The Business Travel Diva’s Rules for Family Vacations

Posted 07.14.2010

It’s that favorite time of year. Summer, when the road warrior, business travel divas deign to disrupt their routine to fly with their families on vacation. You can spot them easily. They’ll be the people who are walking about a quarter mile ahead instinctively passing on the left and otherwise artfully sidestepping the aimless people who don’t have a plan for getting to the gate. Meanwhile, their families are lagging behind with the kids distracted by the junk in the airport shops and the spouse trying to herd all of the cats. No wonder vacations are so much fun.

As a public service to business travel divas and their families, I’m offering a handy clip and save list of rules that road warriors can give to their family members as a helpful aid to packing and getting through the airport. These are all field tested by yours truly. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I no longer use them since my wife threatened me with bodily harm if I don’t get over myself and lighten the hell up when we all travel together. But, hey, maybe you’re more committed to your craft than I am. If that’s the case, here’s that list that will be so helpful to you and the rest of your family this summer vacation season. In the interest of developing a comprehensive resource, feel free to add your own in the Comments.

The Business Travel Diva’s Rules for Family Vacations (Section 1: Pre-Flight Checklist)

1.   Under no circumstances will luggage be checked. Doing so abdicates all control of the trip to the airlines.  If it can’t fit in a standard size roll aboard and one (that means one people) small carryon bag, it’s not going.

2.   When dressing for the airport, all parties must wear slip on shoes.  Lace-up shoes are not allowed as they will slow us down moving through security.  Socks are recommended.  Yes, they look stupid with sandals, but you’ll be glad you have them on when you consider walking barefoot in an airport.

3.   Ensure that all of your liquids are in a quart size zip lock sandwich bag. (If you have to make a run to the CVS for those little trial size bottles, do so in advance of the trip.)

4.   Make sure your liquids bag is easily accessible in an outside pocket of your roll aboard.  Do not, repeat, do not stow it in the inside of your bag so it has to be unzipped and unpacked in the security line.

5.    Once we’re through security, have a plan.  Immediately find the first Departures board, scan the list of cities for our destination, confirm the flight number and develop your plan for getting to the gate.  This is not something we should have to talk through.  It should be intuitive.  I’ll entertain questions if necessary.

6.    Maintain situational awareness while moving through the concourse.  Think strategically and move tactically.  Look 10 to 15 feet ahead so you can spot people who are moving slowly or randomly so you can develop your plan to pass them or avoid them completely.

7.    Once we reach the gate area, locate the nearest location to purchase a bottle of water prior to the flight.  Stow the water until we’re on the plane.  In a four hour ground hold situation, that bottle of water could save your life.

8.   When the gate agent says that the flight will begin boarding in five minutes, immediately move to an area approximately 15 feet from the gate agent’s station.  Wait for our boarding area to be called but use stealthy moves to ensure that you’re at the front of our boarding group. Not doing so could mean the difference between stowing our luggage on board or checking it at the gate.

9.   As you enter the plane, immediately scan the overhead compartment area for open doors and space.  Choose your first, second and third options for stowing your bags within one to two forward rows of your seat assignments.  Stow them immediately before someone else takes your spot.  Stowing your bags behind your seats should be avoided at all costs as you will slow us down upon landing as you try to move aft to retrieve your bags.

10.   Have fun on the plane, but not too much fun. The business travelers around you wonder why kids are even allowed on the plane. Do not draw attention to yourself. Fly under the radar so to speak.

As you can see, there’s a lot to cover. We’ve got 10 rules so far and haven’t even taken off yet. So, (with tongue in cheek or not) what rules are missing? Anyone care to add rules for other phases of the trip (e.g. travelling from the airport to the hotel, checking in, mini-bar policy, restaurant selection and dining rules)?  Let’s help each other out and make this the funnest summer ever!