The essence of travel is experiencing something outside our normal routine that is hopefully enriching, enlightening, and even entertaining. To reach travel nirvana, however, you actually have to arrive at your destination. This is where performance comes in. When the apparatus of travel is performing properly — flights are on time; the rental car is available; your hotel room is ready for check in — you don’t think about it.
When any of these or the myriad other supporting elements of a fabulous vacation breaks down, travelers are keenly aware of how adversely bad performance can affect their dream trip. The most critical for many long-distance travelers is airline performance. Flights have a built-in cushion of time so that depending on when they push back from the gate and are cleared for take-off, they will still usually get in more-or-less on time. When there’s a weather problem or other upset to the system, a flight’s performance may be affected to the point that your flight is moved to another gate, seriously delayed, or cancelled, all of which can cause a disruption — sometimes severe — in your plans.
My advice: When possible, take the earliest flight in the day to your destination. They usually boast better on-time departure statistics than later flights, and there may be a subsequent flight if that one is delayed. This isn’t true of the last flights of the day, when you may be stranded at the airport or forced to overnight in the departure destination.
Sometimes you may prefer to purchase the premium brand to guarantee good performance. There seem to be many bargains with respect to rental cars. Look closely though at your reservation. Is the rental car agency actually in the airport or do you have to travel to another location? It might be worth a few extra dollars to go with one of the big name brands, like Hertz, which usually has excellent, quick transport of customers to their cars. To guarantee the best performance, it’s usually worth it to become a card-carrying member of the rental car company. They store your preferences in their database and you can usually just go right to your car, no human intermediary necessary.
Hotels are often the most critical make or break element to a great trip or vacation. Choosing a new hotel can be tricky but rewarding. I prefer to get recommendations from people who travel like me (as frequently and with the same preferences). Like for car rentals, I also choose brands that I trust, knowing their performance will be consistently good.
When I can afford it, the Four Seasons or Aman Resorts, with many topnotch properties the world over but particularly in Asia, are great choices. They’ll welcome you by name at the front door. Perfect, subtle, smart service performing at the highest levels. Another great, more affordable option is Kimpton Hotels. Their ‘InTouch’ program is for frequently staying customers and often has specials for gay and lesbian travelers. In this case you can guarantee great performance and reward a company, which is extending an authentic and sincere welcome to lesbian and gay customers.