Brutally Honest Travel Tips

Originally published via LinkedIn Sept 17, 2015

“Travel tips” blogs are a dime a dozen.  Everyone knows you should drink plenty of water, sign up for hotel and airline rewards programs, and get plenty of rest but in my years of traveling for work I have found there are some rules of the road that no one seems to write about. I’d like to thank my fellow road warriors, Matt Koehler, Veeam NA Cloud Marketing Manager, and Jamie Henderson, Veeam Corporate Reseller Marketing Manager, as well as the brutally honest Southwest flight attendants on flight #739 from Atlanta to Tampa for their input on this post.

  • Never pass up the opportunity to poop. You might be in a stall with 16 sets of feet surrounding you on your five minute ‘bio-break’. You might be in an airport. You might need to abandon your booth at the Gartner Symposium, but no matter what you do, get it out. You need constipation in your life like Donald Trump needs a Mexican mechanic working on his brakes.
  • Claim the arm rest. As soon as you get in your seat on the plane, wiggle that elbow over the arm rest like you are staking your claim on a sizable family inheritance. You paid for that seat and you should have access to every available inch of room, which isn’t much to start with.
  • Everything counts as exercise. People who work out every morning are overachievers. Running through the airport to catch your connection, standing up all day long behind a 6-foot table, and pacing the back of the room to stay awake during a QBR all count as exercise. The point is to move around. Sitting constantly is miserable.  Whenever you have the opportunity, get up. Especially if you have to go to the bathroom.
  • Never pay to check your bag. Even if you know that thing wouldn’t fit in the “Carry-ons Must Be This Size” box if you cut it in half, march it right on the plane. When they announce they need people to check their bags, don’t even flinch. Force the airline to pry it from your hands if they have to find a place to put it on the plane. If they make you check it, they won’t charge you.
  • Control the noise. For every trip pack one or more of these essentials: ear plugs, ear buds, noise cancelling headphones. Between the plane and the hotel room, you will treasure these items more than your TSA Pre-check status. Which reminds me….
  • Get your TSA Pre-check status. It cost around $85 and will save you something way more valuable: your time. Oodles of it. They literally yell at you to KEEP your shoes on, do NOT take your laptop out of your bag, and keep your ridiculous quart-size Ziplock bag of bathroom essentials to YOURSELF. Going through security will literally become the greatest part of your trip.
  • Pack extra underwear. You might need it, you might not. But if you do, this is not something you want to be scrambling for. There’s not really a substitute. Unless going commando gives you tremendous confidence during your presentation, throw an extra pair of skivvies in your bag.
  • Pack these things, too. Drink tickets (if you fly Southwest), granola bars, a clothes pin to clip your curtains shut at night, flip flops (do not even think of going barefoot in your hotel room, people), and sleep aid.
  • Avoid sick colleagues like the plague. No one wants to be rude, but if Sneezy McGee wants a seat next to you, get up and move. Moving chairs also counts as exercise! You’re exposed to an onslaught of germs on the plane, the last thing you need is to catch a co-worker’s cold.
  • Use saline nose spray unapologetically. This helps clear pollutants from your nose and keeps you from experiencing that extremely annoying unpleasant nasal dryness that can lead you to practically pick your nose in front of everyone.
  • Do not be disturbed. Hang the Do Not Disturb tag on your door from the minute you check in until you leave. You’re likely only staying a few days so don’t trash the place. Raid the housekeeping cart like you just won the lottery every time you spot it in the hallway, and keep the cleaning lady out of your stuff. This way you can keep your extra pair of underwear in plain view as well as your notes, receipts, and other worked-related documents and equipment.
  • Sanitize your remote. What could possibly be more gross than having something 14,698 people touched in your hand? Exactly. Nothing. After you notify the maid you’re just fine, thanks, give the remote a once over with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball.
  • Every hotel shower leaks. You could seal the curtain with super glue and still have a giant puddle of water on the floor. That worthless floor mat they give you will not handle it. Steal an extra towel from the unattended housekeeping cart for the sole purpose of sopping up all the water that you would inevitably step in with your socks on during your 3:00am bathroom trip. PS: While you’re in the shower, hang your shirts in the bathroom to steam the wrinkles out.
  • Check under the bed for dead bodies. Duh.
  • Nothing good happens after 10pm. No deals are made. No meaningful conversations occur. One more drink is almost never a good idea. At 9:59pm start packing up and heading out. You avoid drama and hopefully a hangover.
  • Text your partner/friend/mom every night. Don’t get me wrong, eating dinner without two little boys farting every five minutes is a fantasy I enjoy living out every time I travel, but being on the road can be tough. Stay connected to your home crew. A thoughtful message from a loved one will give you more confidence than going commando.


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