From the temporary office in Fairfield, Iowa.
Tip: When it comes to hotels, you get what you pay for (sort of).
Without mentioning names, I've been in hotels that cost $250 a night and those that cost $60 a night. The big differences?
- Food. The food is better at the expensive places. I'm currently staying at a "lower end of the scale" hotel this week, and I was sure that I would end up projectile vomiting my breakfast yesterday morning (the eggs smelled kind of, well, funny). So far my immune system seems to be ruling the day.
- Decor. Everything in my current hotel room seems to be tinted a dull yellow. I'm not sure if that's the horrible compact florescent light bulbs in use, baked into the paint cigarette smoke (this place is older...as in pre-smoking ban older), or just yellow-ish paint. The completely yellow-themed bathroom doesn't help.
- Sound. I could literally transcribe the voicemail I heard from the room next to me last night.
Tip: Never, ever leave anything on the floor.
I was told this back in the early '90s. Maybe it's an urban legend, but the idea is that anything left on a hotel room floor may end up becoming a transportation vehicle to your home for some kind of unwanted critter guest. I even keep my shoes off of the floor.
Tip: Ziplock bags are your friend.
I always keep an extra ziplock bag with me when I travel. Use them to store the extra batteries you had to get at WallyWorld last night. Or keep the above-mentioned critters from eating that half of a candy bar you also bought at WallyWorld last night.
Side note: Forget fancy pill containers...I now just use three ziplock bags. I use a big bag with two smaller bags inside of it (one for morning stuff, one for evening stuff). The advantage? I can easily find a nook or cranny in my backpack for the stuff I am taking.
Tip: Bring a spoon.
I always have a spoon in my toiletry bag. It comes in handy in case you, well, need a spoon. Seriously, for example, if you bring something into your room to eat or if you are old and need to mix your Metamucil.
Tip: Don't connect through Chicago O'Hare.
I've been violating this tip lately, and I'm sure at some point there will be a punishment administered. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Chicago O'Hare has an on-time rating of about 80%. That means there is a 1 in 5 chance that your flight will be delayed or even canceled. All it takes is one forced overnight stay in an airport to learn why this is a bad thing. In addition to the Russian Roulette of on-time departures, O'Hare can be over-crowded and filled with nasty people (Why? They got the 20% previously referenced).
Tip: Airports are food Hell.
Airport food is dramatically over-priced and rarely any good. I've tried to get healthier food (well, healthier by my...low...standards) and have always been disappointed. Want a hot drink for Starbucks? Well, if you are at Chicago O'Hare and your flight is delayed, you may just have time to wait through the line. Otherwise? You're out of luck.
Tip: Checking your bag isn't so dangerous.
I've been traveling for almost 30 years and do occasionally check my bag. The number of times I've actually had a checked bag lost? Exactly zero. The number of times a bag has been delayed? Exactly twice. You have to be smart about this though; for example, never pack medications or expensive electronics in a checked bag. It's actually pretty nice not having to lug a bag through an airport.
Tip: Spring for First Class every once in a while.
Every once in a while I will spend an extra $70 (or so) of my own money and upgrade to a First Class seat. After a long and tiring trip, it's sometimes down-right demoralizing to cram yourself into a seat with enough leg-room for a dwarf and less than an inch of cushioning for your posterior. First-class is like another world of airplane travel. There is actually room. The seats aren't (seemingly) 18" wide.