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My Top 10 Travel Hacks to Bring You #UpToSpeed

By Debbie Millman

I have been on the road so much this past year; I traveled to Pakistan and India, three cities in China, and many towns in the United States. Everywhere I went I took in as much of the local landscape as I could— from the gorgeous, snow-capped mountains of Idaho to the low, grey sky of Utah.

In Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but admire the kitsch signage that is an inherent part of the landscape, such as the three-dimensional giant signs for donut shops in the shape of actual donuts and the handmade signs for rug companies, foam companies, nail shops and sandwich shops.

These were, of course, juxtaposed with media properties, phone companies, car dealerships and banks. All possessing their own unique personalities. But no matter what state or city I was in, no matter where we are in the world, I believe there are actually two worlds—that of the professional road warrior and that of the non-professional traveler.

I have been a road warrior in planes, trains and automobiles for decades now.

I’ve been to just about every state in the U.S. and all through Europe and Canada. I’m also slowly sojourning through the Middle East and Asia, and hope to make serious headway in South America later this year.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided that one of the big goals of this life of mine is to see as much of the world as possible. I’ve even purchased a large world map to pin every destination I’ve frequented thus far. At first, I was certain I’d feel enormous pride sticking all the colorful pins into all the places on the map I’d visited. But instead, I felt silly and small as I realized all the locations I hadn’t been to! How lucky am I that I still have time to investigate and explore the many destinations around the globe I’ve yet to see and experience?

These days, most of my travel is a combination of business and personal. While both are wonderful in their own ways, I’ve honed my Top 10 Travel Hacks for Road Warriors (and non-Road Warriors alike) over the years that help make the business travel a bit more bearable and the personal travel even better. I hope they are helpful to you as well!

My Top 10 Travel Hacks to Bring You #UpToSpeed:

  • Always keep a wheelie bag half packed. It should include the following: all your toiletries, a small hair brush, power cords, laptop connectors, plug converters, wardrobe bag, travel pajamas, flat slippers, vitamins, ear plugs, a small bottle of analgesics for those travel headaches and so forth. This way, when you are getting ready for a trip, you only need to pack your clothes!

  • Before packing your wheelie, stack all your clothes flatly and neatly on a few, thin wire hangers in your wardrobe bag. When completed, close and roll the bag as tightly as possible to eliminate all the air and thenput it in your wheelie. You will be AMAZED at how much room you save and how easy it will be to unpack and hang. Plus, this technique prevents most wrinkling!

  • NO MATTER WHAT, get TSA pre-check! This allows you to avoid taking your shoes off, you can keep your laptop in your bag and you don’t have to remove your toiletries from your wheelie! It saves SO much time and makes traveling through an airport SO much easier. Plus! Shorter security lines!!!

  • When checking into a hotel, always ask if your room is near either the ice machine or the elevator. If it is, then ask for your room to be moved. The last thing you need when you travel is to have a room near the noisiest parts of the floor. Also, avoid rooms that have an adjoining room. Even though the door between the rooms is locked, noise can carry through the door draft and make life miserable.

  • Get a hotspot for your smartphone so you don’t ever need to pay for internet service in the airport or your hotel room. AND make sure you have unlimited data on your phone plan, so you don’t get charged for extra data!

  • ALWAYS pack an extra set of earbuds in your smaller carry-on bag in case you leave your favorite set in the pocket of the coat you left at home or they are in your wheelie in the overhead compartment (and you have a window seat).

  • Try to keep a few high-protein, shelf-stable snacks in your carry-on bag for those inevitable hunger emergencies while sitting on the tarmac or in-air landing delays. This will make all the difference in the world when there’s nothing to eat and you are starving!

  • Always have a back-up movie ready to watch and an e-book ready on your device in case the in-flight entertainment isn’t working, and you don’t feel like working, either!

  • Always pack a light, long jersey scarf in your carry-on. If the plane cabin gets too chilly, having your neck warm makes a surprisingly big difference.

  • Pack a few small pictures of your loved ones in light, flat, plastic frames. Having them nearby makes a big difference when you are feeling homesick.

I hope these hacks are helpful and your trips are easy and wonderful. Bon Voyage!

This post was created in collaboration with National Car Rental, which provides a premium, expedited car rental experience to road warriors around the world. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of National Car Rental.

All proceeds for this work are being donated to the Design Matters Institute, which funds scholarships for students at the School of Visual Arts.

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