10 tips for making travel easier
I travel a lot. Every year I speak at about 50 law schools and lawyers groups across the country. On average, I fly approximately 100,000 miles per year (almost entirely on United). And I spend roughly 80 nights a year in hotels (almost exclusive at Marriott properties.) I recognize this schedule is not for everyone, but I have developed a system that makes it manageable. In short, I maximize my waking hours at home, and minimize my waking hours on the road. Here are ten tips I abide by, that may make your travels easier.
1. Where feasible, choose early morning flights over late-night flights the day before.
Virtually all of my trips are same-day jaunts. I recognize this option is not feasible for everyone, but it works well for me. I can take an early morning flight (usually before 7:30 a.m.) to just about anywhere in the country, and arrive in time for a lunchtime event. And I can usually catch an early afternoon return flight (usually around 3:00 p.m.), and be home in time for dinner. This schedule minimizes my time on the road. Often, groups will invite me out to lunch, or dinner after the event. Where feasible, I propose brunch instead. That is, we eat after I land at the airport, and before the event begins. That scheduling option allows me to quickly get out of town once I am done speaking. There is a huge difference between getting home at 7 p.m., and getting home at 9:00 p.m.
Only in rare circumstances will I fly in the night before, and spend a night in a hotel on the road. First, some invitations require me to speak in the morning–a noon arrival time is not sufficient. Second, some flights will not arrive early enough in the morning to make it work. For example, I cannot get to Boston in time for a noon talk. The flight-time is too long. And I cannot make it to Seattle or Portland in time–even with the time-zone changes, the flight is too long. Fortunately, Houston is roughly in the middle of the country–I can make it to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in three to four hours.
2. Avoid connecting flights where feasible.
I will only take a connecting flight in rare circumstances. Too much can go wrong. You have to worry about the inbound flight in your starting airport, and your inbound flight in the connecting airport. And if there is a delay, you have the stress of knowing you will have to run through the terminal. Flight attendants will often tell you “they’ll hold the flight.” They won’t. I once got stuck in Phoenix after I missed a connection on American. The door closed about a minute before I got to the gate.
I am fortunate to live near an intercontinental airport. Indeed, one of the biggest perks of teaching in Houston is the airport. I recognize people who live near smaller airports will have to take connections.
3. For early morning flights, consider staying at the airport hotel in your home city
Early morning flights are rough. A flight that leaves at 7:00 a.m. will board at 6:30 a.m. Delays in the morning can be mitigated by signing up for TSA-Pre, as well as Clear. These options al
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