101 Spot-On Tips for Making the Most of Miles, Points and Travel

101 Spot-On Tips for Making the Most of Miles, Points and Travel

The road warrior knows business travel always involves three variables — time, money and aggravation.

Of these, aggravation is always the most, well, aggravating. So how better to end your year than with a compilation of brilliant bits of advice from InsideFlyer that you can use for years to come? One simple tip that can reduce your stress or save you money could be worth much more than your next upgrade.

We had a lot to contribute, but we realized there’s really no better source for travel suggestions than the horde of travelers out there right now. So we tapped into the world’s greatest source of all things frequent flyer — FlyerTalk.com — and bribed members into sharing some of their significant insights. Some of these tips are tried-and-true, while some are just trial-and-error.

Now you, too, can begin to master the arts of packing, international travel, hotel and airport survival, money management, travel safety and much more, with these travelers’ 101 best tips from 2004.

Some of the advice is ridiculously obvious, but then again, how many times have we muttered to ourselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Sit back, relax and take this advice for what it’s worth (and it’s worth a lot!)

Ultimately, when it comes to the business of business travel, only you know what kind of food you’re craving, what kind of car you’re secretly dying to rent, what one-of-a-kind artifact you’d like to bring home as a souvenir, and what helps you to sleep in coach coming back from London.

So, whether your business takes you to the farthest reaches of the globe or simply on a series of hops, skips and junkets, here are the tips from those who do it best.

1. On business travel, always use your ATM card rather than your mileage-earning credit card for any cash advance in local markets. Credit cards have added additional fees (cash advance) that make it very expensive to have access to money when you travel. It’s not the ATM fee that you have to consider, it’s the cash advance fee.

2. Consolidator fares: Consider using a travel agent that specializes in a particular region and can offer consolidator fares when traveling between continents. You can save a bundle, get more flexibility in change rules, upgradeable fares, and still get airline miles. Booking online is not always the cheapest when it comes to international travel.

3. Rent a car at the closest place to the airport that is not at the airport so you don’t have to pay airport taxes. You can get to these places by taking your hotel shuttle to your hotel, then later have the shuttle driver drive you to the off-airport rental car place. (Local taxes can cost more than 30 percent of the car rental cost.)

4. If you have to catch a flight you are about to miss and the gate is far away, use the airport shuttle carts.

5. When in business hotels, you can take the plastic bag they provide for you to use their laundry service to put your laundry into and take it home with you. But don’t leave the plastic bag with clothes in it lying around in the room, or your clothes might get cleaned, and you might have to pay a lot.

6. Currency exchange: If you have a debit/ATM card with points, get your country cash from an ATM.
Upon your departure, use all of the coins and denominations too small to exchange at the Duty Free. They will count out your coins and deduct it from your credit card total.

7. Nick yourself shaving? Antiperspirant will stop the bleeding. (It has the same aluminum oxide as a styptic pencil.)

8. When another traveler violates one of those unwritten rules of travel etiquette that EVERYONE knows (reclining a seat onto your knees, failing to have pockets empty in time for a security check, stowing a bag in YOUR overhead bin, etc.), train yourself to respond first (and second and third) with patience, kindness and charity. More likely than not, the offense is not intended, and even when you encounter a truly inconsiderate moron, your forbearance will usually help the situation for everyone around you, and the indignation you might have to swallow will be healthier for you than bile, however righteous.

9. Hotel points (if on business travel): Eat at the hotel restaurant and order room service; they all count toward more hotel points for the stay. If on personal travel, find an IDINE restaurant and try something new but still get points.

10. Always make sure your frequent flyer number for the airline operating the flight is in your reservation at ticketing and check-in. This will minimize your chances of receiving ‘secondary search’ on your boarding pass. Change your frequent flyer number (if you want partner credit) only when you’re inside security.

11. If you use any hotel services that cost money, such as the bar, restaurant or even the gift shop, charge them to your room instead of paying cash or even using your credit card. You will receive more hotel points for the increased final bill at checkout and you will still get the miles on your frequent flyer-linked credit card.

12. ALWAYS use a rewards credit card. It’s money GIVEN for you to spend, so enjoy.

13. Try booking a hotel that gives you all the flexibility you need for work, including free high-speed Internet, voice messaging, photocopiers, etc. Think of it as the airline lounge.

14. Nothing beats home! If you can’t be at home, try to get as much of it as you can. After a long day of meetings, it’s good to relax in your hotel, call home and have a chat with your family. Let them know how you’re doing and ask what’s going on at home.

15. Subscribe to and STUDY InsideFlyer magazine every month to ensure that you are not missing out on bonuses and other offers that will maximize your point/mile gathering. (Our mothers didn’t submit this one, honest. — Ed.)

16. If flying Southwest, use the online check-in feature. You can print your boarding pass starting at 12:01a.m. local time the day of your flight. This will guarantee you an “A” group boarding pass.

17. Lighten your load: The Igo Juice 70 is an all-in-one power supply. It will run off of AC, car and airplane, and with multiple power “tips” can power all the devices you carry (laptop, cellphone, camera, mp3 player and more). Eliminate all of the extra power adapters from your carry-on and save your back!

18. Download all the nearby hotels, car rental agencies, etc. into your cell phone or Palm for every connecting airport on your flight. Should something happen – the weather turn bad or whatever – while everybody else is heading for that hotel board in the baggage claim area with its one telephone, you can just start dialing and get a room without ever leaving the gate area.

19. Be static-free: Knock the static out of your clothes (or hair) with an anti-static dryer sheet. They’re small, cheap, lightweight and easy to pack. Keep one folded inside a zip-lock bag in your luggage. De-static yourself by running the anti-static dryer sheet across the statically charged area.

20. Be your own drug store: Carry a supply of common cold remedies, analgesics, etc. There’s nothing worse than realizing you need a cold medication or something for aches and pains and having to try to hunt it down while traveling. A blister pack of the two or three remedies you most commonly use at home should fit easily in with your toiletries and allow you to take care of yourself easily.

21. No matter where your travels take you in this big, wide world of ours, being courteous to others takes such little effort and the rewards can be bountiful.

22. To borrow a motto from another organization: be prepared! Photocopies of important identification, such as passports, should be carried on every trip just in case, and can greatly speed up having temporary documents issued at the embassy or consulate overseas should they be lost or stolen. I also carry a list of emergency phone numbers for the various credit card companies, medical travel insurance, etc., should they be required. I’ve also left a duplicate set at home as a back-up source. Cameras, watches and underwear are all just stuff, and can be fairly easily replaced, but losing your identity while abroad is a much more serious situation, especially in the heightened security-conscious world we live in.

23. Save giveaways and old clothes for gifts on trips to developing countries: Many of us parade through endless conferences picking up innumerable pens, pads, flashlights, t-shirts and other “giveaways.” These make great gifts when visiting developing countries in Asia, Latin America or Africa. The pens, calculators, time pieces and other office items make great school supplies for children who may not otherwise be able to afford them. It is much better to save them and give them away than to throw them away. Just fill an inexpensive bag with the items and check them through to the end. Hopefully you can give away the bag, too. Clothes items bound for the trash or a garage sale also make good giveaways overseas. Just wear that marketing t-shirt instead of your nice one and give it away when you are done. There are lots of people in need who would be very appreciative.

24. Snow globes, pewter collector spoons, ashtrays … oh my! Tired of overpriced, uninteresting, tourist souvenir junk? Try shopping in a local grocery store. Even countries like India, China and Sri Lanka now have large supermarkets. These are often full of wonderful local products. In Europe, look for liquor, wine, canned gourmet items, dried fruit and condiments. In Asia and Latin America, be on the lookout for spices, salsas, teas, soaps, chocolate and other local products. When you get home, it is a wonderful way to relive your adventures and share your trip with family and friends. These items also make great gifts! (Try to keep to packaged goods, though, to avoid problems at customs.)

25. Buy prescription drugs overseas: Prescription drugs in Asia are still an amazing deal. The key is to shop at a reputable, name-brand store (there are Boots Pharmacies even in Bangkok). Just bring your drug bottles or prescription so that you can get the correct item. If you have any questions regarding the authenticity of a particular drug, most companies have Web sites where you can check serial numbers.

26. Try for wireless: Outraged by overpriced Internet charges in big hotels? Just try the lobby or near a window. These days, there is a free wireless network almost everywhere; you just have to turn on your PC’s wireless search and try to find it.

27. Eat yogurt. Especially when travelling in developing countries, eating some yogurt every day will help to keep your stomach and digestive tract happy and healthy. Packaged and processed yogurt is available fresh and safe from stores in almost every country. This is especially important if you are taking antibiotics that may kill the good flora in your stomach. Try it … you will be amazed at how rare traveler’s diarrhea becomes.

28. Travel light: Not the most revolutionary advice, but carry as little as possible with you. In other words, check your luggage. After all, you are paying the airline to carry your stuff anyway. On the subject of how much to bring … ONE suitcase and ONE carry-on, max. Leave the laptop at work by staying at hotels with business centers and by carrying your data on one of those datafobs/memory keys. You don’t really need to work on the plane, so bring a book. Relax a bit … life is too short to always be thinking about the office. The last bit of advice: Bring a picture of your family to put bedside in that city far from home, ’cause it’s always nice to think about the finer things in life.

29. Visit FlyerTalk forums while on the road, so you can keep up with all the “current” events, of course (assuming you manage to go online with your laptop).

30. Before your international trips, research and get some inexpensive prepaid phonecards with a local access number, so you won’t be burned by the outrageous hotel phone bills or cell roaming charges.

31. For guys: When a strange but good-looking woman comes up to you in the hotel bar, smiles demurely and says, “Buy me a drink,” RUN AWAY as fast as you can!!! [She is most likely “working.”] For ladies: When a strange but good-looking guy comes up to you in the hotel bar, smiles demurely and says, “Can I buy you a drink?” please, please don’t punch me.

32. And now for a practical, serious technology tip for international travelers. Sign up for an Internet Softphone service. You can download the software-based phone on your PC and call anywhere in the world for pennies, or for free in many cases. Check out Vonage, Skype or other such services coming soon. You can not only call other Internet users, but you can call normal phones from your PC, too. This saves not only outrageous hotel charges, but even if you use a calling card, Internet phone calls are much cheaper. The quality may or may not be as good as a normal phone, but the cost savings can be huge.

33. I always get fed up with those business lunches in the evening. The night becomes longer and longer, the people more and more drunk, the bill larger, etc. Today I make invitations for breakfast buffets instead:
– No additional expenses. The breakfast buffet contains everything, including drinks.
– No alcoholic drink issues.
– No nights that seem to never end.
– No clothing issues: People come as they will be dressed later in the office, too.

34. Reduce the creases in your clothes during transport: Don’t fold your clothes; instead, convolve/roll up the clothes and put them into the luggage. Even suit trousers look much better afterward if rolled up and not folded.

35. Make sure you are getting the best rate on your hotel reservation by checking back regularly before your trip. Just pretend to be making a reservation and see what price comes up. If it’s a better price than you booked your room for, just make a new reservation with the better rate and then cancel the old reservation. I have saved hundreds through “price drops” in a reservation before arriving at the hotel.

36. Download an offline electronic timetable to your Palm or laptop. If you get delayed at the gate or en route and have a tight connection to make, it’s always useful to have a list of alternate flights available (and your seatmate will appreciate it, too!) to assist with rebooking in a timely manner.

37. Don’t leave early, or return after you get home: I decided years ago that I wouldn’t pack (mentally or physically) until a couple of hours before my flight. I am fully engaged with my family for as long as I can be. When I return, I have a zero recoup rule, so I’m not away from my family any longer than I have to be. (Ninety percent of my travel is international, and always includes weekends.) If I arrive home before noon, I go straight to lunch with my wife. I spend the evening with my kids, and have often gone straight from the airport to Little League games, carpooling or other family activities. All this makes the trip as short as possible for them. My family loves the miles like any other, but they want me around more!

38. Learn how to sleep on a plane. People who can sleep on planes have a big advantage over those who can’t. We can take red eyes, we can work later in more comfortable surroundings instead of working on the plane, and we are not as tired and grumpy. Sleeping doesn’t require you to carry heavy stuff in your carry-on, and you can do it before the seatbelt sign is turned off and right up until the plane reaches the gate. And no matter what time it is, people don’t think you’re weird; they just assume you must be adjusting from a different time zone. I carry earplugs (which I don’t always use, but when I need them I am glad of them), eyeshades (often given out when you travel business class, but you can buy them for less than $10) and a neck pillow (inflatable, so it takes up less room the rest of the time). Add in the airplane’s headphones on the “boring music” channel (there are restrictions on when you can wear your own headsets) and the sensory deprivation is pretty good. Try to get two blankets (or one blanket and your coat) and wear one over your legs and one over your top half. This ensures the flight attendants can see your seatbelt and won’t wake you to tell you to wear it, and it also gives you a little more freedom of movement. If it’s a long flight, make sure you have a bottle of water in your seatback pocket so you don’t have to get up to slake your thirst in a few hours. Relax, breathe deeply, meditate or do relaxation exercises if you know how, and sleep. Your brain will thank you for it.

39. Get organized. I print out every confirmation, directions from airports to hotels to meetings, etc., and put them in a report cover in the order I need them. Show up at the airport parking lot with the confirmation for that reservation on top. Tear it off, and it’s the e-ticket next. Tear that off and toss it and it’s the rental car one, then directions to the hotel, then the hotel reservation, etc., all the way back to the airport and another copy of the e-ticket. Everything in one place, in the order you need it.

40. Save almost-empty cans of shaving cream, spray starch, etc., and bring them on trips. Use them the three or four times you need them, then toss them. Makes the bags lighter and gives you room to bring stuff back.

41. Get a lounge membership. I really don’t see that as a luxury. It gives you several more hours of productive work time at the airport instead of the noisy gate area.

42. Visit www.the-strap.com and get a personalized luggage strap. If you check bags, you can spot yours from across the baggage claim area. No more messing around looking at the tags on dozens of other bags. We have one on every piece of luggage we have.

43. AA flight info on the go: If your cell phone can email, or you have a two-way pager or PDA, use your mobile device to quickly check flight status. Send an email to status@aaflights.com with the body of the email in the format of AAxxxx, where xxxx is your four-digit flight number (e.g. AA0001, or AA0087). Within a few minutes, you’ll receive a response with the current status of your flight. Great for checking status on the run, or checking the status of a connecting flight.

44. Vacation packages are often cheaper than flights alone. When an airfare is higher than I might expect, I check an air and car package and throw away the car portion if I don’t need the car. AAVacations is great for this. Savings can be 40 percent or more.

45. Get an Amtrak MasterCard for overseas travel. The Amtrak MasterCard is issued by MBNA, which passes through the Visa/Mastercard 1 percent foreign currency conversion charge but doesn’t add its own markup. So the conversion cost is 1 percent. Most affinity cards cost 3 percent (Diners is 2 percent). And since Amtrak points convert 1:1 into United, Continental and Midwest (1:2 into Hilton) up to 25k points per year, it’s a pretty good fee-free card for international travelers.

46. Use meta-search tools for pricing travel. SideStep, Mobissimo, Kayak, FareChase and TravelAxe (for hotels) are efficient ways to search the landscape quickly for best fares. Then once you’ve found the fare and flight or hotel combos you’re looking for, try booking on the travel provider Web site for the best bonus or treatment. Even airline tickets and hotel stays generate mileage credit.

47. Mix business with pleasure. Short sightseeing excursions always make the business trip worthwhile.

48. Set your watch to your destination’s time zone before taking off from your home airport.

49. Don’t check in luggage.

50. Become friendly with your preferred airline’s ticketing and gate agents.

51. Use the online check-in capabilities of certain airlines.

52. Re-price car rentals a few days before you go. If demand has decreased, chances are the price may have, too.

53. If you book your trips several months out like I do, as soon as you book your flights, book your hotel and rental cars and any other cancellable items — you’ll be more mentally interested in the trip when you just booked the flight, and will probably spend more time right away searching for the best deals. Once you have everything set, make sure they are cancellable reservations (for hotel and rental cars) and then re-evaluate when it gets closer to the date in case you can get better prices.

54. Take advantage of Hotel Best Price Guarantees — a little legwork can save a lot of money. This year alone, I’ve had three free nights in hotels thanks to this and I got 75K Hilton HHonors points with the ACAQ/T promo and the Hilton’s BPG for less than 100 bucks, plus got Gold with them, and upgraded on every stay!

55. Plan for the bump (leave a change of work clothes in the car at the airport when you have a Sunday night flight back to your home city) and carry a copy of alternative routings to help the gate agents reroute you.

56. Carry trial sizes of Purell hand sanitizer.

57. Keep a photocopy of the back of all your credit cards and affinity cards so you can call in case you lose your wallet, or email yourself the toll-free and collect-call numbers to your credit card company so you will always be able to get in touch with them in an emergency.

58. Call your credit card company and let them know you’re traveling (so they don’t cancel your account for fraudulent activity or block it. AmEx loves to do this to my card if I don’t call).

59. Ship large items home if you can.

60. If you’re doing a stay in a city and then leaving the city for a few days before flying out from it again, utilize the hotel you just stayed at to hold items. An example of this was when I went to Bangkok and I did a side trip to other parts of Thailand. I was able to leave a bag in Bangkok at the hotel I stayed at, which I picked up on my way back to the airport — one less piece of luggage to carry with me.

61. Enter the telephone number of a local taxicab in your cell phone.

62. Grab a business card from the front desk before you leave a hotel in case you need it to show a cabbie on your way home.

63. Utilize public transporation as much as possible if you can — in places like London, Amsterdam, New York and D.C., there really is little reason to take a cab, as the public transportation is quite good.

64. Try to eat healthier when traveling than when at home.

65. Wear comfortable shoes and slacks when flying. On a 12-hour-long haul, uncomfortable clothing can really affect your ability to sleep.

66. Keep a spare pair of underwear in your carry-on if you’re checking luggage.

67. When you buy a new piece of luggage, it’s a good idea to take a digital picture of it, so if the airline loses your luggage, you can have a family member email you a picture to give to the lost luggage department.

68. If you have to use the restroom at an airport, use the ones inside security; they’re generally a little cleaner.

69. Carry only the credit cards/ID that you’ll need for the trip — dummy down your wallet on extended trips to only what you really will need. Be aware though, if you do this, your wallet may be stretched from having all the usual crap in it, so you may have looser card holders (so it may even be wise to have a “travel” wallet).

70. Check exchange rates before you leave so you know what you’ll be spending. Send yourself a text message on your cell phone with conversions if you need to.

71. Utilize your cell phone — I’ve got a Nokia 6820 and I can check my email, use it as an alarm clock and keep my telephone numbers in order. It even has an e-wallet that you can record your affinity numbers in if you’d like.

72. Pack light, pack early and repack before your trip to dump things you know you won’t use.

73. Instead of carrying an entire guidebook, maybe just photocopy the relevant pages that you’ll need.

74. Realize that Murphy’s law is always in effect. Just relax, smile, and know that it’ll all be OK in the end.

75. If you don’t have time to iron your clothes at the hotel the night before on a business trip, then bring them in the bathroom when you take a shower and close the door. The steam from a hot shower will help them a little bit.

76. I hate hotel closet hangers, so when I pack my good clothes, I leave them on my hanger, and carefully weave them back and forth into the suitcase. When reaching the hotel, open the suitcase, pull out your hangers, and pop them in the closet. It not only saves time, but you have your hangers to take the clothes you would be wearing for the day into the bathroom to steam them, if needed.

77. Tongue tips: When visiting abroad, don’t be tied down too much with a language guide. It helps to learn some key courtesy phrases in the host language that are universal in any situation: Hello, Do you speak English?, How do you say this (point to object) in (host language)?, Excuse me, Please, Thank you, Goodbye. When requesting something, even if you do have a language guide, most of the times you’ll just need the key word, followed by “Please.” (Note: Another reader suggested learning language basics using http://www.travlang.com/languages/indextext.html; this particular flyer can chat casually in more than 20 languages thanks to this site.–Ed.)

78. Try slimming down your luggage to check it at the gate. It’s a little more work going through security (wheels are so choice) but if you want to change flights or need to protect the contents you are carrying you will be rewarded. They are increasingly requiring that your luggage fly with you. If you get to a midway point and want to change flights they may not let you because your luggage is checked on another flight. Plus, if an overnight delay occurs, it’s nice to have it with you.

79. When booking the domestic leg where your international flight is with a different carrier, check with the domestic airline to see if it’s possible to check your luggage to your final destination. This will save you long walks between gates (terminals) with your luggage.

80. Carry a copy of Rule 240 with you when you fly (see the link below for some of the majors’ copy of 240):
http://www.mytravelrights.com/travellaw.cfm?ai=3. Also, be knowledgeable about your rights as a passenger: Visit

81. Don’t buy cheap luggage. Cheap luggage dies quickly, that’s why it’s cheap! As you all know, good luggage lasts — and yes, it bears scars over time, but it is worth the investment. I went through all sorts of cheap stuff in the past, but since going to TUMI I’ve never looked back. TravelPro is also great, but only their top-of-the-line stuff. If you’re like me and do everything you can to not check your luggage, this tip is obvious. If you have no choice, it is painful to see $700 luggage scratched or lost…but if there is damage, the airline will give you a free replacement — of cheap luggage! Take that cheap stuff, sell it on eBay and use the money to get yours fixed!

82. Ever been at a hotel and needed to print something? Rather than paying the extreme hotel charges for printing (sometimes $2 a page), FAX the document to yourself at the hotel. Hotels often do not charge for incoming faxes (check first). Online fax services such as efax.com are cheap and easy to use.

83. If you need directions, look for the nearest five-star hotel and find the concierge/information desk. They are more than happy to assist you whether or not you are staying at the hotel. (And don’t forget to tip!–Ed.)

84. Sign up for all frequent flyer promotions. There are often bonus miles for certain routes, and even if you do not plan on flying that route, a diversion or reroute may result in you flying that particular bonus mile segment. I once got bonus miles for a route that the airline cancelled — they gave this to everyone who had signed up.

85. If you want to earn miles on BOTH segments of a direct flight, find a way to force the airline to break them up. Requesting an upgrade on only the international portion should do the trick. For example, if flying DFW-EZE via MIA, upgrade only MIA-EZE so they will have to split the two segments up.

86. If you have young kids at home who love bedtime stories, buy two copies of the same book. This allows you to take one along and still read to your kids at night via the phone. They are so happy about this.

87. Upgrade others! If you have status with a carrier that upgrades you for free and will allow you to upgrade companions at the airport, use it. I look for interesting people to talk to at the gate, then I attempt to upgrade them into first class with me. You make a friend at the very least, if you are really lucky…This tip is also great for military members you notice at the gate. They are protecting the country, and upgrading them to first class is a great way to say thanks.

88. If you watch movies on your PC on the flight, carry a headphone splitter so you can allow your seatmate to watch with you. It’s much more fun to laugh at the movie together than alone.

89. Earn enough miles to be elite on at least one airline to utilize the “fast line” through security. This way, no matter what airline you fly, you will get through the line first. I fundraise for charity and have sold a one-year elite card for over $10,000, they are so valuable just for the “fast line.”

90. Carry a pack of peppermint gum around; it really is a panacea. Keeps you awake during dry meetings, helps settle an upset stomach, prevents dry throat, and of course freshens your breath after a five-hour transcon.

91. For the small-business owner: Remember that you can earn miles for your business and for yourself. Example: Alaska Air has EasyBiz, an online option for small businesses to buy tickets and earn company miles. The traveler (you) still earns miles for the trip…Of course, pay for your ticket with your Alaska air Visa and double your miles!

92. Pay rock-bottom for full-size/premium rental cars. Find the best Priceline price for the cheapest grade (subcompact) on a bidding-info site such as biddingfortravel.com or betterbidding.com. Book this rate on Priceline. Then upgrade at the rental counter. You will usually be able to get a really nice premium car or SUV for $5 to $20 over what you paid for the subcompact.

93. Park (and stay) at an airport hotel in your home city. If you have a very early morning flight, stay overnight to earn more nights (“mattress runs”) with your hotel point program; park cheaper than at airport lots; earn points for your parking; and of course be already near the airport and so avoid traffic delays. Example: FourPoints LAX has a park/stay rate that includes one night’s stay plus up to 7 days of parking for $119. Bookmark http://www.parksleepfly.com — it has listings for many cities.

94. Always take the credit card you used to purchase your plane ticket!

95. All exit rows are not created equal. Be sure to ask for the reclining exit row seat, or look at the seat map.

96. Etymotic Research earbuds are the best solution for listening to music in a noisy environment. They are very compact (unlike the Bose) and have no active circuitry. The design is such that it gives a 30 to 40 decibel cut in background noise by blocking the ear canal. Whenever I use these on a flight, I simply can not hear any of the background noise. The best part is that they are some of the best-sounding headphones on the market.

97. Always know where your inbound flight is coming from. If it’s late, there’s a good chance you’ll be late, too. Prepare your rerouting options just in case.

98. Carry a fistful of Starbucks gift cards. When an airport agent, flight attendant or hotel employee goes over the top with good service, it’s a nice gesture/reward for them. (And, they might take care of you, too!)

99. Carry a Jiffy-Pak envelope with postage in your carry-on, just in case an overzealous TSA agent finds something in your carry-on deemed too dangerous to allow on the flight (like my $80 big-barrel curling iron, mini-MagLite flashlight or Tweezerman Tweezers, for example). You can seal the offending object in the envelope, address it to yourself, and ask them to drop it in the mailbox. (When you make note of their name and ID number, they don’t usually refuse.) You don’t have to worry about correct postage: It will arrive postage-due to your address.

100. When traveling to a destination, always check out nearby airports. This will help you make last-minute alternate travel plans in case you miss a connection or want to take advantage of being bumped. You can look at the departure board and see when the next flight is, and maybe the airline will put you on that flight instead of the one many hours later.

101. Don’t trust online award-booking engines. They’re quirky at best. They don’t always show all possible routings, and the time/date combinations entered may limit the scope of searches. If you don’t find the flights you want for award redemption, always call. And when you call, always ask the agent whether an airline’s partners have award availability: Most Web sites don’t check partner awards, and many phone customer service representatives don’t check, either, without a request.

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