But more than this, I love building a rapport with a person, and then getting to ask them big questions about their countries. With the car doors closed, and no-one else listening, it’s amazing how much people open up to what life is really like. One of my biggest aims when travelling is to learn, and it is in these conversations I learn more than at any other time.
I make the most of my out-of-touch time on the plane, in transit, or in a hotel. Instead of being a slave to email, I prepare a list of phone calls I need to make and download PDFs of documents I need to read to my iPad, so that I can work easily in the airport and on the flight. I make sure to email myself source documents and open/save them before I get on the plane, so that I can edit or write in-flight.
1. Pack for today’s overhead-bin reality. Since airlines started charging for checked baggage, travelers have resorted to extreme measures to ensure their bags make it on the plane. But most people get it wrong. Look around the boarding area. Almost everyone has a big roller bag and a briefcase. But one roller bag can fill an entire overhead bin. If your flight is full and you aren’t among the first on the plane, you will have to gate check that bag. A better strategy is to take two more equal-sized bags. One should be the maximum size that will fit under the seat and the other should be flexible so it can fit into any odd space available between roller bags in the overhead bin. Using this strategy, I have never had to gate check a bag in 20 years of travel. An added bonus–you can save the extra fees airlines charge you to board early in order to cram your huge bag on first, which is just a rip-off. For a list of what this luxury and other “premium” services will cost you, take a look at airline services fees on Kayak and SmarterTravel.
In addition to pulling down the germ-ridden bedspread (such bedding only may get washed every few months), take a moment to peel back the sheets and inspect your mattress for little reddish-brown spots — evidence of bedbugs. Because bedbugs are attracted to heat, aim a hairdryer at the mattress to draw any of those little buggers who’ve burrowed themselves deep.
Fittingly, I'm writing this article from an airplane headed down to Mexico City on a business trip, one of the 100+ flights that I take for business each year, and have been averaging for most of my career. I'm often asked how to make business travel easier, and should you find yourself staring at increased travel in the near future, hope you find a helpful tip or two.
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live without your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going au-natural – it’s liberating!)
Ever wondered if there’s a magic number of days before a flight when tickets are at their cheapest? Science has an answer for that. Fifty-four days before takeoff is, on average, when flights within the continental U.S. are at their absolute lowest price. And if you don’t hit 54 days on the head, you should usually book between 105 to 21 days before your trip ― within a so-called “prime booking window” ― for the lowest possible prices. In this period, ticket prices typically hover near the lowest price they’ll ever reach.
All of these tips are essential. I’ve learned a couple myself lately. Earplugs are truly number one, and not necessarily during travelling (I actually always have a pair with me, just in case I’m going to sleep out of home). Smiling at strangers and saying hello does work indeed. Also, an occasional splurge makes sense. However, I’m still tough at this. And saying YES to some seemingly insecure offers certainly pays off. My two latest cases were horse safari and swimming in a freezing cold mountain waterfall—as you said these have become some of my coolest stories so far.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons that I would love to share with budding entrepreneurs, saving them from making the same mistakes I did. I have two tips when it comes to saving on hotel bookings. One, call the hotel and book directly. They would gladly offer you a better deal as they will save money from paying commission to the booking websites. Two, it also pays off to book last minute, reserving a room after 6 p.m. on the day of your arrival could bag you an even better deal.
"If it's a longer trip that requires two suitcases," says Shiona Turini of Cosmopolitan, "I always pack evenly between the two (e.g. a black shoe in one and a black shoe in the other). In the event my luggage gets lost, I know that I can survive with one suitcase. It takes more time, but I've heard horror stories of people putting all of their shoes in one bag and the airline losing that piece of luggage."
I do it this way: I walk inside the terminal and take a look at both the length of the line for check-in, and the clock. If the line isn’t too long, and I have enough time, I head for the check-in; I get your seat assignments, can make any special requests, get credit for frequent flier miles, and can best address any problems with the flight such as delays or cancellations.