10 Fantastic Travel Tips You Need To Know Before You Fly

Have you ever noticed how business travelers and people who fly frequently seem to move through airports easily, not even slightly flustered, keeping their cool and looking chic, while you are juggling your carry-on, your handbag, your boarding pass, your I.D and your coat, trying to remember if there are liquids in your bag, hoping you didn’t just drop your iPhone, and getting totally stressed out?

There is an art to air travel. Simple tricks that make everything work seamlessly, get you early boarding and upgrades, make navigating airports easy and have you arriving to your destination looking cool, calm and collected. Business travelers know these tricks. People who fly often know these tricks. And now you are going to know them too!

10 Travel Tricks Every Business Traveler Knows

1. Choose One Airline and Stick With It

Business travelers know whenever possible you should stick with one airline.

Sometimes you can save a few dollars by flying with a cheapie airline or by using a competitor airline but often its just not worth it

Sticking with one airline is beneficial not only for accumulating free flights but also for getting upgrades. Loyal customers tend to get more opportunity to board early and to be upgraded to better seats, and are less likely to be kicked off the flight if it is oversold. Airlines want to build loyalty (hence the frequent flier programs) and understand there is value in taking care of good repeat customers. Also there is a huge benefit to you as a traveler already being familiar with the airline and the way they operate.

2. Choose Your Seat When You Make Your Booking

Business travelers and frequent flyers seldom get stuck in the middle seat.

One of the ways that airlines are making more money is by charging you to choose your seat and staggering the costs depending where on the plane that seat is. You seldom find half empty flights anymore, and most flights are full, even the red eye flights that used to be mostly empty in the good old days. You can safely assume that if you don’t choose your seat ahead of time you will in fact get the dreaded middle seat and be squashed in between two overweight, itchy passengers!

For a short flight it doesn’t matter so much, but for a long flight or for an international flight this can be very important.

Use an app like Seat Guru and evaluate the pros and cons of a seat before committing to it. For example avoid being next to the toilets, look to see if that seat has limited recline or no recline, look to see if the seat has a shorter pitch than others and also see if there is an entertainment system under the seat in front of you taking up both your leg space and your space to put your extra bag. I have been saved countless times by using the Seat Guru app.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PACK A SUITCASE LIKE A PRO

3. Never Check In At The Airport

Business travelers don’t wait til they get to the airport to check in.

Most airlines will offer you the opportunity to check in online 24 hours prior to your flight. Even if you are checking bags always take this option. Apart from it being a time saver, especially if the ticketing area at the airport is busy, it lowers the chance that you will be kicked off your flight if the flight is oversold.

With most airlines this enables you to either choose your seat or at least get a better seat assignment. Your boarding pass can either be printed ahead of time or even sent to your phone. Every step you take to streamline the travel process is worthwhile.

4. Be Ready For TSA Security Checks

Business travelers sail through the TSA security check points quickly and effortlessly.

This is huge. You can tell who are the business travelers and frequent travelers just by watching them move through the TSA check points at the airport. And you can learn a lot from them too.

man being searched at tsa checkpoint in busy airport
image courtesy of Daily Mail

The travel pros are ready for the security X-Ray machines. Jewelry and belts are removed before getting to the conveyor belt, often not put on in the first place until they have cleared the screening point. Keys and coins are removed from pockets and either stored inside their bag or put into a small tray. They know that if they don’t have TSA Pre Check they will have to remove their shoes, so they wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.

Their cabin baggage is organized, with laptops and properly sized, properly packaged liquids at the top, easy to access and put in the trays. Frequent travelers don’t hold up the line and don’t waste time fossicking around in their bags to find the items that set off the x-rays machines. Surplus clothing – coats, hats and scarves are already removed and folded. They have their boarding pass and ID in hand, they are ready.

Frequent travelers will scan the lines at TSA and avoid the ones filled with children and disorganized people. Why get stuck behind someone who is taking up too much space and time?

They know to go left – most people are right handed and will instinctively veer to the security lines to the right. The lanes to the left typically move more quickly and have both fewer people and fewer disorganized people.

By being prepared you can expedite the security process, avoiding some extra stress in the process as well as lessening the likelihood of losing personal items in the process.

5. They Board ASAP

Business travelers don’t waste time hanging around the gate – they board their flights as quickly as possible.

Although it means a few more minute on the plane vs standing at the terminal gate (and who wants to do that anyway?) frequent travelers know to board their flight asap. Have you ever noticed that first class passengers are seated and comfortable with their bags stored in the overhead bin before anyone else is allowed to board?

The first reason to board immediately is to get your share of valuable overhead bin space before it’s gone. Simple and small things such as being able to fold your coat and put it away neatly (rather than having to hold in throughout the flight or have it crushed while you try to squish it in around other travelers rollaway bags) can make all the difference in any flight, be it a short or a long one.

It is much easier to keep your inflight belongings organized when you have had time to board your plane comfortably. Trying to organize your book or laptop, your phone, your earphones, your sweater or scarf, your water and anything else you need out with you, while trying to climb over other passengers and trying to find overhead bin space is not only really difficult but also raises your chance of losing items. You seldom see business travelers or frequent fliers losing their travel items – they board early and stay organized. Which makes them both look and feel calm.

RELATED POST: HOW TO AVOID BEDBUGS WHEN YOU TRAVEL

6. Don’t Bring Unnecessary Valuables

Business travelers know that bringing unnecessary valuables when you travel is plain stupid. The streamline whatever jewelry they are bringing and use the hotel safe to store anything surplus they do have to bring.

They also know that all laptops/medication/jewelry/cameras/valuables have to go on the plane in their carry-on luggage and never in their checked bags. If it has value, never, ever check it.

7. System Boosting

Frequent long distance flyers know that getting sick during a flight can ruin the best business meetings and the best vacations.

Face it, airplanes are full of germs. Not only are all the surfaces dirty – they are not chloroxed down in between flights, but they are also covered in whatever the previous passengers have been sneezing and coughing up, and you don’t even want to know what else!

On top of that along with everyone else you are breathing in recirculated air that is not fresh or clean. Add to that your defenses being down due to lack of sleep and change in routine and you have a recipe for catching every bug that is floating around.

Before you travel build your personal defense system with extra vitamins. Instead of indulging in airport food, which is typically starchy, fatty, high in sodium and relatively bad for you, pack healthy snacks.  The same applies to airplane food, which is not known for its health benefits.

Business travelers typically don’t drink endless sodas or alcoholic drinks during their flights either. Both break down your body’s defenses and make you more vulnerable to getting sick while traveling.

RELATED POST: SHOULD YOU BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE?

8. Avoid or At Least Minimize Jet Lag

Business travelers and people who fly a lot know how important it is to stave off jet lag and travel fatigue, or at least minimize it.

Sometimes you just cannot get away from jet lag, such as when you wake up in Los Angeles and go to bed in Singapore, but you can minimize the effects of it.

The game changers include staying super hydrated before, during and after your flight, banking some extra sleep in the days leading up to your flight and by making really good food choices. In the lead up to a big flight avoid heavy, starchy foods, salty foods and junk foods. Eat lean and clean.

Another great way to help mitigate jet lag and travel fatigue is to get extra exercise in the days leading up to your flight and then getting quality exercise when you land, either from taking a really good, long walk or working out at the hotel gym. Even 20 minutes sweating on a treadmill can help your body to recover by getting the blood pumping and reducing swelling in the feet and ankles.

9. Stick To Your Home Schedule

When moving through different time zones, crossing datelines or just traveling across country one of the best ways to acclimate your body is to maintain your home schedule.

If you don’t drink alcohol during the week at home, avoid drinking during the week while away. Try to get the same number of hours sleep per night as you do at home, keep up your exercise routines and watch for the devil that is sugar. It is easy to start indulging in novelty foods while away but remember sugar is at the root of most evils. A body getting excess sugar is more likely to get sick, feel icky, get bloated and have trouble sleeping, as well as many other negative things.

10. Dress The Part.

Business travelers and frequent flyers know that wearing the right clothing to travel in is a must. You can see them deplaning after a 10 hour flight looking chic and stylish instead of completely crumpled.

Simple pieces made in breathable fabrics that you can layer are the key to easy travel.

angelina jolie and maddox arriving at LAX
Angelina Jolie wearing a perfect travel uniform, arriving at LAX with her son Maddox

Most people will bloat a little during the flight as the cabin air pressure changes, so clothing that is too tight or that doesn’t move with you can make a long flight incredibly uncomfortable.

Look for fabrics that don’t crease and that although thin are nice and warm, such as Modal and merino. Airplanes get cold but heavy bulky clothes aren’t fun to fly in.

Choose shoes that are comfortable and that you can wear with socks, and definitely avoid heels! Add a pashmina or large scarf that you can use either to wrap up in or as a blanket if needed.

Have you read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy (Secrets To Glamorous Travel On A Not So Glamorous Budget!) yet? It is available exclusively on Amazon.com, in both paperback and on Kindle.

How To Spend The Summer In Italy For Free!

How would you like to live in Italy for 3 months, for free??

I know I would dearly love to. I found out about this incredible opportunity and unfortunately I can’t take advantage of it. It happens across the time I have my Glam Italia Tours, and on top of that my son starts college in the fall, so I have to be here.

But can you imagine yourself sipping your cappuccino every morning in an ancient piazza, living in a centuries old home, cooking with the locals and spending balmy summer evenings with a glass of wine under the shade of a 500 year old tree and a view to die for?? Not only can it happen, but it can happen FOR FREE!!

ancient buildings in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata
Grottole, Basilicata

Italy’s Shrinking Villages

Italy has a problem. Up and down the country its magical, beautiful little villages are becoming ghost towns. With not enough local work to support the young folk, they are having to move either to the big cities or to other countries in order to make a living. As the older generations head heavenward these picture postcard, gorgeous little towns and villages are being left close to empty.

More than half of Italy’s small towns are likely to be deserted in the next few decades. Approximately 2430 of them are considered to be at risk.

Airbnb Has A Plan

Airbnb has come up with a brilliant plan to stop these idyllic villages from falling into ruin, starting with the revitalization of one darling little town.

They announced this week that they are going to sponsor four people to have an unique opportunity to live in the little town of Grottole for 3 months, experiencing real, authentic Italian life. I die. Can you even imagine???

The village of Grotole in Basilicata, Italy. Win the opportunity to live here for 3 months for free
The village of Grottole in Basilicata, Italy

“Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organisation called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalise the town’s historical centre,” it said in its call for applications.

The Italian Sabbatical – Your New Country Life In Grottole

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and become a temporary citizen of a village in the south of Italy. Immerse yourself in the local culture and discover how to speak, act and cook the Italian way. You will also get to support the local community by hosting an Airbnb Experience. Your goal? To help the local community revitalize the small village of Grottole.

Candidates must be over 18, be available to move to Grottole for 3 months, from June to August 2019, and have a good knowledge of English.

Ancient ruins in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata. Win a 3 month sabbatical in Grottole - live in Italy for free for 3 months!
Ancient ruins in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata

The village’s four newest residents will be announced on March 29, 2019.It says the small village, which is near Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture, has only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 houses standing empty.

Airbnb paints an idyllic picture of life in the village, promising days beginning with cappuccino and a language lesson before meeting a cast of bee-keeping, olive-oil producing residents.

But while it sounds like a holiday, Airbnb expects the four new “residents” to complete training to become Airbnb Experience Hosts who’ll go on to work for Wonder Grottole.

The chosen four will be expected to completely immerse themselves in the local culture, studying Italian, working in the community garden, and learning to cook traditional recipes, before then passing on their newfound knowledge to the influx of visitors Airbnb Italy is hoping will then descend on the village.

Grottole Basilicata castle on the hill.
Grottole’s castle

We have to create a system, or the many Grottoles across Italy will continue to remain hidden gems,” said Matteo Frigerio, Country Manager of Airbnb Italy. 

This system, it’s hoped, will breathe new life into the village which is currently heading for extinction.

Where Is Grottole?

map of southern Italy showing Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Campagna. Map shows Naples, Matera and Bari

This is super exciting. Grottole is in Basilicata, the region that makes up the instep of Italy’s boot. The village is only an hour drive from Matera, one of my favorite towns in the world! (see related posts about Matera here, here and here ). The village is an hour’s drive from the beautiful beaches that make up Basilicata’s Ionian coast. If you love beaches you are also close to another of my favorite parts of Italy, the neighboring region of Puglia, and its magnificent coastlines. (see related post about Puglia). The Amalfi Coast is only a little over 2 1/2 hours drive away, with the town of Salerno giving you fast train access to all of Italy.

“In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people of different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community” said Silvio Donadio, founder of Wonder Grottole.

You can apply to win a 3 month sabbatical here: APPLY HERE

Pompeii’s Astonishing Discovery – A Breakthrough You Need To Know

Pompeii man hunched over in death. The most famous and iconic of the 2000 bodies excavated from the ruins in Pompeii
Of the 2000 bodies excavated in Pompeii, this is the most famous.

Imagine if what we thought we knew about Pompeii was wrong? An astonishing new discovery just dramatically changed what we know about the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in A.D 79.

Last year while excavations were being done on two villas that had been partially excavated in the 19th century, some interesting things surfaced.

First There Was Pliny The Younger

Up until this point the thinking was that Mt Vesuvius erupted on August 24th 79 A.D. This was based on the writings of 18 year old Pliny the Younger. He had been in Misenum at the home of his uncle, the writer and philosopher Pliny the Elder, when Vesuvius erupted. From the safety of the home he was able to watch everything happening across the Gulf of Naples.

While the Elder raced off in warships to rescue people (and ultimately to his own death) the Younger stayed at home to work on his studies. His written accounts of that day and the days to follow have given us much of the knowledge we have about what happened at Pompeii.

Related Post: 18 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pompeii

Interestingly up until that point there had been no word for volcano. No one had ever seen one before. Mt Vesuvius was a mountain covered in vineyards and farms. It had never blown before, so had no crater – the top was just the same as any other mountain.

17 years before, on February 5th 62 A.D there was a massive earthquake in Pompeii. Thought to be a 7.5 the earthquake felled buildings and caused much destruction. Seneca the Younger wrote:

This tremor was on 5 February in the consulship of Regulus and Verginius and it inflicted great devastation on Campania… sheep died and statues split. Some people have lost their minds and wander about in their madness.

By 79 A.D much of the restoration had been completed. More earthquakes had occurred, causing damage to buildings, and it is this subsequent repair work that has led to the new discovery.

Newly discovered frescoes in two villas being excavated in Pompeii
The two villas have beautiful frescoes, all of which are being carefully excavated and preserved by archaeologists

An Astonishing New Discovery

Archaeologists have discovered charcoal writing on the wall of one of the two villas mentioned above, thought to have been done by a builder or architect working on the home. It reads: XVI K NOV . This means the 16th day before the 1st day of November, or October 17th.

Newly discovered writing on the wall of a villa being excavated in Pompeii changes evrything we know about when Mt Vesuvius erupted
Archaeologists have discovered writing on the wall of a villa being excavated in Pompeii. It changes everything we know about the date of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius

This could have been done in the days before the eruption, possibly as a recording of the work he had completed. Italian authorities say this new discovery rewrites history, changing the belief that the eruption happened on the 24th of August.

Related Post: 8 Things You Must Do In Naples

The inscription and date was found with other bits of writing/graffiti on the walls of the atrium and corridor of the villa, much of it being quite raunchy, some even obscene. Which was pretty common in Pompeii.

A Question Of Pomegranates

Some scholars have believed for a long time that the date of the eruption was incorrect. In the past calcified remains of fresh pomegranates have been found at Pompeii. This suggests an autumn eruption, as pomegranate trees don’t mature by August instead having a season from October until January or February.

Other Treasures Found In The Villas

2000 year old mosaics discovered in Pompeii while 2 villas are excavated
2000 year old mosaics of crocodiles discovered during the excavation of the two villas

Other archaeological finds in the villas include frescoes of the gods Venus, Adonis, Paris and Eros, and mosaics depicting wild animals such as snakes, deer, lions and crocodiles. In one of the villas archaeologists found the skeletal remains of 5 people who had no doubt been hiding from the pumice and ash raining down from the volcano.

New discoveries in Pompeii. Archaeologists  just discovered 2000 year old mosaics in 2 villas being excavated
2000 year old mosaics survived earthquakes, the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and being buried for centuries.

Related Post: 10 Things You Absolutely Must Do In Ravello

How To Get There

Pompeii is a suburb of Naples, easily reached by taking the circumsuviana train from Naples train station to the Pompeii Scavi stop. It is an easy day trip from Rome (only 1 hour and 20 minutes on the high speed train) and is a quick trip by train from Sorrento.

If you take the time to visit Pompeii (highly recommended) after visiting the ruins take the circumsuviana train three stops towards Naples to the Ercolano stop and walk to the ruins at Herculaneum. They are quite different to those in Pompeii, and complete the picture of what life looked like back then and what the homes in Pompeii would have looked like were they still standing. It’s quite incredible.

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