Traveling Like a Pro

Traveling projects can be a blessing and a curse. Time away from friends and family, living out of a suitcase, and super early Monday mornings make the lifestyle tough. On the other hand, experiencing a new city, frequent flyer/hotel benefits, and becoming really efficient at packing make up for the downsides. Often your travel week begins on Sunday morning. You can check into your flight up to 24 hours in advance. Some airlines still have zoned boarding based on when you check in, so checking in earlier allows you to board earlier. You don’t want the plane to run out of overhead bin space for your carryon luggage! If you have a smart phone, download your airline’s app and use this to check in each week. Most airlines now have e-boarding passes that you can open up on your phone and scan at the security line, without having to print a paper boarding pass.

Now it’s time to pack! Rolling suitcases, especially with 4 wheels, are a must. Be sure to pack the work essentials and casual or workout clothes, if you think you’ll need it. If you forget anything, hotels usually offer toiletry essentials if you ask at the front desk. Another tip: If you are going to be traveling back and forth to the same hotel each week, most hotels will allow you to store a bag or two in a storage room in the lobby over the weekend. This is especially good if you want to buy your favorite bottle of shampoo to use each week, since you can’t take it as a carryon (liquid limitations). After packing for the week, it’s important to get to bed early on Sunday nights, because you have an early and long Monday ahead of you.

On Monday morning, you’re up before the sun rises to catch the earliest flight to your destination. Depending on how far you live from the airport, take a taxi or drive to an airport lot to park your car for the week. Monday mornings are especially busy for airports; it’s like business travelers’ rush hour, so it’s recommended to arrive early. If you didn’t check in or get an e-boarding pass, stop by one of the electronic check-in kiosks. There’s usually no line here as people are just printing boarding passes and not checking in luggage. Head over to the security line, government-issued ID and boarding pass (or phone) in hand. Once you’ve passed through security, walk (or run if you’re late!) to your gate. While on the plane, you can check your email or take a short nap, if time permits.

Once you land, collect your luggage and head over to the rental car area to pick up your reserved car or to meet a coworker for carpooling. Most rental car agencies have an express pick-up option, if you join their loyalty program. With an express pick-up, you receive an email with your parking spot number. You’ll be able to walk straight to that spot and your car and keys will be waiting for you. Then, cruise on over to your client site.

After a long week at your client site, it is travel day again on Thursday. Be sure to have your bags packed and check out of your hotel in the morning. Thursdays are always a rush, as you wrap up your work before heading out to the airport to catch your flight. First stop: gas station to fill up your rental car. Drop off your rental car in the designated area at the airport. Do everything the same as you did on Monday morning, but this time, relax. You’re going home!

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