I Wanna Be Like George Clooney – Traveling Productively

I recently found myself on the C Concourse at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas (LAS) waiting to board a flight to Phoenix (PHX).  Thousands of my fellow travelers milled about getting some lunch, playing the slots, or grabbing a magazine to read on their flight.  Accompanying them was all manner of luggage – roll-aboards, shoulder bags, backpacks, purses, laptop cases, shopping bags, etc.

Because it was LAS, most of these people were tourists, but there were a fair number of business travelers, identifiable both by their behaviors and dress.  Many of the business travelers sported logo-wear having just left one convention or another.  Moreover, though the casual traveler now employs many of the same electronic devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones), the business traveler’s demeanor is generally more focused and intense – trying to get that last e-mail sent before the boarding call starts.

Life Imitates Art

Watching these business travelers put me in mind of Up in the Air, the movie starring George Clooney as a hardened road warrior who travels the country as a corporate hatchet man.  One of the great scenes in the movie occurs when Clooney’s character assists his new side-kick navigate air travel for the first time.  Iconic one-liners drip from the script in this short scene, but, more to the point, it caused me to think of all the productivity tools and behaviors I employ while traveling in my speaking and training business.

Sitting in LAS, I started to jot down a list these Tools of the Road and Rules of the Road.  Then it struck me!  My colleagues in the speaking industry – members of the National Speakers Association – could probably school me (and you) in their tips and tricks of the travel trade.  So, I posted a request on the NSA group page on LinkedIn asking them to share their various nuggets of wisdom in exchange for attribution for their contribution. 

What follows below is a list of all the suggestions I received from my post (with some editing for space reasons).  Please feel free to add your own via the comments box at the bottom!

Rules of the Road

To open the LinkedIn post, I listed a Rule of the Road and a Tool of the Road that I found valuable.  That suggestion is listed first, followed by all the other Rules of Road that were posted, along with the name and contact information for the person who provided the suggestion:

  1. Wear slip-on shoes to expedite getting through security both on the front and back end of the process. Paul Burton, Productivity Guru. (Hey, I get attribution too!)
  2. Maintain a regular exercise program and eat right.  It will keep your stamina/energy level up.  Also, NO alcohol. What happens on the road, ends up on Facebook.  Dayna Steele, Motivational Speaker – Success.
  3. Dress well. You will be treated with more respect and with more favor by everyone along the way. This can make a significant difference when complications arise while traveling. Randall Munson, Keynote Speaker – Creativity.
  4. Pack Light – NEVER check your luggage. Whether I’m gone for 2 days or 2 months, I always take the same two pieces: my briefcase (which can get very heavy) & my roll-aboard.   Also, I try NOT to work on the plane – give yourself a break.  As for exercise – running between gates at airports does it for me.  Susan Luke-Evans, Corporate Mytholgist.
  5. Always arrive on site the day before to reduce your stress and your client’s stress, as well as to check setup while it’s still easy to make changes.  Paul Burton, Productivity Guru. (I posted a second round of tips to keep the conversation going!)
  6. Make your laptop CONSPICUOUS,  Randall Munson, Keynote Speaker – Creativity.  (Randall went on to relate a harrowing story about having his laptop stolen while going through TSA.  A business traveler’s nightmare!)
  7. Wear a professional outfit to look the part as you travel and save space in your roll-aboard – which you don’t check. Never arrive for a speech the same day, as that is when your plane will have mechanical problems and you won’t get there on time. Learn to pack but also know how to iron! Wear only slip on shoes for flying days or change on your way to the airport. Gail Busman Goodmand, Direct Sales Trainer.
  8. I always keep a copy of cards – insurance, credit cards, driver’s license, passport info, etc. and so does anyone I travel with. I have theirs also. I always travel with my passport as an added backup of info at airports in case my driver’s license gets lost in a messy purse (well, that happened only once). Anita Johnston, Court Reporter Trainer.
  9. I ALWAYS make time to take a walk in the cities I am in so I leave with a feeling that I had a little vacation, even though it may have been a busy event! I always fly out early the day before my event so I have time to see the city, unwind and can work if needed… that helps me get settled and feel more as if I am on a mini-vacation than business! I can go over my talk and get settled and know it helps me deliver a better program than rushing in the night before or early the day of the event. Adele Good, Health Speaker and Author.
  10. If you’re making a close connection in one of the busy airports, check the arrival screen for your gate after you check the departure screen. The departure screen will say “On Time” but if the arrival is listed as “Delayed,” you know if you need to sprint or just take a leisurely jog. Steve Schumann, Productivity Coach.

Tools of the Road

The notion here was to gather together the things frequent flyers use to make travel just a little be easier.  Again, I started the list and added one later to keep the conversation going.  Here’s what was posted:

  1. Get a smartphone – any smartphone.  The amount of information you can receive in the palm of your hand virtually anywhere in the world today is simply unbelievable. Paul Burton, Productivity Guru.
  2. My iPad has been a huge help on the road, not having to lug all the PC/laptop stuff around. Dayna Steele, Motivational Speaker – Success.
  3. Noise cancelling headphones to cut engine noise and enjoy some relaxing music while traveling. Paul Burton, Productivity Guru.
  4. Always carry in your briefcase/computer bag a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 AC plug. Whenever you arrive at a gate you instantly go sniffing around for electrical outlets. It’s almost guaranteed that the ones you want will have an open seat, but all the plugs are sucked up by iPads, iPods, or other travelers’ laptop power cords. You just walk up, hold your 2-to-1 AC plug and say “Mind if we share the plug?” No one ever says no (how could they?). And you’re good to go. You also generally have another plug open so you can be a generous soul when another person walks by desperately looking for power!  Brian Walter, Communications Consultant and Corporate Humorist.
  5. Get a skin for your laptop to make it conspicuous.  Tip: If you have a skin made and use your own logo or image, make the image large enough to cover the entire surface of the skin so there is no potential for there to be a detectable edge between your logo’s background and the skin’s background [to prevent people from removing it]. Even if the background of your logo and the base color of the skin are the same (in my case, black) there could be a slight variation in color so I created a version of my logo with a large black background that covered the entire skin. Also, I included my contact information in small print so that also serves as an ID tag for my laptop.  Randall Munson, Keynote Speaker – Creativity.
  6. Comfy sleepwear and a non-work related book. Give your brain down time so you can see the “forest for the trees” by not thinking about work when you are alone and have the quiet of the hotel room. My best ideas come to me when I’m not trying to be creative. Gail Busman Goodmand, Direct Sales Trainer.
  7. Carry an empty water bottle. After the security checkpoint, I stop, place a packet of flavoring, fill and voila! I also visit at one of my member airline clubs for “cleaner” water. Last year I saved $194 in airport bottled water costs.  Frank Polkowski, Speaker – Management Development.
  8. I found a pair of light weight shoes that are much smaller than running shoes …are black and have zippers.. easy to pack and double as walking shoes or a brief run. Also, having the Platinum AX has allowed me access to American & Delta’s clubs at the airports without paying for each individually – and free Hertz #1 Club – for $400 a year it is invaluable on those long layovers! The attendants in these clubs have helped me get on other flights and keep me updated as to changes… great perk to make travel more fun these days.. when some of the gate agents won’t even talk to you!  Adele Good, Health Speaker and Author.
  9. Bought a “Mother eTech mini 21″ wheeled duffle” from ebags.com after reading a recommendation on Speakernet News. I LOVE IT! It fits every airline configuration I have been on recently and I have been able to store it and I can’t believe how many things I can pack in this duffle. I am a girly girl and travel with suits and extra shoes and have had NO problem having what I need. It even has a great little zippered compartment on the top for that evil little plastic Ziploc bag. I will never check luggage again if I can avoid it. There are over 2,000 reviews on this bag…..so what does that say!  I also bought one of their laptop bags and it is so great it has an extra zippered area that I could use for extra clothing if needed and for men, a couple of shirts and ties would fit. Between those two pieces of luggage I feel free of ridiculous baggage fees. Anne Obarski, Speaker – Retail Customer Service.
  10. I use the FlightStats Lite app on my Android phone to track flight status information.  (There must be an iPhone version, too.) You can enter your flight number and it will give you up-to-the-minute departure and arrival times and gates at both ends of the flights. It can be a time shaver when you fear you have a tight connection. I always double check the airport screens, too, but with this free app you can check while on the airplane. Randall Munson, Keynote Speaker – Creativity.
  11. A great back up tool is the 2GB watch from Thinkgeek. It is always on my wrist and it holds all my programs.  Eric Trogdon, Mediator – Conflict Resolution.
  12.  I have been using TripIt and Flight Tracker Pro on my iPhone and it has helped tremendously. Often times the flight status hits my iPhone before it hits the board. On more than one occasion I was the first person at the gate to know that the flight was canceled. I was able to get a head start and rebook my flight while others were still standing in line fretting. If I had to pick between the two, I would suggest the TripIt app. It is easy to use and includes ground transportation and hotel reservations. All I have to do is forward my itinerary to the TripIt email address and it adds it to my app. In addition, I have it synchronized with the calendar on my computer.  I also use DropBox to upload the files for events to “the cloud”. If my laptop or iPad are stolen, I can still download the files from anyone’s computer and press on. Dan Diamond, MD, Speaker – Employee Engagement.

And the List Goes On

Of course, these are just a few of the things you can do to remain healthy, productive, and sane while on the road.  Tell us your best Rule of the Road or Tool of the Road below and check back regularly for updates to this list!

One thought on “I Wanna Be Like George Clooney – Traveling Productively

  • I was just reminded (the hard way) about another Rule of Road, cuz I broke it: Always make sure the alarm clock in the hotel room is either (a) turned off or (b) set to the time you want to be awakened!

    I was traveling into Eastern Time this week from Pacific Time. Forgot to check the alarm and the person before me had it set for 6:00 AM (Local) AND 7:00 AM (Local). Since I’m blind without my contacts (or glasses), when this thing went off at 6:00 AM, I started flailing at it trying to get it to shut up (after only four hours of sleep cuz I flew in late Eastern time)! Once it was off, I drifted off to sleep until 7:00 AM when I got to repeat this effort! You’d think I’d remember this one after six years on the road…

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