Norm declared a mid-summer break from Thursday Doors, so there’s no link up today, as he and the little blue frog take some time to recharge. He said we can still post door photos, but Thursday Doors without Norm is kinda like Cheers without Norm. I can’t do it.
A lot of my recent doors posts have included doors collected while I’ve been traveling for business. Some people have suggested that it must be a pretty good deal, to be able to travel, and I can’t disagree…entirely. Most of my travel during the last six years has been by car or by rail, and I don’t mind either. In fact, as many of you are aware, I love traveling by rail. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed flying, but I enjoy it less and less every year.
I thought I’d share a short list of opinions and observations regarding business travel. I will carry these into retirement, when all my travel will be on me.
Flying – There really isn’t anything good about flying, other than – if everything goes according to plan – it’s faster:
Check-in – I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare (some people would say too much). My goal is to reduce the stress involved with travel. Sitting at home, waiting to leave. Worrying about traffic. Worrying about what the line might look like – nope, not for me. I get to the airport about 2 hours before my flight. If all goes well, I settle in to a seat with an outlet, plug in, sip my coffee and read your blogs. If everything goes to hell in a handbasket, I’m fine.
TSA Pre – If you don’t have it, you should get it. It costs $75 and it’s good for 5 years. It’s the best $15 you will spend this year, and next, next, etc. It’s worth it, if for no other reason than not having to take off your shoes and belt and being able to leave your laptop and three-bottle deal in the bag.
Comfort Seats – If you can afford a better class of airplane seat, I’d recommend it, especially if you’re tall. I normally fly Delta and I normally choose Economy Comfort. A little extra leg room. Earlier boarding. Reserved space in the overhead bins and a beer or two, although I usually don’t partake. In other words, I’m paying extra for the seats I used to have in Coach. On the other hand, I’ve flown Business Class and even the rare 1st Class. Unless it’s some kind of upgrade or I’m flying more than 8 hours, they aren’t worth the extra cost – IMO.
Hotel – I am not a seek-out-the-cheapest-hotel-near-my-destination kind of traveler. I tend to stay in Marriott properties, and I book through their website. There is a difference in the quality of service you get when things go wrong, if you’re a loyal (rewards program) customer booking direct with the brand, than if you’re coming in through JoeTheTravelWizard.com.
Reward Program – If you travel more than once or twice a year, pick a brand, join the program, get the credit card and stay. Sure, you can do the math and tell me “it’s cheaper if I use blahBlah.com” but I’m not listening. Trust me, the moment you realize you have a couple of free nights (yes, nothing is ever free, I know that) you will be happy. Reaching a level that includes perks like early check-in, late-checkout, lounge access and free Internet (in the hotels that still charge for it) is icing on the cake.
Quality – I have had coworkers who make fun of me for staying in a Courtyard or, God forbid, a Fairfield Inn. I say, buy what you need. I usually need a bed, a shower and an Internet connection, and all three should be clean.
Of course, things go wrong. I’ve written about things that have gone wrong while flying, here, here, here, and here. I haven’t written about things going wrong in hotels, because things usually don’t. This week, they did. I was in a hotel outside of Boston, and four things went wrong. The hotel’s AC system was failing to keep the lobby (where my meetings were) or my room anywhere close to cool. On the second day, a pipe burst, and we were without water. On both days, I had an Internet connection in my room, but I could not add my iPhone or my iPad to it. The morning I was checking out, there was no hot water. Fortunately, my wife had suggested that I shower before going to bed. The management worked hard to fix or make-up for everything. They were nice. They were sympathetic. They were as responsive as they could be. I have stayed in this hotel over 20 times, I won’t hesitate to stay there again.