Today I just returned from a family trip. A holiday in a village. This family trip lasted just under a week. I left Monday, and returned Friday. I know, a REAL week long trip has you leaving Sunday and returning Friday, but this was long enough to make a few observations. When you go on a trip, especially, but not exclusively for business; a few things happen. You aren’t yourself. What you are is an Adult. Kids don’t travel for business, not unless they are Miley Cyrus. It all involves planning ahead. Something most of us try to not waste time with.
Even the most scatterbrained of us have to remember 2 things when we are traveling. Where are our ‘papers’. In the World war II movies, the Germans would always ask in that all too suspicious tone…’Papers‘. It never seemed to work though because the spy’s always had their papers and as they said ‘Everything is in order‘. In the business travelers real world, there are no forgeries that don’t land you in a lot of trouble for a long time. You have to deal with your boarding pass for your flight, and your ID. The ID part you only need when you are entering the boarding area of the Airport and go through security screening. The boarding passes on the other hand will require 1 per leg of your journey. Going there is usually the easiest of the two. Coming back is another story. You STILL have to have these things on your person to get back home! So we all devise a sort of organization that dictates where we will put our papers even though the rest of our life could be a complete disorganized mess.
2. Emergency Food:
When you travel, it often happens that your flight will be delayed, or canceled. In such cases, you can of course go to any number of overpriced eateries/pubs located throughout the airport concourse that will offer food and drink. If you are on a budget or don’t have the time you KNOW you won’t be able to count on the flight for any form of sustenance. Usually I bring a sleeve of RITZ crackers (everything tastes great when it sitz on a ritz) and a box of some form of candy. I can’t tell you how often I’ve fallen back on this bit of miniature preparation.
3. Dress Stupidly:
This is what I don’t get. You know that thanks to some bunch of zealot Idiot individuals, we all have to go through flight screening. This is because it’s OH so bad to profile bad people. Why? well I guess because they are offended at the possibility of being caught. Israel uses profiling extensively and you know how many incidents have happened for them? You guessed it. If you happen to fit the profile, that’s a problem for you certainly, but on the other hand, that’s the price of security. So anyway, when you get the security screen thing happening, you must empty ALL contents of your pockets onto a scanning tray as well as your shoes and a belt and anything else metal.
Then you walk through the scanner that takes a picture of you naked (not really naked, more like a black and while special effects scan of you naked, but who cares. They don’t really have time to look at you with anything in their brains other than ‘nope doesn’t look like she’s carrying a gun either, NEXT’). So finally to the part I really don’t get. These IDIOTS in business suits that get on planes. They have full belts and tied shoes and probably a little bit of something in EVERY pocket. The ONLY way to fly is with a fanny pack holding everything you’ve got, sweat pants and slip on shoes. Makes that security line a breeze. Sure you aren’t dressing for success, but success doesn’t really find you in the middle of the air port, and you can always pack other pants in your carry on.
4. Bring a paperback book:
I love my electronic gizmos. just love em. They do everything you know. Now they even have those electronic books with the electronic INK that doesn’t look like a monitor but looks more like a printed page. It’s amazing. Oh but there are all these whiny people going on about how they like the FEEL of their book or see how many pages they have left or any number of other curmudgeonly reasons to not completely embrace the new technology. I see the image of old man Crandall shaking his cane at them ‘whipersnappers’ complaining about the damage done to his mulberry bushes. Well, all you technology-snubbing hoity toitys now have a legitimate excuse. On international flights, they are going to make you shut everything off for one hour before landing. Like this is going to help with ANYTHING. As it is, no music player, no video contraption, no nothing. Well, best bust out that Danielle Steele pulp you’ve been waiting to sink your teeth into in all it’s musty Random House glory.
5. Bring power strips!:
For some reason, there is rarely enough power provided to today’s busy traveler. All the power blocks we have for our gobs of gadgetry usually take up at least 2 if not 3 standard power plugs. I have a 3 way splitter (those big orange blocky ones with the ground) that I always carry with me. It is just enough to do the job and I know I will be able to use all 3 plugs for the price of one.
6. Look at your extras:
There are extras in the made for tv movie that is your life. You see them every day, but they really play a more important role in an airport. You don’t know it, but one of these people will probably be seated next to you. Is it that gentleman that looks like he has a million stories to tell and each one is JUST as interesting as the last? Or perhaps it’s that enterprising young lad that has the 32 Gig Ipod with overdrive headphones that might be unaware that it is only noise canceling to him? Maybe that fussy woman that looks like she might have an incontinence problem? The other thing to notice is that on TV all of the background people are pretty good looking. Contrast that with the aggregate view from the airport gate lounge. Contrast indeed. It appears they hired the same group of extras to be present at the filming of the DMV scene of your life story.
7. Don’t trust ANYONE:
After enough trips to the theater most people get a healthy respect for the tourist/business traveler getting the flim flam. As a result, the savvy business traveler ends up trusting very few people. This is most evident when they are walking down the street. You see them sizing up everyone they see. Wanna have some fun? look for a out of town business type and just bump up against them and then walk the other way quickly. Be prepared to run though. If they don’t run after you, watch them, they will check for their wallet. It’s funny.
8. Diet? What Diet?!:
When you are traveling on the company dime for some reason your expense report takes over your common sense in menu. Expense report food is expensive both in cost as well as in calorie. Especially if you are on receipt report. You feel obliged to eat at every meal because you are forced to if you want to use your benefit. You start eating breakfasts that would cover your entire daily caloric intake. Of course if you want to reverse this, just get your company to give you a total per-diem for the trip keep what you don’t spend and all of the sudden you are eating your breakfast bagel well into dinner time. Plus you get to keep extra change for souvenirs.
9. Seat belts? are you Serious?:
At what point did the FAbA decide that there are still some people somewhere that don’t know how to operate a safety belt? Didn’t everyone on the plane just have to get through security? Which is more difficult? Getting through that security screen? or putting a metal tab into the buckle and then lifting on the buckle to release. Incidentally this comes about for the same reason that it’s still illegal to bathe in the wintertime in Indiana. It may have been a law on the books at one time, but nobody ever decided to legislatively take it off the books, so even though nobody enforces the law, they still have record of it. The FAA has had that same song and dance on the books for airlines to follow and they aren’t in the mood to actually go through and change it.
10. Don’t go with full bags:
If you are a light traveler like me, you never ever check a bag. You just jam it in your carry on and your ‘book bag’. Here is the problem, when you come back you are going to have a few extra pounds of things in your bags to take back as well as the stuff you came with. You gotta get some chotchkies for the kids from the exotic city of Cleveland. So make sure you have a little extra room in the case to fit the other stuff you bought. You will thank yourself.