Q: Steve, I know that you travel a lot, so I was wondering if you had any tips to make my business travel easier because it can really be a drag. The one thing I know is that I like to have an aisle seat, but that is not exactly an insider tip. Do you have any? — Zoe
A: I think that business travel gets a bad rap these days. People love to lament about how difficult it is to travel, but I actually think the opposite is true. Between mobile technology, the comfort and speed of airlines, and other advances, I find it far easier and more affordable to travel than even a decade ago.
Now, is it true that we have to wait in longer lines at airport security? Of course. But so what? That's the price we have to pay fly in safer skies, and I think it is actually a small price to pay.
Here's an example of how I think travel is vastly improved today: Soon I'm going to Scotland with my family to a wedding. Not so long ago, to plan this trip would've required us to go to a travel agent, to secure our flights and hotels. We would have then gone on the trip, hoping that the travel agent knew what he or she was doing.
But today? Today we go online, choose flights from a variety of options, check out the hotel on Trip Advisor, and then decide on the best package at the best price. And even better, while we fly, we have a variety of options for how to use our time:
• We can choose the movies of our choice from the screen of our choice
• Or play music on a smartphone
• Or read on an iPad (or a real book!)
• Or, in my case, work on my laptop.
The big difference really is about choice. Being able to choose from many flights and carriers, being able to choose what to watch and do while on board, and being free to be productive (or not) is a revolutionary change for the better in my book.
Here are a few other things that can also improve your travel experience:
Bring extra batteries: On very long travel days, an extra laptop battery, while not inexpensive, can prove to be essential.
But that is not my real tip. My real tip is: Did you know that you can bring along an extra battery for your smartphone or iPhone? Head out to your local electronics store and buy an external backup battery for your phone, and never run out of juice on a cross-country flight again.
Always get a good seat: I am not sure whether it was the time I was sitting in the middle seat between two very large people, or the time that a guy knocked his glass of red wine on my khakis and blamed me, but getting a good seat has become a high priority in my travel life.
But how do you do that if you book late?
Here's a great tip: Many airlines unlock exit row seats 24 hours before a flight, so if you check in exactly 24 hours ahead of time, you can get one of these just-released seats.
App up: Needless to say, there are no shortages of great apps that can make your travel life much easier:
• There are apps like FlightTrack, and FlightStatus that allow you to easily check for flight delays
• TripIt is a cool app that helps you organize trip details - flights, hotel reservations, car rentals, and so on - into one master online itinerary — even if arrangements are booked at different travel sites (Note: I do some work with the company that own TripIt, Concur)
• HotelTonight helps you get same day, discount hotel rooms