I've been in sales for over three years now. I have picked up quite a few tips and suggestions that work great for me. Here is a suggestive list to help you out:
- Sign up for Global Entry. While nice to speed through customs, this comes with TSA Pre-Check for for expedited screening in security. This has helped me a lot... Besides not getting groped moving about your country, I can arrive later and be at less risk for leaving things behind (since everything stays in your bag). Also, many credit cards reimburse that $100 fee.
- Check in early to get the best seat
- When you are in the security line (or better yet, before its your turn), put everything away. You can't have anything in your pockets. I don't use those little circular trays as it is screaming "steal me" so instead I use the front pouch on my bag in the summer or everything goes in my jacket pockets in the winter. If not visible, its less likely to walk.
- I always print my boarding pass. It is faster than fumbling around getting your phone to work. Also since the phone has to be stored anyway (above point), it just eats even more time. It also flows well into my next point.
- Turn your phone off before getting in line. For security purposes on iPhone and Android, after a hard reboot, the data is more secure before you enter your pass phrase. This security is two fold: first from theft, and the second is authorities. While you can be compelled to give your fingerprint (including to unlock), you cannot be compelled to enter or give your password. Unless at a boarding crossing, then all bets are off.
- If you have to use the digital boarding pass, download the offline file or take a screenshot of it in case the app is down later or you do not have service.
- Check the airport map before arriving. This way you know where your gate is, sure. However the better use is to see how the airport is laid out. Some have independent security gates for each section since each terminal does not connect. Others like PHL allow you to walk the entire length. This means you may be able to go to a smaller security line and still get to your gate.
- Download the App for your airline. Many are ripping out the in-flight entertainment systems in favor of streaming movies to your phone. I don't like this practice as it kills your battery and most of the time they charge for content.
- Think ahead for arrival time... Is it Chicago or LAX or a major airport in peak travel season? Do you not have Pre-Check? Then arrive super early. Is it SJC and you have pre-check and its a Wednesday? Two hours is too early.
- Don't use the front seat pocket. Who knows what germs are in there and it just increases the likelihood of leaving something behind.
- You don't need those neck pillow things. Unless its a redeye, you are fine. And even then, many of the newer planes have a seat that makes those very uncomfortable by pushing your head far forward.
- As soon as I enter a hotel, regardless of how nice it is, all bags go onto the tile floor in the bathroom while I check the bed and linens for bed bugs.
- Use the laundry bag in the hotel room or a trash bag to store your dirty clothes. It will make it easier to pack it all back up later.
- When they ask how many keys you want, get one extra. The number of times the first key does not work will astound you.
- Many times the intro booklet/card they give you has good information like a map. I always take a picture or use an app like Office Lens to scan it, especially in new areas or if its a resort. It has useful information to reference later and the address (in case you forget).
- Sign up for your rental car's premium account. Besides earning points, they keep your license and credit card on file. This means you can skip the counter line and go straight to the garage at most airports.
- Check your routes on where you are going before leaving. If there are toll routes, request an EZ-Pass or other electronic toll system for the car.
- Take a picture of where you dropped of your car in garages so you don't forget. This goes for your car in the airport, too.
- Do not leave things in your car visible (theft), especially the rental agreement. They know you're a tourist then. In fact, I try to never leave anything in the car anymore.
Packing & Gear
- Follow the rules: "You are allowed one carry on item and one personal item; your personal item must fit under the seat in front of you and your carry on must fit in the overhead bin." I hear this so many times, it is ingrained in my brain. So follow it. The airlines post carry on sizes so I have three different bags that I can use for carry on depending on the length of travel. And guess what, they all fit! Don't be a jerk and hold up the line bringing in a 100 pound over-sized bag. Get it checked early. Which brings me to my next point...
- Carry on everything. You never want to wait for the bags to arrive or risk losing one. Make sure you pack light and carry everything on.
- I carry one extra pair of socks, T-Shirt, and underwear just in case my flight is canceled and I must stay another day. Other than that, everything comes back worn. No extra anything. If it turns out you need something (like Las Vegas gets that 10 degree cold front), everywhere has a Target or Walmart to pick up something in the event of an emergency.
- Make the one-time investment in refillable TSA-approved containers for shampoo and body wash if you insist on bringing your own (I do). It is simpler and cheaper than travel size things. I bring my full sized deodorant, leaving only travel sized toothpaste. This saves money and keeps everything carry on-able.
- Buy a good Anker (or other reputable brand) battery for recharging your phone and other items. You never know when there will be an outlet at the airport.
- I keep a small metal key chain pill bottle with common things (allergies, headache, etc) in my laptop bag or whatever bag I bring
- Don't buy any of those travel gizmos... Passport holders, etc.
- I forward everything to TripIt.com. There are many services like this, but I stick with this one. It builds your entire itinerary automatically so all information is all in one place. If you pay for premium, you also get notifications on flight status.
- Take a picture of your passport and save a copy on OneDrive or other service, just in case.
- Notify your bank of your travel so you do not get locked out of making purchases, especially if you do not travel regularly. Also monitor your accounts upon return in case your information was stolen.
- Traveling alone? Make friends at the airport bar. Anti-social? Use the app Tunity so you can stream the audio of the bar TV to your phone!
Updated December, 2016