Since many TPG staff members are often on the road, we have each developed our own way to prepare for an easier day of travel. Every step of the journey, from packing to negotiating airports, has become second nature. And in this guide, four TPG staff members will share their thoughts on their favorite travel tips.
You’ll see some tips you’re probably familiar with, like access to the Priority Pass lounge, but we’ll also cover some lesser-known suggestions like when is the right time to withdraw cash from an ATM with no fees.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
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Ryan Smith, Credit Card Author
Many people will tell you to dress up mentally while packing so you don’t forget anything. Shoes, socks, pants…so the story goes.
I use the same concept when packing my hand luggage. I visualize the trip and think about what I will need and in what order I will use it. The first things I put in my backpack are the ones I won’t be needing anytime soon. The last items — the ones I can reach most easily — are the ones I’ll need to use between home and my final destination.
This includes my headphones, phone charger and wallet, for example. You’ll need to access your ID or passport at the security checkpoint, so packing these items first (buried in the bottom of your backpack) doesn’t make sense. It’ll slow you down through security, slow you down when trying to buy the overpriced airport coffee, and frustrate you when digging through your carry-on for those elusive headphones during your flight.
Think about the items you won’t need during your travel day and put them in your hand luggage first. The last items you pack will be the easiest to access. These should be items you will need along the way: ID, wallet, medication, phone charger, etc.
Katie Genter, Senior Points and Miles Reporter
Many of my travel habits are the same regardless of my trip. For example, I always set an alarm on my Fitbit and my phone if I have to be up at a specific time. I pack as much as I can the night before, leaving only the items I’ll need in the morning to pack the day of my trip.
If I’m flying, on my way to the airport, I check which airport lounges might be available at my point of departure and connection. And if I’m driving, I look at my route and think about where I might want to stop for meals and breaks before hitting the road.
Once at the airport, I check the priority lanes that I might be able to use for check-in, security and, if I’m traveling overseas, immigration. Sometimes my status, fare type, or even my credit card can unlock shorter lines. Then I head to the lounge where I find a seating area in the terminal to do some last minute work and chores.
For example, if I am traveling abroad, I check if my Airalo Discover Global eSIM covers my destination before boarding my flight. If so, I check the Airalo app for the name of the covered network and screenshot the settings I’ll need once I get to my destination. Otherwise, I wonder if buying another eSIM makes sense for my trip.
If I stay in the airport lounge or terminal at my departure or connecting point for a long time, I will set an alarm on my Fitbit approximately 15 minutes before my scheduled boarding time. At this point, I can come to a break in my work, have one last snack, and check to see if my flight is still on time.
Once I get to my destination, I’ll go to an ATM if I need cash (especially if I’m in a country that uses a currency I don’t yet have). Fortunately, my Charles Schwab debit card reimburses fees at ATMs around the world, so I don’t have to worry about the high fees that airport ATMs often charge. If I travel abroad, I can also buy local SIM cards at the airport and buy one if the price is right.
Once at my accommodation, I unpack my things and then walk around the property and, unless it’s late, dangerous or extremely hot, around the neighborhood. Especially for longer stays, getting used to your accommodation and neighborhood on the first day can make the rest of your stay more enjoyable.
Emily Thompson, Credit Card Writer
I usually leave quite early in the morning on travel days, so most of my preparation is done the night before.
Before I go to bed, I double-check my packing list and circle everything I need to take care of in the morning. I check that I have the correct credit cards in my wallet and enough snacks to get me through the day if I have any unexpected delays. Finally, I put down my ID card and program my coffee maker a few minutes before I have to leave the next morning.
When I wake up on departure day, I check to see if my flight is on time. Then I double-check my bag for the essentials: ID, headphones, book, water bottle, and laptop. I pour my coffee into a disposable cup to drink in the car on the way to the airport, so I get my caffeine fix even if the airport cafes aren’t open yet or have long lines of coffee. waiting. And believe me, I don’t want to have to order coffee on the plane.
Once at the airport and through security, I make sure to refill my water bottle and buy one more. I never skip a day’s travel hydration!
Kyle Olsen, Points and Miles Reporter
I usually schedule my flights in the afternoon to maximize my day in my home country, whether at work or on vacation.
When possible, I take public transport to get to the airport, so I’ll check Google Maps and Citymapper to explore my options. Otherwise, I call a Lyft to take me to the airport, which earns me 2 Delta SkyMiles per dollar on airport rides and 10 Chase Ultimate Rewards per dollar when I pay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
I will do everything in my power to avoid checking my baggage. If you check baggage and your flight is delayed or cancelled, there is no guarantee that your baggage will be placed on your next flight. And don’t think you’re out of the danger zone checking your bag at the gate – I once had to wait several days for a checked bag at the gate after the plane had a maintenance problem and that all passengers had to disembark and be rebooked.
Anyway, thanks to my Premier 1K status with United, I have a free Clear membership. Combined with TSA PreCheck, I usually get through security in less than five minutes.
Years ago, you could rely on credit card lounge access, but with American Express Centurion lounges full and United Clubs disappointing, I started looking for lesser-known ways to “kill” time. at airports. With Star Alliance Gold status, I often visit partner lounges because you can access everything but the United Club as United Premier Gold or above. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has an Air Canada Maple Leaf Club in the terminal adjacent to United — it’s almost always quiet. Another good bet is the Turkish Airlines Lounge at Dulles International Airport (IAD). If you can manage it, try the mouth-watering baklava.
My Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card gives me access to the Plaza Premium lounges. Some of my favorites are the Virgin Atlantic lounges at IAD and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
I was also blown away by the Captial One lounge at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport during a recent transfer. There was an abundant selection of locally inspired dishes, including plenty of take-out options. After lunch, I took to the pedals on a Peloton bike overlooking the driveway at DFW. Leaving the Capital One lounge, I came across a long Admirals Club queue.
Anyway, I always check LoungeBuddy to see what lounges I have access to (you can enter your airline status and credit cards for a personalized list). And before long, it’s time to board. Just be sure to board before the luggage compartments fill up if you can.
I also use App in the Air to be notified by SMS of flight updates. Often I will be notified of flight delays before the gate agent or pilot picks up the AP. App in the Air also has a nice interface that lets you track your flights, giving you a sleek way to see your mileage stats and flight habits.
At the end of the line
Having a game plan before your travel day is the secret to having the most enjoyable and stress-free experience. And part of that game plan is having a contingency plan in place when things don’t go as planned. When is the next flight? Are there other lounges you can access?
Before long, you’ll get into a routine you’re comfortable with. And who knows, if you’re like us, maybe you’ll even start enjoying it.