1. Don’t do different shit
I have to give credit to my CEO Brendan King for this piece of Road Warrior Wisdom—it has saved me a ton of anxiety. Don’t do different shit. Put your wallet, passport, phone, briefcase in the same place every time. Once you arrive at your destination, make sure you develop some rituals that you always follow. This will save you countless hours looking for things because they are always in the same spot, every time.
2. Always have two pieces of ID, and never in the same place at the same time
Store your passport in the hotel safe with a backup credit card. Then carry your driver’s license and other forms of payment. This way you always have a backup. Losing all your ID and forms of payment can be a disaster. You will be finding your country's consulate and a Western Union to get your mom to wire you money if you lose everything, or if it gets stolen. I have lost my passport before. Trust me, it’s not fun. While traveling in Tyler, Texas, I left my passport on the plane I was flying in, and they did not find it. The airline would not book my flight home without my passport, and I had to route myself to Seattle and drive across the border by Vancouver with my driver’s license. Thank god I had one piece of ID left. Since then I have adopted this back up ritual.
Another tool to help with this is an amazing tool called the StashBelt, developed by my colleague Jeff Davis’ amazing startup. I always travel with mine. You can store some cash and your important docs on a USB drive built into the buckle, meaning you’ll never absentmindedly leave these essentials behind or have them stolen.
3. Take pictures of your hotel room number
There’s a story behind this ritual. I had been traveling for a couple years and noticed that when I would wake up, sometimes I would run into walls, think the kitchen of a suite was my bathroom or end up in a closet in the middle of the night. There is a reason why hotel chains make their properties exactly the same floor plans—it’s to make things more familiar for frequent travellers. After 200 days a year in different hotel rooms, they start to run together. Sometimes you can’t remember what city you are in, much less what room number you are staying in tonight. Mix in a couple glasses of Knob Creek, and wow, it is super hard to remember. I was staying at a Hilton in Fort Myers, FL, and had checked in, changed into shorts and went to the beach for an hour. When I came back to my hotel room, I completely forgot my room number. It was very embarrassing to go back to the front desk I had just been at an hour before and explain that I couldn’t remember my room number. Since that day, I always shoot a photo of the door number. I also found the camera on my phone was awesome for remembering license plate numbers of rental cars, and even where my parking spots are located.
4. Take pictures of your receipts. Immediately.
You will lose the paper receipts and your CFO will disallow your expense claim. Snap a picture of them immediately, and back up to the cloud for reference and submission later. This ritual will save you money. Lots of it. I use Freshbooks to calculate invoices and expense claims—it's inexpensive and cloud based. I am sure it has saved me 10% in lost receipts this past year alone.
5. Always backup presentations to the cloud
You are ready to make the killer presentation to a high value potential customer. You, your marketing team, research department and CEO have built the most amazing pitch. It’s a significant commitment; maybe even a game changer. You jump on a red eye and fly to the offices of this whale you are trying to land. After your plane touches down, you rent a car and drive to their expansive campus, grab a coffee and pull up ready to conquer the world. Then, in your haste to run in and close the deal, you lock your rental car with the keys inside, AND your briefcase with laptop containing the presentation. This happened, year one of my five year career of being an Elite Road Warrior. Thank goodness I had backed up my presentation up to Google Drive and could still access it from a borrowed computer. Oddly enough, the client I was calling on was the AAA. They unlocked my rental while I made the presentation, and the day was saved. Backing up the pitch to the cloud is also helpful when you have technical issues like getting guest wifi access. Sometimes getting guest wifi access is impossible. You should always be able to tether your laptop to a phone or use someone else's computer that doesn’t have access.
6. Pick a brand and be loyal
It doesn’t really matter which one, just choose a brand and be loyal. With that loyalty comes perks to make travel better. For hotels, I chose Hilton years ago, and have always achieved diamond status. My diamond status allows special lines for frequent travellers, perks like water, free breakfasts, executive lounge access where you don’t have to pay for coffee, drinks, appetizers, breakfasts, newspapers, magazines, business center access, and even laundry service are all available for the best and most loyal customers of hotel chains.
Hyatt has excellent loyalty programs, too.
This ritual applies to airlines as well. I fly a ton, and most times provide free lounge access and upgrades to first class. Delta is tops on my list—my diamond status is one of my most prized travel trophies. They have amazing inflight food selections, and they seem to always be investing in their airport lounges. Plus, they have wifi on every flight. After flying with nearly every airline under the sun, I believe they are the best at customer service and arriving on time.
Car rental companies have been improving their experiences as well, with no waiting times and the choice of any car. My favorite car rental company right now is Silvercar.com. Download the app and get the best experience in the car rental space today. I always choose a silver Audi A4. They always pick me up at the airport and drop me off. And then I check out right on my phone. All this for $79 a day. Pinch me.
7. Have multiple CCs with high limits
Your credit card will get stolen, lost, left behind at a bar to cover a tab, or frauded. It’s only a matter of time, and then what do you do? You have to have a backup or two—I have five! All of them have high limits, so if one goes sideways, I am still good to go. This comes from a couple trips where my card got frauded, and they shut it off. HUGE PAIN. You are traveling with no money and can’t rent a car, etc. I pay for everything with a credit card, so all my travel apps are linked to my cards—airline, hotel, Uber, car rental, wifi services, airport lounges, Apple Pay, the list goes on. It is pretty much impossible to travel without credit cards, and due to security deposits and waiting for employers and vendors to pay expenses, you need a significant limit on multiple cards. Finally, never keep them all with you: use the safe in your room to keep your alternates safe.
8. Always have some currency of the country you are traveling to
Some places will not take credit, or the bank machines in the city you are traveling do not allow you to access cash. Plan ahead and have some currency from the countries you are traveling. A couple hundred bucks can get you out of most jams that may occur, minus a casino mishap.
9. Pack your luggage the night before an early flight
When I don’t do this, the morning always sucks and I sleep poorly. Take the few minutes to set out your clothes for the next day and pack everything that won’t wrinkle. That way, you can then simply grab the last items and throw them in your suitcase and hit the road after you shower. I also always set two alarms, a trick I learned back in my days as a morning DJ on the radio. Two alarm clocks in case one doesn’t go off. I use my smart watch and phone and ask for a wake up call five minutes after my alarms are set to go off. This is a very valuable tool, and also sets your mind at ease—no need to worry about missing flights or important meetings. Now, of course, you will miss a flight, and having status with airlines and hotels will save you a bunch of grief and money. Most airlines and hotel have premium status numbers you can call to adjust flights and reservations due to missed flights.
10. Investigate a hotel shuttle when booking
I call this a CFO friendly travel ritual. Most hotels have shuttles, which are better than most cab companies. I really like Uber and Lyft for my rides, and I pretty much hate cabs—dirty, crooked and usually expensive. So if I have a choice between cabs and hotel shuttles, I take the latter. Plus they are free, minus a tip to the driver.
11. Become a master of your apps
Pretty much everyone has an app for that—become a master of your favorite travel app. This will save you a bunch of anxiety and time. There are shortcuts in most apps that save you from standing in line. This is your ammo for an improved travel experience. The more you can master your travel apps and shortcuts they have baked into them, the better travel becomes. Tripit is one of my personal favorites.
12. Mastering technology for better travel
Here are a couple business travel tips for tech:
- Buy noise cancelling headphones. There is no such thing as adult only flights, so crying babies will happen. Noise cancelling headphones eliminates that issue. Also, there is no such thing as a no idiot flights, so again, putting on headphones when you sit down gives you an out when the guy or lady beside you wants to tell you their life story and doesn’t take the hint when you stare unwaveringly at your computer screen. I use my Beats headphones to shut out the babies and idiots.
- Dongles for days. You will need a variety of dongles to connect to various outlets, projectors and other tech. I carry a bag with every country’s power dongles, an extra cord, a USB stick, a mini USB, lightning, thunderbolt, vga and HDMI. And I use every one, as well as add another one each quarter as I run across the need. Invest in a remote advancer for powerpoint presentations and extra batteries. Be a professional and plan for every eventuality. My latest purchase was a remote power pack to give you phones and laptop power for flights when the power points don’t work and you have to get your presentation perfect.
These are the 12 things I wish I would have been told five years ago. They have been paramount to improving my travel experiences and making it way less stressful and more enjoyable. I admit I am an explorer, it's a part of my DNA. I feel at my best when I am meeting new people and discovering new locations. Some people are not and dread travel but must do it for their careers. Whether you love travel or tolerate it, these rituals will make it better, maybe even amazing.
"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand."
— Traditional Gaelic Blessing
I will see you when I see you! #iseverywhere