Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Commercial Travel Survival Tips

By: Sebastian Berry

I just came back from a trip from Utah to Las Vegas. Because I like to have my articles be relevant and timely, I like to use recent experiences to fuel my material.

My brother and I have been planning a man trip for a couple of months now. My brother and I both grew up watching boxing and Mike Tyson was the baddest man on the planet at the time. Well, Iron Mike is currently having another run with a Vegas show where he talks about his life and boxing. He's actually a very funny man and the show was really good. I digress.

I could see him sweat on stage

I am not a stranger to commercial, especially airline, travel. Most of my musings to follow will apply to air travel but can be applied to any travel scenario.

  • Hunt for bargains
With the internet today, finding a bargain on travel can be as easy as just Googling it. Really. Google Flights can find flights, track prices, and notify you of changes. I was able to purchase my round trip flight from SLC to LAS for $68.
    • Use your loyalty programs
As a subsection for bargain hunting. Always remember there is a loyalty program for everything. Hotels, Flights, Cars, Groceries, Ground Transport, Players Cards. Use as many as you can to get your best deal while traveling.
  • Packing 
Please don't try to take everything with you. Especially with how many airlines charge for luggage. If you can get by with a small carry on-DO IT! You can always do laundry at your destination if you need to. I can pack 3-4 days worth of clothing in line with the weather at my destination, keeping in mind that I need something to wear that is appropriate for the weather from my departure city and return.

If you have daily meds, they need to stay with you. Do not pack these in a carry on that will leave your side, like a carry-on that goes in the overhead storage bin on a plane. Meds need to be on your person or in a backpack or purse that will remain with you at all times. The last thing people with maintenance/survival meds need is to not have their meds exactly when they need them. It is also not unheard of that your luggage in the overhead bin gets robbed in flight or taken during deplaning.

If you are one of many travelers that absolutely needs to check a bag or multiple bags to survive, bless your heart (read in the most southern of twangs). Mix what you pack in your luggage. Do not pack all clothing in one and all your tchotchkes in another. In the event a piece of luggage does get lost you still have something to wear. Make use of your small carry-on and keep a change of clothes with you (and your meds).
  • At the airport
I found a nice corner with an outlet at SLC
We've heard it all before, but really, don't be a jerk to security. It's not the time to make jokes about bombs or anthrax or leaving your bag unattended. You will get hemmed up and it will not be pleasant.

Pro-tip: from the time you check in until you actually pass through security (assuming you do it all in one motion) just keep your ID and other travel documents in your hand. Don't be that person that has to fish around in their bag or wallet right as you get to the TSA checkpoint.

Amazingly enough, different airports have different requirements about taking off shoes and coats. When leaving SLC it was shoes and coats off and on the belt for inspection. When leaving LAS I could keep both on unless TSA specifically indicated to me that it might set off the metal detector. TSA has a travel checklist here that you can review. Specific airports have their own websites that you can find for answers as well.
  • At your destination

Enjoy yourself and have fun but be diligent. In the blink of an eye your situation can change. Think of the music festival attendees in Las Vegas not so long ago. I wrote an article mentioning that specific instance here

Situational awareness and survival go hand in hand. Know the place where you are staying-entries and exits available, emergency numbers, assistance locations, consulate or embassy location are just a few things to keep in mind.

Do your best not to stand out. Be the gray man (this would be a good article some other time). Do everything you can to present yourself as a hard target. As is the case in Las Vegas, recreational marijuana is legal. Limit your consumption of drugs and alcohol-have a good time, just in moderation.

Trust your gut! If something doesn't feel right don't ignore that feeling, especially while traveling. The adage of "See something, Say something" comes to mind. This tends to be much easier while traveling with a group but don't hesitate to get other people involved if you are traveling solo. Ask for help.

What other travel survival tips might you add? Let us know in the comments.

As a personal aside: I am thankful to have an outlet to impart my knowledge to others and that there are people that are willing to use that knowledge to make their lives better. Happy Thanksgiving!