Travel Tips: Power Up

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.

Guilt-Free Eats

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 & Resortslifestyle 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

Want a guaranteed good night’s sleep? The Benjamin, one of my favorite New York hotels, has a Sleep Concierge who assesses your sleep habits to recommend the perfect pillow from 12 options.

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.”

On-the-go Efficiency

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 and his, 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).

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