Exterior Drone image of Hyatt Place Houston Texas

The Hotel Photographer’s Tips to Travel Sanity

Travel – it’s glamorous, fun, and spontaneous, right? Or that’s what we’ve been led to believe. As I produce quality hotel photography for clients around the country, the experiences of daily travel can be daunting to say the least. Let’s face it, not all trips are draped in equal cover. Simply put, trips can fall on a sliding scale peaking from heavenly to dreadful. Add 250 pounds of lighting and camera gear, airlines who work hard to get that black bottom line, and weather that’s down right unpredictable, and where your trip lands on that scale is no easier to predict than hitting lotto numbers correctly.

As the fall leaves and the cooler temperatures push out the bluish skies and humid air, travelers such as myself rejoice at the smaller blessings in travel life. Smaller flight loads, shorter days, and less sweaty conditions in which to shoot our exteriors. Regardless of the season, I always keep in mind to maintain my travel sanity.

As this article is penned, I sit in a terminal at PDX awaiting a flight now leaving at 4:45 – a full six hours after it’s intended departure time. The misconnect will cost me a night in Atlanta, a late start for my shoot tomorrow, and lack of any real sleep. Still, travel sanity is a trait learned both through common reasoning, and years of traveling. The seasoned traveler knows that it’s a practice similar to swimming upstream – against the current. What can go wrong, often will. What should go right, most likely won’t. Once these tenants are embraced, be ready to embrace the reality with a sense of resolve, flexibility, and creativity.


While each person and situation is different, provided below are three specific strategies to deal with the craziness often associated with maintaining travel sanity…

WORK BACKWARD – Often times we have more leeway in our travel schedule than we realize. When booking your flights, make sure you have enough time to get the job done – or if on vacation, there’s enough time to see what it is you want to see. When early disaster strikes, such as a delayed flight, go to your end result. Work backward to see how you can shave time off and still get the business trip or vacation successfully completed.

SMILES, EVERYONE, SMILES! The travel industry is wrought with vicious circles spawned by delays, reroutes, and over booking. Think of it as a cakewalk. Almost every situation involving modern travel will have an odd man (or woman) out. It’s not intentional, simply a numbers game. Airlines overbook seats knowing that a certain percentage of passengers won’t show up. If you don’t have status on the airline, you might be reassigned to another flight. Sometimes airlines also have equipment swaps, often switching out a larger plane for a smaller one. People are always re-accommodated on flights similar to their original itinerary. The more you can work with the gate agent, the better your reassignment will be. Bribes always help – not the monetary kind, but the smile, the acknowledgement of their lack of fault in the situation. These are very useful in moving the process right along, and snagging a good seat for that upcoming flight.

HAVE A PLAN – The boxer Mike Tyson was brief yet eloquent when he stated that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. We’ll use that as a metaphor and hope there’s no physical violence on your upcoming journey. That said, those punches can come from unexpected areas, and arrive with a forceful blow if you’re not prepared. Here in lies the key – be prepared. It might seem like a no-brainer, but a docket with names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and a well laid out itinerary will help to avoid confusion when you’re arriving at your destination – or when trying to explain to an agent where you’re trying to get to. Backs of envelops with scribbled names and numbers don’t count. Keep an email folder (or a manilla folder for you old school types) the second you being to prepare a trip. The info accumulated for even the simplest of trips can cover many pages, so start early and get the info into a single source you can access at the airport or other stops along your journey.

Everyone has advice on how to make your trip a smooth and efficient journey. After flying more than 200,000 miles a year for the last few decades, I can say these perspectives have helped me both professionally and personally. I hope they’re of help to you also…

Safe Journeys,