My Travel Map

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Travel Tips

I started traveling as a consultant form April of 2002. I have now completed ten years of travel. For my assignments I travel both economy and business class and use a variety of airlines. To commemorate my ten years of traveling I have compiled some travel tips. They are aimed at reducing the stress of modern travel to enable you to have a pleasant journey with the minimal amount of discomfort and hassle.



These are my top travel tips based on my travel experience since 2002 and the post 9/11 world. (E6K9HKXKPPNE)


Clothes and shoes


1. Do not wear a belt – this will help you to pass through security without having to go through the hassle of taking it off and putting it on. It also helps in blood circulation.


2. Do not wear any items of clothing which contain metal buttons, clips, labels etc.


3. Do not wear clothing with a lot of pockets – you can forget a coin or a key and will set off the metal detectors


4. Do not wear tight clothes this will cut your blood circulation and make the journey uncomfortable.


5. Don’t wear baggy clothes; wear comfortable cloths that are close to your body – lets face it you will be profiled no matter what they say; so wearing baggy clothes sets off alarm bells with the security personnel. They are more likely to pad down a person wearing baggy clothes as opposed to someone wearing well fitting clothes.


6. Try to wear slippers or sandals, if you feel clod wear a pair of socks with the slippers or sandals. If you need to wear shoes wear thin sole shoes (without any metal fittings) with no shoelaces. This will either negate the need to take off your shoes or make it easy to take off and put on shoes


7. Try to dress in the thinnest possible layers of clothes instead of wearing / carrying bulky heave jackets / coats so that you can remove or add depending on your level of comfort. Thin clothes weigh less take less space in your hand luggage / carry on luggage.


Money and Travel Documents


1. Do not carry any coins. If you must carry coins in a small transparent plastic bag and put the coins in a pocket of your carry on luggage.


2. Always carry more than one currency: example if you travel via to London to USA carry British Sterling Pounds as well as Dollars.


3. Try to pre pay for as many expenses as possible before departure. This helps to minimize the amount of money you need to carry, as well as be able to bargain to the maximum and not be made to decide on the spot about your travel options. Use the internet and always cross check and read reviews of restaurants, taxi service and other services you are likely to pay for in cash so that you don’t get taken for a ride.


4. Carry globally accepted credit cards as a payment option and for emergencies.


5. Always take travel insurance; you never know when you might fall sick or get injured.


6. Always carry your passport, visa, travel insurance, hotel reservations, travel vouchers, invitation letters, letters of sponsorship etc in one safety pouch / folder. This way you don’t have to look for them in multiple places. Keep them safe and close to you.


7. Never ever give the bag containing these documents to anyone (except your family or personal assistant / colleague).


8. If you are using a VIP service to breeze through emigration and customs make sure that you have line of sight of the person at all times. Confidence tricksters pretending to be service providers will walk off with your belongings.


Baggage


1. First check the weather of your destination (12 hours before departure – weather forecasting gets better when nearer to the dates concerned.)


2. Finalize your clothes 12 hours before you travel, based on above.


3. Choose clothes that can be mixed and worn: Take white shirts / blouses which can be worn with any pants / skirts and jackets. Take a few different ties / scarf and accessories so that you look different but use the least number of clothes. I am a firm believer in the use of hotel laundry services. I prefer to get the items laundered at the hotel and avoid carrying your entire wardrobe with you when you travel. Make sure that you as well as the hotel has a clear understanding of the difference between dry cleaning and washing of clothing items.


4. Try to use the minimum number of bags as possible.


5. Golden rule is that: if you do not need an item during the journey / flight, then it goes in with the check in luggage. One of the benefits of the post 9/11 world is that the airline industries ability to track and link you baggage to you has improved tremendously. So you do not have to carry any back up clothes in your hand luggage just in case your luggage gets lost.


6. If you do not have any check in luggage then you need to ask the question do I really need to carry the item or can I buy it at my destination and use it. Remember most consumables (Soap, Shampoo, Mouth wash etc) are similarly priced everywhere and most hotel now provide them in the room). It’s worth trying a new brand of an item to reduce the weight and hassle of taking them in 50 ML clear bottles etc.


7. Have a good idea of your baggage allowance. Especially if you fly economy class; it may change from airline to airline. The rule of thumb is that if it is difficult for you to carry your check in baggage (Standard international size) it is probably over weight. An average person can easily handle 20Kg. Use this principle when standing in check in queues. Avoid standing in queues with people who have difficulty in handling their luggage. They will take longer to check in as they will have to pay for excess luggage or repack them.


Loyalty Cards


1. Try to get as many loyalty cards as you can. Before you embark on your journey have the relevant loyalty cards sorted out and keep them with your travel documents and put the rest in you carry on luggage. You never know when they may become handy.


2. In my opinion the top benefits of loyalty cards are:


a. Priority check in – the shorter the queue you need to stand in the less stressful it is to you.


b. Excess baggage allowance – you never know when you might need it, especially if you travel with your wife / partner who will shop while you are attending to business.


c. VIP services for priority emigration and customs clearance.


d. Access to a lounge with free broadband internet connection


I recommend you go for loyalty cards that provide at least one of these benefits and not bother with ones that just offer air miles for ticket discounts and free food.


Hotels


1. Where ever possible I recommend you insist on staying in an establishment with at least a 3 star classification. This should provide good enough comfort & facilities for a business traveler. However I have come across many hotels which are classified as 3 stars but are more like cattle sheds. If clients and budgets permit always stay at the highest class hotel in your destination.


2. The main facilities you should be looking for when selecting a hotel are:


a. Airport pick up and drop


b. Free broadband internet access


c. Complementary pressing of one set of clothes per day (shirt / blouse, trouser / skirt & Jacket) + shoe shine.


d. Free copy of the local English newspaper – This is a helpful tool to get a feel of the local environment, best places to dine and entertainment information and of course to get an insight in to what’s happening around you.


3. Always stay as close as possible to your customers / clients. This will reduce local travel time and getting stuck in local traffic, which you may not know about or will not be able to find out before arriving at your destination. Best is to stay within walking distance. By this you can avoid the need to haggle with taxi drivers every morning and evening if meter taxis are not available.


4. I recommend you stay on B & B basis; this gives you a lot of flexibility to move around the city and meet the locals during meal times. This will also help you get a feel of the general business environment, mood of the people as well as get exposed to the local culture.


Flights


1. Always use major airlines where possible. The trend now is to go for budget airlines. I too subscribe to this philosophy but with a few considerations. They are:


a. Safety – As with all one needs to be comfortable with the safety systems of the airline. Some budget airlines operate state of the art new aircraft, while others operate others which do not have a good safety record. So each of us need to make this choice for ourselves.


b. Reliability - Other than Europe and North America budget airlines are not regulated in a way they are liable for delays and cancellations. Unless you have a very good insurance policy you may run the risk of having to incur the cost of delayed and cancelled flights, additional hotel and transfer costs. Budget airlines will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


Major airlines will operate scheduled flights, and if for any reason they do cancel a flight they will look after the passengers better and try to route you to your destination with the minimum hassle.


2. Try not to use domestic airlines. As much as possible try to get to and from your destination via an international flight. Changing to domestic airlines may be cheaper but you need to consider the following:


a. How much time do you loose and is it worth. Most domestic flights operate at much lower altitudes and will fly at a lower speed. International flights will fly higher and faster and can provide you with considerable time savings.


b. You may have to go through immigration in one airport and through customs in another airport. This may actually take a longer time.


c. You will increase you total transit time (Time spent not flying) and for a business person time is money.


d. You may need to move your luggage over long distances between domestic and international terminals.


e. You may need to pay again for excess baggage


f. Domestic airlines too will cancel / delay / amalgamate passenger manifests for flights if they do not have the desired number of passengers for a flight to minimize losses.


g. Most domestic airlines operate very old aircraft which may have a bad safety record.


Jet Lag


1. Living in the destination time zone – From the time you start your journey try to do things such as taking meals and sleeping according to the destination time zone. This will give your body extra time to adjust to life in the new time zone. Most airlines try to do this using the cabin lights to mimic the time of day. Unfortunately only the modern aircraft have this feature.


2. Drinking fluids. – You must be well hydrated 24 hour before the flight, So refrain from:


a. Heavy exercises that make you loose water through excessive sweating


b. Drinking too much alcohol the day before you travel.


3. Reduce the build up of static electricity on your body and clothes. Once at your choice of accommodation at your destination find a wooden or cement / tile floor. Take off your shoes and socks and walk on the surface for a few minutes. The best solution is walking on grass however this may not be possible at your destination. However this may be an option for you on your return to your home.

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