The most important philosophy in travel is “hang up, call back” — when you don’t get the help or answer you want the first time, whether over the phone or in person, start over with someone else. Be nice, be patient, and the next person may be more empowered or more sympathetic. I’ve been beating this drum for years.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten the award I wanted, some rule bent, or moved into a premium cabin because I’ve simply tried someone else – nicely – and didn’t argue.
But the most important tip in travel is far simpler. Bring extra underwear.
Copyright: topntp / 123RF Stock Photo
My packing routine is simple. The number of pairs of underwear I need on a trip is the number of days plus one. That’s especially true when traveling late in the day (later flights are more likely to be delayed, the accumulation of delays earlier in the day) and more likely to cancel (crew timing out), or traveling to or through someplace with bad weather.
In fact I pack an extra pair of underwear, and an extra pair of socks.
In general I pack light, I try to take as little with me as possible, there are many things I can buy (or have delivered) wherever I am. I don’t need everything I could conceivably need most places I go. There are exceptions, traveling to remote places, there aren’t many things I can just ‘pick up’ when I’m on a remote island in the Maldives. But that’s not most of my travel — I’m usually in DC, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver…
There’s even more that you can buy at the airport than you might think, I once went through security starting off a two week trip when I took off my shoes for screening and realized I was wearing two shoes that did not match. Fortunately directly behind the checkpoint at Washington National airport was a Johnston & Murphy shoe store.
At the same time there’s less than you can buy at the airport than you might think, I wish there were full pharmacies at major US airports like there are in some other places, plus grocery stores – I could pick up dinner conveniently on the way home – or maybe a dry cleaner I could use on my way in and out of town.
There are no underpants gnomes in the airport who have collected clean underwear to give you.
It’s not super convenient to buy underwear and socks when your flight cancels late in the evening and you wind up at an airport hotel with an early morning departure. You may not get much sleep, but you can have a shower and change into something reasonably fresh.