Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
Helping You Make Every Minute Matter!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Emily Parks' Travel Tips

After 8 full weeks of counting down to Memorial Day with interviews highlighting the preferences and best practices of several superstars who travel quite frequently (Laura Doerre, Geralin Thomas, Coach Dave Clawson, Olalah Njenga, Natalie Perkins, Coach Jay Vidovich, David Glenn and Ashley Christensen), giving you tidbits about what works for them as well as takeaways to try for your next trip, I have been asked to share my own answers to those same questions. Therefore, today, I bring you my travel hacks:

Q: Do you travel mainly for business, pleasure or both?

A: Usually, I travel for business; however, I make it a point to incorporate some fun along the way, whether it's a concert, sporting event, sightseeing, trying a highly recommended restaurant or catching up with friends in the area.

Q: Do you prefer traveling via plane, train, boat or automobile?

A: I've never really tried traveling by train or boat, and I'm not a fan of driving; hence, I'd have to say plane. It takes me out of the driver's seat and lets me use that time however I choose.

Q: What is your favorite destination and why?

A: These days, my favorite destination city is a three-way tie between Nashville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio, Texas. For more on what I like best about those destinations, check out my "Top Ten Favorite Cities" blog post.

Q: What is your preference for airlines?

A: I prefer to fly on Southwest Airlines. It matters to me that they don't nickel and dime you with added fees for anything and everything you could want. When I buy a ticket from Southwest Airlines, it includes 2 checked bags as well as a complimentary beverage and snack; plus, there is no charge to make changes to my reservation as long as I stay within the same level of ticket purchase, like Wanna Get Away or Business Select. Further, I really like how the employees of Southwest Airlines seem to enjoy their jobs more than what I've experienced with employees of other airlines. They make flying more enjoyable overall!

Q: What is your preference for hotels or accommodations?

A: Although I take advantage of my memberships in loyalty programs for Hilton, Kimpton, Marriott and Starwood Hotels whenever possible, for me, it's more important to make sure I'm staying at a hotel that is convenient to what I'll be doing when in that city. Further, I look for accommodations that are clean, safe and include complimentary WiFi as much as I can.

Q: Do you book your own travel or prefer a travel agency?

A: I usually book my own travel. Between Expedia, Google Trips, Hopper, Skiplagged and each airline's or hotel's own app, there are so many tools to make booking my own travel easier, particularly empowering me to get the best deal while allowing me to travel whenever it works best for my own schedule restrictions. I like to travel at random times, like nights, so I can utilize all my daylight hours to their fullest, and I can finagle travel around my unique preferences most easily on my own. Still, if I'm looking for some help, the Lola app is an on-demand, personal travel service to assist me in booking flights, travel or whatever I might need.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for making the most of loyalty programs or points?

A: Know what is included in your membership because you can't utilize benefits about which you are unaware. For example, with the Starwood Preferred Guest program, I get complimentary in-room Internet access when I book through their websites or mobile app as well as complimentary in-room bottled water. Marriott Rewards provides complimentary in-room Internet access when I book direct through any of their own channels. Best yet, Kimpton Karma Rewards provides free WiFi, a "raid the bar" or happy hour option, in-room spa credit, the ability to maintain a record of my custom stay preferences and a complimentary room stay during my birthday month no matter how many credits I've accumulated towards a free night stay. Keep your email address on record with your account up-to-date so you can be notified of changes to your benefits or birthday rewards when they roll around.

Q: When flying, what do you ensure is in your carry-on?

A: It's important to me that all my tech tools (MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone) as well as corresponding charging cords are safely with me in my carry-on throughout my travels. I have a Leather Charger Roll Up from Mark And Graham that includes my ESP initials which I use to keep organized an extra cord and plug for my smartphone and tablet, earbuds and cord for charging my iPad keyboard; additionally, I have Zippered Cable Tie Wraps from Neet Products that protect each of my cords while keeping them securely rolled up. Beyond that, I like to have a printed magazine to peruse during takeoff and landing, an empty S'well® bottle that I can fill up as needed along the way, IMAK Compression Pain Relief Mask and Eye Pillow, my Total Pillow microbead portable pillow, extra cardigan or sweater, meds, BandAids, toothbrush and toothpaste.

Q: Do you keep an extra bag of toiletries packed?

A: Absolutely! It makes it so much simpler to ensure I don't forget any of my necessities, particularly for my skincare routine.

Q: How do you organize your time while on-the-go?

A: I've learned to do as much prep-work as possible beforehand, meaning I'll investigate what I want to accomplish before leaving Raleigh (restaurants where I want to eat, attractions to visit, details to cover during scheduled meetings) and note as much as possible in an Evernote notebook dedicated to that trip. Then, I put as many details as I can into my electronic calendar for all my commitments, whether for conference sessions, hotel / restaurant reservations or events to which I've purchased tickets.

Q: What tools or tactics do you use to keep your accommodations organized while traveling?

A: There seems to be a trend amongst hotels, especially those that haven't been updated recently, to not have enough electrical outlets, particularly near the bed where you need to easily access phones and tablets; therefore, I make sure to take my Audiovox multi-plug surge protector. Further, I pack with all the details of what outfits I'll wear in mind so, upon arrival at the hotel, I try to unpack quickly, hanging up my apparel with all elements of each outfit grouped together on the hangers. That way, I can more easily get ready each morning, grabbing all I need at once.

Q: Do you use technology to help stay productive and organized? If so, what's your favorite program, app, website or tech tool for surviving the chaos of daily life? And what's your favorite for being your best while traveling?

A: Very much so! My favorites for maintaining my sanity while traveling are Evernote, Calendar, The Weather Channel, Dialpad, Reminders and Morning Kit. Before leaving, I like PackPoint for helping make sure I pack whatever I'll need, and, while traversing the country, I prefer using Lyft or Citymapper for on-demand transportation. Meanwhile, I depend on AroundMe, CurEatDetour, Field Trip, Find. Eat. Drink., Offline, Peek, RootsRated, Spot, The Scoop, Time Out, and Viator to find the hidden gems no matter what is my destination. Finally, if I need a place to work, I peruse the local options via Breather, LiquidSpace and WeWork.

Q: Across all your travels, which restaurants did you enjoy most and why were they your favorites?

A: In Nashville, my friend Beth and I enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch at Adele's, which is housed in the old Universal Tire Center; with my background in the automotive industry, I was enthused by reusing this old service center for such a nice restaurant. Then, in Pittsburgh, I joined fellow members of the National Association of Professional Organizers Deb and Kathy for an amazing dinner that exceeded expectations at the highly-recommended Butcher and the Rye, following which we were rescued from a downpour of rain by the wonderful Coach Jay Vidovich, which certainly made for a memorable experience as Kathy watched the dramatic storm coming our way while we ate outside. Finally, in San Antonio, my friend Heather and I enjoyed a tasty Italian meal while overlooking the beautiful riverfront along the sidewalk of the riverwalk. Overall, I find it much easier to associate magical memories with dining experiences since they incorporate so many of our senses, especially pairing incredible food with wonderful dining companions. For more on which restaurants I've liked best, check out my "Top Ten Favorite Restaurants" blog post.

Q: If you could have one super power to make traveling (or life in general) a little better, what would it be?

A: As I've always envied Dorothy's ability to click her heels together and immediately return home in The Wizard of Oz, I would love the super power of teleportation. Eliminate wasted time!

Readers, do your preferences mirror mine? Do you use any of the tools or hacks that I've learned over my many travels? Which tip do you plan to implement in the future?

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