Just like many of the folks in the Scholarly Kitchen audience, most of us Chefs travel as part of our job. Whether through personal experience or the thoughtful sharing of fellow road warriors, we suspected that the Chefs might have a tip or two to pass on. (Warning: Some venting may occur)
So our question this month is: Are you a folder or a roller? What travel tips have worked for you?
Rick Anderson: I’m a folder on the way out, and a wadder-up on the way home.
Joe Esposito: Speaking as someone who has spent about one-fourth to one-third of his adult life in hotel rooms, my advice to people contemplating a career filled with business travel is: Don’t do it. The sadists who run the airlines are the least of it. You can even get over the smarminess of hotel clerks and unctuous doormen, who pretend you are the prince of an oil sheikhdom as they wheel your bags away and wait for a tip. The food on the road is not as bad as everyone says because you will be too tired from interrupted sleep and jet lag to eat much of it.
Everything is global now–we all know this. We communicate globally, we seek global markets, we default to the international idiom of English, we stick the same Visa card into readers everywhere. But what has not been globalized is the human body itself, which is a parochial outfit, preferring the familiar and the comfortable to the exotic and challenging. Click those ruby slippers together because there is no place like home.
Charlie Rapple: I’m a roller. I can’t remember where I learned that tip but it has made travels so much less chore-oriented. Who wants to do ironing on the road, or fadaddle around with steaming clothes in the shower? My top tips are:
- Always ask for a room with a view – even if you didn’t pay for one you might get it anyway since they’ll have oversold the cheap rooms (thanks to Geoffrey Bilder for that one);
- And ask for a quiet room away from the elevators (don’t forget the earplugs)
- If you use a price comparison site for car rentals, never book the cheapest one as everyone else will do the same and you will wait 2 hours while they process your entire flight; paying the extra 2% feels well worth it as you sail through the airport on arrival
David Crotty: Without a doubt, signing up for the Global Entry program has been the best travel investment I’ve made in ages. For $100 for five years you get to jump the domestic travel security line and go instead through the Pre-Check line, keeping your shoes on and your laptop in your bag, walking through the metal detector rather than the time-consuming “naked radiation scanner“. For international travel, again you jump the queue and plug your passport into a machine reader before proceeding through. It’s a bit like time traveling back to September 10, 2001, before all the security theater was put in place. Yes, it’s something of an invasion of privacy (fingerprints are required) but the upside of being stuck in traffic and arriving at JFK 20 minutes before a flight leaves and still making it onto the plane is worth it.
David Smith: Challenge accepted… (Sorry Kenny, I’m so sorry)
On a warm summers eve,
Plane pushed back but goin’ nowhere,
Sat next to a traveller,
Both resigned, but too tired to sleep,
The inflight entertainment…,
Flip-down tv overhead!
So I bought us 10 bucks of beer,
And he began to speak.
He said “Son it’s been a life,
of travelin’ the air lanes,
of knowin’ how to fast track,
and how to smile at the TSA.”
“I’ve charmed many a cabin crew,
And I see you’re sitting in a middle seat,
So rustle up two more beers and,
I’ll give you some advice.”
So I paid for two more beers,
He drank ’em – couple of swallows,
Then he cranked his seat back,
Switched on the overhead light,
And his face lost all expression,
He said “If you’re gonna travel light boy
You gotta learn to pack things right…
You’ve gotta know when to roll ’em,
And when to fold ’em,
Know how to carry on,
And get priority boarding group 1,
You never complain aboard the airplane,
To the cabin crew or else,
There’ll be time time enough for bitchin’,
When the flyin’s done.
Every traveller knows,
The secret to yer’ travelin’,
is knownin’ what needs to be packed,
And what you can leave behind,
Now Jet Lag is a bummer,
You just gotta tough it out,
And the best you can hope for is to get,
Five hours sleep a night.
And when he finished speaking,
He tossed back two Benadryl,
Said “See you on the other side,”
And he fell straight to sleep.
And somewhere over Greenland,
When dinner service finished,
I thought about his words,
And found advice that I could keep.
repeat chorus to fade.
Tod Carpenter: Congratulations! Your boss has approved your trip to Vancouver for SSP next spring. You’re excited to step outside your office and meet in-person your colleagues and suppliers, who you interact with regularly via email and phone. Here’s just a few bits advice on how to handle the run up to your trip:
- Get to know some travel tools (such as google flights, kayak, orbitz, etc) and explore the travel options. There are dozens of ways to get from point a to point b, with more options the bigger the origins and destinations are. For example NY, DC, LA and SF all have multiple flight options. For example, for your flight to SSP, you could fly into Seattle instead of Vancouver and drive the 2 1/2 hours to Vancouver along the scenic Puget Sound. The US flight options to Seattle are both cheaper and shorter. A flight to Seattle (from BWI) is about $290, while direct to Vancouver is $550. The car rental is about $20/day, so for a 4-day trip the car is $160 (including gas & parking), you just saved $100 and built into your trip a nice experience onto your trip, presuming you have the spare time to enjoy the drive. Alternatively, you can also take the train from Seattle to Vancouver (for only $45!), but this is a 4-hour trip.
- Don’t wait to the last minute to have your passport and visas in hand. Visas aren’t an issue with Canada, but your passport is a necessity. It can take weeks to get these documents prepared so don’t delay.
- Plan your trip thoroughly. Go through the program, attendee list, your network of connections and see who will also be attending and take advantage of every minute you’re there. Meet as many people as you can. There was some great advice from Charles Watkinson during SSP, “Don’t just talk to people you know.” Meetings are a great opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and engage with people you wouldn’t otherwise. Take advantage of that.
Jill O’Neill: I am a folder. I know that conventional wisdom says that rolling allows you to fit more in and reduce the wrinkles, but that has just never worked for me. As a result, I did get to be fairly good at working with the “air pockets” that can result from this approach. Scrunching in socks, fitting in a monstrous toiletry bag, nestling small gifts for my sons to make up for leaving them behind when they were little — I could always manage to fit the necessities. (My finest moment was managing to pack a crockpot into a suitcase when traveling to a family reunion, but that’s another story.)
Of course, packing has become far easier than it was 25 or 30 years ago because hotels now consider equipment like hair dryers and alarm clocks to be standard amenities. (Which reminds me of a search of my suitcase plane side in the ‘90’s at Heathrow, because my long-cherished travel alarm was heard to be ticking. They confiscated it.)
Seriously, were I to presume to advise the world travelers here on packing, the best rule I could offer is to make a plan. Create a list of what you will be wearing on each day of the trip and then adhere to that plan. In my experience, the process helps in thinking through the expectations for the various events and climate demands for each round of travel, whether it be overseas or simply to the next library association meeting. (Oh, one more word to the wise. Don’t do what one youthful colleague of mine did early in her career and bring your own bath towels. Those will put your bag into the “overweight” category for sure.)
Robert Harington: Definitely a folder – my local dry cleaner loves me. As far as practical travel tips go, I do what I can to get into TSA-Pre security lines, or wear shoes that are light and easy to slip on and off, or that extra-legroom seats are worth the minimal extra costs. Food is important to me. I rarely eat in an airport unless I am forced to. I would rather not eat than eat bad food. There are exceptions to this rule, when I find a special place. Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 3, Gate K4 has a place called Tortas Frontera, an outpost of Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. Seriously, this is the best place — I actually look forward to going to Chicago (there are two other outposts of Tortas Frontera in O’Hare in Terminal 1 and terminal 5). Knowing where to eat in a city when traveling is perhaps my number one priority – I could write a book on the subject, and I would guess I am not alone with this thought. In the end though the only real piece of advice is I have is to be laid back when traveling. For some reason I am always in a trance like state of calm on the road. I am not bothered by a queue, or people pushing in front of me, or extraneous noises, or even minor delays. When I travel I have developed this hippie sense of “whatever dude” and it takes a lot to phase me. If you can do this, not only will you feel happier, you may live longer.
Alice Meadows: This is a very timely question as I’ve spent nearly six of the last eight weeks traveling (mostly but not entirely for work). My number one tip — borne of multiple occasions when I’ve failed to do so and suffered the consequences – is to make sure you have plenty of good reading matter. Having something interesting to read makes a bad journey bearable and a good journey even more enjoyable. If possible, bring a mix of digital (load up that Kindle or IPad!) and print (nothing more frustrating than your battery running out with nowhere to charge it). And I like to mix it up a bit in terms of things you can read in short chunks (newspapers, magazines, journals, short stories) — ideal for short journeys — and longer publications that you can really lose yourself in (perfect for long journeys). So, avoid having to plumb the depths of the in-flight magazine and the misery of what passes for a bookstore at many (most?) airports and train stations by stocking up on lots of great reads in advance — as well as when you reach your destination. It won’t just make traveling a joy but also shows your support for the publishing industry!
Karin Wulf: My dad always traveled a lot, and when I was little I was fascinated with the lists he taped to the inside lid of his (hard-sided, naturally) several sizes of suitcases. He listed everything he needed for 2, 3, 4-day trips and so on. Although I love lists almost as much as my dad, and that’s saying a lot, I don’t keep a comparable list of necessities stuck inside my bags.
Still, I’ve been traveling a lot more the last two years because of a new job, and I already live in two places, so I’m either an expert on moving stuff around or I’m wasting a lot of time organizing — probably both. There are two things that help keep me stocked with what I need wherever I am: the first is having multiples of basics in both of my homes and in my travel kit. I don’t want to have to remember to put anything other than whatever has come back from the cleaners in my bag! I define basics pretty broadly, too. Maybe guys don’t need a specific comb and brush, but for more than a one-day trip, I do! I have three of each.
The second is that I like to use the smallest possible case so am always steaming my squashed clothes in the hotel bathroom!
Judy Luther: For now and in the foreseeable future, I’m a folder. The answer to this question may be driven by ones’ style of dress and choice of fabrics rather than packing skills or techniques. There are great videos showing what can be done with cubes — a friend sent me a link to one recently not knowing this was our topic of the month. However the picture of stuffing a rolled item into a small space and squeezing others in on top of it only works if the material sheds wrinkles and does not require the wearer to consider (gasp) ironing. I’m sure there are those who carry steamers or rely upon the mist of a shower to release wrinkles.
The other factor is choice of travel bag and whether you are willing to check it. As an advocate of carry-on to save time in arrivals and departures as well as minimizing risk of lost bags, packing requires careful shopping for lightweight clothes that are not bulky. Folding works best in a bag with flat sides while rollers can definitely use duffels and backpacks. But those of us committed to a rolling bag, if we choose wisely, can travel light and still arrive in a timely manner without looking as though we slept in the airport.
Ann Michael: To follow on Judy’s comments, I highly recommend you investigate Briggs & Riley luggage. Since they mount the handle on the outside of the bag (not inside like everyone else does), you get more room inside for packing. They are not cheap, but they are no more expensive than other “marque” brands (Travelpro, Tumi, etc.) and they have a lifetime guarantee. Most of my luggage is B&R and I swear by them. When I did need to have one bag fixed, they turned it around in 48 hours and cleaned it for me too – all free!
I also second David Crotty on Global Entry. In fact, I’ve now also applied for Nexus, which is a cooperative agreement between the US and Canada allowing expedited entry into Canada ($50 for the application). Regarding Global Entry, check your credit cards to see if any of them offer reimbursement of the Global Entry application fee as a benefit. I used my American Express and as soon as the $100 charge hit, I was reimbursed — I love it when stuff works well!
What’s my travel tip? If you are in a rewards program, don’t be shy about calling the “concierge” number for reservations. There are often things the customer service folks can do that you cannot do online. For example, want to use your American/US Air upgrade certificates? Then you have to call them. Also, since you have to call to use them anyway, call to make the reservation. The reason? They can direct you to flights on which you can use the certificates. There is nothing as frustrating as being a good online self service customer only to find out that IF you had booked the flight that left an hour earlier, you could have used your certificates. Unfortunately, now it will cost you a change fee to move to that flight- which isn’t worth it, so you can’t use your certificates. Another example of why it might make sense to call is the Starwood Preferred Guest program. They have deals that you can only get by calling in (e.g., the SPG50 deal where for 1000 points you can get a hotel room at 50% off rack rate for up to 5 days). Bottom line: Know your rewards programs and know when to call!
On a slight tangent, please, please, please be considerate of everyone else that is flying too. Know the rules (3-1-1, when you have to remove laptops, if you need to take off your shoes, etc.) and when your belongings come out of the scanner, gather them up and move out of the way. For some reason, some folks are in their own little world when they hit the airport and they make it harder for everyone around them. Don’t be that person 🙂
Oh…I’m a hybrid, folder and roller. The things that are likely to wrinkle are rolled and placed into all the nooks and crannies created by the items that were folded. I never, never, never, wad (Rick) on the way out or on the way back!
So what are your favorite travel tips?
What would you tell us all about how to make travel run more smoothly and be, dare I say, a pleasant experience?
13 Thoughts on "Ask The Chefs: Are You a Folder or a Roller? What Travel Tips Have Worked For You?"
My advice is carryon whenever you can. This was learnt the hard way – I have lost my case 3 times, the worst was having to survive 1 week working in Georgia Russia with only a spare T shirt and pair of (UK)pants, and my washbag things stolen from the hotel room (but that’s another story). Also, use an iPad instead of a laptop: this has been a revelation and avoided repeated frozen shoulder problems. I am also a competitive packer – I defy anyone to squeeze as much (folded or rolled) into a carryon case. I sometimes roll, other times I fold, but I never, ever, iron.
Noise-cancelling earphones are a lifesaver. Know that stuffy feeling you get after flying? It’s actually temporary hearing loss caused by the low rumble.
+1 for travelling carry-on only. And I’ve drunk the Tom Bihn luggage kool-aid and abandoned roller bags. With my soft-sided, compact Aeronaut, I can almost always squeeze into an overhead, or in a pinch, under my seat, when everyone else is relegated to gate-checking. Also: folder. Tried rolling, everything got wrinkled and it made retrieving just that one thing a hassle.
Wow these are great – I’d plus one all of you if I could. Pippa – I’m actually in physical therapy now because of the shoulder thing! Ken – I had no idea that was why I felt that way (I need to find smaller noise canceling head phones though, all the ones that really work are huge – advice welcome!). Allison – I would be afraid to give up my roller board (but i must confess I have about 8 of them – for different size planes so that I can still carry on!).
On the first night at Ft. Leonardwood that kind man who had run us for about 5 miles from point A to Z took the time to teach us how to roll our gear so that it all of it would fit into a duffel bag. After, Leonardwood I went to Ft. Brag where our jump master taught us how to fold everything we would need for two weeks into a back pack. As for travel tips, once out the door keep your legs bent and toes pointed down so you don’t sprain your ankle when landing. Lastly, go for the chicken in the can because you can cook the whole thing in your helmet! Nam taught me that any room with a roof over your head was luxurious and any meal without bugs in it a feast. Those lessons served me well for some 40 years on the road.
Thanks to the Internet I no longer do business travel (which my wife calls body porting). Wasting two days to attend a couple of one hour meetings is very inefficient. As are meetings generally, because people do not have time to think, as they do in email exchanges. I collaborate with people around the globe, on projects with clients from coast to coast, all from home. Once a month I may use the phone. So my tip is stop traveling.
There was something in Science magazine years ago about the importance of re-setting your biological clock. When you reach your destination … stay up during the day and be outside when the sun is setting. It has something to do with allowing your body to experience a sunset in your new location. This has always worked for me going from West to East.
I like to use services like Expedia because they introduce me to hotels i would never otherwise discovered, often boutique hotels with real charm compared with the chain hotels. On a tro[ earlier this week I got to stay in The Peninsula Hotel on 55th and 5th in NYC for $85. This is a top luxury hotel with an amazing number of amenities and state-of-the-art technology (including a control panel for TV, radio, and phone right on the wall next to the bathtub), and it also features a world-famous open-air bar on top of the 24-story hotel.
My other piece of advice is always being open to introducing yourself to the people you’re seated next to (which means not closing yourself off by putting on noise-blocking headphones. I have met some very interesting people on planes (such as a young woman who owns a bookstore in Brooklyn), and our conversations have helped pass the time while adding to my knowledge of all sorts of different subjects. I have often followed up these encounters with subsequent email exchanges. (I still keep in touch with the Brooklyn bookstore owner.)
I am a folder. I used to use actual clothing folders but, ironically, they take up too much space. Either way, I know I will need to iron just about everything, regardless of how I fold them. I always try to get a sense for how much walking I will need to do on business travel–like are my meetings a mile away from the hotel. This helps me pack shoes.
Global Entry–Yes, Yes, Yes!! Saves loads of time, especially with international travel. After a long flight it feels good to sail past the throngs of people in the customs line and just breeze over to a kiosk and be done with it. NOTE: Not at airlines participate. If you find yourself on a bargain airline (I’m looking at you Frontiers), you cannot get TSA Pre-check.
Do not take 4 flights in one day. I have done that once and the odds are not in your favor.
Other tips…Atlanta Hartsfield has a “frequent traveler” security line. Take it if you know how to actually travel. If you choose this line and have a bottle of water in your bag, people may actually start throwing trash at you. You’ve been warned.
Dulles has a Dunkin’ Donuts in Concourse D that is technically between C and D. If stuck in C but at the upper numbers, take the walk to D&D in the D concourse. Always worth it. Also, Five Guys is always open for breakfast.
David Smith, you win TSK this time my friend.
I’ll also throw in the JetBlue terminal at JFK for good restaurants, particularly Deep Blue, the sushi restaurant. The Delta terminal at JFK has a Shake Shack, which is always worth a shot as well. At DCA, make sure you eat before you go through security, as all the good restaurants are on the outer part of the airport. Wagamama at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. And I’ll second Robert’s Fronteras Tortas recommendation.
And Sandy, my worst nightmare is sitting next to someone who wants to chat. Time on the airplajne is my time. It’s a rare moment in life where there is no phone service, and no internet, and I can actually sit guilt-free and read a book or watch a movie. Nothing worse than some stranger intruding on this precious time. I’ve been known to put in headphones and just run the cord into my pocket to avoid these conversations.
+1 to Frontera Tortas (I’ve been known to route through Chicago to other destinations simply to grab a torta between flights). Also +1 to Global Entry and to never, ever, under any circumstances (ski trips are the exception) ever checking a bag. Like Ann, I have multiple carry on bags which I size to the plane. For regional flights where a roller bag won’t fit in the cabin, I carry a small soft-sided shoulder bag. Having to wait for a gate-checked roller bag can mean missing your connection. Checking a bag also forces you to travel light, which is almost always a good thing.
One tip I don’t see here is to put any information you might need traveling in Evernote or a secured software program like 1Password (for sensitive information). Health records, copies of passports and visas, numbers to call if your wallet is stolen and you have to cancel everything, and all your frequent flier and travel rewards numbers. I also put my itinerary in TripIt, mainly so I can see everything lined everything up chronologically and make sure I haven’t booked something on the wrong day (which I have done more times than I care to remember).
Another rule I live by that has become increasingly important as the skies become every more crowded, is to never fly on the day you have to be somewhere. If you have a meeting somewhere that involves air travel, always fly in a day early as flight delays and cancellations have become all too common.
It is important to meet people face-to-face and so travel remains necessary but I’m with Joe that a business trip avoided is the best kind.