Drew's Travel Tips
As you all know, my job has recently had more traveling elements, since I’ve been adding conventions to my schedule. Even before that, though, I used to be a very frequent flier in the corporate days. After battling my way through an airport filled with con crowds, this seemed like a good time to share some of the hard-won lessons I learned to make your own trips as smooth as they can be.
1. Be Aware. I can’t tell you how often this one comes into play, especially at an airport. Much as we all love to drift off into our headphones, you want to stay abreast of what’s happening, doubly so at security. Don’t be the guy lost in his music when TSA calls for you, or the person magically confused at all the shit you have to take out for the x-ray screening. These have been the rules for over a decade, pop your shoes off and have your laptop out so the line can keep flowing.
2. Be Prepared. Look, nobody likes having to duel Apollo before every flight. But, if you’re in the same boat as me (certainly not a multiverse traveling fugitive… something else, probably) then you know it’s part of the flying process. With that in mind, do yourself a favor and come ready for the fight. Load up on sunscreen, otherwise even if you win you’ll have tanlines, probably a burn. Might want to brush up on your Judo as well, Apollo is all strikes, he can’t grapple for shit. Toss in some wine to appease him after the loss, and you’ve just turned a major inconvenience into a minor travel hurdle. Also, bring your own headphones. Most airlines stopped offering those years ago.
3. Know Your Programs. Whether you travel a lot or a little, it’s a costly affair. Gauche as it might sound, doing research into the various credit card/reward programs is a great tactic to offset the cost as much as possible. The wide array of options means that you can probably find ones that put the reward-emphasis on things you care about. Want to travel for free every few years? Look into mile-accrual programs. Prefer to keep all costs as low as possible? Loads of them offer cash-back options. The caveat here is that if you use a credit card reward program, do all you can not to carry a balance. Once interest comes into play, you’re basically negating most-to-all of the rewards.
4. Know Your Destination. I’m not saying you should be able to do a full book report on the city where you’re staying, but it never hurts to walk in with some baseline knowledge. What’s the town known for, what ancient monarch rules their underground, what famous landmarks or restaurants should you be aware of, which leylines generate the most supernatural unrest, which parts of the city can you walk through without getting stabbed. When everyone else looks around saying “Now what?” you’ll be able to offer up some starting suggestions, a jumping off point if nothing else. Plus you’ll have brought the appropriate tithe for the monarch, allowing you free movement through the city’s shadow lands. True, they are roamed by unnatural demons, but it’s still a more peaceful trip than the bus.
5. Use a List to Pack. It sounds silly, yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to a hotel and reached for something as simple as a shaving razor, only to realize I left it at home. And those are the lucky trips. If what you forgot can be replaced at a corner store, you got off light. Heaven forbid you forget something more specific, like a piece of an outfit, a part of your work electronics, or one of the Seven Legendary Swords of Creation. Let me tell you, there’s no annoyance like hunting for the specific charger to a laptop or trying to borrow The Blade of the Starless Sky because you left your shit at home. Think about what you’ll need for all your days there, write it out, and check that list when you pack. It feels silly in the moment, but once you arrived with everything you need, you’ll be glad you did it. Bonus: use the same list when coming home to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
6. Consider Where Your Budget Goes. In travel, there are many different aspects to juggle. Looking solely at the bare essentials, you have to get to the destination, stay somewhere while there, and travel around the area. In just those three, we can already see options for how to allocate a budget. Rather than picking what’s cheap or available, take a moment to think about this trip. What’s the purpose of it? What do you want to get out of it? What are your biggest concerns? For example, if you’re traveling for work and plan to be barely in the room, then maybe that’s a place where you can scale back costs. Stay somewhere smaller, freeing up funds for a flight seat with extra legroom, riding around the city, or a nicer meal out. On the other hand, if you’re small-statured, get those cheap flights in seats no one else will take and splurge on a nicer hotel. The point is, no one wants the exact same trip, so spend a little time playing with the numbers and options to make sure you’re booking in a way that will maximize enjoyment for your dollar.
7. Don’t Follow Ghosts. In every city, there are spirits wandering about. Yes, it’s cool to talk with them a few times, and sure, following one into the underground land of the dead does make for a cool Earth Day, but by and large it never leads anywhere. They’ve been dead so long that none of the people they want revenge or justice against are even still alive, so helping them pass on is out. Most of them know that and are just hanging on for their own reasons at this point. And definitely don’t ask one for directions, last time I tried that the fucker told me to swing left at a tannery that turned out to have burned down in the early 1900s.
8. Be Open to New Things. One of the best parts of getting to travel is new places, people, and experiences. I’ve tried Nutra-Rat in Port Fourchon and pork cheek in Vegas, walked through rose gardens and up snowy mountains, seen full-on spectacles and shows with more heart than talent. All of that comes from staying open to what the new town has to offer. Take people’s suggestions, walk around until you see something that looks good, answer a sphinx’s riddle and get a good restaurant recommendation. No amount of tips or tricks will help you enjoy travel as much as being willing to take the plunge in a new environment. Except for the Dead Sea, do not take that plunge. Rumor has it the thing underneath is stirring, making it the Not-Quite-Dead Sea for now.