Hack Your Travel :

Part 1- Getting on a Plane

I travel a lot. I sometimes feel like I’ve been on more planes than Edward Norton in Fight Club. After so many departure lounges and security checks, I started realizing that I had started evolving into a different kind of traveler.  I was doing things different than most of the other passengers. They looked crazed and panicky; I was chilled and relaxed. I decide to write a list for you that can make your travel less stressful. If you do these things, you will become instantly cooler and feel happier at the airport. You have my word as a gentleman….yeah, right.

1. Security– No one likes security checks at airports. Seemingly normal people turn into idiots as soon as they get to the conveyor belt. Don’t want to spend unnecessary time on the wrong side of the checkpoint. Wear flip flops or shoes that slip on and off easily. Don’t wear a belt with metal in it. Put your phone, keys, wallet and change inside your bag before you even get to the belt. You will be 3 times faster than everyone else and the smartest person in the room.

2. Be last– As soon as the plane starts boarding, people start lining up like a wildebeest migration. They stand in line for  20-something minutes worried that they won’t have room for their luggage or someone will take their seat. I wait. As I write this, I’m typing on my computer in Istanbul while the crowds are starting to herd. At the last moment, when the last passenger  is getting on, I head towards the gate. Sometimes I’ll even loiter on the skyway to let the people getting on the plane sit down, stand up, open luggage, sit back down, and crowd each other impatiently. Once the din has settled, I look for the best seat that hasn’t been taken. Often, I get a whole row to myself. I take the middle seat, put my jacket and hat on the seats next to me (in case someone else has the same idea) and then enjoy my space….

3. Take a Drink– International flights are often pretty generous with the drinks. You can usually get wine, spirits and often they come in cute little miniature bottles. If I drink the spirits, I keep the bottle. If I don’t drink them I still keep the bottle.  I’ll sometimes order more wine than I’m going to drink and stash it in my pack. I did that last night. When I arrived at my hotel and felt like having a welcome drink, I had a lovely glass of Merlot, courtesy of Turkish Airlines. “Why keep those little bottles?” you ask. I fill them up with liquor and carry them on future flights. No one ever questions them at security and I have a head start on my fellow passengers if I want a cocktail. If you can’t seem to score  those little bottles, empty 5 hour energy drink bottles will do the trick.You can even grab a cranberry juice at a kiosk and make a cape cod while you’re waiting to board.

4. Carry On my Wayward Son– I travel with a day pack and a carry on bag. People cringe when they think of leaving blow dryers behind and not taking 5 pairs of shoes. The truth is,carry on will set you free. While everyone is waiting for their baggage, you’ve just driven off in your rental car. Sometimes you can even print your ticket before you arrive at the airport and never go to the check-in desk. The secret is don’t bring things you don’t need and get a rolling bag that is the maximum size for carry on. Bring enough socks and underwear for each day and wear your pants twice. It’s an easy hack and you won’t struggle to drag it up stairs when the escalator  is broken.

5. Stand up is for Comedians– As soon as the plane stops, people start popping up and trying to grab their baggage. On planes with low ceilings, I’ve seen passengers stooped over for 10 minutes because they’re so anxious to get off the plane. No one is getting out faster by standing up. Sit and relax until the aisle in front of you has started moving, then you go. That’s good plane etiquette.

6. Respect the Help– A good friend and mentor of mine wrote a book called “The Art of Schmooze”. It’s not about taking advantage  of people, it’s about developing relationships and being nice to people. Being friendly the staff at the gate, chatting with the flight attendants about where they’ve been and what they do is a great way to make a friend; Don’t be surprised if they start bringing you food from First Class or free drinks though. It happens.

7. Play it Forward– When I walk on the plane, I usually put my case in the overhead compartment as close to the front as possible. When I’m deplaning, I just grab it as I walk out and I save myself the trouble of wrestling it down the aisle. I make sure that my bigger bag has nothing I need for my flight and my daypack has everything I need for my flight.

8. What a Day for a Daypack– I carry everything I might need for my flight and immediate use in my daypack. Here’s what I’ve learned you need to have:
a. A plug adapter for wherever you’re going. You can plug your phone or computer in any airport b. A charger- I bring a battery charger for when my phone or camera goes dead. It’s got 5 USB ports. I also bring a car charger in case I get a rental car.
c. A pen- handy for visa applications
d. A snack-On second thought bring lots of snacks. They’ll make you happy if the food is funky.
e. My computer- I’m typing this while I’m flying. I have movies too in case I get bored.
f. Headphones-Some airlines try to rent them to you…really?
g.Sunglasses- I knew I forgot something!
h.A camera- If you use something besides your phone, keep it in your daypack. I carry a GoPro.
i. Blow up neck pillow- Okay, I don’t need one, but it seems like I’m the only one who doesn’t.

9. Take a Picture!- You have your hotel booked, your rental car reserved, your plane ticket secured and suddenly you have no internet to bring up your info. You can print it out and sift through the papers OR take a screenshot of your confirmations. Quickly you can whip out your phone to see your times and important details without rummaging through papers and making yourself crazy.

10. Know where you’re going– Download travel highlight apps, learn currency conversions and know a little about what taxis or buses cost before you land. When you arrive with your carryon bag and walk straight out of the airport, you’ll look like someone who knows what’s going on.

It looks like we’re landing….I’ve got to start looking cool.

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