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BLOG12 travel hacks

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen TipsheetTagged as: ,

Are you one of those people who despise air travel? Or wish that you could somehow tolerate it, just a little bit more?

It is true, in the 1950s travel was a grand affair: it was special. By the 1980s not as much, but there was still an aura of dignity. Today, air travel is filled with delays, crowds, infection risk, and groping in the name of security. The in-flight experience is not much better than that of canned sardines. And cost cutting means that airlines are in the nickel-and-dime business, charging for everything from checked bags to seat selections.  And with the challenges imposed by COVID, it is unlikely to improve.

Air travel may be a necessary evil for certain meetings and building relationships, so if you have to do it, here are 12 air travel hacks that can help:

  1. Bose noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music. One cause of air travel fatigue is the constant loud noise, which is easily reduced with noise-cancelling headphones. For longer flights, use ear plugs at the same time.  (The Bose headphones are by far the best and the most comfortable.)
  2. Get a Nexus pass. This is the trusted traveller card that speeds you through customs and immigration, and qualifies you for the priority security lines. Nexus will save you at least 30 minutes of pointless waiting, each and every time it is used..
  3. Access the travel cloud. and search hundreds of sites for the best deals, while can tell you which seats are less uncomfortable. alerts you to the best time to book, while gives real-time status. Communities such as can provide invaluable intelligence from other frequent travellers, and gives real-world feedback on hotels..
  4. Flight scheduling. A 7am flight means getting to the airport for 6am (5am for international).  And this means, between transportation and getting yourself ready, waking up before 5am (4am for international). Even worse? A red-eye flight. With these flight times, you won’t be functioning upon arrival, and if the flight is delayed (or cancelled), you may miss your meeting.  Flying the afternoon or evening beforehand is a good insurance policy.
  5. Arrive early. With security delays (and line-ups), early arrival reduces stress.  And you can always use your time in the departure lounge to get ahead with your work.
  6. Reduce infection risk.  No matter how much they are cleaned, airplanes are almost like a flying petrie dish, rife with infections.  Practice social distancing in the airport before boarding, then choose a window seat, bring (and use) disinfectant wipes, and avoid walking the aisles or using the lavatory.  And wear a mask.
  7. Wear security-friendly clothing. Save time at security by choosing shoes without metal shanks and belts with non-metal clasps. It also means putting all metal (coins, phone, jewellery, etc) in your jacket beforehand, and putting your entire jacket through the scanner.
  8. Airplane facilities. Using the restroom on the airplane is a crowded, uncomfortable, and infection-prone activity. Instead, use the facilities in the airport just before boarding.
  9. Be kind to the flight crew. These folks work long hours in cramped conditions, often with difficult customers. It costs nothing to smile and be friendly.
  10. Don’t be greedy with your space. There is only so much space overhead, so only take your share. There is only so much armrest, so again, leave room for your seatmate. Finally, if you don’t need to recline your seat, then don’t.
  11. Drinking strategy. Because of the difference in air pressure and elevation, alcohol is far more potent, and carbonated drinks may make you feel bloated: best skip both, especially on longer flights. Yet because of the lack of humidity, you will dehydrate far more quickly than on the ground: purchase a bottle of water before you board.  Never drink onboard water, unless you see it comes from a bottle: (Hunter College study, 2019, WSJ 2002)
  12. Take the train. While the glory days of air travel are far behind us, a first class train ticket is both comfortable and surprisingly inexpensive. For air travel of less than an hour, a train usually takes the same amount of time, especially considering that stations are usually in the heart of downtown, and you need only show up 15 minutes before departure. Bonus: you can work while on the train, all in relative comfort.


Instead of making travel more comfortable and convenient, why not skip the trip altogether? It’s cheaper and far more time efficient to meet virtually, using tools such as Zoom, Gotomeeting, Teams, and Skype.

Counterpoint: Some meetings really should take place face-to-face: key business presentations, interactive training, employee orientation meetings, project kick-offs, sales kick-offs, and longer-form planning meetings. The benefits of face-to-face meetings go well beyond the meeting itself, to the informal hallway conversations, meals, and personal connections. The relationships built in the real-world are what make virtual meetings far more effective.

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