12 travel tips for the flying fundraiser

Picture of a suitcase a traveling fundraiser probably wouldn't takeLast week, Chris Brogan offered an extensive list of travel tips. He asked what we'd add here are some of mine. There are some duplicates, but that's just how it is.

  • Read Chris' Tips for Flying post and the comments

    There are some incredibly helpful tips in the post and in the comments!

  • Dump pocket contents into a Ziploc bag when you park your car

    I carry an extra sandwich sized bag. When I park my car, I just dump all my pockets contents into it and put it in my carry on. I also remove my belt at that time and put that in my bag too.

  • Remove your id and boarding pass from the Ziploc bag

    You're going to need those in the airport. If you haven't gotten your boarding pass yet, remove a credit card to so you can use the self-serve kiosk.

  • Be nice to TSA

    Those guys didn't make the rules. They were dreamed up by some bureaucrat with a non-traveling desk job. I happen to know a TSA agent at my local airport. We've been friends since before he was TSA. It helps me to remember him when I go through lines.

  • Wear slip on shoes

    I always wear my LL Bean mocs or penny loafers when I travel. I've recently picked up some clipping things that replaced my sneaker shoelaces. Those have been wonderful. And they make my sneakers "slip on" too.

  • Get dressed after you pick up the stuff off the belt

    There are almost always wide benches on the other side of security. Use them as you put on your belt, fill your pockets, and put your liquids in your suitcase.

  • Use TripIt Pro

    I love TripIt and use the Pro version. It texts me updates about my flight even before I'm at the airport. I often know about flight delays before the employees at the airport do.

  • Consider using a travel agent

    I normally use Orbitz to schedule my flights, but I've started using a local travel agent. More than once they were able to book me on alternate airlines and help me get to my destination despite delays and cancellations. They only tack on $35 or something, but knowing they are just a call away is amazing. It's like adding to your team. And believe me, when you're in a crowded airport facing delays, you want someone on your team!

  • If delayed, call customer service or your travel agent while standing in line

    If you're facing a delay, definitely get yourself in the most helpful line you can. But these lines always are s-l-o-w. So hop on the phone to the airline's customer service or your travel agent. More than once I've had my situation resolved before I'd even made it to the desk.

    One time in Boston when snowed in at a conference, there were over 100 people in line to try to get a room at the host hotel. I felt so cool when I called the reservation hotline and booked a room at the conference rate. I'd effectively cut in line, but no one was upset. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ask for upgrades

    You'd expect this from the guy that wrote Ask Without Fear!, wouldn't you? Often times, if you're not in the elite status of a program, you won't get the upgrade. But it never hurts to ask. If you do ask, smile and be sweet. And try to ask when you're not being a bother to a harried employee.

  • Treat people as humans

    I'm amazed at how easy it is for people to act like jerks. Yes, you are the most important person in your world. But that poor person you're beating up has just talked to 50 other people who are the most important people in their worlds. It's fine to expect service. But it's very helpful to acknowledge the rough time people are getting. A simple "Hard day, huh?" can go along way.

  • Bring extra outlets

    I always travel with a Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger [amazon affiliate link]. There are never enough outlets, so this allows me to plug in more places. And rather than hogging an outlet, I'm opening it up to a couple others. I also like to carry an extra phone battery with me. I stress out a lot less when I know I have a completely charged battery in reach.

Those are some of my tips. What would you add?

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marcโ€™s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, heโ€™ll be singing 80โ€™s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/


  1. Marc, As someone who has flown numerous times, I find your 12 tips practical and helpful. Blessings,

  2. Thanks Joseph!

    Any tips you'd add?

  3. Thanks for such great tips! I travel a lot and here are my tips:

    1. Always bring at least one thing you can wear in front of a donor in your carry-on as well as an emergency pack of ultra-basic accessories. My luggage has gotten lost A LOT and you need basic functionality on board so you can hit the ground running.

    2. Always join the hotel membership clubs. As George Clooney states in Up in the Air, "There's nothing cheap about loyalty." They're free and the possible perks are valuable - ie. free internet, special lounges, room upgrades, exercise clothes. If you find that you need a higher level of membership class for the really good perks, try (nicely) asking for them anyway.

    3. Organize your paperwork. This sounds obvious, but donor visits sometimes involve a lot of paperwork. I had a binder system with tabs - one tab for each day on the road with schedule for day, map directions to each donor, donor profile, proposal paperwork, 1 sheet note paper and pre-addressed thank you card.
    I also had a plastic envelope sorted by tabs for each day for my receipts - easier than fishing them out of my wallet in with the IKEA receipts from home later on!

    4. Create a home away from home. Often, donor visits take place at a home or office - something I'm becoming less comfortable with as a female traveling alone! Try to set up an office in the city you're in and hold your meetings there. One creative solution is to ask a donor or board member to offer you a meeting room or extra office in their suite for the day.

    I will often set up shop in the hotel restaurant or a coffee shop and ask the manager to simply hold a single table in a quiet corner for me for the entire day and return to that same spot with each appointment - less travel time, more talking time and I feel safer in a place where I have some control of the territory.

    5. Couldn't be my list without a wardrobe tip ๐Ÿ™‚ When you buy suits, always get at least two pairs of pants or the skirt and the pants to go with the jacket. It makes packing so much lighter when you don't need to bring multiple jackets!

  4. Christina,

    These are terrific!

    I LOVE the idea of taking over a table. I never have people meet me in my room. Too creepy and awkward.

    I also LOVE the idea of having a thank you card already ready to go. That is priceless!

  5. Great tips, Marc -- for anyone. Being pleasant and kind to the airline folk -- especially during a situation is the best advice for all. Acting nice got me a free hotel room, dinner and a drink, and an early flight on New Year's Eve so I arrived home around the blizzards. I was the only super nice person she'd talked with in 45 minutes.

  6. Barb: That's SO COOL! Thanks for the comment!

  7. I travel a lot for business and some for pleasure. I live by one rule - pack light. So light in fact that you only need a carry-on bag. Checking baggage and all the time and potential for delays in entails means that my mantra is "carry-on only".

  8. Sherry,

    That's an awesome rule to live by! It's one of mine as well - did our 10-day european honeymoon on 2 small duffle bags, camera bag and purse.

    Biggest challenge with that strategy for women is always keeping shoes to a min.

  9. Great travel apps for smart phones and tablets in this article: http://www.cnbc.com/id/42785153

  10. 1) Quiet corners of hotel lobbies make good "offices" on the road, too -- if the hotel you're staying at doesn't have a nice lobby, find one near your prospects' offices that does and schedule your appointments for there.

    2) Try to pack everything in your carry-on bag. I can do a 4-day trip without having to check anything. An iPad, which can hold presentations, email, and a book to read at night is a great space saver.

    3) Try to eat one salad a day - your body will thank you for it. Staying healthy is important.

    4) If you can schedule it, try to visit a local museum or other cultural attraction - gives your brain a break and gives you an ice breaker with your prospect.

    5) Tip well. Karma, friends, karma.

  11. Beth: Great additions!

    I particularly like the reminder to do something local. I try to do that and have had amazing experiences as a result.

    The salad tip, on the other hand, well...I do need to do that more often...

  12. I ate a salad yesterday!! ๐Ÿ™‚

What would you add?