It’s that time of year again, where we start to look back and reflect on how we can make this year 10x better than the last. Some of you are now back in the gym — me too ( at least for now)! Some of you plan to do more of what you love — that was so me last year. But this year, I plan to travel a whole lot better. That means ditching the fast food in the airport, using my credit card in a smarter way to redeem free flights, and creeping into all the airport lounges to take advantage of my perks. With that said, after helping several clients travel the world, I figured we could all stand to seriously step up our travel game.
I don’t necessarily mean we need to travel more (although, let’s be real, we can never get enough travel). I mean we all need to promise ourselves we will start traveling better.
No more worn-out duffle bags (you are killing me), no more waiting in security lines (are you really still waiting in lines?), no more wasting time at the airport! If we want to be smart travelers who are always on the go, we need to start acting like it!
Here are a few quick tips on how you can completely change how you travel THIS year:
1. Get Yourself Some Adult Luggage
Don’t think I haven’t seen you drag around that carry-on you’ve had since your freshman year of college — #shameful. It’s time to let it go!
One of the best ways to improve your travel efficiency, style and comfort is to have luggage that does much more than act as a bag. You want something that is durable, matches your style, has extra features (like the ability to charge your devices — perfect for people who spend a lot of time in the airport) and that can help you stay organized.
Personally, I am a Calpak girl, but I must say I am loving the line from Away. Everything they make is first class and built for savvy travelers like us.
And don’t forget about the inside of your suitcase! Make sure to use organizers to keep everything from toiletries to socks and shoes, even charging cables and electronics, safely packed away and easy to access. There’s nothing worse than opening up your suitcase only to find an avalanche of stuff worse than your hall closet! I am definitely using my packing cubes more.
It’s hard to do anything well without the right tools, and traveling is no different. Do this for yourself, and you’ll eliminate a lot of the stress and frustration that comes with packing and unpacking — packing might even become your favorite part of the trip, like it is for me! ( I won’t hold my breath.)
2. Apply for TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry ASAP
I think we can all get onboard a resolution that involves airport security and customs lines becoming a thing of the past!
Probably the single-greatest thing you can do to save time and headache on every one of your future trips is to apply for TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry. I mean, you could even get CLEAR. After experiencing a Christmas travel fiasco first hand, I know you can’t be too safe. Get it all! (Plus your travel credit card may reimburse you for the cost — a major perk.)
Both TSA Pre✓ and Global Entry allow you to jump right into the fast lane, but only Global Entry allows you to skip right through the customs line, as well — all you international frequent flyers out there, this is the one you want!
I’ve written in the past about the specific differences between the two programs, but seriously, if you haven’t already applied for this, I can’t stress it enough!
3. Use Your Airline and Hotel Apps to Save Time and Skip Lines
This is a really simple tip, but in 2019 there is no reason we can’t all make this simple change to our travel habits!
Just about every single airline these days has their own app, and you should not only use this to check into your flight, but also use the boarding pass feature. Honestly, why are we still waiting in line at the kiosks or counters to get printed boarding passes anymore? (If you’re doing it for the gram, trust me, when you get to your destinations there will be much more exciting things to take a picture of!)
You can and should do everything ahead of time, and from the convenience of your home/hotel via the app — check in, purchase checked bags, upgrade your seats, even buy a seat for your furry friend! That way at most all you have to do when you get to the airport is show up before they close the check-in process, drop off your bag and breeze through security. (You did get TSA Pre✓ already, didn’t you?)
Plus, they will all give you valuable information about your flight, such as boarding times, gate information (especially handy when they are constantly changing your gate), departure updates and current weather at your destination.
A bunch of the major hotel chains are starting to offer similar features to people who use their apps. You can check in to your room ahead of time and avoid the process at the hotel. Often, if you’re a rewards member you can even make special requests, schedule a late checkout or even order room service all from the app! Take advantage of all the tools you’re given to make your life easier!
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Pay for Something to Make Your Life Easier
Too often in the world of travel we are so hesitant to spend that little bit of extra money and instead go for the cheapest, budget option. Let’s stop doing this to ourselves, people! If there is something that is going to make your experience that much better, easier or save you some time, don’t be afraid to go for it — trust me, your sanity is worth it.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying we should all go out and fly first class every trip (or even any trip) or saying that we should automatically pick the more expensive option, but there is a time to save and there is a time to pay for something with good value.
I’m very careful with my hard-earned dollars and cents, but I’m not going to put myself on the flight that has 15 layovers just to save a few bucks. I won’t be afraid to quickly hop on the airline app and grab priority boarding if I see the airport is going to be a zoo. And, you won’t find me couch-surfing or bunking in a hostel because it’s the more economical option. If we’re going to travel, let’s do it right! Upgrade please! Butlers — check! Private transfers — you already know!
As smart travelers we should always be in search of the best value, meaning we get the most bang for our buck (including the most sanity for our buck), and not in search of the lowest dollar amount.
5. Design Your Trips to Experience Everything Your Destination Has to Offer
We place a lot of importance on design when it comes to our everyday lives — everything in our homes match a certain decor. We make several decisions based on our personalities and what makes us happy, and we even choose our clothes based on designers that we believe express who we are. The same principals can and should apply to travel!
Think about how you put your living room together: You had a vision for what you wanted that room to ultimately be, you selected pieces of furniture that all went together based on that vision and created something that you love — some of us might have even hired an interior designer to bring that vision to its fullest!
Creating amazing trips that you will remember for the rest of your life happens the same way! Rather than just going places and hoping for the best (which don’t get me wrong can be a fun adventure every once in a while), we should design our trips to be everything we want them to be and more!
By doing this, you can be sure you get to see, hear, do and eat all of the things that are not only most important to you in each new location, but you’ll be sure that your trip matches your own unique interests and style.
Especially when it comes to group trips or celebration getaways, I always recommend you hire a travel designer to help you put all the pieces together. A travel designer can help you select all of the components (flights, accommodations, excursions, local tours and events) and design the perfect experience that you’ll never forget! It’s one of those services that carries a ton of value and will take a special trip to the next level.
Even if you’re just going on a quick weekend getaway, make sure you start to think in terms of how you want to design your trip — pick things to do that match your style, add in some things that you might not expect and put it all together!
At the end of the day, traveling has never been more accessible, and there has never been a better time to get out there and experience everything the world has to offer! I’m a huge supporter of gifting travel over things, buying experiences instead of stuff, and traveling as much as possible!
But, if we’re going to get out there, let’s all make a commitment to traveling better this year — we owe it to ourselves!