I just returned from a 11-day business trip that included 4 cities, 10 flights, multiple rental cars and many long waits at airports that gave me time to reflect on some of the travel tips I wish I’d learned a lot earlier than I did, such as:
How to find the gas tank on the rental car. For most of my car-renting life I’d just guess as I drove up to gas station—and usually, I’d guess wrong. I didn’t know that the little gas pump icon on the fuel gauge tells you which side the tank is on. Either there’s a little arrow pointing the way, or it’s on the same side as the hose on the icon.
Don’t leave for the airport hungry. In the unlikely event you’ll have time to eat—the worst delays always happen when you’re already starving—you’ll wind up paying a small fortune for something nasty. Becoming a mom taught me the importance of many things, including the need to have a good meal before you travel and to carry lots of healthy snacks.
It pays to be loyal. Until I read Joel Widzer’s “The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel,” I usually went for the cheapest flight, hotel and car rental. Widzer showed me the value in concentrating my travel with one airline (and its partners), one or two hotel chains and one or two car rental outfits. I still pay competitive rates, but now I get lots of extra perks like early boarding, easier upgrades, free breakfasts and free hotel nights. A recent score: I booked a compact car at Enterprise, and wound up in a G-35. Sweet.
I’ll parcel out a few more of my “d’oh!” moments in coming days, but if you’ve got a travel hack you wish you’d learned earlier, add it in the comments.