Top 3: (10) Definitive Travel Tips from Richard McGirr

This travel tips list is provided by our guest to the show Richard McGirr from Episode 22

Many times there are things we want to talk about with the guests, but we either forget or run out of time. The point of the Top 3, in this case 10, is to provide extra content with stuff not in the normal podcast.

1. Carry-On

The preferred carry-­on is a back pack, as you can maintain agility and it isn’t as cumbersome as a roller bag.

2. Emergency Preparedness

The following is mandatory equipment in your backpack, and will see you comfortably through a 48 hour period of check bag loss, or an overnight connection. Losing your check bag or having a surprise overnight delay is a very common occurrence. Plan for it. 

a. Two pairs of synthetic boxers (synthetic is easier to hand wash and dries overnight)

b. Two pairs of dress socks, (why dress socks? They can be worn with dress shoes or sneakers, you can’t wear white socks with dress shoes).

c. One extra T­-shirt

d. One extra pair of chinos. Chinos, like the dress socks, can be worn casually or business casual with a dress shirt. I recommend Ralph Lauren chinos as they are durable, comfortable, and equally suited for casual or business attire.

e.  Your complete toiletries bag (don’t be an idiot, all liquids should be travel sized so they don’t get taken by security).

f. 10,000mah power bank + all required charging cables. IMO these should never leave the backpack, even when not traveling.

g. Eye mask + ear plugs

h. Bottle of melatonin pills. I like the 10mg because 3 or 5 won’t last me through an 8+ hour flight.

3. Long Connections

Get a hotel room in the airport for any connection over 8 hours. Well worth the money to be fully rested and showered when you arrive at your destination. Also breaks up a 20+ hour trip into two more manageable pieces.

4. Legroom

Always pay the $30 for an exit row or extra leg room in coach. Don’t be an idiot.

5. Travel Adapters

Pack a full­size powerbar with at least 6 sockets and 4 USB ports in your native socket type in your check bag + 2 travel adapters with their own USB socket.

6. Seat Choice / Sleeping in Coach

Window seats, shunned by people who ­think­ they know how to fly because they are inconvenient to exit, are scientifically proven to be by far the easiest coach or premium economy seat to sleep in. Roll up your blanket or Jacket against the wall and fall asleep. Travel neck pillows do not provide nearly enough neck support and you will almost always wake up with a sore neck. In order to get to sleep, have 1­-2 whisky cocktails and take a melatonin. Every time you wake up take another melatonin. You can power nap through 10­-12 hours straight no problem, even in coach, with this approach.

7. Bladder Control & Alcohol Consumption

Avoid the need to get up to urinate by only drinking one glass of water in the morning before your flight. If you must have a pre­flight cocktail, have a whiskey on the rocks, no more than 2 doubles. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will make you go to the bathroom until your kidneys process everything. You will definitely be dehydrated when you land, but it won’t kill you.

8. Airport Lounge and Travel Credit Cards

The American Express Platinum Card is an absolute most for anyone that flies more than 3 times a year. It will get you into at least one lounge regardless of ticket class at almost every airport in the world via either their own branded Centurion Lounge or through their partnership with Priority Pass Premier. Another benefit is that because it’s a charge card (as opposed to a credit card) and thus does not have a set credit limit, the balance does not count against your credit usage factor on your credit score.

9. Frequent Flyer Programs

For me personally, frequent flyer programs do not make any sense. This is because I travel to many destinations, and unlike international hotel brands, all major airlines are based in certain countries or areas. For example, you cannot fly Delta from Frankfurt to Hong Kong, nor can you fly Lufthansa from LAX to JFK. Also, prices seem almost random to me, so I usually buy whatever is the best combination of flight duration and price that I find on the American Express Travel website. I guess if you are solely a domestic traveler this could be different, as you could book the same carrier over and over, but it’s doesn’t work for me.

10. Hotel Loyalty Programs

Hotel loyalty programs are an entirely different matter because major hotel chains have hotels all over the world, and the benefits are much more valuable. My favorite is Marriott, especially after their recent acquisition of Starwood hotels group. Free breakfast, automatic upgrade to suites/villas, executive lounge access with free cocktails, what more can I say? For point redemption, determine a minimum rate of points to $ to determine whether to use points or cash to pay for a stay. For Marriott, my personal calculation is 1 US$ per 100 points, and I recently found out this is Marriott’s internal calculation as well.

Remember that every 5th night is free when using points with Marriott, so only use points for trips of 5 nights or more. To find out if you will be able to get an upgrade, just check the hotel website and see if any suites are available. If there are suites available, book the lowest rate room and you will be upgraded when you arrive. On my recent anniversary trip to Thailand, my 10 night stay in a Villa was US$500 more per night market rate compared to the basic room I booked. A savings of $5000 on one trip

Bonus Tip!

Business Travel: This section applies to both hotel points and airline miles. Never EVER use points for business travel. Points cannot be expensed in any country or tax regime. You are throwing money away. Use your points for person travel only. All is not lost however, because your travel expenses will build your point balance, and your status perks can make your stay much more comfortable business trip or not.

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