Never let go of anything you need – & other travel advice

I travel A LOT for business. This occurred to me today as I realized I knew where to find an outlet in the one restaurant in the Grand Forks International Airport. (It is international because the have a couple of flights two and from Canada, which is about 80 miles due north and it is a restaurant because it serves wine. I’m not complaining. I have wine and power, which is more than I can say in a lot of airports.)

If you travel, there are basically two kinds of problems you can have:

  • Not having the stuff you need.
  • Not having the time you need.

So here, from massive experience, are a few things I have learned in (almost) 55 years.

If you NEED to have it when you get there, never let it out of your sight.

I mean this most literally, both the word “need” and the phrase “never let it out of your sight”.

What is is that, if you arrived at your destination and found you did not have it, your first response would be:

I am so screwed!

For example, I am legally blind without my contacts or glasses. So I need an EXTRA pair of contacts or a pair of glasses in case the pair I am wearing gets lost or ruined. I cannot see, drive or work without them and they are at the strength that I guarantee you that no one is going to have them in stock.

Any data on my laptop has been stripped of personally identifying information, but still, there is a lot of work on there, plus I need it to work wherever I land. I can’t always count on being able to connect to the Internet and dropbox.com has turned out to be a great disappointment in terms of reliability.

If I bring a projector with me, it’s because I’m not sure that where I’m going will have one and I need to do a presentation. Again, I’m not letting go of it.

I can probably buy clothes wherever I’m going and if not, I can wash what I’m wearing in the hotel and dry it with the blow dryer. I have pulled clothes out of my carry-on and replaced them with a projector when I was required to check my luggage plane-side because I was flying in a six-seat puddle-jumper to some place. Good thing I did, too, because somehow my bag didn’t make it on that plane. The only time I let go of anything I MUST have is when I go through security and I’m legally required to do so. My list:

  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Debit Card
  • Identification (drivers license or passport)
  • Laptop
  • Spare contacts or glasses
  • Projector (depending on location and purpose of visit)
  • Cell phone

If you decide what you absolutely must have and keep hold of that small subset of stuff, any problems you have may be inconvenient but nothing will rise to the level of a catastrophe.

Give yourself enough time and then add time.

I’m continually amazed by people who leave for the airport in time “if everything goes as planned”. Nothing ever goes as planned. I usually check my flight date and times the week before I leave and then forget (I travel a lot and it’s easy to get the times mixed up). I check again the night before and again a few hours before. I absolutely positively refuse to fly early in the morning because I know myself and I know damn well I am going to sleep until the last possible minute. If I can’t fly after 10 am then I’m coming in the night before on a red-eye. If your business requires me to take a 6 a.m. flight then we’re not doing business, sorry. (I think that should be another post – don’t work for an asshole.)

If you are going to LAX assume that there will be traffic any time of the day or night. If you’re flying Southwest out of terminal 1 in LAX – well, just don’t, but if some fate forces you to do so, give yourself an extra hour. Unless you KNOW that something will not be an obstacle – for example, it is a safe bet you won’t run into a traffic jam heading to the Grand Forks airport on Saturday afternoon – assume it will be and plan accordingly.

So what if everything DOES happen to go right and you get there an hour and a half early? If that’s the worst that could happen, find something to do – read a magazine, watch CNN, call your mother. I would say always have work with you that you can do – that’s what I do but I’m not sure it’s a good thing and is perhaps something that I should UNlearn after (almost) 55 years, but that’s a subject for another day.



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