Tommy Hindman Top Ten Travel Tips:
In my many years of traveling, I’ve learned a few things that save me money, make my trip less stressful, and keep my trip enjoyable. Here is my top ten list of random travel tips (in no particular order):
1. Look for deals. There are a number of terrific sites out there that can save you a ton of money on your airfare. My favorites are Travelzoo.com and Jetsetter.com. While jetsetter.com concentrates mostly on (high end) hotel rooms, Travelzoo.com does it all-hotels, airfare, cruises. They scour the web for great deals and the send you an email once a week with the top 20 deals. Best of all, both Travelzoo and Jetsetter are free. Also, it amazes me that some people don’t check out nearby airports. In my case, I live in Knoxville, TN, and if I’m willing to drive a couple of hours to Nashville I can save hundreds of dollars in airfare. If you live in a smaller city and there is a larger city a comfortable drive away from where you are check the airfares there. You might be pleasantly surprised.
2. Get on the stick. If you’re traveling for business, and you’re doing a presentation, make sure you have a copy of your latest presentation on a USB stick. Keep it somewhere separate from your laptop (like your pocket). It’s no secret that thieves love laptops. Having a backup on a USB drive will insure you can still make the presentation if you get unlucky. Speaking of laptops never, ever check your laptop as luggage. Unless you never want to see it again.
3. Ask for a Room Upgrade. Ask the hotel clerk if they have a nicer room for the same price-one with a better view, larger space, more amenities. The worst that can happen is they say “no”. You’d be surprised at how many times just asking politely will get you into a suite with a view, or perhaps even on a “club floor” with amenities like free snacks or a hotel limo.
4. Good Medicine. If you take medications, make sure you bring enough for the trip plus a few days in case you get stranded by a storm or other circumstances. Also, make sure you carry a few days worth of medication on your person in case the airline loses your luggage. This goes for eyeglasses and contacts. If you’re a person like me who is blind without their glasses or contacts, carry a spare pair in your carry on. Nothing is worse than being in a strange city and not being able to see. You ever try to find an optometrist in a strange city at 5pm on a Friday? Trust me-it’s no fun at all.
5. No Booze on the Cruise. If you’re going on vacation this does not apply, but if you’re traveling for business my advice is to lay off the alcohol when flying. This is not a perfect world and things go awry with airlines all the time. Do you really want to be at an alternate airport with three drinks under your belt and a two hour drive in a rental car ahead of you? Alcohol also will disrupt your sleep patterns. The stress of travel coupled with a few drinks equals fitful sleep and keep you from performing at your best the next day, not to mention the fact that alcohol dehydrates you and makes you look sallow and puffy eyed.
6. Mean Cuisine. Look, I’m guilty as anybody of hitting Skyline Chili in the Cincinatti Airport or a Wolfgang Puck when my flight is delayed. But for the most part, I eschew airport and airline food. Why? It’s usually terrible and high in fat and calories. That’s not good for you heart, mind or body. I guarantee you that a few minutes spent preparing a light travel meal at home will be tastier and better for you than anything you will find at the terminal or in the air. Here are a few quick recipes to get you started.
7. Baby Baby. If you are traveling with a child under twenty five pounds, call the airline in advance to see if you can get a bulkhead seat with a bassinet. If you’re flying cross-country or to Europe this can be a life saver. This way you both can get some sleep while in the air.
8. Water Water. DO NOT drink the water from the airplane lavatory sink. The tanks are sanitized on a schedule but not every flight and the bacteria can build up a resistance to the sanitizer chemicals. And just to be safe don’t even wash your hands in the nasty stuff. Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry on and use that instead.
9. Tipping Point. Are you traveling for pleasure? Perhaps on your way to Vegas for a bachelor party? Maybe flying to Miami to start a cruise? If you are you’re probably going to have a few drinks on the plane. If so, (discreetly) tip your flight attendant for that first drink. At the very least you’ll get better service and you may get the rest of your drinks for free.
10. Be Nice. No, really. Be nice. I know that it sucks your flight was delayed. Flight cancelled and no flights out until tomorrow? That sucks. Crying baby in the next seat over? Man that sucks too. Things happen. Flights get delayed. Flights get cancelled. Children cry. And when things happen be nice. Yelling at the check in person? Not cool. You think its their fault? Snapping at the lady with a crying child? Not okay unless your middle name is Grinch. Have some compassion and empathy for those who are trying to do their job or make their way through the world. At the end of the day these people are just trying to do their job. They are Husbands, Wives, Fathers, Mothers, sons and daughters and at they end of the day, they are human beings just like us.