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Air Travel: Save Money, Be Comfortable, and Earn Points

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It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

I just returned from an amazing weekend at the NAMS Workshop in Atlanta where I spoke/taught as well as spent a bunch of time in the one-on-one room giving attendees 15 minute clarity sessions. I also got to relax and enjoy time with my friends and meet new friends, as well. (More on that, though, soon.)

As I was in the airport waiting to head back home, I thought of a great question.  This is what I asked.

“What is your biggest tip for those of you who fly often to make life easier, be more comfortable – and/or to earn the most out of your trips in the way of frequent flyer miles, etc?”

I hope you enjoy the responses. I did.

rachelRachel Rofe of How To Get Every Book You Write Onto The First Page Of Kindle says:

1. Get an AmEx Platinum card! This gets you into all their lounges at airports. SOOO great – you get outlets, extra room, business centers, free food/drinks, and lots of other goodies..

2. Those Xpress Spa stations at the airport = my favorite invention of the month. 25 minute manicure as you sit on an EPIC massage chair. Love.

3. If you go on American Airlines, splurge for the extra legroom and go for aisle 8. You get exit-row legroom (right behind first class) and you get off the plane sooner. (Side note: I got this entire row to myself. WOOHOO!)

jeanetteJeanette S. Cates, PhD of Plan Your Online Business says:

I consider travel time “my” time. So while others are stressing about a flight delay, I’m relaxing with a book I’ve been too busy to read or downloading a new app I can play with. That takes all the pressure out of the trip.

I also have a standard packing plan – for 3 day weekend events, my mastermind meetings, and week long trips. So when it’s time to pack up, I print the appropriate packing list – and relax, knowing I won’t forget anything.

I always check my bags. No sense in stressing about overhead space or working around things under my feet. If I’m traveling with a computer, I use a rolling bag to save wear and tear on my back. But increasingly I tuck my mini-ipad into my purse, pack the keyboard and we’re off!

I use my noise cancelling earphones on the plane and generally start with a relaxation audio so that I’m in the right frame of mind for creative thinking. This time on the road is great for letting new ideas come out. But if you don’t give yourself the “time space” you’ll never get those deep ideas.

Enjoy the trip!

Kevin Riley of  Blogpreneur Training says:

Avoiding jetlag. I love traveling and have been taking intercontinental flights since I was a kid. One thing that I do, which IMO leaves me without any jetlag (I’ll fly from Osaka to Switzerland – an 8 hour time difference – and easily adjust to the local time instantly), is to stay awake.

I stay awake most of the flight (with just a 1/2-hour catnap somewhere over Asia) and watch a ton of movies. I’ll get inspired and start writing stuff in a notebook (my popular Recipe For Commercial Videos was conceived on a flight to Austria in 2008, when I saw a German commercial on the plane). I eat all the airplane meals (yes, I’m brave that way), have a few drinks (a little alcohol is always nice, but I don’t get carried away – except for that one flight to Calgary in 1978), and I drink tons of water (get them from the tray coming around and help myself at the dispenser near the kitchen). Very important to stay well hydrated, as airplane air is dry.

When arriving at my destination, I do NOT go to sleep or even take a nap if it’s still afternoon or early evening. I always stay up until 10-11 pm, no matter how tired I am. This way, I get a good sleep, wake up refreshed at the local time’s morning, and get right into the swing of local time.

Mark Mason of says:

I travel all over the world for my day job. On any given week, you can find me podcasting from a hotel in Taipei, Taiwan or blogging from an airport in Bangalore, India. As a result, I am constantly on the lookout for power to charge my iDevices.

By far the best travel gear investment that I ever made was when I bought a HyperJuice battery. This external battery can charge my MacBook Air, my iPhone and my iPad (or any other USB device). I just charge it up before I leave home (or the hotel) and put it in my backpack. That way, I never run out of power on the go.

By the way, a great Swiss Backpack made for laptops is another travel godsend. Don’t leave home without it.

FeliciaFelicia Slattery of Signature Speech Secrets says:

As you know, I had a rough go of it with my health last year, and all work, including business (or other travel) screeched to a halt. However, I found my frequent travel tip also worked for my stays in the hospital as well.

In my career as a professional speaker, I have traveled to loads of events across the country. And I find a few things with regard to packing make life so much more fun!

1. Master Travel List
Several years ago, while I was on an organizational kick, I read about creating master lists for everything. The only one that’s stuck with me to this day are my travel lists. I even created travel lists for my kids so when we go on family vacations I can simply print a list for each child and check things off. For my work, it’s been such a time-saver because instead of re-inventing the wheel every single time I have to get ready to leave, I simply print my list – which I like printed on actual paper rather than on a device – and start checking off what I need as I pack it.

2. Pre-Packed Toiletry Bag
The one time I didn’t follow through on this, I ended up speaking at an event right after the amazing, late, great Zig Ziglar; we were in Florida (humid-city, as you know) and my wild wavy hair was without hair spray. So on the most important speaking day of my career, I had a bad hair day. I learned to never again skip this tip for myself. Of course before a trip, things are crazy busy, and there’s always last minute work things going on. But after a trip, you can arrive home and take a deep breath and regroup. Part of my regrouping and unpacking process involves assessing everything in my toiletry bag and refilling or replacing everything before putting it back into my closet. Then it is ready to go for the next trip and all I have to do is pull it out and pack it. Part of this tip includes having doubles of everything I need; one for daily use, one for travel use. So I have my regular daily toothbrush, for example, and I have another toothbrush already packed in my toiletry bag. Same with deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, gel, razor, shaving cream, dental floss, toothpaste, soap, comb, brush, and yes hair spray. If I’m running low on anything, I add it to my grocery shopping list and when I get home from shopping, I refill or replace what’s needed and then store the bag until the next trip. Then before a trip when I’m running around at the last minute with everything else, I don’t have to worry about stopping somewhere to pick up more deodorant. It’s ready to go and totally stress-free!

3. Pre-Packed Suitcase
Now I don’t go as far as having all my clothes in a bag ready to go, but like the toiletry bag, I have a few things I bring with me on every trip. So I re-stock when I get home from the trip, so when it comes time to add all my clothes, I don’t have less to remember. I keep a set of workout clothes packed, a bathing suit for the hotel’s hot tub after a long day, a pair of my favorite comfy socks to wear at night – because every hotel room is freezing to me, etc. That means fewer items for my master list and fewer things to throw together when I have to leave.

4. Pre-Packed Briefcase/Business Bag
Are you seeing a theme here? After I get home I re-stock my business cards, neatly arrange my extension cords that I threw in the bag after the event while rushing to get back to the airport, check to see if my pens still have enough ink, and make sure I have a clean notebook ready to go for the next time I have to make a dash out the door for the airport.

Dr. Mani of How to Set Goals says:

My biggest tip is really a “non-tip”. Before flying, ask yourself if you really have to! The answer to that question is “No” so often, that I’ve rarely found myself on board an airplane for anything other than on a holiday trip 🙂

We often hurry and rush around to keep “doing” stuff that we rarely ask if there’s an alternative or work-around. With communications technology becoming so wonderful,
there are few circumstances where, at least as an online entrepreneur, you’re forced to travel anywhere at all.

connieConnie Ragen Green of Affiliate Marketing Case Studies says:

The smartest thing I did last year was to apply for a security clearance through the Global Entry – program. This program is open to all United States citizens and the cost is only one hundred dollars every five years.

I travel extensively these days, and during 2012 I flew thirty-six times, including domestic travel and international travel to China, Thailand, Finland, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom. This program made it all go smoothly and saved me lots of time, while also reducing the stress that can be associated with flying these days. Many times I do not have to remove my shoes, jacket, or laptop, and I no longer wait in line or fill out customs forms.

More and more airports around the world are now recognizing this program, and I do not think it is too much to ask of us to take this extra step to ensure our safety and the safety of others.

Karon-black-225-framedKaron Thackston of Step-by-Step Copywriting Course says:

Oftentimes, what I DON’T take is as important as what I do take. I’m not known for packing light (all those shoes take up space!) so I try and save inches wherever I can. The better hotels have great brands of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, etc. in the room so I leave all those bottles at home and use what’s provided by Marriott, Hilton or wherever I’m staying.

I also don’t bring a lot of cash. Practically every place along the way takes credit or debit cards from the parking lot to the food kiosks/restaurants at the airports. I carry a little moola for tips and whatnot then put everything else on the card. Not only do I not have to worry about running out of cash or paying ungodly ATM fees, but I get extra bonus points for using my cards. Plus, it’s very easy to keep up with my expenses since they all appear on my statement every month.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

I don’t fly as much as some of my friends, but I do travel more than many people (averaging 6-12 trips per year between personal/family and professional), so I’ve developed systems to make the travel less stressful.

Standard Printable Packing List. I have a standard packing list that I print before every trip.  I cross off items as I put them into my backpack or suitcase and it ensure that I don’t do anything silly like leave my cell phone, charger, favorite lip gloss, wine opener or prescription behind. I highly recommend you do this as forgetting something important can stress out your trip as you’re running around trying to get it replaced.

Standard Luggage. I use the same backpack (with the laptop pocket in it) for every trip. That way I know which pocket has my passport and itinerary, which pocket contains my earplugs, where my money is, and where I can quickly access my iPad to read on the flight.

Standard Travel Clothing/Patterns. Personally I like routine when I travel. I check my suitcase now so that I can put all my liquids (shampoo, etc.)  in it and not have to worry about it. I wear sneakers/gym shoes because it’s easy to run through an airport in comfy shoes and my feet are warmer on the plane. I pack my belt so I don’t have to take it off during screening. I have my prescription in my backpack in case my suitcase gets lost. All the usual stuff – just makes it much easier for me to relax, especially when coming home from an event when my brain is super tired.

Know What Stresses you Out. If going through security stresses you, then just check your main suitcase and strip down to essentials before you get into the line. (Taking everything out of your pockets, removing your belt, etc., before you even head into the security area.) For me, the noisiness of the plane rattles me. Therefore I actually wear double earplugs. I have one set in my ears. One pair over them. This relaxes me quite a bit.

Always Be Earning the Points. One thing I’m definitely slow on the uptake on is earning points. This past weekend, Connie and David Perdew each invited me up to the Concierge area at the Marriott where we were staying to talk. There was food and service up there and personal guests were welcome. DUH. I stay there often enough now that I certainly *should* be racking up points with them. I’m now all signed up. 🙂

Get Loyalty Points at the Airport. I just found out this weekend that some of the airports have loyalty cards. So if you fly through Atlanta (or to Atlanta) a lot like I do, I just register with them and I can earn Delta miles or other miles just for buying stuff like water or meals. Cool. for instance, is the Atlanta one.

Well that’s what I’ve got for you today off the top of my head. What is your biggest tip for relaxed travel when going to events like NAMS?

By the way, I hope to see you there in August. I’ll be there! Click here to join me.

Best of luck.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Kelly McCausey

    I’ve flown three times in the last year but it had been 20+ years since my last one so I feel pretty out of my element with it. These are great tips and fun ‘perk’ advice I’m glad to learn about Nic!

  • Elizabeth Cottrell

    Terrific tips, Nicole. I’m a rather timid traveler. I can see where planning and routines can really take the stress out of traveling. The biggest thing I’ve learned in recent years is to always, always allow more time than I think I really need. Like Jeanette, I find the extra time waiting at the gate is just time to tick something off of my To Do list.

  • Jean Masters

    As a native Floridian, I know the Atlanta airport well.

    Here’s some travel humor Southeasterners will appreciate:
    If you die in the South, you have to go through Atlanta to get to heaven!

  • Tiffany Dow

    Wow I am a hermit who doesn’t fly but if I did – GREAT tips, guys! I used to fly and wish I’d known all this 🙂

  • Kayla Fay

    One of our favorite hints for a family. Let one parent board the plane first and stake out the seats, stowaway all the gear in the overhead bin, etc. The other parent can stay at the gate letting the kids work off their energy while all the other passengers board.

  • Angie Newton

    One of my best tips that I just learned recently is that if 1st class is not sold out on an American Airlines flight, when we go to check in for our flight we might be offered a great deal to upgrade to 1st class. Regina (@WPSecurityLock) and I took them up on it and not only did we have comfy seats but the best part for me was the special security line for 1st class (we were through in less than 5 min. where normally it would take us 30+ to wait in line) AND our bags were free, up to THREE. All that for only $90 upgrade fee. SO impressed, hopefully that will be available every time we fly to Atlanta lol

  • Susanne Myers

    My favorite thing to do when I am traveling (especially when traveling to Germany once a year to visit family) is to run a special sale for my customers. I sent out an email right before I head to the airport and am watching sales notifications come in while I wait for my flight.

    It’s fun for my customers and a great way to cover travel expenses.

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