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Flying routines that can save every type of trip

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With all the flights and hotel movement I’m doing, having really good travel routines is essential. I’ve definitely had to keep up with a lot on my flights, so I share some of my tips to help you develop the routines to ensure your trips go smoothly…

Flying Routines that can save every type of trip

In the midst of the excitement of travel is the reality that for any trip over four hours away you’re likely to be taking a plane. And in the typically hectic pace of getting to the airport, waiting in various place, boarding, making connections and such, there are opportunities to lose valuable electronics or forget a piece of luggage and then have to spend time tracking it down.

With a regular schedule of travel, I’ve developed some ‘best practices’ over time that can ensure a smooth trip while keeping up with everything. Most of these lessons have been learned the hard way, either by me or a friend, so I share these tips to help you avoid travel difficulties.

Know your Place

For your passport, that is. You should always know where your passport is – at home there should be a spot where you keep it when not traveling, and while traveling there should be a very specific place where you store it, so you always know where it is. Same place every time will ensure consistency and reduce the likelihood of misplacing it.

Know your Place – Part 2. Never get off plane without verifying your passport is in its place. Once you get off the plane, they won’t let you back on to look for it, so this is an important step {no one will crawl on the floor and work as hard to find your lost passport as you will}.

I flew down to Mexico for a conference and spotted a colleague in the airport official’s office. She did not have her passport and they were sending her back to the US. While on the plane, she had pulled out her passport to fill out the customs form; when she went put it back in her bag, she inadvertently missed the pocket and it fell onto the floor. When she got to Mexican customs, she had no passport and they would not let her onto the plane to look for it. When I saw her, they were holding her until they could put her on a return flight to the United States. Fortunately, she lived in a city with a passport office, so she was able to make an appointment first thing the next morning to get an emergency replacement passport and fly back to Mexico the next day. You can imagine how much worse this could have been if she wasn’t near a passport office or if return flights were full or if she was traveling as part of a big family trip.

Know Your Numbers.

Every trip is a little different, so you end up using different luggage, totes, carry-on’s, and coats. I usually like to check my bags, so I don’t have to schlep them around, but there are certain trips where I will take my carry-on, and I have a fear of forgetting the bag on the plane since I seldom put items in the overhead. So, I started my ‘Know Your Numbers’ routine.

For every trip, I have two numbers – the total number of physical items I’m taking, and the number of items I’m taking onboard after checking my luggage with the airline.

Examples are:

4 / 2: Total items (4)  = Checked bag, duffle bag, carry-on, laptop bag; Onboard items (2) = carry-on, laptop bag

5 / 3: Total items (5) = Checked bag, tote bag, duffle bag, laptop bag, coat; Onboard items (3)  = tote bag, laptop bag, coat

Once you know your numbers, then make a habit that every time you stop someplace, count your items. Get out of the cab. Count. Go through security. Count. Leave the bathroom stall. Count. Get up from the seat at the gate. Count. Get off the plane. Count.

3 Steps and Stop.


Now that we’ve made sure you’ve got all your bigger items, we want to make sure not to lose any little ones. Every time you leave an area (restaurant, SkyClub, bathroom, gate seat), do a venue check and verify that you have all your key electronics and small items – phone, charger cord, laptop, headset, camera.

Then when you walk away, take three steps away, stop and look back. Make one last review of the area to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

Write it Down.

If you tend to pull out a number of items from your bag to use during your flight, adopt the ‘write it down’ habit. This sounds like it’s a bit much, but I promise it has saved me a number of times. When I get to my seat, I pull out my headphones, glasses, laptop, power cord, magazine, notebook, phone, and other miscellaneous stuff. It’s easy to lose things in those big pockets, or for the colors to blend in and not see something you put in there. If you take a moment to write down a list of the items you’ve taken out for the flight, then you can make sure to pack them all away at the end of the flight.

The key to all this is to develop the routines that you use on every trip so that keeping up with your things is easy and effortless.