I travel a lot. Whether it is to call a game for Notre Dame or give a speech in a different part of the country, I spend a lot of time in the air. Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, I traveled on six flights to four cities in five days.
But whether I am taking six flights or one, travel comes down to two things: comfort and efficiency.
Traveling can be the most exhausting, frustrating process you ever go through. Or, you can choose to change your mindset, look at the obstacles you know you are going to encounter and address them beforehand.
For me, much of the frustration and exhaustion from travel comes from a lack of planning. It comes from being uncomfortable or inefficient with my time.
But the frequent travel I did during my career with the NFL and still do currently as a broadcaster and public speaker has taught me to plan ahead. I have learned to focus on efficiency and my own comfort when I travel. Here are some hacks that have helped me along the way.
Running through Denver International with 13 minutes until the gate closed, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I check the gate earlier?!?? … Lookout!”
The first thing you can do to ensure efficiency is to check your itinerary the night before. This is a simple hack that a lot of us tend to ignore. Putting things off rarely puts you on a path to efficiency and it can add to your travel stress. Even checking your gate upon arrival can save you from the airport sweats. Sometimes, we wait to check in the same day of a flight and then are forced to rush, but do not. Check in the night before. Then start packing.
Prepare everything the night before for your flight. Even if you have a flight later in the afternoon the next day, why put off packing and risk forgetting something? When you pack the night before, you can relax and enjoy the following day right up until your flight.
The most I ever get stopped for questions is when I’m traveling and it is because of the SkyRoll. People will come up and ask where I got it because they know it is a suit roller. It is always funny to me because they are so excited by it.
One guy approached me in the Denver airport.
“Hey, where’d you get that?” he asked, before looking at me more closely. “Oh my God, you’re Ryan Harris!” he exclaimed.
We kind of laughed about it, but then he repeated, “No, seriously, where’d you get that? I need one. I travel all the time.”
When you travel as a broadcaster, especially when you’re doing television or speaking, you need to be able to bring your suit. But who likes traveling in a suit, right? It’s uncomfortable and it wrinkles easily. Enter the SkyRoll.
This is one of the NFL’s worst-kept secrets. It is an over-the-shoulder bag that rolls up your suit, so you do not have to fold it. It easily unrolls when you get where you are going. I have literally changed in the bathrooms of my destinations with my SkyRoll on the way to delivering a speech. The suit is always perfectly clean and still perfectly pressed.
There are also side pockets in the SkyRoll that allow you to pack dress shoes. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have suits and you are traveling, you need this. It is also a carry-on so for a quick flight, you can carry on your suit and your shoes. You do not have to worry about it, and you can roll as soon as you touch down.
TSA PRECHECK AND CLEAR
I am a huge proponent of the CLEAR and TSA PreCheck. I will never understand somebody who carries Louis Vuitton luggage and goes through regular screening when these options are available. Spend more money on your bags and less on your time? It does not make sense.
Both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck offer expedited airport security clearance. TSA PreCheck pre-screens passengers who pay the $85 fee, allowing them access to a special security line. TSA PreCheck allows you to pass smoothly and quickly through many airports in the United States. It is currently available in several hundred airports nationwide.
CLEAR takes pre-screening to the next level, literally allowing you to go to the head of any security line. It is $179 per year. They are not in every airport, but it makes my travel time, especially out of Denver, much quicker. No matter what time of day it is, I never spend more than five minutes going through security when I travel.
Whether you are just getting back after an overtime game to the airport or traffic has slowed you down, the CLEAR plus TSA PreCheck can get you through security quickly.
When I began broadcasting, my feet caused more problems than anything. Even if it was a great day, by 3 p.m., standing on those wood planks had my back and knees screaming as much as my feet. I began to get short in questions and analysis, all because of pain.
If you already have a pair of Cole Haans, male or female, you are rocking the business travel.
Cole Haan combines the dress shoe look with athletic shoe comfort. Cole Haan has made such an impact for former players and personnel that the NFL and its players’ association has a 50% discount with the company. These shoes save your back and knees — and attitude! They are versatile and comfortable. You can travel through any airport for any amount of time and still wear them with a suit.
A few of these hacks I developed through my travels with the NFL and a few of these I acquired through my career in speaking and broadcasting. Travel can be frustrating and exhausting, but it does not have to be. With a few simple hacks and a focus on efficiency and comfort, I am able to relax and enjoy my travel time.
Let’s hear your travel hacks!