Flying to your locum’s facility is not always desirable. It would be much more convenient to stay locally or only to have a short commute to a locums assignment. Many factors explain why we select the facilities we choose to work at. Those factors are outside the scope of this article. It is fair to state that there are plenty of reasons why one would consider the hassle of flying to a locum’s facility rather than staying local.
This article focuses on how locums practitioners can get the most enjoyment out of flying to their destination, understanding the stressors and time commitment it takes to travel these days. This article explores ways for locums practitioners to look at their travel days differently. Although we provide some age-old advice about flying, we offer some advice that may make you consider approaching locums travel differently.
Airline and Flying Benefits.
Frequent flyer program. No matter if you select to fly one airline or multiple, make sure to sign up for their loyalty rewards program. Don’t miss out on opportunities to earn and track points.
Airline app. Mobile apps v a ticket at the counter. You should also store your credit card in the app or register on the website to make in-flight purchases.
Airline Credit Card. Consider getting an airline credit card to multiply the points you can earn and receive elite status within their loyalty program.
Lounge Access. It’s great to have lounge access. Some lounges are airline-specific; others are not. Since most of us don’t travel enough to earn the points to receive a free membership to these airline lounges, consider purchasing a credit card that does offer lounge access. Make sure the credit card provides access to lounges at your most common airports.
TSA PreCheck and CLEAR. Expedite your way thru TSA with either TSA PreCheck or CLEAR. TSA precheck is at most airports, whereas CLEAR is not. The value of CLEAR depends on which airports you use and how busy they are. Depending on which credit card you have, it may cover the cost of the TSA fully or a portion of the CLEAR fee. There can be some advantages to having both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR, depending on how much you travel and thru which airports.
Only book one-way flights. You will find that booking flight one-way might be cheaper. Since each flight is booked separately, you won’t have the same issues that might arise with booking a round-trip flight.
Travel at slower times. Avoid the busy days at the airport and try to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, or the mornings on the weekend. These will also be some of the cheaper flights.
Book flights early to get the best price. Flights are usually the cheapest when you book them 6-12 weeks from the scheduled flight.
Book morning flights. The most reliable flights are in the mornings. The best chance you have of arriving on time. The later the scheduled flight is, the more likely it will be delayed or canceled.
Travel two days before your assignment starts. Most practitioners travel the day before to their facility. Consider flying two days before to leave room for delays and cancellations. Travel without the additional stress of having to arrive on time.
Don’t always run from red-eye flights. Don’t waste a day traveling. Instead, sleep on the plane. Skip the rush at a busy airport and get a cheaper flight by selecting the overnight flight.
Fly weekend to increase your odds of getting free upgrades. If you fly Saturday or Sunday mornings, you are more likely to receive a free upgrade. The reason is that there will be fewer business travelers, leaving you with better chances for a free upgrade.
Schedule your travel days to your locums assignment around your vacations. Fly to your vacation from your locums assignment. Then fly back to your locums assignment to return to work when the vacation is over.
Consider working with a travel agent. Do you want the convenience of someone else booking and arranging your travel? You could consider hiring a travel agent for $25-35 per roundtrip, which includes booking flights, a hotel, and a rental car. They can store your credit card information and preferences, so you can be treated like a King.
Prep Work the Day Before
Prepare how you will get to the airport. Will you drive or rely on someone else to take you to the airport? Rideshare apps are great but not always reliable. Make sure to schedule the ride early to give you enough leeway if they arrive late or cancel on you. You can hire a professional driver or ask one of the ride-share drivers if they want to do an under-the-table deal to get you to the airport.
Purchase a parking spot online. If you plan to drive to the airport and leave your car there, search online for the best deal before showing up to park.
Download movies and shows onto your mobile devices. Make your travel day enjoyable by having great content to watch.
Shut down and charge your laptop. After completely charging your laptop, put it in sleep mode or shut it down. Simply closing your laptop without doing these things will drain the battery.
Lay out your clothes the night before. If you live with your significant other and are leaving early the following day, put your clothes in the bathroom. That way, you can shut the bathroom door, shower, clean up and dress without having to wake up your significant other.
Make a habit of creating a to-do list for your travel day. Using a sticky note or note card, write down everything you want to accomplish on your travel day. Consider using the travel day to be productive. Catch up on some paperwork, take care of a side-hustle or connect with family and friends by phone.
Get a coffee the day before from your favorite coffee shop. If you plan to leave early in the morning, get a coffee the day before and heat it up before you travel. That way, you can start your travel day on the right foot.
What to Pack
Carry-on and personal items only. When you can avoid having to check a bag. Pack lite! Remember you could always leave clothes at your locums destination and do laundry there. You could also consider shipping your items in advance rather than having to fly with it.
Medicine. Have meds on hand to treat a headache, nausea, and insomnia.
Headphones. Don’t forget to bring your headphones for your mobile devices. If you plan to watch shows or movies on the built-in tv, make sure to bring headphones with the correct connections.
Children headphones. If you travel with children, don’t forget over-the-ear headphones. Your seatmate will unlikely want to hear Disney shows the entire flight.
Portable charger. This is a given!
Sleep mask. Bring it if you think you will need it.
Bag for toiletries. Consider putting your toiletries in a large zip lock bag. You will be surprised how much space you will save in your suitcase by using a baggie that conforms to the other items in your bag.
Empty water bottle. Flying requires hydration. Have an empty water bottle you can fill once you get past TSA. You could also put another beverage in this bottle you purchase at the airport or from a lounge.
Snacks. Bring a few snacks to munch on during your travel day. You could consider bringing a sandwich or purchasing one at the airport to stuff into your bag. Toasted bagels with butter brought from home are so delicious on an airplane.
Books and Mobile devices. Bring the items that will help distract you during your travel day.
Bring your passport. Most of us travel with our driver’s licenses. Consider bringing a second form of identification in case you lose your driver’s license to get thru TSA.
Bring a zip lock bag. If you have lounge access, bring an empty zip lock back to take some food with you on the plane.
Backpack for work. If you like to bring items to work with you, you may want to bring a separate bag. You may use your personal item bag that you bring onto the plane, but if you need something smaller, stuff it into your luggage.
Workout cloths. Take care of your health while traveling, and don’t forget your workout clothes.
Day of Travel
Dress for all occasions. The airplane may be cold or hot. Too many forget a long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt and are uncomfortable when the plane is cold.
Wear comfy shoes. Too often, we see people take their shoes off on airplanes. Some even walk into the airplane bathroom with only their socks on. Disgusting! Wear shoes that you don’t mind wearing all day.
Arrive early. There is no upside to showing up late and missing your flight. Show up early to the airport, and take the time to enjoy a lounge or restaurant. You never know how long the TSA line will take. Showing up early may allow you to catch an earlier flight. This would be advantageous if lousy weather were rolling in that may delay your later flight.
Avoid checking any luggage. Lost luggage can take 2-3 days to be returned. With that said, don’t stress yourself out. If you need a larger bag, then check it. Consider ways in the future to minimize what you have to travel with.
Grab food and beverage. Fill up your empty water bottle or purchase a drink in a bottle with a cap for the flight. You can also buy food at the airport. If you have lounge access, consider taking food from the lounge. Drink water and stay hydrated.
Where to put your carry-on bag? If you want to look professional walking off the plane, place your carry-on bag one seat ahead on the opposite side of your seat. Try it! You will be impressed by how much easier it is to get off the plane rather than putting your bag on the same side as your seat.
Every locums practitioner can take steps to improve their travel days for locums-type work. This article provided an extensive list of items practitioners should consider if they become frequent flyers. It isn’t easy to be a proficient flyer from the start. As you fly more, think of more efficient ways to make the travel process less stressful and irritating. Take the time to prepare yourself to become a successful traveler. One day you will become professional at it.