Our good friends at American Airlines have teamed up with Inc to give out some of the best travel tips for road warriors. What makes this smorgasbord of travel tips better than other “travel” sites is that American along with Inc have found people who are die hard road warriors, people who travel all the time. You can check that post out here.
I often get asked about my travel tips. Or if I host an interview in a hotel room on the road people ask me “how do you do it”. One of the cores of nibletz.com is our “sneaker strapped startup road trip” it’s being in the trenches with startups, like ourselves, chronicling them and telling their stories. Sure we could go out on the internet and sit in a spare bedroom and type all day but being on the road the better part of the last eighteen months has helped us connect in ways beyond our wildest dreams.
Having said that, I travel about 200-250 days a year. I’ve actually been traveling like this over the last 5 years, first with our previous media startup and now with nibletz. So here are some of the things that I do that may help.
When traveling by Air (we actually do a lot of travel by bus like Megabus and Boltbus, but we still travel by air as much as we can)
– Sign up for Startup America (it’s free) and then sign up for Business ExtrAA at American Airlines. American is one of the key sponsors and member benefits at Startup America. Check out the other benefits when you’re on their page, they will save the bootstrapping entrepreneur a lot of money that you can spend on more important things like development and iteration.
– Use American Airlines, use your Business ExtrAA account and book directly through aa.com one of the biggest quasi secret travel tips is that the airlines are now posting their best available online rates on their own websites. If you see a better price from a reputable website, a la Expedia, Hipmunk or Cheapoair then call American and tell them they can usually get you that same rate.
– Download the American Airlines app. Their App in it’s latest form, is a single mobile dashboard for your air travel including the ability to display your boarding pass on your phone.
– No matter what you do and how long you’re going to be there pack a carry-on approved suitcase. Whenever you can use a soft suitcase not a hard shell suitcase. The idea here is to actually be able to carry the suitcase on the plane and not have to “gate check” it, especially if you have a tight connection. If you’re not connecting and you’re flying direct, there’s no real harm in gate checking.
– Make sure you have nothing in your carry on, purse, backpack or laptop bag that is not TSA approved. Unfortunately, even having that swiss army knife will get you delayed going through security.
– You have NO time for checked luggage. Carry on luggage doesn’t get lost, even when it’s gate checked. Gate checked luggage goes directly on and off the plane and skips the baggage handling process. (see above).
What to Pack.
– It all depends on where you’re going, what you’re traveling for and how long you are going to be there. Don’t overpack get everything in that carry on suitcase.
– I always pack a power strip and one of those extension cords with three outlets on it. Hotels are notorious for having just one outlet in a decent spot. When you can, put the power strip in your backpack or laptop bag, or at least the extension cord.
– Always pack an umbrella and a $2 poncho, just keep that stuff in your bag.
– Guys, a sport coat goes with everything these days and in the spring like this it can take the place of a bulkier jacket
– Go buy a Mophie juice pack or other battery charging device. I personally carry multiple things for battery charging.
At the airport
– wear slip on shoes if y ou can
– empty your pockets before you get to security except for your wallet and your phone (for your boarding pass)
– As you approach the security buckets start getting your stuff in place. You can always spot a rookie traveler based on how long getting ready for security goes.
– If the TSA agents have serious faces on, don’t crack jokes, but some are actually pleasant, I’ve done the Macarena a few times in the full body scan machine.
– Breathe, cooperate, repeat, remember everybody’s trip in their eyes is just as important as your trip. If you’re a heart surgeon with an open patient on the table then you really shouldnt even have time to read this blog post.
– Find your gate via the app but confirm your gate by the overhead screen
– Find the gate before grabbing a snack if you’re so inclined, and hungry.
– Sit as closely to the gate desk as you can and walk as briskly as you can when it’s your turn to board, the quicker you can get on the plane the better chance you have at getting that valuable overhead bin real estate.
On The plane
– Find your overhead bin and load it quickly
– get in your seat, put your iPad in the seat back pocket in front of you
– fasten your seatbelt
– You can use your phone until the plane leaves the gate
– Enjoy your flight
– If you didn’t check a bag you can turn your phone on when they touch the ground (and the crew says you can)
– Find your transportation app whether it be the rental car app, a taxi app or an uber app. Most rental car apps allow you to signal the rental car desk that you have arrived.
On Site tips
A lot of this comes from being a journalist but on site at startup conferences and events I pack as light as I can and recommend you do the same. When you can, leave the laptop in the hotel room, it’s a nice little way to have your main tool sitting ready to use after a long day. I’ve been amazed out how productive an iPad can be. To better understand it, 90% of the stories we posted from OneSpark and SXSW were totally produced and uploaded via iPad.
If your wireless plan dictates it, pick up a mifi device. We use Verizon and my mifi is on our shared plan. At big events and conferences, even when you can get onto an events wifi there are so many people on it that the connection is slow.
Try not to pick up too much swag. If you go to CES or SXSW you’ll have the opportunity to pick up hundreds of t-shirts, refrain if you can, t-shirts and other swag take up a lot of valuable space in your suitcase. Politely tell the swag peddler you don’t have room for it in your luggage.
My day back pack, when space permits, is a PowerBag sling bag, this bag has a 9,000 mah battery built in for charging my iPad and iPhone. On long events, battery drain is my single most frustration.
Perhaps this helped!