10 Paralegal Travel Tips: Be Prepared When Things Go Wrong

1. Be sure your name on your ticket and your ID match. TSA is now strictly enforcing the requirement that the name on your ID (your driver’s license or passport) must exactly match the name on your ticket. For instance, ‘Vicki Voisin’ on my ticket will not work because that’s not the full name on my driver’s license. I learned this the hard way!
Your ticket will have to be reissued with the correct name and usually for a later flight. In addition, you will have to pay all the fees involved. When you buy tickets, always be sure the ticket is issued to match your ID.
Another tip: When you renew your driver’s license, get a separate photo ID card (the cost is $10 in my state). Keep it in a different place from your driver’s license when you travel so you have a backup ID in case you lose your license. You’ll be able to get through security to fly home if you lose your wallet on the road.
2. Carry with you the toll-free numbers of all the airlines you fly. If a flight is cancelled or you realize you won’t make a connecting flight, make a call from your cell phone to the airline instead of standing in line behind all the irate passengers. You will usually be re-booked immediately.
More numbers to have with you: passport, frequent flyer, hotel frequent guest and rental car numbers should be printed on one sheet of paper with a color copy of your passport key pages on the other side of the page. Hide them inside every bag you carry. Send a copy to yourself on your Google account and never delete it. This gives you access to your documents from any computer in the world.
3. Be patient. The people at the desk are doing the best they can. They are more willing to help you if you remain upbeat, calm and cheerful. Think how you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. The delay is certainly not their fault.
4. Ask for anything you can get. This includes as free meals, hotel rooms, ground transportation, and upgraded seats. You may get them…or you may not. For sure you won’t if you don’t ask.
5. Take names. If someone makes a promise to you (such as there is a room available at the hotel or you can return the rental call late without penalty) be sure to get the person’s name.
6. Keep your daily planner with you at all times. You will need to make notes of new flights and also cancel or reschedule any appointments on your calendar. This is where you can make notes of the person making promises as above.
7. Never check luggage if you don’t have to. When you have your bag with you, it will be easier to change planes (and even airlines) at the last minute.
8. Keep necessities with you. Never put anything in checked luggage that you absolutely must have at your destination, such as medicines and personal essentials. Those go in your carry on and are kept with you at all times. I always pack a change of undies, something to sleep in, and a fresh shirt in my carry on.
9. Keep your cell phone and laptop with you. Recharge them whenever you have an opportunity because you can never be sure when you’ll find your next working electrical outlet. Also keep all electronics (including flash drives, external hard drive, chargers, and camera) with you, as well as materials for any presentations you’ll be making.
10. Take some nice-to-have extras in your carry on. Never leave home without something to occupy your time if you’re delayed. A book, magazine, needlework, iPod, crossword puzzle…anything to make the time go faster. It’s also a good idea to pack some granola bars or trail mix in case you get caught with no time for a meal.

©2010 Vicki Voisin, Inc.Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a weekly ezine titled Paralegal Strategies and co-hosts The Paralegal Voice, a monthly podcast produced by Legal Talk Network. More information is available at www.paralegalmentor.com.

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