By Mark Chesnut
Some people love traveling for work. Some people hate it. Many are ambivalent. But most everyone agrees that it’s important to make the experience as pleasant—or at least as bearable—as possible. Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
1. Bring ear plugs or headphones, everywhere. With the increasing popularity of mobile entertainment devices (not to mention the increasing loudness of the traveling public), you can never be guaranteed the peace and quiet you deserve, whether sitting in business class on a plane or checking into the club-level floor at a nice hotel. Ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver.
2. Stay loyal. Even if you’re not a super-frequent flyer—and even if you find the process of redeeming frequent-flyer awards excruciating—pick an airline and stick with it. Reaching any kind of elite-level membership can bring benefits including priority boarding, free luggage checks, mileage bonuses and upgrades. The same goes with hotel chains; loyalty can get you better rooms. In both cases, it may be worth paying a bit more on one trip, if you’ll then get valuable perks for the entire coming year.
3. Get carded. Shopping around for an airline affinity card can also bring benefits like priority boarding and free checked luggage. Even if a gold card is more expensive, when you weigh the cost against what you spend on bag fees, an affinity card can easily pay for itself after just a couple flights.
4. Bring work and entertainment. Use the time spent on flights or waiting for meetings in hotel lobbies to be productive, but also to give your mind a break. And remember that you may not always be able to log onto mobile devices, so having something in print can still be a good thing.
5. Be nice. Sometimes, hassles can’t be avoided. And sometimes, those hassles aren’t anyone’s fault—or at least not the fault of the harried customer service representative standing in front of you. Take a breath, smile, and keep going. (And, of course, Orbitz Travel Alerts and Customer Support can provide additional help in avoiding problems.)
Mark Chesnut is a travel writer, editor and publisher of LatinFlyer.com, which focuses on travel to Latin America. He’s been a travel addict since he was a kid, and a travel writer since 1994.