This is a guest post by Sean Mathena of Find Your Peak
If you know me then you know that I travel a lot. Because of this I have learned ways to make this travel as hassle free as possible. The following five things are a must if you want to ease your time on those giant flying tubes.
Challenge the Norms
If you have not already done it, go and sign up for ALL the frequent stay programs that you can. They are free so why not? In addition to signing up for all of them, pick your most used ones and give them a call. All of the frequent stay programs have tiers which, as you move up, give you additional perks. In order to move up the ladder you must fly a certain number of miles or stay a certain number of nights, or so they claim. If you will give the entity a call, many of them will allow you to challenge their qualification criteria. For example, American Airlines allows you to challenge the gold and platinum levels. Normally you must fly 25,000 or 50,000 miles to achieve gold or platinum status respectively. However, American offers the gold and platinum challenge where if you fly 5,000 or 10,000 miles within 90 days they will confer upon you the respective level. That is huge given the benefits you get, so go and do it today!
Take it With You
When you travel as much as I do, you want to travel as light as possible, ensure your luggage meets you at your destination, and avoid all the fees you can. I try to only take what I can carry onto the airplane to avoid checking any bags. This is much easier than you think if you plan a little bit. You can check out the site One Bag for some great tips on traveling light. You can also check out Rob and Kim’s tips for packing light. This will not only save you time at your destination, but it will also save money (no checked bag fees) and it will ensure you have your bag when you land. If you must pack a checked bag, make sure you pack a gun. Crazy right? Not really. You see, any luggage that has a firearm packed in it gets extra scrutiny. You have to claim it, fill out an extra form, and TSA has to mark that bag and positively track it. What type of firearm should you pack? A starter pistol. These are considered firearms by the airlines, and are legal to own in every state without a license. You can find a cheap one (~$50) here. Pack one in every checked bag and your luggage will never get lost.
Leave it at Home
Sometimes you have to pack less to have a better trip. That is why I follow Tim Ferris’ advice and allow a settling fund for each of my trips. Tim advocates in his book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ a $200 settling fund to buy necessities when you arrive at your destination. This is great for mini-retirements, but it is a bit much for the frequent traveling that I do. I tend to allow myself $20US as a settling fund in order to buy things I might need once I get there. This might be an umbrella if it rains, toiletries I might have forgotten (you can get most of these free for the asking at major hotels), or other small pleasantries rather than trying to pack for every occasion. If you can use this to get down to no checked luggage you have saved yourself money on the baggage fees alone!
Pass the Time
When you are stuck on a long flight, it helps to have something to make the flight seem a little shorter. I have put together a little comfort kit that I always bring on long flights that has an eye mask and good quality ear plugs so I can try to get some sleep, Carmex lip balm, mints, and lotion. I also make sure I bring good reading material, music, and quality headphones. With the coming release of the iPad, I will probably leave the books and iPod at home and combine them on the iPad, I can’t wait!
I Feel Good
Jet lag sucks. There isn’t really any way to completely stop jet lag, but I have found a few ways to lessen the effects. Once you get on the plane, try to adjust to your new time zone. Check your watch and attempt to sleep when it is night time at your destination. Drink a lot of water, and reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine that you consume. Get up and take a walk around the plane every once in a while. This will keep your blood flowing and provide amusement by watching your fellow passengers. Once you get to your hotel, do not take a nap. Stay up until it is time to go to bed at your normal time. Take a shower and go for a walk around your area, the exercise will help you feel better and keep you awake. Once it is time to sleep, make sure your room is as quiet and dark as possible (maybe use the earplugs and mask you packed). You could also take something to help you sleep that first night, there are many over the counter sleep aids or ask your doctor for something appropriate.
*Bonus Airline Clubs
I wanted to add this in as a bonus because while they can be pretty expensive, if you travel a lot, they are a bargain at twice the price. Not only do you get a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal, but they are invaluable if you have disruptions in your travel. Have you ever had a flight canceled and had to stand in that never ending line at the gate to get rebooked? While you were there listening to people scream at the poor counter lady, I went to the airline club, rebooked my flight with the personnel there (probably taking your seat because your line still hasn’t moved), and was enjoying a cocktail and light snacks. If that happens only once it was worth the yearly fee (it always happens more than once). So if you can afford it, or better yet talk your company into paying for it, I would highly recommend joining your airlines club.
So there you have it, I hope these suggestions make your travel smoother and your vacations care free. Do you have any other tips for improving the lives of the Jet Set?
When Sean Mathena is not racking up his 100k+ annual flying miles, he authors Find Your Peak, a site to help people achieve peak performance in every area of life.