We have been delivering training sessions for almost 25 years now. With dozens of custom projects every year and hundreds of sessions, Paradigm Learning employees, consultants, and facilitators have logged millions of airline miles. They’ve visited over 60 countries, eaten countless continental breakfasts, experienced airport delays, dealt with awful weather, slept in almost every hotel chain, sweet-talked the airlines – you name it.
We figured it’s about time to collect and capture the travel dos and don’ts in one place so that you can learn from us.
Most respondents recommend TSA Pre✓® to save time. You never know when the extra 15-30 minutes will be the difference that allows you to make your flight.
This was our second most popular answer. When practical and cost-effective, fly with the same airline as much as possible. Having status allows you to get the best care when mechanical or weather issues arise and increase the chances of you making it to your destination. This applies to hotel chains as well. Most companies allow you to keep your miles and nights to use personally – another great perk (Paradigm does!).
Sara Hopkins, one of our VPs, suggests packing scarves that match your outfits for two reasons 1) to keep you warmer if you are colder than anticipated and 2) to cover up stains if you have to head to a meeting after a messy lunch. She also suggests always carrying a tide pen. In this same vein, bring different shoes for every day of a conference. You’ll only think you have the most comfortable shoes in the world until you try to wear them for a second 12-hour day. Dressing nicely for travel usually helps in a bind; gate agents are more likely to accommodate requests from people in business suits rather than tracksuits.
Sara suggests not putting anything on the floor of the hotel room. Use the luggage rack and wear flip-flops or sneakers. Similarly, wash your hands after touching light switches and the remote. Same goes for airport bins, tray tables, seatbelts, and window shades. Pro tip: bring some hand sanitizer and wipes.
Sandy, a Sales Director, suggests bringing your own E-Z pass (if it’s also usable where you’re traveling). You can attach it to the dash of the rental car with a Command Strip. The E-Z pass transaction report tracks charges and provides a receipt for easy expense reporting. This means no more worrying whether you have cash on hand or keeping track of all the little receipts.
This is another great tip from Sandy. She once was waiting at a valet stand for a white Jetta – forgetting that her rental car happened to be a black Hyundai – oops! This confusion would have been avoided if she had taken the picture. Likewise, taking a picture of your parking space will save you time looking for your car.
Put the address of every hotel and client meeting into your phone’s calendar. You should also get cell phone numbers of the folks you’ll be meeting with. I take this one step further and create an itinerary with flight information, hotel address and phone, client addresses and phones, confirmation numbers, rental car stuff, etc. If you do this and print it out, you’ll have an electronic copy and a hard copy (just in case!).
Mark, a senior facilitator with almost 20 years at Paradigm, says to bring snacks, especially if you have a connection. You never know when your flight will be delayed, and your connection could end up consisting of a sprint to the next gate. I would add that if you drink tea, bring some tea bags. Most coffee shops will give you hot water, which is much cheaper than buying tea every time.
In some cases, getting a rental car makes the most sense. Jamie, our most senior facilitator, wants everyone to know that opting for a rideshare can save both time and money in certain situations.
Jamie also reminded me that getting to the airport 2 hours ahead for domestic travel is ideal and to arrive 3 hours prior to an international flight. He would know – he’s been to 68 countries.
Make sure the clock in the hotel room doesn’t have an alarm set by the previous guest. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than having your alarm set for 6 am and waking up unexpectedly at 5. You should also set your phone alarm and ask for a wake-up call. Have you ever THOUGHT you plugged your phone in and forgot? Or set the alarm for pm instead of am? If you have a wake-up call scheduled with the hotel, you won’t miss your meeting or flight even if your phone alarm isn’t set properly.
If you’re going to be using your own laptop to present, make sure you have adapters for multiple connections. I also suggest having an extra set of batteries for your clicker. And make sure you bring chargers for everything, including your headset if you are planning to take calls on the road.
If you know facilitator Chris Scheeren, it’s no surprise this one came from him. Traveling as much as these facilitators do, there are going to be delays and inconveniences. You often get a heads-up email or text that an airline is having route delays, cancellations, etc. As soon as you get a notice like that, start planning for the worst-case scenario – perhaps a different flight to the same location or one to somewhere near the destination. Chris is even known to secure a rental car and prepare for a long drive. By jumping on a solution as early as possible, things usually work out.
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