- Start out with a checklist. Even a person with a great memory has multiple things to remember when planning for a trip. It's always best to be safe and refer to a list rather than running the risk of leaving something important behind. Here's a travel checklist I use each time I take a trip.
- Identify your suitcase. Your grandmother may wrap an oversized piece of yarn to her suitcase handle, but there are various attractive tags available to easily identify your luggage. Also, take a quick picture of your suitcase with your cellphone in the event your luggage is lost and you misplace your luggage ticket. This will serve as an additional way to identify your luggage with the airlines.
- Create separate travel bags. Purchase travel size toiletries and pack a bag with items designated for travel use only. Replenish as necessary and when it's time to pack, all you have to do is grab and go. This easy step saves time, effort and worry when you are traveling to a last minute business meeting.
- Designate a travel packing area a week prior to your flight. Choose a location in your home where you can collect travel items that you plan to take on the upcoming trip. A pashmina scarf that can be used as a soft blanket on the flight, a lightweight trench for rain and chilly weather, pajamas, clothing, ties, noise cancelling headphones, etc. I like to buy a second set of hair tools - one for home and one to keep in the suitcase. Pack a carry-on bag with necessary medicines and personal essentials in the event your luggage gets lost.
- Purchase magazines at the airport. While it's easy to grab a few magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, chances are you will end up reading them before your trip. By the time you are purchasing your bottled water and power bar at the airport, you will know which magazines you've already read and those you can entertain yourself with on the flight.
- Bring an extra set of reading glasses, cell charger, and ear buds. Regardless of how careful I am, I always lose at least one of these per trip. Packing a backup is always a good idea.
- Don't get caught without important phone numbers. I was recently delayed at an airport due to a fire in the control tower. There were no flights going in or out, counters were stacked, and the Admirals Club was overrun with weary and frustrated travelers. The airport hotlines were exploding with people attempting to reschedule their flights. Having all the airline information at my fingertips in my cell phone sped up the process of rescheduling. If you haven't already done so, download the app for the airline, and login with your credentials in advance.
- The name on the reservation and identification should match exactly. Your name may be Charles but you go by your middle name, David, and it can be both confusing and detrimental should you be questioned or challenged to get out of line to reconcile the discrepancy in names. This simple step can save you from missing a flight.
- For special requests, alert the airline in advance. If you need a wheelchair, have a child with a severe allergy or require a certain seat, it's best to let the airline know when you make the reservation in order for proper arrangements to be made. When asking for a special seat, earlier is always better as seat assignments can be requested on the airline website or app, and you run the risk of losing the seat to someone who is faster on the keypad.
- Fly nonstop whenever possible. A direct flight can land at other airports along the way, allowing some passengers to exit while others board the flight en route to a final destination. A nonstop flight does exactly what it says; starts at one location and doesn't land until it has reached the designated state or country.
For more of Diane's travel tips, you may also like Airplane Etiquette: Travel Manners Before You Fly. Visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.
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