Traveling is AWESOME … and it’s especially so if you’re rich and can buy first-class tickets, stay at five-star hotels, have a car and driver, a personal concierge, a valet, a sherpa, personal chef and sommelier, tailor, stylist, masseuse and Lord knows what kind of other support people there are. But – 10 years of traveling has enlightened me. Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to fly business class on international flights many times and I’ve splurged on some ridiculously expensive hotels and experiences, but I’ve also learned how to make lemonade out of lemons when the budget just can’t budge that much!
Herewith – a few of my favorite tips for traveling in a civilized manner on a welfare budget. OK, not welfare — but not Rockefeller, either. Hope they’re of use to you or someone you know!
- FLIGHTS: OK, people, this is a critical step, especially for international flights. I’m a picky bitch sometimes, and I won’t settle for just any seat, on any airline, blah, blah, blah. Here is how you can turn a Coach class experience into your own personal Business Class environment (CAVEAT: this works best when you have a two-leg international trip.)
1. Say you’re going to Rome, from Chicago, via Toronto. In Coach. Check in for the whole enchilada at one time and you can often get a bulkhead or exit row seat on the long leg – because no one in Toronto is checking in for the Rome leg as early as you are in Chicago! OK, seat selection: check.
2. OK, say this worked for you: voila, you have enough room to put your feet up! But only if you pack a carry-on that can double as an ottoman. That way you can stretch out and put your feet up on it!
3. Bring towelettes of some kind. While the peeps up in Biz Class are getting hot towels, you can wash your own hands with a scented towelette or wipe. Nice. And frankly, a hot towel only dries out your skin if you ask me.
4. Have your own happy hour! Yes, you can smell the warm almonds up in Business class, but if you pack your own, you can enjoy a glass of wine or whatever drink you prefer, with whatever you please. I like to bring roasted almonds, maybe some good cheese and crackers (I swore off the olives, as they just don’t travel that well and you’ve got olive pits to deal with.)
5. By all means, bring ear plugs and an eye mask. With two glasses of wine and an Ambien (aka, the Amy Winehouse road to a good night’s sleep), you’ve got quiet and darkness and you can snooze away.
6. Bring hand cream and lip balm. Dude, it gets drier than the Mojave and it feels like a little first-class pampering as well. I used to bring a can of facial spritz until the TSA seized it.
7. Buy at least two liters of water at the airport AFTER Security. Force yourself to drink it if you have to, but you will feel SO much better when you land. You can never get enough from the flight attendants. It’s heavy, but you won’t be carrying it off the plane, so don’t worry about it.
8. Bring socks! Comfy, comfy, comfy.
9. Be nice to the flight attendants. They have the power to dole out complimentary wine or cocktails and/or generally bestow any other favorable treatments to you – but ONLY if you’re a nice person. And civilized travelers are nice by default!
NEXT WEEK: How to wrangle a hotel upgrade, and/or enhance your overall hotel experience!