Roadwarrior Travel Maven Tips & Tricks

Wanderlust: follow your impulse
Wanderlust: follow your impulse

Hello Travel Maven Roadwarriors

I always look at my Camelback and suitcase with nothing but unadulterated excitement.  Where are we going next?  I often say passport, AMEX, sunglasses, nap blanket and my phone and I can go anywhere... Where are YOU off to next?  Can I help?  I hope so.  Here are a few tips and tricks for you as summer ends. I know in the technology world folks are always headed out to the next speaking engagement, conference or tradeshow.  There are tons of lists in the world like this and here is mine, hope it helps:

1. Comfort: Always Bring a Blanket – I always bring my own blanket with me everywhere I go. I love the NAP brand from Brookstone. If you are a devotee of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy it’s how I “always bring a towel” wherever I’m going. Also it’s not just a blanket for the plane, it’s one for the beach, and you should remove the comforter on EVERY hotel bed. It can also be a bathrobe. It can prop up an iPad or Surface tablet in bed. Also you can roll it up and you and your travel partner can each lean your heads on it when you are exhausted on a plane, bus, automobile.

2. Organization: Main Bag vs. Up in the Overhead Bag – Take a few moments to organize your bags thinking about access to everything you want on the plane. Your main bag should have the following: Tickets/Itineraries, Headphones, your phone power cord, a small AC power strip (you can be a hero around a charging station adding more open plugs), any food items, a pen, your Kindle/book. I’ve also started to bring my own empty water bottle as many airports are adding water stations to save on plastic bottle waste. The rest put up in your overhead and forget its there till you deplane, if you carry two bags.  If you carry one all the better.

3. Technology: Download the apps for your airlines, hotels, and use TripIt. I love the convenience of using apps for my boarding passes and check-ins. Plus changing seats and being able to deal with travel hiccups is so much easier on an app these days. United & Alaska are terrific (those are my main airlines I fly so I’m most familiar with those). TripIt is awesome as well. I do use the TripIt for Business so I pay for it but I love that it automatically scans my inbox for reservation/confirmations and pulls them in. I’m connected with my husband, my business partner and close colleagues as well so I don’t have to ask them about their bookings I can just see them in my inner circle.

4. Packing: I use Eagle Creek pack-it cubes for undergarments. I roll casual clothes. I put work dresses on the hanger so I can pull them directly out and into the closet. I do not buy clothes that need ironing.

5. Clothing: I bring my own bathrobe. Always bring flipflops, tennis shoes (at some point you will need them). A hat, sunglasses. I have a swim/surf bag that I keep my suit, a towel, a rash guard and a cover up in. (I like putting things together in bags – that way I don’t forget items and I can easily grab that bag if I’m headed to the beach). Ex-officio underwear is awesome. Quick to dry and rolls-up next to nothing. In your secondary carry on or main carry on - I always keep a plain black little shift dress just in case of lost luggage.

6. Toiletries: Toilet paper, Kleenex, lip balm, eye drops, nail file, mints/gum, an eyemask, earplugs, Tums, Advil all sit together in a little Eagle Creek zip bag in my main bag. Keep in carry-on: your toothbrush, your prescription medications, and your deodorant. Also always check the front desk if you’ve forgotten something, most always have freebies for you.

7. Fun & Off the Beaten Path: Local bartenders & taxi drivers can be a wealth of information. Bartenders and waiters usually have great recommendations on where to go – ask them their favorites. If I like a taxi driver I will take their information and use them the entire trip. I love Uber, download the app its awesome.

8. Safety, Money & Credit Cards: Do all the boring things listed here and you will alleviate most problems around this. Call your bank and credit card companies yes all of them and tell them where you are going. Take photos of your passport and credit cards and send them to yourself and one other person for safe keeping. Do get foreign currency before you get to where you are going, you never know if you might need it right when you get there. I have two traveler checks in my travel wallet – every time I use one I go to the bank and replace it. They are super old school but each time I’ve used them, they have gotten me out of what could have been a bad situation as I didn’t have cash and a bank card did not work.

9. Sightseeing: Notebook & pen – I’m a total gadget geek but bring a small notebook and pen and write everything down. You will forget the names of the bar, street, little book store, etc… that you loved. Also write down the great waiters, shopkeepers and hotel folks you meet. If you are a social media person, thank them. If you go back to places they will remember you and give you that extra special treatment and you’ll actually be able to find them. I also take pictures of addresses/shop signs. Same with where I park, years ago I was very lost in Delft, The Netherlands after a great day of shopping and touring around. I could not remember where I parked, it was getting dark, I was by myself and needless to say not happy. Get a map and write on it, make it yours and use it for your whole trip.

10. Miscellaneous: Postcards – I write myself a postcard on every trip I take. It marks the date in time and is a nice way to remember when and where you were. I love getting lost a little bit, just do it early in the day and pay attention to local guidance on rough areas. Sunscreen – find one you like and put it on every day no matter what the weather or where you are traveling or not. Snacks – bring snacks everywhere you go, pretend you have 8 year old children. Why would you pay airport and hotel prices for anything when you can bring all of this stuff from home. It doesn’t take up that much room. Lara Bars, beef jerky, your own trail mix (you know the one you like), dried fruit, even some chocolate for that night when you see the KitKat in the mini-bar and for some reason you must have it though you never actually eat candy bars.  or Twix, I do like a Twix sometimes.

Bonus Round:  I am fortunate to have traveled to many places and also have an extensive networks of friends all over.  One thing I love to do is host a gathering early on in my trip where I bring everyone I know together.  I've done this for years and then all the people that I know in a city get to know each other.  It also helps especially in cities where I know tons of folks and would run myself ragged trying to see people.  Its so fun how I've done these gatherings in New York, Seattle, New Orleans, London and then to see how my friends from different aspects of my life have become friends.  And do this early in a trip that way you guarantee seeing a lot of people and if you can you are then able to pop in and out of someone's schedule along the way.

I’ll be adding to these, if you have any comments or tips please add them.

Cheers & Happy Travels! Heather