I love air travel. I love the commotion of an airport and its city-like infrastructure and society, pondering the life story of my fellow passengers, and the planes themselves as marvels of human innovation. And at least some of my spare time is spent thinking about the aviation sector, whether its looking for opportunities to earn miles on FlyerTalk or visiting Boeing’s assembly factory in Everett, Washington.
As a GovEx Senior Implementation Advisor, one of my jobs is to lead workshops with city halls across the country to identify opportunities to improve the use of data and evidence in policy, operational, and management decisions to drive better outcomes for residents. While we spend a lot of time on the phone, there is sometimes no substitute for a face-to-face meeting and when those situations arise, we hit the road.
To celebrate GovEx’s one year birthday, I compiled a list of the flights I have taken during the past year to meet with cities and turned it into an infographic. It adds up to quite a bit! Thirty-three flights totaling more than 60,000 miles and almost six days in the air to be exact.
While my travel might be a bit heavier than my colleagues, owning to my predilection for the west coast, mountains, and the southwest, it’s safe to conclude that most of the Senior Implementation Advisors and Analysts with GovEx have similar tallies.
Although I enjoy traveling, that is not to say that I don’t get frustrated now and then. Here are a few things that I have started doing over the past year to minimize the annoying parts of travel and maximize the fun bits:
- TSAPre = consistency. TSAPre has saved me from missing a flight more than once. There’s no substitute for consistency when trying to minimize the stress of travel and TSAPre is the ticket to quick security check-ins. I have also come to really appreciate not having to take off my shoes or take out my laptop.
- Packing as few bags as possible. I pack my suit in my TravelPro 20” carry-on to avoid checking any bags. I still haven’t found a suit bag that gets my cargo to its destination without wrinkles, so I budget time at the hotel to iron. Side note: a 22” roller bag fits in most airplanes flown in the U.S. but a 20” is a safer choice for domestic and international travel. When the packing space gets tight, I ditch my messenger bag for a backpack as a second carry-on item and store my laptop in a sleeve.
- A comfortable hoodie over dressing to impress. The jury is out on how we should dress when we fly and, while I try to look presentable, I’m more interested in comfort. There are some all-in-one products out there, but I stick with a trusted fleece with a hood. The hood is nice when you just want to tune out the world.
- Noise-cancelling headphones are a no brainer. My wife bought me a pair a couple years ago and I bring them on every flight I take. For one thing, I’d like to maintain my hearing and it gets pretty loud on a plane. Headphones can also be useful for signaling to your seatmates that you need to focus on work or getting some rest.
- A full water bottle. I get dehydrated on planes and those little cups of water they give you as part of the service don’t do the trick for me. I bring my liter water bottle with me on every trip. I’ve gotten busted at the security checkpoint more than once for having some water still in there, but the occasional forgetful hassle is worth it to me to step off the plane feeling alert and healthy.
- Walking around before, after, and during the flight. There is plenty of research out there telling us to move around when traveling to prevent blood clots and other ailments. I try to walk around my departing and arriving airports a bit to people watch, but also to do what I can to keep the blood flowing. I figure that you never know when you’re going to be able to move around on the flight.
There are a few travel hacks that I still want to unlock, for example packing lunches and dinners for myself so I can avoid airport food, but this is where things stand for me after one year. What are your must-haves and must-dos when traveling?