Tips From a Road Warrior

I’ve never traveled more than I do in my current role. Although it comes in spurts, I’m currently traveling 4 out of 5 weeks. While it can certainly take a toll on loved ones and your own body, I’m starting to get more comfortable with traveling a bit more efficiently.

I won’t say I’ve got it down right, but here’s a few things I’ve learned, my hopes are that you’ll chime in and add your tips below in the comments, alright let’s get started:

Tips From a Road Warrior:

Flying a lot? Get a Travel Agent
I’ve a travel agent, Carlson Wagonlit (thank you Ron!), that helps me coordinate my often multiple city destinations, they use my frequently flyer numbers and really help coordinate flights, hotel, and rental cars. This saves me valuable time from doing research to find out flights, nearby hotels, and keeps me focused on what matters. I’m pretty sure this is what Tim Ferris would do.

Print out your itinerary
Despite being a digital guy, I always print out my itinerary that has my flight numbers, hotels, and other contact information. You can’t count on technology to work when you’re on the go, dead batteries, the hassle of looking things up, or the ability to rapidly pull out a piece of paper is invaluable.

Get the right luggage and bags
Watch airline staff. These guys and guys are the pros. If you look how they travel, they have small suitcase with wheels, and then a second satchel or bag with personal items, and then if a lady a purse. They make the items stackable so you can put the personal bag (perhaps a suitcase or laptop bag) on top so it can easily roll. I use a backpack, never a messenger bag as you want to keep your back in alignment as much as possible. For long walks, I’ll affix my backpack on my suitcase to relieve the weight.

Learn how to pack right
First of all, if you’re a business traveler, you’ve likely got a carry on bag, checking in and picking up luggage is a major time sink, let alone the risk of them losing the bags. The trick here is to pack your clothes so you don’t have to iron them later. I use the ol’ roll your clothes like a towel trick. As a gent, I put the largest items out on the end such as shirts, and then items that you don’t care if they get wrinkled in the middle. For example lay your coats down on your bed first, followed by suits, then shirts, pants, then tshirts and other undergarments. Then roll them up like a burrito, and put into your carry on suitcase. On the sides you can put your shoes in plastic bags (so they don’t scuff) and toiletries. Ah, stuff your shoes with your clean socks or undergarments to save space, and ensure they maintain their shape.

Steam your clothes in the bathroom
This is one of my favorite tricks. As soon as you get to your hotel room, un-roll that rolled set of clothes I just mentioned. Then, get those shirts, suits, and slacks on a hangers and put in the bathroom –not the closet. When you take your next shower, the steam will naturally get many of the wrinkles out minimizing any time spent ironing.

Have doubles of toiletries for a quick reload
If you’re on the road a lot, it helps to have a backup toilitiries bag so you don’t constantly have to move items in and out. Buy everything in duplicates so you have duplicate toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, hair products. These little efforts make reloading a breeze.

Learn to traverse the airport
Don’t wear a belt, wear slip off shoes that don’t require a lot of tying, and put your watch, wallet, and other items in your backpack as you exit the car. I bought a Clear card a few months ago, which let’s you breeze past security, but there really isn’t a need for it in a down turned economy (also, I feel a bit like a jerk when they move me to the front of the line) I won’t likely renew my clear card in this economy. I always sit in the aisle when possible so I can get to the restroom without hassling that sleeping guy next to you, and to quickly get my bag and exit faster. Before you enter the security lines, before you choose which aisle to go down, avoid being behind people that are wearing a lot of jewelery or big families, they end to slow down the line. Side note: TSA is much friendlier in the midwest then on the coasts.

Bring the right in-flight gear
I have a spare battery for those long flights for my laptop extending my work time on the plane (one of the few places I can concentrate). Secondly I have an iPod and noise canceling headphones that really turn a confined environment more into a sanctuary. Also, I snagged earplugs and eye masks from previous long distance flights and keep in my backpack, those help. Oh and ahem, please bring mints or gum so you don’t annoy your fellow travelers.

Long trip? Go business class –but not first class
Traveling inter continental is a real time sink, west to east coast can be over 5 hours of downtime, but it’s great for catching up on sleep, writing those pesky reports, (my biggest struggle) or your latest blog post. The problem with many airlines is that the seats are so crammed together it’s nearly impossible to open your laptop and expect to extend your arms. If you’re working, upgrade to the business class, which provides more foot room, or get into the exit aisle or bulkhead. I don’t have the disposable income nor the miles to upgrade to first –maybe someday when I become an executive.

Text message yourself your parking spot
Ever forget where you parked at the airport? Yeah I feel you. Sometimes I get home late at night, bleary eyed, confused, perhaps a bit dazed from a conference party, the last thing I’ll be able to do is remember where my car is at the massive SFO parking lot. The good thing is that I always text message my parking spot to myself on my phone when I first park. Text message your parking spot to yourself, saving you time, frustration, and the embarrassing situation of thinking your car may have been stolen.

That’s enough tips for me, I’d love to hear from you, what do you do to make your travel efficient? Let’s collectively learn, I know there’s a lot of busy professionals that are part of my community. Do tell.

Written from a hotel in welcoming Minneapolis, 140am.