10 Unconventional Travel Tips From A Veteran Travel Writer

Travel writer Chuck Thompson buried 12 unconventional travel tips in his memoir Smile When You’re Lying. Included on the list: lie, steal, and over-spend.

Lie

Great news! You’re eligible for all sorts of discounts because you work for a Fortune 500 company. What, you don’t work for a Fortune 500 company? How would rental agents know? Mention it before they ask, or if they offer a rate, respond with: “Geez, that’s a little higher than I paid last time I’m a regional director for Microsoft out here in [wherever] and I’m pretty sure we have a rate with you guys.”

Once the discount is in the computer, it’s there to stay.

Or if you want a bulkhead seat on your next flight, tell the gate agent that you’re prone to, err, deep-vein thrombosis and you have a doctor’s note or a note on doctor-like stationary to prove it. Or you can try to earn your sympathy because you’re *ahem* on your way to your best friend’s wedding and you’re worried about speaking at the rehearsal dinner.

Hang Up On Morons

Trust your instincts. The person on the other end of the line is a moron. Hang-up and try again.

At least that’s what travel-man Thompson recommends. We know that front-line employees rarely solve problem, so instead of playing whack-a-mole with unhelpful CSRs, politely escalate until you find someone who isn’t a moron.

Steal An Extra Inch Of Legroom

All that junk airlines cram into seatback pockets? Throw it out. You don’t need magazines and promotional garbage. Chuck everything—except the barf bag—into the overhead bin and enjoy a free extra inch of legroom.

Eat A Meal Before You Board

It’s not like they’ll serve you free food onboard, so swing by a restaurant on your way to the airport and fill up. Or at least grab some fruit before you board.

Resurrect Dead Batteries

Rub dead batteries briskly against your pant leg for a minute. The static generates a recharge that should last for an hour. May not work with iPods.

Don’t Be A Jackass

Look, they don’t know that you lied about the wedding and the deep-vein thrombosis, but they will notice if you’re That Guy, and employees will make it their mission to pay you back in full. Smile, say “thank you,” and have a pleasant attitude.

Bribe

Oh, this box of chocolates you got as a gift that you happen to be allergic to? Would you like them, Ms. Gate Agent who can get you out of the middle seat?

Apparently this form of bribery works if you’re smooth enough.

And gate agents do have extra seats, if you’re nice. On Boeing 767s, seats 17A B H and J are comfy coach spots reserved for the crew on international flights. On domestic flights, they stay open until right before boarding, along with business class and first class seats, and are given to traveling employees and gate agent favorites.

Tip Early

$10 on the first night of your stay goes a long way to saying you might give more later if they don’t spit on your toothbrush.

Pay Up

You’re on vacation, pay up. Don’t travel to the Caribbean and settle for anything less than an ocean view. Pay for the room, pay for the food, pay for the experience.

Ignore Jet Lag

It’s all in your head, whiner. Force yourself to adapt to the local time and walk off the sleepiness.

Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer [Amazon, The New York Public Library]