blog, travel

My Top 5 Travel Tips

I travel a bit. For Work (and pleasure, of course). And stay in hotels. I’ve been doing it for a while now. And have picked up a few tricks along the way to make my trips as comfortable as possible. I want to share some of those with you now.

1.  Don’t fly the airline, fly the loyalty program

Do the research and find out which airlines belong to which loyalty programs. Then stay under that umbrella. I fly SAA whenever I can. SAA belongs to the Star Alliance program. So when I can’t fly SAA, I’ll fly with one of the partner airlines.

For one simple reason: miles. Life is expensive. Might as well get something for free. I have enough air miles today for a great overseas holiday with the wife this year.

2.  Forget taxis, get a driver

Truth be told, I think this makes most sense in Africa (where most of my travel is to these days). Reliable, safe, formal taxies are stupidly expensive. I’ve done the math and have saved thousands by asking the hotel concierge to recommend a local driver who I then pay a flat fee to stay with me for as long it takes to do the day’s meetings. There’s also the added, more important, benefit of making a new friend.

3.  Forget your hotel room key in your room

Most hotels these days access rooms with a key card. That key card slots into a sleeve near the door that activates the electricity feed. Problem is you’re always given only one key. So when you leave your room, you take the key with you and shut down the power. And, with that, lose the opportunity to charge your devices while you’re eating your breakfast. Unless you forget the key in the sleeve.

So forget the key in the sleeve next time, enjoy breakfast and pop by reception before returning to your room to get another. And enjoy fully charged devices when you return.

4.  Take along a multi-plug adaptor

I’ve yet to sleep in a hotel room with enough plug points for every gadget that needs charging. My personal iPhone, my work Blackberry, my iPad, my laptop and my earphones all need a proper charge after any flight. Save yourself the hassle of rotating devices at a charge point and take along a multi-plug adaptor.

5.  Take along your own coffee

Hotel coffee? Don’t get me started.

Hotels, like most restaurants, don’t take coffee seriously. And why should they. It’s not their business. The better ones will have an Nespresso machine. But I don’t enjoy the lack of control that is inherent of any automatic coffee machine. So I travel with my coffee. And have curated my own coffee travel kit.

(Side note: before I started blogging about coffee, I “made up” my own coffee travel kit – now, I “curate” my own coffee travel kit. Thank you, hipsters.)

This is what I took along on my recent trip to Senegal:

  • Cuban beans, my current favourite, from Woolworths
  • a foldable Joseph scale
  • a Hario Ceramic Slim grinder which is small, easy to handle and easy to wash
  • a Hario v60 size 1
  • and Hario v60 size 1 filters

I also needed filtered water and a kettle but was happy to use the hotel room’s bottled water and kettle.

Most people I’ve chatted to recommend the Aeropress as the perfect travel companion. I really enjoy the cathartic process of the pourover. And as with most things in coffee, you should do what suits your tastes. I haven’t had enough time with the Aeropress though so will take it along on the next trip…

I picked up all of my travel kit items from Yuppiechef, Cape Coffee Beans and Amazon. After waiting 3 weeks for my Amazon order, my wife tells me I could have picked up the scale at Stuttafords. Because she knows everything.

Dakar was a great week. I had a very successful trip. And I don’t think I’m overstating this when I say it’s all because I was brewing my own coffee each morning. Well, that, and, before I leave for a trip, my wife always goes through her mental checklist of the things I usually forget.

She should have written this post.