I am an avid traveler. When I am asked what type of travel I like, I have trouble answering because the experience of travel is something that I live for. I am fortunate to have a wife of 21 years who loves to travel as much as I do. I am more fortunate that we both really enjoy experiencing different types of travel and as a result, are very much aligned to how we spend our time together.
The key to a successful trip is in the planning. It is important to take the stress out of traveling so that you can truly enjoy the experience.
Generally, once you have arrived at your destination, travel becomes easier. You may be staying in a hotel where your bedding is done for you, and the room is cleaned for you. You generally do not have to cook your own food or clean the dishes afterwards. Getting to the destination, and then returning home becomes the larger challenge. Here are 5 very useful tips to prepare for your travel:
1. Check-in online with the airline in advance.
Most airlines will allow you to check in 24 hours in advance of the flight. You do this from your PC or Smartphone, and can print the boarding pass or have it electronically sent to your Smartphone. I am so committed to doing this, I set an alarm reminder in my phone to remind me when I am within 24 hours of the flight. This reduces time at the airport, reduces your time in line and it often allows you to pick the best seats available at your price point. Check out Air Canada’s newest online check-in: http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/traveller/checkin/
2. Study the area you are going to prior to your trip.
It is fun and it even makes it feel like you are starting your vacation early. There are some great sites to help you do this. In a recent 3-day trip to New York City, I was able to check out when the NY Rangers were playing, book tickets in advance, review what theatres we wanted to go and see and look up some new restaurants to go to. As a result, we arrived in NY at 4pm, had our tickets for the following night’s game by 5pm, had check-in at the hotel and arrived at the restaurant by 6pm and were in the theatre to see Newsies http://www.broadway.com/shows/newsies/ (an outstanding production) by 8pm. Our first night in New York felt like a day and a half. Check out the local weather at http://www.wunderground.com/
Check out, as an example, the top 40 FREE things to do in NYC (there are similar sites for all major cities). http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/new-york-city/travel-tips-and-articles/76493
3. Pack light, healthy food for the travel.
Eating airline or airport food is not often fun, but it is also expensive and can make you feel sluggish upon your arrival. While you are limited in packing any fluids to take on an airline, pack some fruit, pre-chopped veggies, cheese cubes, some breath mints / sugarless gum or mouth wash and some cashews or peanuts. While some of this has more nutritional value than others, ensuring you have something that will stop you from craving the greasy pizza that costs $8 in the airport is key.
4. Arrange for your travel to / from the airport.
I now use our Driverseat service exclusively for my airport travel. It is something that has truly impacted my travel and each and every time I use the service, I appreciate having it. It is so simple, a Coachman arrives at my house at the pre-determined time, then proceeds to drivemy family and me to the airport, dropping us off at the terminal door. They then return my vehicle to my driveway. At the end of my trip, they show up at the terminal door and drive us home. How civilized. You can check out this service at http://www.driverseatcanada.com/view.php?public/Services/Airport_Service
If you don’t have a Driverseat franchise in your community yet, your options are limited to traditional parking (expensive), off-site parking (less convenient but you can save some money), an airport shuttle, a limousine or car service or a park and fly package at a local airport hotel.
5. Ask for an upgrade.
Getting bumped to Business Class or First Class on a flight is no longer something that happens in the course of a day. However, you can get upgraded to a “premium” seat if they haven’t been purchased. These include emergency exits, bulkhead seats and other seats with better legroom. Simply ask the question and you will be surprised at how often you can get an upgrade. When you arrive at the hotel, ask about the room and ask what else they have available. Treat the hotel clerk right, be friendly and sincere, and more often than not you will find yourself in an upgraded room at no charge. I experience this often, with one very memorable time in Luxembourg when traveling Europe with my family. I was upgraded to the Presidential Suite which was the entire 6th floor of the hotel. We had opening skylights, marble counter tops and a gourmet kitchen. The same can happen with your rental car and your selected seat at a key restaurant.
Planning for your vacation can be part of the experience. Use free online sources to research your location.
Following these tips can make that memorable vacation just that much more so. Taking the time to identify where you can save money, improve the logistics of your travel and minimize your stress will ensure you enjoy your time away just that much more.
Brian Bazely is co-founder of Driverseat, a vehicle transportation company, specializing in Designated Driving, Airport Drop-off, Elderly Accompaniment and Special Event Transportation. www.driverseatcanada.com