'Tis the season for travel! With the PASS Summit just around the
corner and lots of other interesting events waiting in the wings, such
as TechEd Europe, lots of IT people will finally be allowed to stretch
their wings (and budgets) to get in some first class training.
I've been a very frequent flier for a long time and seldom get
surprised by much these days - exasperated, yes - but surprised, no.
And I've certainly seem my share of fellow travelers doing it all
wrong. The one thing they all share in common is that they're not
experienced and, usually, haven't thought much about the upcoming
trip. You know the type - they've packed an eighty pound carry-on and
are then surprised that it neither fits in the overhead space nor is
light enough to get past their waist line without a herniated disk.
They're the type who stands at the security line, backing it up fifty
deep, because they're trying to get a 2 liter of soda or, even worse,
$50 worth of hair care products past the checkpoint despite the prominently displayed signs and constantly playing recorded reminders that you can't take any liquids or gels of more the three fluid ounces in a single quart-sized Ziploc bag.
I've got a few tips to share, and I know many of my fellow
blogomaniacs do too. So I thought I'd start a meme asking my
colleagues to chip in their three favorite tips for successful air
travel. Just to pad the results a bit, everyone can provide three
beginner tips for the infrequent traveler and three expert tips for
those who might have travel a lot. Here are my tips:
Here are some useful tips if you travel three or less times per year
and aren't too familiar with the ins and outs of air travel:
1. You're at risk to forget some of your stuff in those bins at the
X-Ray machine at the security checkpoints, especially if you're
hurrying to make a flight. An easy way to make sure that never happens
is to put everything first (keys, mobile phone, belt, laptop, carry-on
bag) and send your shoes in the very last bin. You might run off in a
hurry without your laptop (I certainly have - once), but you WON'T run
off without your shoes. Putting your shoes last means you won't forget
anything else in your kit.
2. Expect annoyances and plan accordingly:
- There's always a chance of delays on the tarmac, sometimes a really long delay,
so stock a bag or two of mixed nuts or another hearty snack. I
recommend unsalted nuts since they're filling, fend off hunger for a
long time, and won't make you thirsty.
- Plenty of time on the flight is "no electronics" time. Bring
magazines or books to read. I, personally, enjoy writing letters (yes,
using a real pen and real paper) especially to my older relatives who think computers are "of the Devil".
- There will always be screaming babies and obnoxious youngsters to
make a nap just so much wishful thinking. So get one of those nice
sets of foam ear plugs (a dozen for two bucks!) and a nice sleep
visor. You'll never see these people again, so don't worry about how
3. Packing is the novice traveler's mine field. Don't pack more than
you need - one more shirt and pants than days you'll be gone (in case
of stains) and no more than one pair of shoes (over and above what you
wear onto the plane). Unless you're traveling to a place without
electricity and indoor plumbing, you can buy anything your lack.
Here are some useful tips if you travel, or plan to travel a lot during the year and know all of the regular things to do:
1. American Airlines is the only airlines with standard "cigarette
lighter" adapters under the seats. There's one per row in coach on
their standard mid-range MD-80's and one per seat in first class. An
adapter is one $20-30 at your standard drug store. I prefer unlimited
power, especially for long flights, which is on reason that I'm a platinum frequent flier on AA. Delta and United have proprietary adapters that cost nearly $100.
2. Prepacking with redundancy. It sounds a little like a level of
RAID, but it's really just a better way to travel if you have to do it
often. First, get redundant computer equipment, such as power adapters
and mice for your laptop, and toiletries so that you don't have to pack
up your regular office gear for the trip. If you don't plan to do
this, you will after a year or two of frequent travel because you'll
simply forget each of these things enough times that you'll wind up
buying doubles of most of them anyway.
3. The airline clubs are nice, really nice. But each airline
has their own club and they're expensive, in the $500 range, even for
high-level frequent fliers. I recommend instead that you pay the
$450/yr membership fee for an American Express Platinum Card.
One of the many benefits of the card is free club access to four
different airline clubs, which means there's never an airport where you
can't relax between flights. Another less well-known perk is that if
you book travel with AmEx, they're often able to give you a "buy one
get one" free deal. It's always unwritten and not posted on any
website. But if you call and ask, there's a 30/70 chance that a flight
between two major cities will have the deal. (Note that this is
unsolicited advice and I'm not getting any sort of remuneration in any
way for this recommendation.)
From here, I'm tagging a handful of buddies who are some of the hardest travelin' folks I know - Paul Randal & Kimberly Tripp, Dr. Greg Low, Brent Ozar, and Brad McGehee.
I hope to see you at the PASS Summit in two weeks!