Tools and Tips to make Traveling Easier

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I’m typing this from LAX and I began to ponder just how easy this morning has been. That is saying a lot since I’ve become a weary traveler these past few years and just get so frustrated with the overall experience.

But, I’ve found a few simple ways to alleviate all the stress and hassle of travel — at least the part that we can control.

Here’s how I have done it.

Hired a Virtual Executive Assistant

She books all of my travel, hotels, car rentals and manages my receipts from the trips — all of the small, mind-bending, emotional draining details. It takes awhile to get the systems and process in place, but it’s worth it.

Signed up for TSAPregood-job-check-mark

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I walked into LAX this morning and it was a MAD HOUSE — lines out the door, pure chaos. What did I do? I turned left, went up the stairs, and walked through security in under five minutes. TSAPre makes life so much easier. You can also avoid big custom/immigration lines when you travel internationally.

Fly One Airline and Achieve Status

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I fly American Airlines. I have a love/hate relationship with them. But, I will be Platinum soon (currently I’m Gold)  and travel is a lot easier when you have status. Some key benefits:

  • I never worry about seats, as I choose my own online. I get access to preferred seats.
  • I use their mobile app for boarding passes, therefore I never have to print my tickets.
  • I get two free checked bags – no more bag fees.
  • I have priority access, so I get to board first. I never have to worry about overhead luggage space.

I fly American Airlines 98% of the time. If you fly often, I would encourage you to pick an airline and try to achieve status.

Joined the American Airlines Admirals Club

Admiral Club

One of my friends and a Help One Now advisor kept encouraging me to join the Admirals Club. I balked due to its expense. So when they offered me a nice discount, I said yes! IT IS AMAZING. Again, LAX was a madhouse today, but what did I do? I went inside the Admirals Club, got some coffee, relaxed, connected with my staff online and got a lot of work done.

Book One Rental Car Agency

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I use National and I love it. Because I’m an Emerald Club member (its free),  when I arrive to pick up my car, I don’t go through any lines. I just go directly to a car that I choose (no extra costs) and I drive away. It takes me 5 minutes – that’s it.

Apps I Use

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Tripit keeps me organized; my entire travel is all in one place. Flights, hotels, rental cars, directions, etc. I love being “paperless” and tripit is how I do that.

 

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So, I’m a disaster when it comes to receipts. When I travel I’m on the go, usually from 5AM to 10-11PM and I’m rushing to make appointments. So, I started using Expensify to keep up with my travel.

Every time I purchase something, I take a picture. Then, when I have time, I enter in the key data. I had an LA report for all expenses so I can keep track. My assistant can then take that info and make sure our bookkeeper has all the important information.

And I can also process how much the trip cost, which is important as we try to control costs as an organization and understand how effective each trip was.

 

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When I’m in the airport, if I need to find a coffee shop, or a good place to get a bite to eat, I usually look at Gate Guru (or Foursquare) and locate my best options. It’s quick and seamless.

 

Seat Guru

When I do international travel, I check out Seat Guru to ensure I’m choosing the best possible seats. I want to be as close to the front as possible, away from any bathrooms as I don’t want my seat to be crowded with folks waiting in line and I don’t want to deal with any obstacles under my seat, which creates less foot room. I always choose aisle. I I can stretch my legs and have quick access to the bathrooms and I don’t feel as trapped. Some folks love the window, especially if you like to sleep.

Hopefully these tips and tools will be helpful and make traveling a little easier for you.  And feel free to share some tips and tools that you’ve learned as a road warrior.

  • tolstoytherapy

    Great article, Chris! I keep hearing about Tripit and it sounds like a really handy app to use when planning a trip. I’ve never heard of Expensify but it looks like something I could really do with having!

    Another tool you could consider using is Tripobox, a website that lets you book your restaurants, hotels and activities altogether and for a whole group. It’s main advantage is that you can split the bill between the group rather than having to ask one person to pay for it all. The website is limited to city trips, but there’s still quite a lot to choose from.

    I’m maintaining the Tripobox blog at the moment so perhaps we could work on doing a link exchange or something!

    Thanks again for the article, I look forward to reading more on your blog!

    Lucy

    • http://www.chrismarlow.me Chris Marlow

      Thanks for the tip about Tripobox. I’ll be sure to check it out!