I have had to travel for work a lot recently, which has been an adjustment period, considering that before this job I’d had exactly 2 round trips on planes (1 at age 5, 1 at age 17, both to Disney World, weirdly). It’s been a learning thing.
Chapter One: Physically Getting to The Airport
The first time I traveled for work, I took public transit to the airport because I felt too guilty expensing a $50 cab or $30 parking. I have since learned that expensing things is fairly normal, while tired people showing up late for a flight after 1.5 hours of public transit is not.
Chapter Two: Um, Paying for Things
Speaking of expensing, you need a credit card with a limit higher than $500. I was grateful when a co-worker explained that I didn’t need to save my own money to front travel expenses, but instead should get a credit card with some kind of rewards points (Skymiles for me) and rack them up while improving my credit by paying off those airport dinners and cab rides. Side note: Get into frequent flier miles. It’s a consolation for the evenings spent away from your TV (or family, depending on where you’re at in life).
Chapter Three: Getting on the Actual Plane
Get your airline’s mobile app and check in before you even get there. Save a screenshot of your boarding pass on your phone so you’re ready to fly through security. Remember to wear socks, as you’ll be taking off your shoes (I made this mistake once, wearing only 1 sock cuz it was like 6 a.m. when I left, resulting in ridicule for weeks). Put your laptop in its own little security bucket and take off anything metallic. Don’t fuck with liquids, although those little hotel shampoos seem to get through ok.
Chapter Four: Dealing with Flight Anxiety
Despite my many anxieties, luckily I don’t have flight anxiety. It could be because of a couple mentalities/practices I have:
1) Catholic guilt makes me only anxious about things that are in my control, giving me constant fear of letting people down. Plane rides are all on the airport staff, so if we die in a fiery crash, at least it’s not cuz I fucked up. (This is also why I don’t have anxiety about roller coasters.)
2) I like to play a game called “Be Calmer than The Next Guy.” Zero in on someone who seems nervous (hacking coughs are an indicator) and think something like, “That noob is so nervous to fly. Good thing I’m a pro and know it’s totally safe. Safer than riding in a car!” (It is!) Finally, remember that turbulence happens. You are NOT, repeat NOT on Final Destination every time the seatbelt light goes on.
3) If you are on an evening flight, drink a little bit at the airport. If you’re real anxious, get wine on the plane. Pretend you’re classy. They don’t call it “confidence juice” for no reason.
Chapter Five: Dealing with Cab Drivers
You’re going to have a lot of cab drivers who will vary in friendliness/ creepiness. If one asks you when you lost your virginity (he’s curious because he has a teenage daughter), you don’t need to answer him.
Chapter Six: Hotel!!!!! Food!!
Hopefully, you will get a nice hotel room to yourself and also some free food. This is one cool thing about traveling for work. One note – don’t expect any alone time. Work travel gets kinda social so just deodorize for a second in your hotel room and be ready to not spend much time in it. Then go act like the fancy food you’re being served is par for the course in your life, not uh … a complete shift from your regular Lean Cuisine evenings.
Chapter Seven: Not Getting Fat from All This
I still haven’t mastered this, although the super master pros tend to take up running and don’t feel bad about turning down cocktails/ carbs at dinner. One tip I do have: Use the hotel gym.
Chapter Eight: Entertainment
All that time one the plane, if not spent working, is all about trashy magazines. You’ll blow through magazines like nobody’s business. Once this happens, you have unlocked a level called “secret productivity” where you can spend flights/ time at the airport reading actual books or even working on your own screenplay or whatever. Channel those 10 minutes spent reading SkyMall directly into your dystopian novel.
Chapter Nine: Obligatory Cloud Shot on Instagram
Let your peers know you travel for work by insisting on taking a shot of clouds from your perspective on the plane and captioning it with something like, “The heavens!” Justify this with an argument like, “People from the past would be super jealous of my ability to look down at clouds on a regular basis.” Cuz they actually would.