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Bring a Pen Along for the Ride on the Plane


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You’ve got to fill out all of those custom forms somehow, right?

If you’re hoping there will be pens by the time you hit the immigration hall, you might get lucky. (You also might be equally unlucky too.) Anyways, by the time you fill out your details, the entire fleet of that Boeing 777 you just got off of will be in line ahead of you. Make efficient use of your time by filling out the arrival card before you deplane.

I should say, don’t be afraid to go absolutely buck wild and bring two pens. Maybe even in crayon. There’s quite nothing like sitting in your airplane seat with ink running all over your fingers, while the guy next to you gives you the death stare. Try explaining that one to the flight attendant.

Weirdest it ever was, I asked to borrow a pen from a guy in line several spots ahead of me. Customs officer also decided to take his ol’ sweet time going through my passport, making Mr. Pen Man stand and wait for 20 minutes on the other side for his bolígrafo. I kept glancing on the other side, shooting him apologetic looks while he looked around impatiently. It must have been his favorite pen.

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  • Rob

    Haha … I was once “Mr. Pen Man.” So what I do is I actually carry one or two extra cheap ball point pens with me. Such as the ones you get from the hotel or the cheap Bic pens.

    Then when someone asks if they can borrow a pen I give them one of the cheap-o ball points. :-)

    • Erica Ho

      That’s a thumbs up move, Rob.. how nice of you! :-)

  • Rob

    At my previous company, we had a marketing and sales department which also meant we had *swag* and other stuff to hand out at tradeshows and other promotional events.

    The staple freebie with just about any company are pens. :-) We had three types – the first being the really cheap, errr – I mean “inexpensive” ones, the other being an above average one (usually came in a cool case) and a really nice (expensive) Cross pen with the company logo laser etched and probably even serialized. Anyway, the *inexpensive* ones were actually not that bad of a pen and I would keep a few in my bag. When people asked to borrow a pen, I’d hand them one of those and tell them to “keep it” – one way to advertise your company! :-)

    Another useful thing to keep with you when travelling is a small pad of paper. How many times do you find yourself scribbling down important info on the back of your boarding pass, a napkin, or the inside of your forearm? Many of the hotels (if not all of them) offer you a small pad of paper in their room. Usually only a few sheets but they’re small and perfect size to keep in your travel pack/bag (along with their free pen).

    And not to digress too much but another tip I have is to use the camera on your phone to note/record things as well. Example: even in this age of eTickets and having our travel itinerary available online (available through an app or from the phone’s web browser), you will most likely still have a hard copy print out with you.

    That said I would take a photo of my hard copy print outs. But why when it’s also available online and just about all phones have some sort of Internet capability? Not all airports have free Internet and even 4G networks can be slow. By taking a photo you have it instantly. :-)

    Another use of the camera phone when travelling is to take a picture of where you parked your car. Whether it be at the airport or if you have a rental.

    I know this sounds silly but once I forgot where I had parked my rental car. But in my defense it was at the “King of Prussia Mall” which is pretty massive. Fortunately the security people were kind enough to drive me around until I located where I had parked; apparently this happens on a daily basis even with the locals! :-)

    Happy travels!

    • Erica Ho

      Thanks for pointing out some important tips Rob. I would definitely second having a pad to scribble notes on, and having a hard copy of your printouts whereever you go!




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