I travel nearly 200,000 miles a year, and over the course of millions of miles and more than 100 countries, I’ve learned a few things about not just “surviving” but “thriving” on the road. A few years ago I was really frustrated about so much travel, but then realized it was part of what I was called to do, so I could either be miserable for the rest of my life or embrace it. Since then I’ve gotten more and more comfortable on the road, and to help, here’s a handful of things I never travel without:
1) TSA Pre-Check: Even if you only travel a few times a year it’s worth it. You won’t believe the number of times I waltz by 100 or more people in the normal security line and breeze through the TSA Pre-Check line. Plus, I don’t have to take liquids or electronics out of my bag or take my jacket off. In today’s travel environment, and as much as I travel, I might be in a mental institution without it.
2) A Clothes Steamer: I discovered early on that most irons in hotel rooms – even the nice hotels – either don’t work, or have years of gunk stuck to the bottom. I ruined more than a few shirts before I had my epiphany and bought a steamer. It’s quick, light, simple to use, and does a great job on any fabric.
3) Black Painter’s Tape: The digital revolution has left hotel rooms looking like the Las Vegas strip. Turn off the lights in most hotel rooms today and you’ll find:
– The fire alarm has a flashing light (why???)
– The alarm clock is way too bright.
– Even turned off, the flatscreen TV has lights in the back and often are cast on the wall behind and can light up a room.
– Most hotel room doors are cut incorrectly and have huge gaps between the door and door frame. So the intense light in the hallway shines in.
– The mounted hair dryer in the bathroom has a “on” light.
– There’s probably a few more than I’ve forgotten.
For whatever reason, hotels don’t seem to care about your room being dark, so that’s why I always have a roll of black painter’s tape in my suitcase. When you remove it, painter’s tape doesn’t pull off paint, so it can be used anywhere and then easily tossed in the trash. Want to actually sleep in a hotel room? Get the tape.
4) A light jacket or sweatshirt: My wife Kathleen made me realize this because controlling the temperature on planes is difficult, and rarely is it actually comfortable. A light jacket or sweatshirt is a godsend when it gets cold up there.
5) A Club Membership: If you travel a lot (especially on a single airline) then I’d strongly recommend you join the airline club. At airline clubs, they offer free drinks and snacks, and a bigger food menu for purchase. There’s plenty of plugs, flight assistance, and free WIFI. It’s the only place where I can find a private table to work. The amount of time I spend waiting for flights adds up, and the club allows you to turn that time into productive time. You can also purchase most club memberships with airline points so you can save money.
6) The Airhook: In coach, trying to juggle a drink and work on your computer at the same time is impossible. Even the tray table is too small for both. The Airhook is a genius gadget that attaches to the closed tray table and holds your drink so you can work unencumbered on your computer or read a book. Trust me – this may be the best gadget ever!
Any other great ideas or gadgets you won’t travel without?