February 09, 2007
Many of you travel for your business life. We have very similar business related demands (early appointments, flights that cannot be missed, etc). Over the last few years, I've been collecting advice tips on how to travel with fewer hassles or calamities.
One of my techniques I call the Two Step Safety Dance. The concept is simple; redundancy doubles your chance to get it right. I got the idea from Tom Peters. He mentioned to me once that in his suitcase he always has two alarm clocks -- one electric and one wind up. Much like Jerry Seinfeld, he can't make his bets on the front desk (or the supplied alarm clock) getting it right. And if he misses a gig because he's overslept, he's outa business. Now I carry my own trusty travel alarm and have a wakeup call scheduled with the front desk. I ask them what time they have and syncronize my travel alarm to it. I have the wake up call, then five minutes later the alarm clock will go off as a backup. If I get the wakeup call first, I turn my alarm off. The other day, I had a speaking gig until 10pm in Houston and needed to be in Orlando the next day for a talk at 1pm. Tight. Gotta wake up at 4:30am, get a car at 5:30am, get to the airport for the 7:30am flight or miss the next gig. Fortunately, the wake up call came as promised, but I slept much better knowing that there was a backup plan. (NOTE: I THINK WE ALL LOSE SLEEP WHEN WE HAVE TO GET UP EARLY, WORRYING THAT WE'LL OVERSLEEP. WE WAKE UP AN HOUR AHEAD AND JUST TOSS AND TURN.)
The other two step safety dance (redundancy) has to do with flights. If you have to make a flight to make a meeting, don't stake your bet on one plane. Buy multiple tickets, the first non-refundable and the rest fully refundable or changeable. You cannot safely assume that if your first flight doesn't go (equipment, weather, destination city issue) that you'll be put on the next one. It may be sold out.
NEVER use the same rewards account number for any two flights you book. Use different credit cards if you book to flights on the same airline back to back. If they see duplicate reservations in the system, they may throw one out. Yesterday, I had a ticket on the 7:30am flight and also owned a seat on the 8:45am too. Good thing, the 8:45am was the most popular flight and sold out last week. Fortunately, my flight went on time, I called the airline and they refunded the money on my cancelled second seat. I don't do this all the time, but there are certain occassions where I cannot trust mother nature or an airline to get me to the church on time. And when you need it, the two step works like a charm in your harried gotta-be-there business life.
PS -- Unplug the alarm clock in your hotel room. It is not reliable. Many are hard to figure out. Some have alarms already set to go off at 3am -- waking you up in the middle of the night.