To become a better traveler is daunting. There is so much involved. However, one step is all is takes. Great news, you can pick your own step.
Two unrelated examples immediately come to mind:
- Golden Gate Bridge. Maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge is never complete. In fact, one crew is dedicated to continuously painting the bridge.
- Health. It is inspiring to read about weight loss success stories. While most examples are complicated and overwhelming, one example sticks in my mind. A professional football player needed to lose about 50 pounds to be effective in his role. He struggled with his size for years. Various combinations of exercise, sleep, diet, and hypnosis failed. One change, one step, helped him get to optimal weight. He replaced butter on his daily baked potato with salsa.
These two examples, and countless others, remind me small steps help and a continual process of improvement works best.
I try to remember: It’s the journey, not the destination.
I become frustrated, even paralyzed, when facing daunting tasks—such as organizing my genealogy notes, cleaning the house, improving my health, and trying to become a better traveler. Yes, even though I was profiled as a World’s Smartest Traveler, I still want to become a better traveler.
One travel aspect I want to improve, to optimize, is earning points. Just thinking about the whole process, though, gives me a headache. So many experts, websites, credit cards, deals, systems, philosophies…
[[ screaming break ]]
My Recent One Step to Become a Better Traveler
My health insurance company announced a few months ago that premiums can be paid by credit card. I now pay the premium with a point earning credit card instead of having the amount taken directly from the checking account. I am sure some points expert can point (pun intended) out a credit card which will earn more points or some better process.
But I took the first step! [[ back-patting break ]]
That one step made me a better traveler. [[ hard to type and pat my back ]]
I also recently enrolled for FTU (Frequent Traveler University)—sessions are in a few weeks. I have been thinking about it for years and, for heaven’s sake, it is about time I learn more about the points game. If you will be at FTU, please let me know or say Hello there.
Suggestions to Become a Better Traveler
Here are some steps I have either taken or want to take to become a better traveler:
- Skip Lines. When renting cars, I almost always bypass the counters. I primarily use Hertz Gold and National Emerald Club programs. My car is assigned and ready when I arrive. I find my car, stow my bags, and drive to the security gate. These are FREE programs, even if I never use them. Another line skipping resource is TSA PreCheck. There are certainly others.
- Pack Light. Speaking of bags, it has been probably 15 years since anyone in my family has checked a bag for a flight. We have a system for packing light and fly only with carryon bags.
- Alternate Lodging. One reason we pack light is by staying in vacation rental house and apartments, with washers and dryers. On road trips, I prefer independent motels to chain hotels. In addition to vacation rentals and independent properties, I have tried Couchsurfing, hostels, AirBNB, car camping, begging friends, and whatever works.
- Notifications. Let travel suppliers tell you when they have deals. Sign up for alerts from your favorite (or any) airline, rental car, hotel, and cruise line. Travel agents and other information sources also send updates—including Apple Vacations, Airfarewatchdog, Smarter Travel, TravelZoo, Kayak, Expedia, and more. Communication can be via email, Twitter, text message, or RSS feed. SUPER TIP: Look for opportunities to customize preferences to only receive pertinent information, like specific routes, properties, or destinations.
- Mobile Apps. No doubt about it, familiarity with mobile technology will help you become a better traveler. I have a few favorite apps I use to find great places to eat, last minute lodging deals, and other travel information. Many people tell me the Skyscanner app is great but I still have not used it. OK, I just downloaded it. Another small step for me.
- Get Help. Be realistic. Do you have the time or interest to become a better traveler? If not, find a competent travel professional to be your partner. I happen to be a travel advisor (aka travel agent) in addition to independent travel skills aficionado. My intent is to help people become better travelers and/or travel better. Whether working with me or someone else, you should be able to save time, stress, and hopefully, money.
What other ONE STEP can you take to become a better traveler?