Like the rest of the world, my travel schedule came to a grinding halt 18 months ago. Thanks to COVID, all my business trips were cancelled, as clients were no longer taking in-person meetings. Plus, my personal/vacation travel was curtailed heavily, although my partner Jack and I did sneak in quite a few short trips in 2020 and 2021.
During the past couple of months, I’ve noticed an easing of meeting restrictions, so this past week I took both a personal trip (to Las Vegas) and my first short business trip.
My overall feeling was: Geez, I need to find my travel rhythm again.
For those of you who used to travel regularly, you probably know what I mean. I used to keep my toiletries and make-up packed and ready to go, which made packing for a two or three-day trip super easy. On my first trip this past weekend, I found I needed to reload my toiletries case… darn it, I was out of the travel-size toothpaste, make-up remover, etc.
And selecting clothes for my two-day business trip took me much longer than usual. Then I remembered a travel tip I learned from a magazine: Just pick one color scheme for all business trips so everything is interchangeable. Ever wonder why so many people wear all black or all navy when they travel for business? Well, that’s why! Everything is mix and match, and you don’t have to pack as many clothes and shoes, allowing you to fit everything into a carry-on luggage.
And how about getting to the airport? I was very worried about how long it would take to get through security, even though I have TSA pre-check. So, I got to the airport two hours before my flight. Turns out, TSA has gotten fairly efficient, and it actually took much less time than pre-COVID. I found myself on all flights with tons of time before departure.
So, what to do with that extra hour or so? I read. That’s because I always save up all my reading materials for when I am taking flights. I get about 10-15 magazines and newspapers each month, both at home and at work, and I never seem to have the time to read them during my regular weekly schedule. So, I let them pile up.
When I’m getting ready for a trip, I put all my reading in a tote for my flights. I used to stuff them into a rolling briefcase, but it was terribly bulky and heavy. Now I actually put them in a burlap tote or reusable shopping bag. I know it may not appear too classy or business-like to get on a plane with a shopping bag stuffed with reading. However, on a two- or three-hour flight I can usually get through at least half of my reading, and I am thrilled to be able to pass them off to the flight attendants as trash (or many times the flight attendants enjoy reading the magazines).
I used to purchase food at the airport to eat during the flight so I was not dependent on in-flight food and beverage offerings. But, since resuming travel again, I have started bringing my own healthy snacks from home. Nuts and protein bars are my go-to. That means all I need to purchase at the airport is bottled water. I know that one of the ways to make sure you feel good during and after a flight is to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I’m not really good at remembering to bring a refillable water bottle (which would be the best environmental choice), so I frequently purchase a large bottle of water at my airport of departure.
This week one of my trips took me through the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. As you can see from the photo below, airline traffic and passenger levels are back to pre-pandemic levels. Most of my flights were 100% filled with no empty seats.
And although at first I was skeptical about the need to use the alcohol wipes that the airlines handed out when I boarded to wipe down my seatbelt, travel table, and all contact surfaces, I noticed that my seatmates used the wipes with no shame, so I have now started to do the same. And, of course, all passengers and flight attendants are wearing masks in flight. The threat of permanent expulsion from airlines for not masking has made it an easy choice.
So, as you get ready for your next (or first) trip, I hope you get your rhythm back right away. I’m happy the cover for my iPhone allows me to store my driver’s license and one credit card, so I don’t even need to get into my purse when I travel.
And in case you’re panicked about whether you’ll need to update your driver’s license with a REAL ID this year—don’t fret! We just got notice yesterday that REAL ID won’t be required until 2023. Hallelujah! I was even happier to learn that you don’t have to go to the DMV to get your REAL ID—you can go to AAA, and they will take care of it for you.
Phoenix Sky Harbor airport on Monday morning
PS I will be traveling on vacation for the next two weeks, so my next blogpost will be Friday, November 19th.