As a lifetime Platinum flier on American Airlines (meaning I log tens of thousands of miles every year), I know the challenges of being a road warrior. Here are my best tips—and those of two other travel veterans—to help you function efficiently during travel.
Airport restaurant options are rapidly expanding. “Most airports are… focusing on passenger well-being, with more ways to relax or recharge,” says Chris McGinnis of San Francisco-based Travel Skills Group Inc. “Just look at [the San Francisco airport’s] new Terminal 2, for example—you can buy a roasted chicken dinner and glass of local wine.”
For in-flight foods, Virgin Air leads in healthy dining options, with menus that include a protein box (hummus, almonds, tuna and crackers) and a Thai veggie half-wrap.
If you’re driving, restaurant and fast-food chains along the interstates offer healthy fare. You’ll find low-calorie and low-sodium menu choices plus salads and nutritious sides.
At your destination, most hotel menus have health-conscious choices—smaller portions and low-calorie and special-diet foods. Hyatt offers organic ingredients and smaller servings; boutique-brand Kimpton hotels offer in-room meals with fewer than 500 calories. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ lifestyle Cuisine Plus program features heart-healthy, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free and vegan menus. Marriott serves one of my favorite treats, the low-calorie Crunchy French Toast.
“Hotels have really ramped up breakfast offerings, especially at midscale hotels like Best Western, where there’s a wide range of hot items,” McGinnis says. And breakfast buffets at budget hotels such as Hampton Inn and La Quinta feature yogurt, fresh fruit, whole-wheat toast and oatmeal.
To totally avoid restaurant food, look for a hotel room with a full kitchen, such as Staybridge Suites, and prepare your own meals. Many budget brands have in-room fridges and microwaves, too.
Score Plenty of ZZZZs
Wherever you’re headed, pack tools to help you sleep—earplugs, an eye mask, a sound-masking smartphone app such as White Noise (Android, free; iPhone, $1.99) or soothing music for unwinding. “I never travel without my Bucky eye mask and ear plugs,” McGinnis says. “They help me sleep better on overnight flights and help if I’m in a noisy hotel room.”
In-flight Wi-Fi is a game-changer for business travelers, and Internet connections at your destination are crucial, too. If an Internet café isn’t available, TJ McCue, a content producer and strategist for Forbes.com and his TechBizTalk.com, uses his GlobalGig portable Wi-Fi device (the device is free with a one-year plan, which costs $30 per month for 1 GB of data), which connects up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at once—and avoids costly hotel Wi-Fi charges. Another helpful tool is JiWire’s free Wi-Fi Finder app (for Apple and Android), which identifies 500,000-plus free and paid public hot spots in 145 countries.
Other essentials for McCue include noise-canceling headphones (he likes I-MEGO, from $139.99; I’m partial to Bose , from $299.99), his Satechi Portable Energy Station ($59.99) for his Samsung S3 smartphone, and a universal charger such as the Bracketron Universal USB Travel Power Kit ($39.95). This cigarette-lighter adapter for USB connections fits many phones, he says.
Tote it all in a well-chosen carry-on bag. McGinnis loves his easy-to-maneuver four-wheel Briggs & Riley Spinner (from $359). My choice: the lightweight Samsonite spinner (prices vary, but I paid less than $200 at Kohl’s).