Cotopaxi Founder Davis Smith is a veteran of world travel, and has amassed an arsenal of tricks to make travel as painless as possible. Here are just a few ideas you can use to simplify your next adventure. (For more tips from Davis on how to travel on a budget, check out part one of this post.)
Photo by Tiffany Nguyen
1. On the Airplane
For maximum comfort during long plane rides, try to avoid the emergency exit rows. The seats have less recline and the cushions aren’t as big. Also watch out for bulkheads (the seats directly behind partitions within the plane), as they might be narrower and have less legroom. For extra legroom, remove your shoes and the magazines from the seatback pouch. You never know, maybe you’ll find something in SkyMall that changes your life.
2. In the Airport
To minimize stress, get to the airport with plenty of time, and be sure to check in before you arrive. Keep your ticket and passport handy in a front pocket, and wear shoes and a belt that won’t set off metal detectors (many international airports don’t require you to take off your shoes). Utilize any extra time in the airport to sneak in a shower—that’s time you won’t have to spend in a bathroom once you’ve reached your destination.
Do everything in your power to avoid checking a bag unless you are traveling for over a month or enjoy standing in lines and the camaraderie of waiting at the baggage claim with your plane-mates. In your carry-on, pack a small travel bag containing a phone charger, pain relievers, earplugs, eye blinds, chapstick, floss, and a toothbrush, as well as a set of toiletries so you’re never left without necessities. Buy shoe bags so you can easily pack your shoes without worrying about grime, and roll all of your clothes instead of folding them to save space. Learn to pack and unpack quickly and efficiently—when you are home, be home, not endlessly shuffling through bags.
4. International Travel
Be sure to apply for your Visa well in advance and try to have a second passport. For ease in filling out forms on the plane, memorize your passport and frequent flier numbers, and always have a pen handy. If you’re staying out of the country for more than a few days, it’s worth it to buy an international SIM card. For flights that are seven hours or longer, take an Ambien to land well rested and ready for adventure. Or, to break up the trip, pick a flight with a longer layover so you can explore the city.
5. Frequent Flyer
If you fly 30-50k miles a year, pick an airline and stick with it. Once you have status, you get up to 125% in miles bonuses. Status perks also include better seats, more checked bags, faster phone service, and quicker baggage return. If traveling with a companion, use your miles to buy their ticket and pay for your own to get the bonus miles, and if you’re ever unhappy with your airline experience, don’t be afraid to call and ask for extra miles. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Being prepared makes traveling easy and even enjoyable. If you plan ahead, do your homework, and remain flexible, having joy in the journey will be more than just a vinyl quote on your mom’s living room wall.
Source: Stuart Diamond, Getting More