Confessions of a Road Warrior
When we reached out to our Board of Directors recently and asked them for their best travel secrets, we received no shortage of advice. As busy entrepreneurs who log hundreds of thousands of miles every year, they have acquired plenty of tricks and techniques that can only come from life on the road.
But one member in particular -- investor and bestselling author Phil Town, who travels the country regularly for speaking engagements -- provided so much knowledge that we chose to run an extended excerpt.
So, here are some of Phil's tips to help you survive your next trip -- and maybe even enjoy it. (Yes, it's still possible.)
Flying: "Never check luggage. I once broke my own rule because I was going to Italy, so I checked one bag. One. One time. It was the size of a house. It didn't matter. They lost it. I carry on a loose, single-fold single-suit bag. It keeps a suit and several shirts wrinkle free. No ironing or shower steam required. I also carry on a small roller bag for shoes, toiletries and computer. My iPhone doubles as a book reader, but I bring a paperback for those long sits on the tarmac when I can't use electronics. I'm 6-foot-2. I pay for first class so I can work comfortably and I avoid small regional jets for the same reason."
Hotels: "The difference between a good business hotel like Marriott or even Hampton Inn and something like The Four Seasons isn't much if you're working in your room. If, on the other hand, you need the hotel staff to help (valet, concierge, doormen, business office, impressive space) with arrangements and clients, paying up for the best hotel will make life a lot easier -- and it separates you from the herd of middle managers and salesmen and puts you with the CEOs. Quality is a tool. Use it when you need it."
Ground transportation: "In large cities, a good Town Car airport pickup and drop off is only a tad more expensive than a smelly taxi. In smaller cities, it can be worth it in wear and tear to hire a car and driver rather than renting and parking. If you rent a car, I think Hertz Gold is the fastest to get you on and off the road."
Travel wardrobe: "Two well-made black or dark blue suits, a few shirts and a pair of good jeans. Wear a suit coat with jeans to travel. Get good travel fabric for the suits. Do the twist test when looking for a travel suit. Ignore the horrified look on the salesman's face and twist the sleeve about five twists as hard as you can and let it go. If it's wrinkled, look for a different material. Shoes are tricky for the road. You must have a shoe for your suits and a shoe to work out in. But also a shoe to hang out in. You wear one pair to travel and carry one pair. Carrying two in a carry-on is too many. I usually choose a quality black loafer that can work with jeans and a suit. Not perfect for either, but hey, it's life on the road. I've gone 45 days with the same clothes, supplementing underwear by tossing it and buying new. Buy it at Ross and its cheaper than hotel laundry. (Try washing your underwear in the sink a few times and, believe me, buying new underwear starts to look really good.)"
Backup plan: "You'll lose stuff on the road. It's the way it is. So back it all up. Extra credit cards and cash. Computer files on a portable hard drive or on the Web. I carry a passport and a birth certificate as backup ID. Anything you must have, carry two of -- and don't put them all in the same bag."
Getting through an airport fast: "Get dropped off. Go first class and use the first class line through security. Package your liquids correctly and be ready when your turn comes to put your stuff through the machine. Don't wear beepy stuff through the metal detector. Don't be mean to the TSA staff. You'd get crazy from time to time too if you had their job and trust me, they can really slow you up if they feel like it. If you're late, kind people will take pity on your stupidity and let you in front if you ask nicely. But you owe them dinner. I did this once -- bought the guy dinner, signed a book and still stay in touch."
Travel experts: "Get some. They will save you when your flight cancels. Mine charge me $20 a change. Best money I ever spend. You can duplicate their effort online, if you can get online and if online covers every possible airline, which it does not. Real travel people beat computers every time. And when your Town Car isn't there and its midnight and the taxi stand is closed, you have someone who'll fix it."