I thought, since I travel so much, others might as well, and we might have some good tips for the not-so-frequent traveler, to make life easier. Throw your tips in here!
Here are a few of mine, I'm sure I'll remember more later:
1) Don't use wake-up calls or the hotel alarm clock. Your cellphone probably has an alarm on it. Use it, or bring a small alarm clock. There's nothing more frustrating than not getting woken up in time.
2) Always, always, go to the gate desk, and ask if you can have an exit-row seat or bulkhead. I'm tall (6' 7"), but if you're not, make up a good reason. Once in a while, you'll get bumped to first class, and you'll almost always get at least an exit row seat.
3) Most car rental places have annual fees for their "premium service". Not Thrifty. It's free, and in most airports it allows you to bypass lines, and it quite frequently gets you much better cars than you've reserved. I can't tell you how many times I've reserved something smallish only to be bumped to a Chrysler 300M or a Pacifica.
4) If you've got premium status with one hotel chain, call the one you want and ask for an upgrade. They'll want a copy of your card or stay history with the other chain, but they'll usually make you a deal. When I first started traveling, I was staying in Holiday Inns, and got platinum with their chain. I called Hilton, and they gave me Diamond VIP status after looking at my stay history, and I've never looked back. Hilton Diamond VIP has saved my butt more than once when I've had the last flight of the night cancelled, and had to stay an extra night somewhere. I just call them, and they hook me up in a previously "unavailable" hotel. I even showed up in Vegas one weekend with no reservations, everything was booked, but my VIP status got me a room for the weekend at 2am on a Saturday morning when everyone else was booked.
5) The first thing you do when you get to your hotel is hang everything in the bathroom, turn the shower on its hottest setting, and close the door. Let it run for a half hour or so, and then move everything to the closet. It's all wrinkle-free, and ready for however long you're at your destination. Don't live out of a suitcase - it's bad for your mental health.
6) If you're changing time zones, set EVERYTHING to your new time zone immediately, preferably while you're on the airplane. You'll never sleep well unless you force yourself into that time zone and get on their schedule. Make yourself go to bed at a reasonable local time, and get up on their time as well.
7) Check in on-line. Seriously, this is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Go to the library or a friend's house if you have no printer, but DO IT. A TSA friend of mine informed me that you'll never be "randomly selected" for additional screening if you have an on-line boarding pass, and my bountiful experience has borne that out. It's quick, it's easy, and it saves you time.
8) If you're traveling with a carry-on, and it's a small plane (i.e. they mention something about green tags over the loudspeaker), go get a green tag for your carry-on. You're going to need to check it. Take anything important out, and put it in your purse or laptop case. Don't worry, it'll be unloaded and waiting for you next to the plane when you land, but don't slow down the rest of the line by having to green-tag it WHILE you're boarding.
I guess that's enough for now. I'll post some more when it's not 1am