Travel, its the little things that make it work

It’s the little things! Salt and herbs transform a palatable dish into a special meal. Accessories make the outfit. Frequent flier perks, attitude, and the little things make travel a whole lot better.

Travel, especially air travel, is one of those things that it is fashionable to complain about. It is interesting that those who complain the most are quite often those who fly the least. It does make sense though, when you are not as familiar with how the whole process works it can be frustrating, and when you are in an environment that is unfamiliar it is hard to know what to expect.

I offer the infrequent flier just two tips to enhance the experience

  1. Allow yourself more time at the airport.
  2. Go with the flow, don’t fight the system; you do get a lot more by being nice than by complaining. The reality is that sometimes it will not go smoothly, sometimes maybe not even be fair, that is just the way it is.

Now for those of us who have decided to make frequent travel part of our life, a few thoughts:

Never complain.

I have travelled for over 20 years and stayed positive about it, how? I refuse to complain. As I write this I am on a morning flight, not the travel I had planned, I missed a connection and spent the night in Denver, one of my least favorite airports. Yet I refuse to complain. It is like the Dark Side of the Force, once you start down the road of complaining you end up negative and frustrated, I have seen it over and over again.

We frequent fliers are doing this because we chose to do it, we knew it was part of the job when we signed on; it is part of our life. If the travel is that overwhelming or uncomfortable then it is time to dust off the resume and start looking for a change.

Loyalty has its perks

If travel is to be part of your life then be loyal to one airline, or group. I am a huge Alaska Air fan, when it comes to USA carriers I think they are the best. Their frequent flier program connects you to Delta, American, Quantas, and a number of others. By combining all your miles in one account they accumulate faster and you reach premier status sooner.

With premier status you earn the little things that make it better. Early boarding so there is room in the overhead, upgrades to first-class, on Alaska a free beverage in coach, free checked baggage, premier seating, and when things do go wrong they do give preference to the frequent fliers who have and will be back next week on another trip.

Join the club. My Alaska Boardroom membership is the best money I spend each year. Food, drink, wifi, quiet. And reciprocal arrangements with Delta Crown Rooms means I get to use their rooms when traveling on Delta, or when in an airport that does not have an Alaska room.

Accessories that matter

Each traveler will have his or her own list of what makes life on the road more comfortable; here is my list:

  • Headphones that either block or cancel noise; they don’t have to be Bose to be good. Many nights after a long day I sit back on the plane, put headphones on, click on a Spotify playlist and relax. How often at home do you get the luxury of listening to whatever music you want, uninterrupted for an hour or two? (A mini-speaker for your computer makes the hotel room a lot better as well.)
  • My mini-iPad. How did I get along without it? Reader, documents, games, videos, music, Netflix, soccer and rugby. Enough said.
  • Glassware. I carry a real glass cup for tea, and an acrylic wine glass. Tea out of a glass cup is so much better than paper, and if I am in a place for a few days I buy a bottle of wine for the room, and have a real glass to drink it out of.
  • Good tea. I never rely on what is in the room. Great tea out of a familiar cup is a great way to start the day
  • Sketchpad and watercolors. Life is too short to work all day and then work all night in a hotel room. So even a quick sketch now and then breaks it all up and reminds me of what is important.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The Christopherson corollary to that is, “Most people enjoy travel about as much as they make up their minds to enjoy travel.”

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