Over the last 10 months, I've learned quite a bit about some of the things that you can do to lessen the pain of weekly travel. Here a few tips..
Avis, like many rental car agencies doesn’t always have their fleet of cars right outside the airport. It’s typical for me to wait 5-20 minutes for their shuttle to arrive at the airport. Next, there’s the 5-10 minute drive to the rental agency. You’ve already waited 10-30 minutes, do you really want to wait in line another 5-30 minutes once you get there to get your car? You can avoid this by signing up as an Avis Preferred member. As a preferred member, my preferred type of rental car is ready for me the moment I step off the shuttle. The Avis shuttle driver typically tells me my space number before we get there or there’s an electronic billboard for me to look up my number. Membership is especially nice if you’re flying into any cold regions during the winter, since they start and warm up the car for you before you arrive. In summary, this saves time and makes travel a bit more comfortable.
Airline and Hotel Programs
You can never be signed up in enough FREE frequent traveler programs and they offer nice rewards (free hotel stays, free airfare, upgraded seats/rooms, pre-boarding, guaranteed reservations, etc). You should know what airlines carriers are prominent at your local airport and which hotels you prefer. I suggest you sign up for a minimum of 3 from each of the following categories in case your primary choice isn't always available.
Airlines Programs: American, United, Northwest (NWA), Delta, Continental
Hotels Programs: Hilton, Marriot, Hyatt, Priority Club (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Staybridge, Candlewood), Starwood (Four Points, Sheraton, Aloft, W Hotels, Le Meridien, Luxury Collection, Westin, St. Regis)
Airline Onboard Laptop Power
Do you constantly find yourself fighting/tuning your powers levels in an attempt to get through those final 20 minutes of a movie? If so, there is a solution. Most major airlines offer a power port in business, first class, and select coach seating (i.e. exit row). This could become a crucial travel device if (knock of wood) the FAA ever decides to require batteries to be removed from laptops. For more information see Seat Guru. For a visual of the power ports see American Airlines Website.
Frequent Flyer Challenges
I can't speak to all of the airlines, but American Airlines offer multiple frequent flyer challenges to help weekly travelers get to the gold, platinum, and executive platinum much quicker. These challenges are not widely known or listed on American's website. However, you can call into customer service and request to participate in one of the challenges. For more information see the AAdvantage Gold and Platinum Challenges page of the FewMiles' Unofficial Guide to American Airlines AAdvantage.
Credit Card Rewards
Our companies credit credit card of choice is American Express (AMEX). Singing up for American Express Membership Rewards is $120 per year, but it really adds up with weekly travel expenses and the redemption items are well over the membership price.
The airport outlet scavenger hunt
In everyone airport I visit, people are walking the aisles looking for those vacant AC outlets. A simple way to avoid this problem is to carry your own AC splitter. It adds almost no room or weight to your current bag and can REALLY come in handy. It's also great for those occasions where you find a vacant outlet, but need to charge your cell phone and laptop.
Limited Hotels with wireless Internet
I stay in a wide variety of Internet enabled hotels during my travel, but they all seem to provide the service slightly different. I found myself packing a LONG Ethernet cable (to reach the bed or couch of course), and adding new SSID's to my wireless profile each week. Eventually I stumbled across this great solution from Linksys. They offer a Wireless-G Travel Router with SpeedBooster. This wonderful device is well worth the price and can be picked up at most Best Buy locations.
The first thing I do when I arrive at my hotel room is plug in my travel router. I have it configured with the same wireless security as my wireless network at home. This allows me to access the Internet securely while on the road without additional configuration and avoids cluttering up my wireless profile . Whether you’re visiting friends/family or staying a hotel with only wired Internet, you learn how incredibly useful this device can be.