If you feel like you’re still recovering from last year’s summer travel season – made memorable by incredibly long lines at the airport, long delays when traveling to visit relatives and poor service at restaurants – you’re not alone. The summer travel season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. To cool down the heat of summer travel try these savvy traveler’s smart strategies:
1. Make restaurant reservations three weeks in advance of any summer holidays. Don’t leave booking that special restaurant till the last minute. Be sure to avoid problems by confirming all restaurant reservations at least one day before. If you have special food requirements let the restaurant know this when you call to make the reservation. Lastly, plan on arriving early for your reservation, this will allow for delays caused by holiday traffic.
2. If your flight is significantly delayed or canceled, don’t stand in line. Instead, use your cellular phone to call the airline directly. They’ll make travel arrangements for you by phone much faster than a harried gate agent with 200 other people in line with the same problem to solve.
3. Get the service provider on your side. Make direct eye contact with the person helping you as soon as possible, greet them with a pleasant “good morning” or and use the word “please” within the first 30 seconds. Use “I” Statements and avoid “you” statements so the service provider doesn’t get put on the defensive. For instance, “I’m frustrated that I can’t get help” works better than ” You are not being helpful.” If you need help in solving a problem ask the service person “What would you recommend I do?” and then stay silent. By giving them a minute to think about it, they will often come up with a workable solution.
4. Ship gifts ahead of time. If you’re visiting family this summer, why stress out yourself and anger other passengers by trying to stuff your gifts in an overhead compartment on a busy full flight? Instead save yourself the trouble by mailing all packages to your final destination at least one week prior to arrival. If you have to take last minute gifts with you, wrap them carefully and check them at curbside.
5. Choose a smaller airport: If you happen to be luck enough to live in a city with more than one airport – choose the secondary airport to fly in and out of. Smaller airports are often easier to negotiate due to fewer flights.
6. Sign up for Skype: Now available on the iPhone, as well as your desktop computer, you can pre-order Skype minutes (even for overseas calls) at a fraction of the amount it would cost to call long distance.
7. Always write down the name of whomever helps you . This way, if there’s a problem later on, you’ll be able to resolve it quicker when you can give the name of the specific person who provided you with the information or a promise.
This post was originally published at Karen Leland’s Featured Small Business column on The Huffington Post.