Traveling Like You Own the Skies

April 17, 2014

By Andy Fraher and John Wilkerson

"We'd like to invite our business class cabin to board now. We'll begin our general boarding process in just a few minutes; please wait for your zone number to be called before approaching the boarding gate."

Does this announcement leave you feeling anxious and stressed out? How about angry that, in our society, class distinctions still exist? Are you preparing to throw elbows with the rest of the masses to ensure that you can get to your cramped seat and have space to store your carry-on in the overhead bin?

Your reaction likely depends on a number of things, including your comfort level with large groups, your ability to pack items efficiently, and your level of zen in trusting that the airline will deliver you and your belongings to the appropriate place in a reasonable amount of time. As you travel more often, you may even become one of the lucky few who get to board early due to your mileage-based upgrade to business class!

Learning the "ins-n-outs" of travel planning, packing, mileage plans, hotel rewards, and surviving while on the road adds a level of complexity to an international educator's career that some find exhilarating, while others feel burdened by these things. What are the top 5 tips that experienced "road warriors" have for others in the field? Below are some of our tips for you:

1. Pick an airline mileage plan, and whenever possible, stick to this airline or alliance group if possible. This may mean that you take a layover when a direct flight is available, but the benefits of "Status" with an airline will usually outweigh the temporary negative of a few extra hours of travel. Free checked luggage, priority "Comfort Class" seating and upgrades, and possible access to airport lounges can all make the extra time well worth the inconvenience of an extra flight.

2. Packing cubes. You may have heard the packing tip to set aside what you think you need for a trip, and then remove half of it before packing. This may work. I would suggest purchasing packing cubes. These light and flexible tools allow you to keep your clothing efficiently packed and easily found in your luggage. And, for some reason, I can now pack what used to go in a full-sized checked bag into one carry on for my trips. Packing cubes may be the single greatest travel invention I've ever seen!

3. Utilize hotel rewards plans much like airline rewards plans—try to stick with one major plan—but don't get as attached to these as the airline plan you utilize. The reason for this is that some cities won't have reasonably priced options in every hotel reward plan to make it worth your while to stick with one plan. You need to be a bit flexible on this, but the room upgrades, Internet access, and executive floor lounge access can save on your travel costs as well.

4. Take a water filter with you on international travel. There are many good products out there—find one that works and is portable for you. Having access to safe drinking water is critical to maintaining your health while traveling—and some hotels don't provide you with free water bottles in your rooms. A backpacking filter or a bottle with a built in virustat filter can make your travel much more comfortable.

5. Take it all in! Enjoy being out in the world and seeing new things. When you have free time, use it to see new places, try new foods, and learn about our world. Travel is the greatest benefit of many of our jobs. We are very fortunate to be in this field!


Join Andy and John May 29, 2014 from 2:00 p.m.-2:45 p.m. PDT in the Career Center at the 2014 Annual Conference & Expo in San Deigo.

Andy FraherAndy Fraher has worked in international education with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ for 16 years. He has served as an international student advisor, coordinated study abroad efforts, and currently manages international student admissions for the campus. He has also served in various local, regional, and national positions within NAFSA throughout his career.

John WilkersonJohn Wilkerson serves as Director of the Office of International Admissions at the University of Missouri. He is in his ninth year in the field of international education, having previously served as Director of Study Abroad for the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and as Director of Admissions at Columbia College. He holds leadership positions within NAFSA and the Council of International Schools.


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