The Itinerant ItineraryJune 22, 2017
(Frequent Flyer, part 1 of 6. Logistics)
1 .. If not already a member of a frequent flyer program, join one or more:
2 .. If not already a member of a hotel loyalty program, join one or more. The benefits include simplicity, itinerary flexibility and value. Earning points with frequent flying allows you to upgrade a seat or hotel room or burn points on exclusive offers at hotels and resorts
In a shoot of seven Asian countries, I booked Four Seasons hotels exclusively, as rescheduling is much easier when properties are in a single chain
3 .. Corporate and professional travellers use a travel agent to arrange everything. This is the simplest, most stress-free and efficient means of booking and managing a straightforward (or a complex) trip. Your travel agent will have your passport and frequent flyer membership numbers, and your hotel chain, seat allocation and meal preferences
Recently I urgently needed a flight booked, and my travel agent delivered within six minutes
4 .. The frugal traveller may book online, where a plethora of sites offer price comparisons. Many flight and accommodation bookings thru sites like Expedia.com and cTrip.com can be cheaper than direct with a hotel or airline. However, some hotel chains and loyalty programs (e.g. HHonours.com for Hilton Hotels and Resorts) will offer a lower tariff than anywhere else
If you wish to avoid monitoring of your activity and triggering constant emails on airfares and destinations, consider using a non-tracked search engine like DuckDuckGo and/or an incognito / private browser on Opera or your preferred browser. If you use multiple browser windows, you can avoid the retention of dates and destinations
5 .. As soon as your dates are confirmed, ensure that your passport is current for the entire duration of the trip plus six months, and apply for all necessary visas (as some applications take time to process)
6 .. If your trip is arranged at short-notice, take a copy of your ticket and accommodation booking, and pay the premium for urgent visa processing
10 .. Ensure that you have current medical and travel insurance (in case of a medical emergency, coverage for trip interruption / cancellation and loss or theft, to help reimburse or pay for unexpected expenses.
11 .. Check the dates of any public holidays which might impact on your business meetings
12 .. If your schedule is potentially subject to change, consider whether refundable fares are preferable
13 .. Enquire about carbon offsets *before* you pay the fare
14 .. For routing, investigate activity at any transit hubs and avoid those which are at over capacity, as these have the potential for delays. (e.g. airports in Beijing, Chicago, Moscow and Shanghai are renowned as amongst the world’s worst for delayed and cancelled flights). If you can reach your destination by routing thru a quieter or more efficient hub, take that option
In 2016, I was delayed 13 hours at Shenzhen airport, awaiting a postponed flight into Shanghai
15 .. If you must fly to / thru / from extremely busy hubs, try to arrive / leave in early morning, as this will minimise the likelihood of a compounded delay
17 .. Explore what non-professional (music, culture, sporting) events you want to schedule into your trip. Refer to local websites: official country tourism AND peer review sites
18 .. Purchase VPN software to enable you to access sites from your home country or avoid blocked sites (e.g. within “The Great Firewall of China”).
In my experience, Express VPN provides excellent service
19 .. If on a layover, consider an airport hotel, to avoid the expense and time of shuttling to/from the city
20 .. Research / book hotels for proximity to desired destinations, review with peer review sites
21 .. Is breakfast included in the tariff? Unless you prefer to get out and explore the town and enjoy a cheap local breakfast, (or arrange a light meal yourself), pay the extra and enjoy the buffet!
22 .. Select a hotel with a gym and pool if you like to maintain an exercise regime or relax from the stress of the day
23 .. Research restaurants via peer review sites and book well in advance, to allow friends plenty of lead time to meet with you
24 .. Determine what forms of inter-city transport you intend to use. Compare fast train timetables and fares with airfares and the potential for delayed / postponed / cancelled flights
25 .. Determine airport transfers to / from your hotel:
- Does the airline / hotel offer a chauffeur-driven car service?
- Does the hotel offer a dedicated shuttle bus?
- Can you book an airport shuttle (train / coach) in advance?
- Does the timetable suit your itinerary?
- Compare hire car / airport Express train / airport shuttle bus / taxi
26 .. Many frequent corporate travellers prefer a hire car to and from airports. Having a clean, comfortable car and a prompt, polite and safe driver, is not considered to be a luxury, but a necessity. Another benefit is the ability to conduct confidential business while in transit
27 .. Uber is expanding to many cities, and offers a fast, reliable and inexpensive service compared to a cab or hire car. If you do not have an Uber account, set one up with a credit card assigned to it
“The Itinerant Itinerary”
(Frequent Flyer, part 1 of 6. Logistics)
“The Vacuum Pack”
(Frequent Flyer, part 2 of 6. In preparation)
“The Nearly Terminal”
(Frequent Flyer, part 3 of 6. Before departure)
“The Forty Hour Wednesday”
(Frequent Flyer, part 4 of 6. In the air)
“A Degree in Airports”
(Frequent Flyer, part 5 of 6. Upon arrival)
“The Dust of Two Deserts”
(Frequent Flyer, part 6 of 6. In transit)
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