Travel Tips from Someone Who Travels

January 28, 2012

There are certainly people who travel much more than I do. However, I like to think I spend more time on planes and in hotels than most people my age. Then again, what I like to think and what is actually the truth are not always the same thing. Let’s just say I travel.
I travel and I like routines and I spend time thinking of how to maximize my comfort level when away from home. If someone were to ask me for some advice on staying in hotels or flying on planes, here’s what I’d like to think I’d tell him or her.

1. Understand how frequent flyer programs work and use them. If you know you’ll be flying a lot or you even suspect it’s a possibility, sign up for a frequent flyer program. But which one? Pick the airline you fly with most, but understand which airlines allow you to earn miles on flights from other carriers. So, if you’re a United Airlines MileagePlus member, you can (and should) use that number when you fly with any of the other airlines in the Star Alliance (US Airways, Air Canada, etc.) The goal is to earn miles on only one or maybe two airlines. For example, I earn miles with US Airways and Delta. And that’s it. If you use a frequent flyer number specific to each airline you fly with, even if they’re part of the same alliance, you’re going to end up with a whole lot of nothing. Earn miles on one account and they’ll actually add up, earning you things like status and reward travel. This goes for hotels too, though they’re much less complicated.

2. Know how many trays you need in security. Your laptop needs its own tray, so you’ll need another for your shoes, coat, liquids, and laptop bag. Better take 3.

3. Always put your arm rest down immediately. If you wait, it becomes personal.

4. Drink a lot of water. Planes have a way of dehydrating you like crazy so drink as much water as possible. You’re not supposed to sit still on long flights anyway, so getting up to pee will force you to prevent blood clots or whatever. I’m usually in a window seat and I encourage the whole row to get up with me, like it’s a group activity. I like to think this makes it easier for everyone and encourages camaraderie.

5. You don’t need to pack a hairdryer. It’s a big heavy thing you don’t need in your carry-on or checked luggage because there is always one in your hotel room. It might be hiding in a drawer or in a closet on top of a shelf you can’t reach, but it’s there. If you’re convinced it’s not, call the front desk and they’ll tell you to look in the one place you forgot to check.

6. Never put just one article of clothing in your hotel room closet. Either hang up everything you brought or nothing, otherwise you’ll leave behind the one thing you thought was nice enough to put on a hanger.

7. When staying at a hotel, I don’t touch the remote control and I don’t touch the bedspread. I don’t trust that these things are ever cleaned and I’d like to catch as few communicable diseases in my lifetime as possible.

8. If you can bear it, ignore the free cable. You’ll be awake until 2 or 3 am, watching the kind of television only laziness enjoys (Drumline again?) and hate yourself the next day. If you can gross yourself out enough about touching the remote control, you’re halfway there.

9. If you’re an adult who travels with a blankie or stuffed animal, there’s no shame in it. Just remember to hide it when you leave your room in the morning or you’ll be embarrassed when you return to find it neatly folded on the bed or lovingly arranged by the housekeeping staff who thinks there’s a child staying with you.

10. The more expensive the hotel, the more expensive the internet. Most reasonably priced hotels give you free internet and often something free in the way of breakfast.

11. Air Conditioning can drown out loud talkers, street noise, and those girls down the hall having a door slamming contest. Set it to “on”, not to “auto”, or it’ll start and stop all night and drive you out of your mind.

12. Tidy up your room for housekeeping. I do this because I only believe in leaving messes for my mother. And Andy. Sorry about all those dishes I left in the sink.

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  • Reply Tim Dixon January 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Corrections by world renowned traveler Tim Dixon:

    3. Always wait for someone to sit next to you, look them up and down, give them a dirty look while saying “EW!”, then put your armrest down. That way you ensure you don’t get stuck with a talker.

    4. I believe you mean order a lot of alcoholic beverages.

    6. Why are you traveling with more than one outfit? It’s not like anyone will know you. Skip changing clothes and showers, you are on vacation!

    7. Make sure to put nasty stuff on the controller for the next person.

    9. I agree, nothing wrong with travelling with a cuddly stuffed animal.

    11. If in a hotel where someone is having a door slamming contest, show them you mean business and win it!

    12. Trash hotel room. You’re a god damn rockstar!

  • Reply getchoo March 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

    OK, I have to DIRECTLY contradict your #9. I think you might be aware I am nearly 26, married, and still sleeping with a bear named Teddy (who I like to dress up in fancy nightgowns). Thus, there is nothing I like BETTER than coming back to the hotel room to find him sitting in the middle of the bed with his arm raised, as if to say “Hi Ma, welcome back!”, maybe holding a chocolate or two.
    Also, Tim’s response reminds me of Michael Ian Black’s suggestion to make the ever-so-slight “banana noise” when sitting next to someone on a plane. But, Michael Ian Black was just joking, so don’t ever, ever, dare to make the “triple banana noise”!!!

  • Reply Mandi May 8, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Couldn’t agree more with No.3.
    Awkward moments could always be solved with that little barrier that is the armrest.

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