Top Expert Travel Tips

Reading time: 3,900 words, 9 to 15 minutes PLUS additional links

I lifted tons of travel advice from much of which applies to air travel but many of the ideas apply to travel by car, bus, train, ship, etc. Some of these tips you may already know but I’d bet there’s lots you didn’t or have forgotten. Also, you can subscribe and be notified of free, up-to-date content by clicking on the link above.

March 10, 2012


Part 1: Planning

A little preparation could save you time and expense

By: Editorial teamOn: 11 Nov 2011

Need to Know
• TripIt will revolutionise how you organise and access your itinerary
• Accessing money is different overseas – make sure you’re not caught out
• Planning your phone and data access can save you thousands of dollars

We’ve asked seasoned business travellers to share their hard-earned tips and tricks that make life on the road less stressful, more efficient and even rewarding.

1. TripIt organises all your information for you. Register for the free version, install the app on your phone and forward all of your confirmation receipts to It will make sense of all the important bits of information and present them to you chronologically in your phone. BeReady: Tripit

2. Hipmunk is a web site and now a mobile app that lets you efficiently compare and select exactly the right flight based on criteria important to you – like the amount of agony, arrival time, amount of stops, cost etc.

3. Fly the night before rather than the day of your first meeting. This gives you time to relax, arrive refreshed and provides a buffer for any delays.

4. If you must fly same day, consider taking the first flight – it’s the least likely to suffer from knock-on delays.

5. No more than one stopover. Your chance of missing a connection skyrockets every time you get on and off the plane.

6. Book the aisle and window seats if you’re traveling economy with someone else, leaving the middle seat empty. That seat is the most likely to remain empty, and if someone does get placed in the middle, chances are they’ll be happy to switch seats with one of you.

7. Medical travel insurance. Make sure you are adequately covered. International medical bills can easily get large enough to give you a heart attack.

8. Register your trip with your government. It means you can be reached in case of a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family emergency. You will also be updated with travel advisories, some of which may affect your insurance coverage.

9. Platinum credit cards often include travel insurance – some even cover up to US$3000 excess on rental cars. Make sure you buy the tickets on the card (to activate coverage). The annual fee is usually around US$250.

10. Keep a spare credit card for real emergencies – store it in another bag/pocket.

11. Ask your bank for a list of banks in your destination country that will accept your ATM card and don’t charge a foreign service fee – these can cost up to US$10 per transaction.

12. Bring at least US$100 cash – just in case the ATM machine doesn’t work.

13. Make copies of your passport and visa and electronically store them securely in your phone and email, and keep hard photocopies in a bag. It’s also a good idea to give your partner / spouse access.

14. PriorityPass Card gives you access to lounges at hundreds of airports worldwide. The next time you have a long layover, or a cancelled or delayed flight, head to the lounge for free Wi-Fi, convenient power plugs for your laptop, free food and drinks, magazines/newspapers and most importantly, relative peace and quiet. A US$400 annual membership gives you unlimited access to the lounges. BeReady: Priority Pass

15. Rent a MiFi Hotspot. Keep your smartphone, tablet and laptop connected without killing your phone bill. It costs around US$18 per day for unlimited access in 67 countries from XCOM.

16. AT&T International Data Packages are available if you live in the US. US$25 per month gets you 50MB in 100 countries and $1 per MB after that.

17. Phone compatibility can be an issue, particularly if you live in the US and have a CDMA phone. Most of the world now uses GSM, which allows interchangeable SIM cards.

18. Convert your important numbers (home, work, clients) on your phone to international number formats (I.E. +61 2 9555 5555) so your caller ID will work while you are overseas. No need to change it back either.

19. Redirect all calls to a voice to text service, so you can call back using a cheaper service. There’s also the added advantage of not getting calls in the middle of the night from telemarketers.

20. Unlock your phone. Ask your carrier so that you have the option of installing a local SIM card, saving you on roaming fees. Note: this may not be possible for many US phones.

21. Research the cheapest/most efficient form of transport from the airport into town. In Tokyo, a cab will cost you US$300 vs US$40 for the JR Narita Express train – which is also faster and has free Wi-Fi. In Singapore, however, a cab ride into the city usually costs less than US$20.

22. Look up local running clubsHash House Harriers are in almost every city, and are very welcoming.

23. Watch Up in the Air with George Clooney – it’s full of great travel advice, with romance to boot.

24. Backup all your mobile devices – in particular, information stored locally, like contacts, call and text histories, photos, etc. Increasingly, over-the-air backups are doing this automatically.

25. If your security policy allows, install a cloud storage service like Dropbox and make sure all your important files are being backed-up automatically. If something happens to your laptop, you’ll still have access to all your data.

26. Install our top five apps for your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or Blackberry. TripIt thankfully works across all platforms.

27. Get familiar with the layout of your destination city. Google maps is particularly useful – if you browse Google maps on your phone at home, they will remain cached when you arrive at your destination.

28. Read up on your destination, so you’ll feel more comfortable. Increasingly, BeReady will be providing business traveller guides to cities where Traders Hotels are located.

29. Take a photo (or screen grab) with your phone of your hotel address. This will come in very handy when you need to show a cab driver where to go, and is especially useful for addresses in foreign languages/characters. Otherwise, transcribe the address on a card you can keep in your wallet.

30. Try to learn some of the local language. People are always impressed if you can speak even the basic words. Google translate is an extremely useful website and mobile application. Be sure to cache them on your phone before you leave. Some suggested phrases: Hello, Do you speak English?, Thank you, Turn left/right, Stop here, How much?, I want this/that, No, I’m not interested.


Part 2: Packing

There’s an art to avoiding checking baggage

Need to Know
• Never check baggage – you can get away with a single carryon
• Pack half as much and bring twice the cash
• Bring more business cards than you think you need – especially for Asia

We’ve asked seasoned business travellers to share their hard-earned packing tips.

1. Never check baggage – unless you can afford a stressful wait at the carousel, which can range from a few minutes to an hour. Having no checked baggage will not only save you worrying that it might be lost, but will also increase the number of options you have when you need to standby for an earlier flight, or switch airline carriers due to a cancelled flight. You’ll also never have to worry about your luggage not making a tight connection.

2. Check the weather at your destination – pack accordingly.

3. Lay out all your items on a bed and then take half the stuff and double the money. You can almost always buy items at your destination.

4. Pack a pair of running shoes and two pairs of shorts, two pairs of socks and two singlets. Use them. Wash your gear in the sink immediately after a workout and they should be ready for the next day.

5. Black is your friend – it matches everything. One pair of black jeans, two black t-shirts, black socks and business attire will get your through a long trip.

6. One set of toiletries – have it packed and ready to go.

7. Always place the items that airport security wants to see in one of the outside pockets of your hand baggage.

8. Light pyjamas (or as Virgin calls it, a “flight suit”) can make a big difference to how much sleep you get and how you feel on arrival. These will keep you warm in the middle of the flight and have you feeling much fresher.

9. Bundle wrapping is one way to minimise creases …

Bundle Wrapping Photo credit:

10. Take photos of valuables (including your bags) for insurance purposes.

11. Business cards – budget approximately 5 cards per meeting if travelling to Asia. It’s also important to learn the exchange etiquette in your destination country.

12. Charge all your electronics before you get on the plane – best done the night before.

13. Include all the video cables you might need if presenting.

14. Minimise adapters by charging through the USB on your laptop.

15. US power plugs are the smallest and most used internationally (on planes, in hotel bathrooms, etc). Buy a US plug cable and then find the smallest adapter to the local standard – this will keep space needs to a minimum.

16. Clean house – once every three months, take everything out of your bags. Challenge everything. When was the last time you touched it or used it on a trip? Throw it away or leave it at home if you will not need it overseas

For more helpful travel hints, click the links below

Top Expert Travel Tips – Part 3: Pre-Flight & Airport – Book better meals, seats and avoid queues

Top Expert Travel Tips – Part 4: Onboard the plane – Minimizing jetlag and arriving fresh

Top Expert Travel Tips – Part 5: At Your Destination

Top 10 Worst Travel Mistakes to Avoid – Even seasoned road warriors make these mistakes – These will seem obvious but knowing about them will hopefully help you avoid learning from painful first hand experience.


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About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I'm back in stocks. I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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3 Responses to Top Expert Travel Tips

  1. Pingback: Air Travel: What You Need to Know About Your Checked Baggage

  2. Pingback: Top Expert Travel Tips | Gerold's Blog – Discount Travel Tips

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