In the best of circumstances, traveling can be an opportunity to relax and enjoy. In the worst, you’ve paid too much, luggage is lost, everything seemingly has to be done at a breakneck pace, and you can’t remember where you’ve packed things you need.
And both situations—good and bad—can happen when you travel for vacation or work. We spoke to experts on how best to be a savvy traveler.
How to pack for a trip
Matt Hornbuckle, co-founder and CEO of Stantt, a maker of custom men’s dress shirts, had this advice:
- Pack light, wear clothes that do double-duty and don’t need to be dry-cleaned or ironed.
- Always carry essentials in your carry-on bag and keep toiletries, Tide pens, chargers, business cards, pens, headphones, etc., in your carry-on bag to make packing and traveling more seamless and efficient.
- Don’t forget sleep aids: Pack a memory foam neck pillow, an eye-mask, noise-cancelling headphones, and the like to help you sleep on the plane or at your hotel. You’ll be refreshed to tackle your meetings and work events.
- Consider leather sneakers, which are comfortable, but can be dressed up or down.
- Pack healthy snacks. Opt for nuts, fruit or protein bars. Unhealthy snacks can make you sluggish, and you may overeat later because they usually lack protein or fiber.
SEE: How to stay cybersecure while traveling for business: 6 tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
What’s the best carry-on luggage
The best way to go with carry-on luggage is with a roller, said Matt Woodley of MoverFocus, which provides tips on international moves. “Whether or not you choose a hard-shell or soft-shell is up to personal choice, but look for luggage that has a front or inside pocket or section that will perfectly fit your business materials.”
How to get the best ticket deals and seating
Tuesday is no longer the best day to buy airline tickets, Woodley said. Now, book on Saturday, with Sunday as the next best day. He added:
- Clear cookies on your browser every time you search for a flight (airline and travel sites save your info and track your perusing and use it not to show the most cost-effective options).
- Want an upgrade? The most foolproof way, said Woodley, is to be loyal to one airline, rack up travel miles and frequent flyer status for perks like free travel with miles, access to the first-class lounge, and even upgrades to first class.
- Front of the plane is best, not only are you first off, but turbulence is worse in the back.
- If you can’t sit upfront, opt for over a wing (again, less turbulence).
- Sleepers should choose windows, the taller and more-likely-to-get-up should choose an aisle seat.
How to make your flight more comfortable
Make your area feel clean by disinfecting what you’ll be touching with disinfectant wipes, Woodley said. In addition:
- Bring a neck pillow if you want to sleep.
- Use a provided blanket or bring a large scarf to cover up.
- Bring socks to put on when you take your shoes off.
- Wear forgiving, stretchy clothing and bring an eye-mask, ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones.
Hornbuckle said to download series or episodes of your favorite shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and must-read books onto an iPad or tablet, which you can watch on the plane or if there are connectivity issues and you find yourself in a particularly long layover.
How to get the best lodging
The co-founder of the last-minute deal site HotelTonight Sam Shank said:
- Same-day hotel rates are, on average, 10% less than the previous day.
- Rates are typically the highest at 8 am and progressively decrease, typically dropping markedly around 4 pm.
- Book after 8 pm, and you can probably save an additional 5% to 10%.
- Sunday night hotel rates are 30% cheaper than Fridays/Saturdays.
Kim Albrecht, chief marketing officer, of SAP Concur, the travel and expense management, company, offered some safety tips:
- Stay at a well-known, reputable hotel.
- Female solo travelers should ask if the hotel has women-only floors.
- Book during daylight hours so you arrive before dark (especially international travel).
- Make copies of your passport ID page and trip itinerary (and take a photo to keep on your phone).
What do you do in a new town
“Try to do what locals do,” Hornbuckle said, ask bartenders for recommendations, for maximum fun.
Do research, Woodley said. “You’re less anxious if you know what to expect.” He added:
- Limit your time in less frequented areas, especially at night, and leave jewelry or devices at home or safely stored at your hotel.
- Carry an anti-theft purse or bag.
- Don’t wear headphones or earbuds when you’re alone.
- If you want to be left alone, bring a book to read or write in your journal.
Albrect also suggested:
- If you must use your mobile in public, stand still with your back to a wall or window (walking and talking makes you an easier target).
- Keep your head up while walking.
- Stand/walk confidently.
- Never look lost.
- Do not walk alone.
- Do not visit an ATM at night.
- Travel with clean digital devices with limited banking information, sensitive data, personal photos or compromising info.
- Be aware of potential cyberattacks, don’t use free Wi-Fi or charging stations.
How to be smart and safe when traveling
Katie Erwin, a vice president at FleishmanHillard, the PR and marketing firm, suggested to wait until you return from a trip to post on social media, because not only does that alert thieves, but can lure them to pick up any accumulated mail or packages.
Also remember that if you post your location on Instagram or other social media, local disreputable thieves may be able to figure out where you’re staying and “help themselves” when you’re out. Erwin said this has become increasingly problematic in popular tourist attractions with many Airbnb options.
Use common sense and awareness about surroundings Woodley said, and:
- Consider carrying a false wallet with fake money and junk cards to handover if mugged. Be sure you are somewhere safe before they realize you’ve duped them.
- An excellent safety hack is to invest in a portable hotel-door lock.
Albrecht said, when checking in, ask the hotel clerk to write your room number down, rather than saying it aloud, and added:
- Request a room near the stairs or elevator so you don’t have to walk empty corridors.
- Do not stay in a room on the first floor or near exit stairways, as they’re more accessible and prone to theft.
- Check your room to be sure it has a peephole, deadbolt and working locks on windows, adjoining doors and balcony door — otherwise, request a more secure room.
- If there’s a knock on your door, don’t immediately open it. Call reception to confirm the identity of the person.
- If your door is open or unlocked when you return, don’t enter, go to the front desk and inform them of a security issue.
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