I travel - a lot. Somewhere between 100 and 200 flights a year. I also have about that many hotel stays, and I still drive a lot of miles. It would be fair to say that I've learned a few tips and tricks over the past 15 years of heavy travel. Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with family, sometimes with co-workers. When the movie Up In The Air came out and George Clooney made his way through the airport, I thought it was a documentary of travel hacks for the first 10 minutes or so. What follows are the four best tips I can give you for travel with (and without) companions.
Get Loyal. Loyalty programs make travel somewhat bearable. My best advice is to pick a program for an airline, and another for a hotel, and stick with them. You don't get much benefit from bouncing between every air carrier you can find, or to the cheapest hotel for the night. I've found that the marginal savings of going with a Priceline hotel aren't worth it when I can pay a bit more for a hotel where I have status. Same goes for airlines -- saving $10 on the flight isn't worth it if I can get a free or cheap upgrade because of my status. With the many partners each chain or company has, it's easy to find a hotel in the right price range for every trip.
Get Tipping. There is a big internal battle I fight every time I'm in a tipping situation. On one side, I see the benefit of tipping people who work hard. On the other, I'm really cheap. But when I'm traveling, I always err on the side of tipping. To take a line from Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, "I tip everybody. In fact, it's not tipping I believe in, it's over tipping." Well-placed (and timed) tips will really help you get what you need and want during your travels. Tip freely and you'll find that travel isn't nearly as complicated.
Get Tolerance. No matter how well you have your travel systems down, there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to happen from time to time – things won’t always go according to plan. Flights will be cancelle, maintenance issues will leave you sitting on a tarmac for hours, you may find yourself sitting next to an inconsolable child. When the inevitable happens, you need to find your happy place and deal with it. There is no benefit or compassion for being a jerk. Travel with entertainment – the latest movie you’ve been wanting to see, your favorite book, work you need to get done, maybe even a toy for that poor baby sitting next to you.
Get Giving. The more you travel with specific partners, the more benefits you will get. If you can transfer some of your travel perks to your employees, you will garner a lot of good will. It may be a free upgrade, a trip to an airport lounge, or just a free drink coupon. Take some of your perks and share.
If you follow these four tips, you'll find that extensive traveling is much easier than you'd expect.