(This is the continuation of Travel Tips – Part 1)
Rental Cars/Ground Transportation
- I don’t rent any more unless I take my family to Hawaii for a leisure trip. Use Uber (or Lyft). You won’t waste time picking up and dropping off the car, finding a gas station close to the airport, and you won’t have to navigate in areas you’re not familiar with.
- I use taxies only when waiting for an Uber takes too long, e.g. when arriving at my destination and the wait time exceeds 10 mins.
- If you do use a cab, insist on paying with a credit card. Buckle up, cabs and cab drivers are scary!
- If you absolutely need a rental car, sign up for their frequency program as well. I found that Hertz Gold was useful because it allows you to pick your car up more quickly and skip the counter.
- Instead of points for the rental car program, you might want to choose the option to get airline miles instead. They’re more useful.
- If you need to drive yourself, think about bringing a good, old-fashioned Garmin GPS since it allows you to be independent of your phone battery and data coverage and you can also navigate and talk at the same time.
- Especially on early rides to the airport, look at Uber as soon as you get up to make sure you know what the wait times are and keep an eye on those while you get ready.
- If you have trouble with your Uber, e.g. the car is in poor condition, tell Uber and rate the driver accordingly. Their customer support is very helpful, fast and you’re doing other riders a favor.
- Less important than with airlines, but if you have specific chains you frequent more than others, joining the frequent guest program makes sense.
- When booking, be sure to use corporate or AAA rates.
- If you need flexibility and may have to cancel or modify your reservation, book direct vs. through 3rd parties like Expedia or even PriceLine. Don’t prepay in those cases.
- Get a room further from the elevator.
- Some hotel chains, e.g. Hilton, now allow you to pick an actual room when “checking in”. Hilton also started offering electronic room keys via one’s smart phone.
- Pack shirts and pants that don’t wrinkle.
- If you do have to use the hotel iron, test it first on a towel to make sure it’s not going to wreak havoc on your clothes.
- Get a paper copy of your final invoice. Somehow emailed invoices from hotels come in late or not at all for some reason.
- Don’t wait till last minute with packing.
- Stay organized (see my app Travel PackList) and account not only for things you need to pack, but also things you need to “do” before you leave such as notifying your bank and credit card companies if you travel internationally or turning off your water to avoid your housing from getting flooded if a waterline leaks.
- Pack extra clothes in case your get stuck and need to extend your trip or you spill coffee on yourself.
- Get decent luggage, but don’t overspend. Practical beats overly fancy or fashionably. These things will get dinged up.
- Mark your suitcases and roll-aboards. I once barely caught a guy who was about to walk away with my luggage because his looked identical.
- Don’t forget a jacket and/or umbrella.
- Pack work-out clothes.
- Bring a stuff sack for used and dirty clothes, so you won’t have to mix them with the clean stuff in your suitcase.
- If you have liquids like mouth wash etc., wrap the bottles in a Zip-Lock bag, in case they spill.
- Pack shoes in plastic or draw-string bags.
- If you want to sleep on the plane, bring a neck pillow. Memory foam pillows are nice, but they are bulky to store, so I prefer inflatable ones.
- Bring a light jacket or hoodie in your carry-on luggage in case it gets chilly.
- Get the Mobile Pass app for international travel, which makes entering the country easier and faster.
- Only drive in foreign countries if you’re pretty comfortable doing it.
- Avoid getting behind the wheel of a car after an overnight flight especially if you’re not familiar with the area or even the country.
- Get the TripIt app to keep all your trip info organized and handy. Consider TripIt Pro. The Seat Tracker and other features could be helpful, but note that Seat Tracker doesn’t always work reliably.
- If something really goes sideways, complaining through the company’s web site is a good start, but also don’t forget about social media channels e.g. Twitter. Companies are motivated to respond quickly to public complaints to maintain a good image.
- Register with travel.state.gov when you go abroad, just in case. Hold your mail when you’re gone.
- If you’re gone a lot, a remote-enabled door bell like Ring can come in handy. I also like Canary for monitoring the house when I’m gone (it sends notifications when activity is detected).
- Invest in a good pair of noise reduction headsets if you tend to take long flights (I use Bose Quiet Comfort). They’re not cheap but make all the difference. I also like Apple’s EarPods for when I’m in the airport.
- I like to dress in layers and tend to wear moisture wicking clothes that are light and don’t wrinkle since I’m more likely to get hot than cold. With layers you can add or shed to be comfortable. Those clothes often also use materials that prevent odors, which is helpful on long trips.
- TripAdvisor and Yelp! are your friends when trying to find restaurants etc. Pay it back and post reviews yourself.
I hope you picked up a few things that will make your next trip easier! Do you have any travel advice to share? Please post a comment.