If you're planning any travel, whether for business or pleasure, you could be facing an unpleasant near future. Air traffic controllers have been calling in sick and the lack of staff has caused delays at multiple airports, including in New York, Newark, and Philadelphia. That's a problem on top of TSA personnel calling out and the chance of slower security lines.

So much for the early expert guesses that assumed the shutdown wouldn't affect air or train transportation.

Dealing with travel's innate challenges can be tricky, whether you want to beat the rental car game or know your rights when a flight is overbooked.

Over years when I traveled heavily for business, I had to pick up a lot of techniques to get where I wanted to go with as efficiently and effectively as possible. Here are four ideas to help you get past the pain of airport problems.

1. Find alternative transportation

Air travel can be convenient, even if often aggravating and irritating. The shutdown has magnified the problem considerably. Consider switching to another form of transportation. If you could reach your destination in a few hours, take a car, or even rent one so you don't put the extra wear and tear on yours. A bus is another possibility. Amtrak could be an alternative, as it's not shut down, but it can have its own problems, so caveat emptor.

2. Look for other airports

Many people head to the big-name airports at their destinations. But you might find a clearer and ultimately faster path arriving at an airport at some distance and then completing the trip by renting a car. The right choices might even save you money in total.

3. Plan to arrive a day early

The biggest potential threat to your travel plans is to have them get scrambled while you're in the midst of it all. Give yourself some schedule slack. If you'd typically plan to land the evening before an early meeting, consider going in two days ahead. It may seem a waste of time, but you can use the extra hours to focus on things that typically get pushed to the side for other more urgent, if not more strategically more important, matters. And that way, if things go really awry, there's probably still enough of a chance to make some corrections and find a way to get there when you have to.

4. Don't go

This isn't much help for personal plans, but a lot of business travel is not strictly necessary. Arrange a good-quality video call with people, especially if you find out mid-trip that you'll be stuck. One good reason to travel with equipment that can do a reasonable business-type teleconference. I remember once being waylaid by tornados over Texas and having to moderate a seminar by speakerphone. Not fun, but better than just disappearing.

Published on: Jan 25, 2019
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