My 6 Favorite Travel Tips
As a wedding photographer and workshop instructor I travel quite frequently. In the last couple of years I have been all over the world and throughout this time I have picked up a number of great travel tips. Here are six of my favorites that will hopefully make your next trip more enjoyable.
Preferred Rental Car Service
1. If you ever plan on renting a car, even just once, go sign up for the loyalty programs with the rental car company. The programs I belong to don’t cost anything (Avis, Thrifty) and the rewards are incredible. First and foremost you’ll never have to wait in the long rental car lines again. When you arrive, your name will be on a board, keys in the car ready to roll. Just hand them your license on the way out for identification and your on your way. I cannot stress enough how important this is. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I needed to rent a car at the last minute and called Avis. After giving them my loyalty number they had a car reserved for me in literally minutes. After I hung up I walked over to their desk and saw about 10 people in line, exhausted by the wait. I walked past them all, saw my name on the board along with the location of my car and off I went. I actually felt bad for the people still waiting in line.
Favorite Trip Organizer App
2. If you have a hard time keeping track of all your flight plan emails download the app and signup on the website for the free version of TripIt. The program is quite intuitive. It is constantly searching your inbox and when it finds any travel plans it automatically incorporates them into the program. This means that I can easily access all my travel plans in one place including confirmation numbers for flights. In addition, upgrade your account to TripIt Pro (30 day trial free, $49 for year) and get a bunch of other benefits including gate change notifications, alerts if your ticket price drops enough to request a credit/refund, even alerts to help make sure you don’t end up in the middle seats on flights.
3. Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones. If you have never tried these, next time you see the kiosk in the airport stop in and try them on. They are heavenly. One of my favorite travel tools. I usually enjoy a nice conversation with the people next to me on the flight – you never know where it might lead. On on occasion I was sitting next to the sister of a new country president and by the end of the flight she was inquiring with me to shoot her daughter’s wedding in Cape Town, South Africa. So conversing with others around you can definitely lead to business. But sometimes I am exhausted and need the rest. That’s when I pull out my Bose headphones, turn them on, cancel out all the noise and even pop on some relaxing spa tunes to put me to sleep. Don’t laugh! One other tip here when you buy your headphones. You’ll have a choice between the corded ones or bluetooth design. I’d recommend the corded ones because they use batteries that can easily be replaced versus a charging unit that the bluetooth design requires.
Access Your Info Anytime, Anywhere
4. If you are not yet using Evernote, now is the time to start. Evernote is a great tool to use as a mind dump. You can literally send anything in to Evernote and access it at a later time. From forwarding emails, grabbing clips of web pages, or even just PDF’s that you plan on reading some day but haven’t yet. When I am traveling I love using Evernote to go through all my notes over the last couple weeks and get caught up on reading articles and information I clipped during the week. As an Evernote Premium member I also have access to notebooks of info even when I have no cell coverage or Wi-Fi. This especially came in handy when I was in Italy. I just used my phone to access my Evernote notebook with all my Italy information and was able to get everything I needed there that I had saved previously (maps, train schedules, plans). Complete disclosure here… if you decide to click the link for Evernote Premium and sign up you get yourself a free month and one for me as well.
Trick to Getting Your Bag On Board
5. Be sure to check in early for your flights so you are in one of the early groups to board. But if by chance you forget and end up being one of the last to board, often the flight attendants will let the gate agent know that the overhead bins are getting full. As a result they will start checking the carry-on luggage under the plane. This has happened to me on 5 different flights and each and every time I have nicely explained to the gate agent (in a quiet whisper) that my bag contains about $15,000 in photography gear inside and I would really like to see if I can find a place for it to fit on the plane. Each time they have agreed it would be best to keep it with me and each time I have found a place to store it.
Couch Surf and Make New Friends
6. Lastly, and possibly most important – use your social networks to crash on the couch of your friends while in town. Not only will you save money, which you can then use to take your friends out to dinner, but you make incredible connections with people. Over the last few years of traveling I have only a fraction of the time actually stayed in hotels. I’d much rather hang out with Facebook friends and turn them into real friends. For instance, I spent 2 weeks on the east coast teaching workshops from Atlanta to New York City. During that whole time I stayed one night in a hotel, the rest of the time at the houses of other photographers I had met on Facebook. Just stay safe friends.
Hopefully these tips were helpful. If nothing else, go sign up for free with the rental car companies loyalty programs. You will be singing the praises of this article when you skip the entire line and jump right into your car. Let me know about your favorite travel tips in the comments.