Planes, Trains, Busses, and Boats! Part II

*Photo By Justin Patterson Photography

Planes, Trains, Busses, and Boats!

(Or, Group Travel)

Lots of us will be traveling for the holidays in the next few weeks, and as fun as that is, I’ve been traveling for months now with my current show “Chicago The Musical” US tour! It’s been a blast and I couldn’t ask for nicer people to be touring with. I will say though, our schedule takes a special amount of endurance and adaptability. Especially on …TRAVEL DAYS! This business makes us subject to group travel frequently and there is no way around it. But it’s just part of the job, one I’m very happy to have. Now I wouldn’t lie to you and say I love this aspect of it. I don’t. But it is survivable, and there is a lesson in there somewhere. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t pass those lessons on to you! So here are my suggestions on how to make group travel a little more humane. Lots of this will apply to your Home Alone style trip to Grandma’s this year.

First, group busses. When you are on a tour and you are traveling in-between close cities, your company might choose to get the whole gang on a bus and get there in one fell swoop. Or mom and dad might decide that renting a van to get the whole family somewhere is the most cost effective way to go. There are some real plus sides to this. Not going through security, more control over the day in general, a better likelihood of reaching your destination in time, etc. But there are some things that can really ruin this type of travel day. Smelliness, crabbiness, crowdedness, bad rest stops, or bad driving can all make this day awful. So here are my suggestions for how to deal: make sure you pack the snacks you like, and the things that make you comfortable. Blanket, pillow, a book, some entertainment downloaded, so that when the bus’s wifi inevitably doesn’t work, you are set. It is for these days specifically that I shell out extra dough for unlimited data. Think about the things that keep you sane, and make sure they’re available to you, not in the cargo hold or trunk. Also, if you get motion sickness, make sure you can see the horizon. If you aren’t able to snag your own double seat, pick a good seat-mate. At least you’ll have good energy near you and good (or no) conversation. Make sure to get up and stretch if it is several hours of driving. And headphones, for goodness sakes, HEADPHONES!

If you are anything like me, and value alone time, and love to drive, you may consider budgeting to rent a car and drive yourself to the next location. I did this recently for an entire week and it truly kept me sane and able to show up to my actual job, performing the show, refreshed and with a good attitude. Because nobody in your cast needs to be punished with your bad mood from not having enough alone time!

Planes! Those magical pieces of metal flying through the air. Get all the apps for the airlines. Make sure whoever is booking your travel has all your frequent flyer numbers and when your flight shows up on the app, choose your preferred seat ahead of time. I like an aisle over the wing/exit row if possible, but on a group reservation, you will hardly get your preference…at first. Hence, choosing it post-booking on the airline’s app.

If you listened to me in Part 1, you got TSA Pre-check/Global Entry and Clear, you are flying through security. Don’t you LOVE it?!? Also, we use a lot of cosmetic liquids and gels, but if you can manage, limit it in your carryon (put some of it in your trunk/checked luggage) because even if you get all the security passes, you can still be chosen for the extra screening. Don’t you feel special! This is especially important when you travel abroad because they are far stricter with the liquid allowance in their security checks than American domestic flights. And as I also mentioned in Part 1, be nice to those TSA/Security officers. They might seem annoying to you but they really are trying to protect you from the true evildoers of this world. A smile and a thank you go a long way to letting them know YOU are harmless.

If your trip is multiple flights as it can often be, the chances of your bags being lost increases. Double check the bag tag airport code before they take your bags, and pack an extra outfit/undies/socks for the worst-case scenario. And keep those valuables on you. If you are forced to check your bag at the gate, have a spare small tote bag with you to put those valuables and electronics in. Especially if you are at the back of the plane, this is more likely to happen to you!

If you have long layovers, find out if the lounge is more economic than a random airport restaurant. Sometimes with the all included food and drink and wifi, it might be worth it, but it’s definitely on a case-by-case basis, especially if you are in a foreign country. Sometimes it is not worth it, especially if you’ve got some quiet seating near your gate. Your choice, do the math, and don’t forget about exchange rates!

I hope each and every one of you have a great holiday this year, whether you are traveling far away, or just to your front door to get the delivery food. Happy Holidays!!!

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