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While traveling this past week for UndercoverWear, a co-worker commented that I was “so organized” from the time we arrived at the airport until I sat down in my seat.  As someone who has traveled for both business and pleasure since I was a kid, here are my top travel trips to make flights & airports more bearable.

Use Technology to Save Time – You can now do almost everything before you get to the airport.  Check-in on your flight, confirm seats, get on upgrade lists, check & pay for your baggage.  The more you do ahead of time, the less time you’ll spend at the airport in lines.  I also sign up for any “Text Alerts” from my airline.  On a number of occasions, those texts have kept me from leaving early for a delayed flight & I’d much rather spend an extra hour at home or in a hotel room over an airport.

Have Your Specific Travel Bag & Gear – I use the SAME two carry-ons for every trip I take – one rolling bag that gets stored in the overhead and one shoulder bag.  I also wear the SAME set of clothes for every trip I take (actually, I have a couple of combos for warm/cold weather and business/casual trips but they remain the same).  This is so I know where EVERYTHING goes every time I travel.  Passports, ID’s, wallet; go in the same pockets every time, so there’s no scrambling and searching when I finally get to the front of a line.

The place this saves me the most time is at the security checkpoint.  While others struggle with jackets, belts, watches, & cellphones, I put everything into their specific pockets of my bag.  After I’m through, I’m not scrambling to find all my possessions, trying to get dressed on a bench with my shoes in a plastic bin.

Know the Rules –  We get two carry-ons:  one goes above, one goes under the seat.  Accept it, because the Flight Crew won’t care if it’s a guitar, art portfolio or your grandmother’s ashes – if it doesn’t fit within the rules, it’s going under the plane.  I arrange my bags so I have what’s needed under the seat so I don’t have to open the overhead on my flight.  I don’t want to be the person getting up 37 times to get a granola bar or sweatshirt out of my suitcase in the overhead compartment.  Also, all the fighting and arguing in the world isn’t going to help you.

Eat & Drink When you Can – If you have time in an airport – stop and eat something and/or grab a drink.  Depending on the length of your trip, nothing makes a six-hour flight worse than realizing that you are starving at hour three and there’s no food service on the flight.

Along the same lines, when bringing food and drink on board, please, for the love of all things on this Earth – don’t be the person who brings a Super-Sized Value Meal on the plane,  a bowl of clam chowder or an sliced onion sandwich on onion bread with extra onions.  Look, we’re all crammed in together for a set amount of time – be considerate.  Grab a sandwich and chips.  Throw a few protein bars, candy bars or bags of chips in your bag if you want.  Grab a bottle of water or soda.  A plane is neither the time nor the place to have an aromatic, three-course buffet on your tray table.

Stay ConnectedTwitter, Instagram and Facebook have actually made travel more fun.  I post and check-in constantly from airports, cabs, lines and flights.  Nearly everyone can understand (and sometimes sympathize) with your travel joys and woes.  You’ll find that some of your best interactions online come from your travel-related pics and posts.

My favorite social-media travel story:  In the Pittsburgh airport, there is a statue of George Washington next to a statue of a Steelers player.  One day 3 years ago, while walking through that airport, I checked Facebook and saw that a good friend of mine from Boston had posted a picture of the statues – 15 minutes earlier.  I then posted a response with a caption about being 15 minutes late to catch him.  Since that day, he and I have found each other traveling through dozens of cities and airports within hours of each other – yet we never actually connect.  We’ve turned it into a weird game of “Catch Me If You Can” – where gets to be Leonardo DiCaprio while I’m Tom Hanks chasing him around the country.

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In this post-9/11 travel world, travel isn’t designed to be easy or fun anymore.  Anything we can do make it a better experience for everyone is worth the extra effort.  Happy Travels!

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