Travel Gems for August 16th-20th

Each Monday through Friday, a Travel Gem of the Day will be posted at These Travel Gems are tips that will help a traveler travel smarter, safer, handle home issues, be prepared and enjoy their journeys.

Here are last week’s Travel Gems:

Monday –Ideas for keeping productive while on a plane.

We spend valuable hours on a plane that we’ll never get back. So what are ways we can make the most of these hours so that we feel it was time worth spent?

Here are a few ideas for productive plane time:

  • Read a few magazines that you’ve been collecting at home. Toss the magazines into your laptop bag with the goal of leaving them behind at the end of the flight.

    Scan the pages and read the articles most important to you (you don’t need to read every article). Rip out any articles, recipes, tips, etc. that you want to follow up with later. (I’ve heard of people who have complained about a ‘ripper’ on a plane who was ripping articles out of a newspaper and making too much noise. So I try to consciously rip quietly, but then I’m over it. I’d rather be a mad-ripper than to be a clutter-queen with too many magazines weighing down my bag.) Then hand the magazines over to the flight attendants when you’re finished with them. Chances are the flight attendants will be grateful for something to read or they’ll recycle any magazines they’re not interested in.

  • Write thank you notes or other greeting cards. Finding the time to write a thank-you note after an important meeting, interview or event is a challenge, so do it on the flight home. To keep your writing stable, write a few note cards before take-off and then wait until the plane has reached its maximum altitude to avoid the bumps. Bring along stamps so that the note cards are ready to be mailed once you’re off the plane.
  • Pay bills. Bring along the checkbook and get your bills paid while in-flight. Get the envelopes stamped and ready for mailing. Look for a mail slot in an airport terminal or ask your hotel desk to mail them for you.
  • Write up your to-do list and day-by-day agenda for the upcoming days. I find that my time on a plane is very valuable for giving thought to tasks, business ideas, my schedule, etc. when I am uninterrupted by emails and phone calls. Though I usually end up with more to-do’s than I have time in my life for!
  • Clean up email. If you’re not connected with inflight Wi-Fi, yet can still get into your email (Outlook, Lotus Notes users), then take advantage of the time to respond to emails, clear out the clutter of old unnecessary emails, and send a few quick hellos to contacts you’ve been meaning to keep in touch with. Cleaning up email seems like a never-ending task, so my goal is to always end the day with a few less emails in my inbox that when I started the day.
  • Meditate. We rarely make time to get in touch with our feelings, be relaxed and calm, and be mindful of what our feelings are telling us. Meditation can be extremely powerful in answering our questions and giving us direction. Have some meditative music on your iPod and just let your mind and conscious breathing take over for 20 or 30 minutes. When you rouse yourself, write down any feelings, ideas or other things that came up because these can be very inspiring thoughts.
  • Take a nap. You’re either beginning several days of meetings or conferences or just wrapping up from jam-packed days. Take some time to relax and let your eyes close. I’m usually asleep before the wheels are up, and a 15-minute cat nap does wonders for my productivity.
  • Meet your neighbor. Some of your seatmates may seem like people you’d want to meet, so say hello. If you’re both interested in talking, then relax and enjoy the conversation. I’ve met some amazing people sitting right next to me on the plane and some I’ve done business with. Always have business cards handy if you want to share your contact information.

Obviously you’d need a four hour flight or longer to do all of these things on one flight. Even if you get two or three productive items done while in-flight, you’ll feel a big sense of accomplishment and know that the flight time was time well spent.

I may be one of the crazy ones, but I really look forward to international flights. I have enough to-do’s in my laptop tote, along with my Kindle stocked with great books, my neck pillow for napping, and my iPod loaded up with podcasts and music. I keep myself busy, the flight time goes fast, and I get off the plane feeling wonderful about what I’ve accomplished.

Tuesday – Preparing your travel checklist for an upcoming international trip? Remember to include a pre-trip travel health checkup. Whether it’s vaccinations you need or medications to take along with you, it’s smart planning to start looking into your travel health about 6 to 8 weeks ahead of your trip.

The most authoritative site for what vaccinations, health issues abroad and more is the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Travelers’ Health resource. The CDC offers health information on more than 200 international destinations, vaccinations, diseases, ways to stay healthy and safe, links to find a local clinic, travel health warnings and more. They also have valuable content on traveling with children, traveling with special needs, traveling with pets, air and cruise travel and other topics.

Another source for finding a clinic for any vaccinations or travel medications you may need is theInternational Society of Travel Medicine. Select the Global Travel Clinic Locator, select the desired country, state and city, and choose whether you’re looking for clinics for pre-travel vaccinations and consultations or post-travel medical consultations, or both.

So whether your travels have you going to factories in China for your business, into the jungles of Africa for a bucket-list trip, or the beaches of Cancun for a little R&R, check out the health issues at the CDC well before your trip. Take care of you first, so that you can have safe and enjoyable travels.

Wednesday – Studies report that 1 in 3 adults have fear of flying or anxiety in the air. Fear of baggage fees, lost luggage or in-flight credit card charges do not count! Seriously, fear of flying is a real fear that prevents many adults and kids from flying at all. I am no expert in this area, so here are a few great sources of information on how to combat this fear. offers lots of great information on What is Fear of Flying, How to Deal with Your Fear of Flying, Advice for the Infrequent Flyer and more. They also offer an podcast.

Matador Network’s post on 5 Simple Ways To Conquer Your Fear Of Flying includes a very detailed explanation from a pilot on the cause and effect of turbulence and the safest spot to sit on a plane.

I have flown millions of miles and feel safer in the air than on the road. Hopefully these sources will help any white-knuckle passengers feel more confident in the flying experience.

Thursday – I always have a small container of baby or talcum powder in my luggage. The majority of the time, I’m using it to feel silkier and dryer after a shower or before I’m heading outside in the heat. Here are a couple of other great uses for baby powder:

End up with a greasy spot on the front of your blouse after eating out at a restaurant? Try this solution: Lay the garment flat, stain facing up. Dab the stain with a little water. Shake a generous amount of baby powder on it and pat it down. Let it dry and then shake off the powder. If it still looks greasy, pour more on and wait. Later, when you’re back at home, launder as usual.

Be more comfortable in your shoes! Sprinkle baby powder into your shoes, or right onto your toes. It’ll help keep your feet dry and smelling nice, and it will prevent your shoes from sticking to your feet.

Friday – Ever need to explain the ins and outs of Aviation to kids? Have a young one gearing up for their first flight? Need something for kids to do while in flight? Junior Flyer offers all of this and more.

Junior Flyer is written by industry insiders, and includes the basics of flying in terms that kids can understand. Find out how an engine works or what keeps planes up in the air. You can even submit your own questions if it is not already covered on the site.

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