before you book a room on any site, check out the hotel’s web site. Oftentimes they match the rates or have special deals not posted anywhere else but their site. If you book rooms frequently try hotels.com. They have a rewards program that gives you one free night for every 10 room nights booked.
Beat Jet Lag
People ask me a lot about jet lag and I have found the best trick is to find what works for you! However, I swear by going with the time zone flow. Never do the math about the time it is where you started – you need to trick your brain as much as your body. Eat when the clock says it is time to eat and no napping when you get to your destination! Push yourself as long as you can go until it is bedtime. Go light on the booze, drink lots of water and nosh on healthy, low salt snacks such as grapes, cheese, veggie sticks, nuts or hard boiled eggs.
Yes, I have an opinion on this too and no, you will never catch me with a full body pillow on my lap. I swear by the Total Pillow. It looks like a flower with a hole in the middle. I love it for three reasons. 1) The center hole lets you slide it over your carry-on handle instead of taking up valuable bag space. 2) Because of the center hole in the design, I can lean against a window and my headphone sits perfectly in the hole. No more sore ear at the end of a 10 hour flight! 3) Because it is firm and twists to different configurations, you can use it for lumbar support too.
On my last trip to Europe I think I earned official packing expert status. Two weeks in a 26 pound carry-on – and I had four pairs of shoes! My first tip is to ditch your old suitcase; if your bag is more than five years old you are carrying more bag than clothes. Newer suitcases are very light yet durable. If you are travelling in winter or with any bulky clothes, I swear by packing bags (make sure you get the roll type, not the vacuum type.) I also like to toss a dryer sheet in my suitcase to keep everything smelling fresh. Finally, we all have clothes we should probably get rid of, a frayed shirt, faded undies. Pack those for one last hurrah and then toss to make room for souvenirs.
Get the Point(s)
If you aren’t earning points on your credit cards, you could be throwing away an airline ticket. There are some cards that will give you points that can equal a free ticket – just for signing up and spending a minimal amount on the card. I use AwardWallet to keep track of all of my points on my credit card and other reward cards. The system automatically updates your totals and alerts you to any points about to expire.
If you are a big time traveler, consider the American Express Platinum card. Yes, the annual fee is expensive but the benefits pay for it quickly. They cover the cost of your Global Entry application, a membership to Priority Clubs in airports all over the world, credit you for up to $200 in airline charges for incidentals such as baggage fees or in flight beverages, cover the subscription costs for Boingo, provide vouchers for free in-air Wi-Fi and waive international transaction fees on the credit card.
Well, it is time to put my tray table back up (which by the way is the germiest part of a plane – 10x more than the bathroom according to Travelmath). I hope these tips come in handy the next time you travel. Bon voyage!
Do you have a great travel tip? Share with us!
Written by Laura Kesselman, CMM