Traveling Well: Tips from a Weary Traveler


I travel a lot. A whole lot. Until recently most of my travel has been within the US but this year I have been all over the globe. Right now I’m writing this post somewhere over Russia. There’s an art to traveling well, even if you can’t go first or business class as is my case right now. Here’s a few thoughts on the art of travel.

  •  Book an exit row or bulk head  seat (some airlines charge extra for those seats). The extra leg room is really helpful on a long flight.
  •    Board as early as possible.  Boarding early secures you the overhead bin near you. They fill up quickly specially on overseas flights.
  •     Dress for comfort. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and specially footwear since your feet will swell up during long flights.
  •     Wear dark colors. You never know when you or someone next to you will spill something. Coffee stains look a lot better on jeans or black pants than it does on kakis.  Dark colors do better than light after you’ve had them on for a couple of days as I have learned on this trip. (note as I wrote this I was 17 hours of a 36-hour trip to get home. I was not able to change clothes during the trip)
  •     Wear layers. I like wearing a coat on long trips to help me keep up with my travel documents my passport while keeping me looking sharp after a long trip.
  •     Bring noise reduction headphones. My Bose headphones have been a life saver. They have protected me from screaming babies, obnoxious seat mates and from the low rumble of the plane engines while providing great sound quality. It’s money well spent. And besides, the music from Glee sounds amazing on the Bose.
  •     Buy a traveling neck pillow. On long flights the neck pillow is a wonderful invention. It supports your head while allowing you to sleep. I bought the tempur-pedic version. It costs more but offers great support. On short flights, however, they make you look like a dork who doesn’t get out much. So use it wisely.
  •    Buy an iPad. Ok this might seem extreme, but on a 26-hr flight, my iPad was a life saver. I read books, answered emails, watched a whole season of Glee and wrote blog posts. And if you don’t have a charger near your seat there’s no problem since the iPad’s battery lasts a very long time. Besides the flight attendants will strike up conversation upon gazing at your might iPad and you might score free drinks and left overs dessert from first class (Ok, I’m not proud)
  •  Call a reservation agent when in trouble.  If your flight gets delayed or canceled, you might find yourself in a long line waiting for a gate agent to rebook your flight. Oftentimes calling the airline reservation number is the best option. I once called from inside of a plane that was being pushed back to the gate due to engine problems and got one of the last available seats with another airline leaving within minutes of my original itinerary. People might get angry that you got booked and they didn’t but they’ll take their anger at the agent while you board for home.

This will have to be a multi-part blog. I will post more tips later. 
So what’s the best travel tip you’ve ever gotten? 

  • Lawrence W. Wilson

    Best travel tip I've had is to arrive very early and leave plenty of layover time for international flights. If I miss a flight from Chicago to Indy, there's another flight in an hour. If you miss an international flight, you may miss your entire trip.

  • MaurilioAmorim

    That's a great tip. My friend Lauren Libby was to open the conference I attended in Singapore on Monday morning. His international flight had a mechanical problem and was diverted back to Seattle. He didn't arrive until Tuesday afternoon at 3:30. Just in time to close the meeting.

  • Stephen Mays

    When traveling overseas, use your credit card or bank cards as much as possible. That's a better exchange rate than doing through the places in the mall or even going to a bank to exchange money.

  • MaurilioAmorim

    That's a good one.

  • Dawn Nicole Baldwin

    Great tips! is a handy tool I've grown to love. It automatically stores your confirmation emails into a lovely app [Blackberry AND iPhone.. not sure about Droid] that's grouped by trip. So car rentals, flights & hotels are all in one spot w/confirmation numbers, addresses, etc.

    The base app is free & by itself is fantastic, or you can upgrade to gold for the privilege of booking flights, hotels, etc as well as seeing what's the next available flight if yours has been canceled or delayed. [I prefer to take your route of just calling the airline though]

  • MaurilioAmorim

    I downloaded the app a few months ago, but I have never used it. Thanks for the tip, I'll give it try.

  • Kyle Gilbert

    Just some personal preferences, but I always try to do the following:

    -Travel in sandals or flip flops. Not only are they easier for going through security, but they seem to be more comfortable on the flight as well (unless you have smelly feet).

    -Put my wallet, phone, belt, and small children in my carry-on as I approach the TSA lines (just kidding about the children).

  • Chris Johnson

    Put everything except for your boarding pass and ID in your carry on when you get out of your car. It makes the virtual strip search at the security check much more pleasant. Also, wear shoes you can slip on and off easily. They make lots of nice dress shoes without laces these days! This also makes the security line easier and life on the plane more comfortable.

  • MaurilioAmorim

    I usually wear non-lace up shoes. I just wish I could find a belt that I didn't have to take off while going through security. If someone made a plastic that looks like medal buckle I'd buy it. (Of course it has to look good)

  • Davis

    first and foremost travel tip…lower your expectations! No one anywhere will do things the way you think they should be done. Relax and have fun, even when traveling on business. IT will make the experience easier and less stressful.

  • Rob Ivy

    Tip #1 – Save plastic bags that the cleaners hang around your clothes. When you pack dress shirts, suits, and other clothes that you don't want to wrinkle, pack them in between these plastic bags. They will slide around and not get stuck on other clothes or items in the suitcase, and will arrive with about 75% less wrinkles.

    Tip #2 – When you have a choice of connecting flights, always go with the later flight. Later flights book full more often than earlier flights. If you're early and the early flight is not full, you can always catch it without a change fee, but if you book the early one and miss it, you're either hosed if the later flight is full or will be charged fees to switch because you missed your original booking.

    Tip #3 – When possible, try to find a seat next to an interesting South American native.

  • MaurilioAmorim

    Tip #2 is true; however, if you're flying Southwest, you'll still have to pay the difference in fair between what you paid and the cost of the new Business select fee is. And you should only try tip #3 if you're an attractive, skinny woman. 🙂

  • Tim Newberry

    I love my hypermac micro for traveling. It is an external battery that has a usb port on it. It can fully charge the iphone 3 times. they also have a smaller and larger one.

    I don't travel without my igo tips and cord. It is a charger that has a universal end on it. You then buy the tips that you need for your various devices. iphone, hypermac, ipad, camera, etc. It allows you to pack all your charges in the space of just one. Don't waist your money on the charger itself, just buy the igo usb cord and use a iphone usb wall wart. It is a lot smaller and with the usb cord, you can use the tips with your computer or hyper mac. I also recommend buying the splitter, so you can charge two things at once. Not a cheap setup, but saves space. I have found them at radio shack, online and in a few airports. I would also add a 12v cigarette lighter usb port. some planes have these under the seats. I got a really small one at Best Buy.

    I always have a cheap extension cord like you might use for a lamp, in my carry-on. It is priceless when you can't find a seat near an outlet in the airport or when all the outlets are full. You can usually talk someone in to using your extension cord that has three outlets on the end of it.

    I also like a travel pillow. specifically the one by thermarest. It is a good combination of a pillow with stuffing and one that uses air. I don't like air only, they are not comfortable, and the ones that don't deflate take up to much room. I would also add to the sleeping list an eye cover and earplugs.

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