Monday, September 12, 2005
I used to travel frequently, but it has been so long that I'm out of practice. I once was able to prepare for a trip (packing, getting itinerary information, driving directions, everything) in less than an hour, but this trip is taking a little longer than that.
Among the things I had to do:
- Call the corporate travel office and book the flight, rental car, and hotel arrangements.
- Find my old Delta SkyMiles number, and get my flight associated with that
- Use Delta's online check-in service
- Find my old Hertz #1 Club Gold number, and get my rental car associated with that (I want to never stand in a rental-car line again).
- Activate my new corporate American Express card.
- Fill out the form indicating that I promise not to abuse the new corporate American Express card.
- Use Google Maps to get directions from the airport to the office, from the office to the hotel, and to a few other sites I'll be visiting.
- Get the phone numbers of colleagues in the area.
- Get the weather forecast for Pueblo to figure out what kind of clothing I'd need.
- Forward a bunch of this information to my bosses, administrative assistants, and my mother.
- Print a bunch of this stuff so that I'll have the info handy.
- Find my suitcase.
- Figure out why my laptop's battery isn't charging.
This stuff took a couple of hours. It strikes me that a software application that takes care of centralizing all this information and automating some of the steps would be valuable. Maybe I'll play around with that idea while I'm stuck in my hotel room.
I keep Airline Frequent Traveller numbers, phone numbers, and websites all associated with a "Contact" in Outlook (although any PIM would work). If I need Delta's frequent-flyer number, I look under Delta.
I used to keep them in one contact called "Travel", but this way you can store each sites phone numbers, websites, usernames, etc.
Aside: I keep my clothing sizes under a PIM entry called "Clothing". If I were a better husband, I'd put Sandy's sizes under a "Clothing - Sandy", but I know better to buy her anything that is sized. Earrings, scarves, necklaces -- all good. Shoes? I leave that to her...
I also use the same password and PIN for all those type of sites.
I keep a rugged nylon portfolio (with two open pockets and a zippered pocket) in my carry-on. It contains all my itineraries, boarding passes, and googlemaps handy. I put my receipts in the zippered pocket as they accumulate.
As for websites I visit frequently, I bookmark mapping, airline, hotel, car rental and weather websites under a folder called "Travel". Yahoo maps used to let you save 'locations' so you could get driving directions from 'home' or 'work'.
It's a bit of a pain to do it the first time, but I find it saves time immediately. I remember setting up the United entry waaay back in 1999, and it's been working for me ever since.
My wife bought an "iGo Juice" a couple of years ago. It came with adaptors for her laptop, cellphone, and Palm Pilot. It didn't come with a charger for her iPod, but the iPod sync cable charges it from the laptop.
She bought it with an international adaptor kit, so she can go to France.
Along with the Ethernet cable, telephone cable, power cables, chargers for two cell phones (personal and work) and the charger for my iPod, I think I had about 20 pounds of insulated metal in my suitcase.
I'm going to have to look into this "wireless" technology I keep hearing about.