If you are a professional in the Video industry, chances are you find yourself spending a lot of time in airports, hotels, and rental cars. Traveling is my favorite part of my job, mostly because of the sense of freedom and opportunity to see new places. With that said, I do not think there will ever be a time when I can travel as light as my PR colleagues, who show up to the airport fully prepared with only their laptop, a notebook, and a couple changes of clothing. I have spent a lot of time over the past few years flying around the country conducting shoots for our clients, and wanted to share a few tips that might help ease some of the stress you will inevitably encounter during your next voyage.
Pack Heavy and Keep your Baggage Minimal: In the video production world, “traveling light” is not in our vocabulary. Practically every shoot will require multiple cameras, tripods, lights, and a steadicam rig. Right away, a two-person crew’s hands are filled with cases of necessary gear. Since most of this is going to be checked at the gate anyways, we always try to cram jackets, toiletry bags, or extra pairs of shoes into whatever spare room lies within these cases. It helps alleviate the weight that would be otherwise carried around the terminal in a backpack and stuffed into an overhead compartment, or underneath the seat in front of you. Once you arrive at your destination, send someone to get the rental car while the other waits back at the terminal with the monstrous bags of equipment. Your arms and back will thank you later.
Keep your Commute Short: When booking travel arrangements, be sure to look up the address where the shoot is taking place. Once this information is confirmed, see where the closest (halfway decent) hotel is. If it’s available, book it! You will thank yourself the next morning when you’re spending a few extra minutes sleeping off the jet lag, instead of fighting off the morning rush hour traffic.
Find a Window of Personal Time: Many times the destination cities are places you may have never been to before, and who knows when you’ll have a chance to make it back there. Try to spend a few minutes before traveling to figure out when there might be a little bit of down time. If you don’t need to be on location until 10 or 11 AM, go get coffee near that landmark you’ve always wanted to take a photo of. If you flew in around the dinner hour, then it may behoove you to find a restaurant that specializes in local cuisine. As I grow older, it also seems like more and more friends are moving away. Business trips give you a great reason to make an after hours pit stop to catch up with those you haven’t seen in a long time.
Bring Something Else to Work On: As refreshing as it is to break the day-to-day routine and spend a little time out of the office, that first day back at home base is just around the corner. When this day comes, there will be a mountain of unread emails to go through and reply to. While it’s not possible to bring all projects with you, see if there are a few things laying in your queue that are close to the finish line. You’ll feel better knowing that something can be checked off your to-do list upon your return. For a three-day trip, I always try to bring at least two projects along with me, as well as some tutorials or brain exercise for the flights.
Don’t Overstay Your Welcome: Get in, do what you need to do, and get out. There’s nothing worse than wrapping your shoot and then having to wait an extended amount of time before your flight home. If your company works with a travel service, its always smart to see what other flights are available around the time you’re scheduled to depart. Find one that’s on the early side, and one on the later side. Depending on how the shoot is going, you should be able to sense if your day is going to run a little early or late. I always keep the 1-800 number for our company’s travel partner in my phone in case an issue comes up. Typically, they can book you for another flight in the time it takes to hail a cab to the airport.
It is my hope that some of the tips listed above will help keep your blood pressure in check while on the road. In less than 24 hours, I’ll be keeping these ideas in mind while traveling to North Carolina. I’m scheduled to land around 4; I think I’ll have barbecue for dinner.
(Pictures are Chicago, Boulder, Minneapolis, San Francisco, DC, Cleveland, Portland)