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By Eric Harlan
Published: November 15, 2011
Updated: November 15, 2011
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10 ways to make travel suck less!

Like a teenaged girl self-enthralled by the drama that is the high school rumor mill I feed off of turbulence.† Ok that might be a bit over dramatic and letís be honest, I donít really know much about the girlsí perspective of high school rumors (yetÖsigh) but the truth is, other than my distain for the TSA, I love pretty much everything about traveling by air. †

I can trace most of it back to a single trip that honestly changed my entire perspective on many things in life. But of those things is the act of traveling, the journey as well as the destination.†† This is a two part post to both share some perspective as well as let some in on the ART of traveling well in terms of must haves.

The truth of it is that until you see the entire journey as the destination youíll never enjoy traveling. Look I even have a shirt that proves it!

Fact: Actual turbulence puts me to sleep.† Truth be told, I was a terrible baby when it came to sleeping. My parents would put me in the car seat and drive me around until I feel asleep. To this day I still have a hard time staying awake if

Iím not driving a car.† Thereís something about the frequency of the shaking that puts me right out. Often times as the plane is pulling out of the gate and starting the engines Iím already drifting off.

I just recently came off a three country trip of Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, China) in which I did over 8 days including travel time.† When I was talking about this to a non-traveling friend, he looked at me like I was completely insane. He would start to question the 30 hours in travel time, the getting to and from airports, scheduling two separate flight bookings for the single long trip, money conversation rates, etc etc.† It was obvious his passions lied elsewhere. †

He really lost it when I explained my idea of ďShotgun TravelĒ. See the idea is that you case your net wide (like a shotgun shot) see what you hit and what you like even if for a short time.† After you find out what you really like you go back and spend more time there.† The theory is that wouldnít it really stink to go somewhere for 2-3 weeks and hate it, but feel stuck because you paid a ton of money and took off a bunch of time to go there?† It has worked great for me for quite some time.† I know exactly where I want to go back to and exactly where I could care less to travel to again.

Iíve hit 25 (new) countries in 3 years. My goal has always been to do at least one country a year. Obviously Iím a bit ahead of that curve. In that time Iíve met the most amazing people, ate the most amazing food and had the best time I ever could have had.† The point comes down to you have to look forward to the whole process. If not for the initial first step, the trip doesnít start.

Many people lament traveling because of all the hassle it entails.† Iím here to tell you that if done right, there isnít much hassle at all. There will always be a certain level of comfortability in travel the more you do it, the more you become to expect of the process. But if you donít travel often or you want to be as stress free as possible, Iím here to give you a check list of the correct mentality and the items that are an absolute necessity when I travel.† Now keep in mind, this list is different for pretty much everyone. My good friend Michael Noel can travel DAYS with simply a leather messenger bag that includes his DSLR.† So keep in mind you should tweak this list based on you.

Kit up:

1)†† †In-Ear head phones
Crying children fade away to a soft haze, that snoring row mate of yours will only bother everyone else. I personally really like skull candy headphones. Theyíre cheap, they work well and are pretty small.

2)†† †Eye Mask
Whether you scam from a flight attendant, score some on an international flight or go buy a set, these are absolutely invaluable.

3)†† †A few good bags
I say few because unlike my good pal Michael, I think you need a bag for specific circumstances. I have 4 I rotate between. I have a normal carry on sized suitcase as well as a smaller version of it that I usually use for clothing.

Additionally I have two computer bags I rotate between. The first one is my MobileEdge bag. Which is my bag when I need to be very mobile and cant be dragging a bag around behind me. Great for places like NYC.

My second bag is a modified version of the Targus Checkpoint bag this thing is great for when I donít need to be as mobile and I donít need to carry my stuff on my back. It can also serve as a 3-4 day carry on clothes bag. It did suck in terms of storage so I here are my modifications (added pockets and a back strap) HERE.

4)†† †Electric outlet extender
Ever find yourself roaming around the gate area of a flight looking for an outlet to charge your laptop or phone before that long flight, only to find that every single one is taken. You donít have to worry about that if you have an extender.† All you have to do is let others do the work of finding them, then ask if you can add the plug to get some juice.

5)†† †MEDIC!
I carry a very small container of Excedrine, Sinus/cold meds, Antacids, etc. Reasons are obvious.


Methods of Madness:

1)†† †Combat Jet lag
People often look at me funny when I tell them I donít get jet lagged anymore.† A lot of that comes from just traveling so much. But there are two things you can do to not be as affected by it if you donít fly often

First: when you fly to a new time zone, NEVER and I mean NEVER EVER think about what time it is back home.†† If you need to call your spouse or kids at a specific time, all you need to do is figure out what time that is in the time zone youíre in, once you do that never look back.† The time is, the time where

you are period.

The second and most important is sleep extension or deprivation depending on which direction in time youíre going. But it breaks down to pretty much this.† If you fly at 8:00am Hong Kong time. And you know that it is 8:00pm where you are going then you need to make yourself as tired as you possibly can and sleep on that initial flight. Even though its 8am where you are, you need to put yourself on the time line of where youíre going as fast as possible. If that means staying up all night in Hong Kong and exploring, then do that.

The flip side is to stay awake as long as you can if you are going the other direction. Example: if you are in San Diego and it is 9am there and you know that the time you arrive in London is 11pm then you need to force yourself to stay awake the entire time so that when you land you will be dead tired and will sleep like a log even if that means staying awake for 30 straight hours.

This seems drastic but it usually cuts my jet lag time down to 0-1 days max. Trust me it works.

Just when you think you packed as little as you possibly can remove two more outfits.† Think of it this way, a travel pack of Tide laundry detergent weighs a WHOLE lot less than 2 pair of jeans, shirts and socks.† There is one exception on this for me. Boxers. I pack underwear for each day Iím going someplace. Some of it is superstition, some of it is laziness.

Never check a bag EVER. There is no reason to do this. If you canít fit what you need to take in your backpack and carry-on bag you shouldnít be taking it anyway. And ladies I donít want to hear that you canít do it because youíre a girl. My wife is the queen of light packing. This is the same woman who took 12 pairs of shoes with us on our honeymoon. It can be done.

Nothing worse than dragging a full sized suit case down a cobble street in Europe to the train station, only to find no one in Europe packs as much as the silly American so there is no room on the train for that bag anyway. I once traveled for 10 days in Europe with just this bag. Including a 15 inch laptop!

Once you do decide to only pack the necessities, you will soon find yourself trying to figure out how to fit your clothes in a bag.† The military girl I married taught me a very valuable lesson in rolling your clothes. Roll everything from underwear to suits. Yes Iíve even rolled suits. It can be done with no wrinkles. And if it does have a few wrinkles its nothing hanging up in a steaming bathroom canít fix.

Hereís a photo of my suitcase packed for 12 days. The trip included temperature swings from 95 degrees to 45 degrees fahrenheit. (probably TMI but oh well)

4)†† †Itís all about status
When you are traveling for business, itís not about the mileage you accrue. Yes it impacts your ability to travel outside of work but the truth of the matter is that your status is what you want to focus on. The mileage will come as a result of acquiring status on your preferred airline. Being seated in first class isnít about looking at the poor souls walk by you to coach like lambs to the slaughter; itís about the ability to sleep.† Stay loyal to your rewards program, as a hint being loyal to a rewards program doesnít mean you have to be loyal to only one chain of hotels or airlines.

5)†† †Dress the part
I canít tell you how many priority security lines; zone 1 boarding, sky lounges, priority ticket lines and upgrades Iíve walked through without having the proper status level.† If you walk and talk with confidence even if you donít belong no one will notice. Iíve done it plenty of times in a t-shirt and shorts as well. Although I would advise you to be dressed nice, it usually helps.† Want that upgrade? Just ask but donít stutter when you do it.† Some airlines (except United, because united sucks) are religiously loyal to their loyal customer base. Even if you have the lowest status available you can still get all the perks as long as youíre confident, dress decent and ask.


Well there you have it, those are my 10. Everyone travels differently so I would LOVE (no seriously love) to hear your methods.† Any new information you provide might help us all travel better.† Lets face it, I wont be able to take a 5 day trip out of a messenger bag, but you'll never see me with 12 pairs of shoes packed either!







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