While you are waiting patiently for the gate agents to call for the boarding your flight, out of nowhere, an announcement comes across the loudspeaker: "Flight 371 -- Washington to Detroit -- has been canceled due to mechanical difficulties. Please see the gate agent to reschedule your flight." Your flight has just been canceled! What do you do?

If you are like most people, you immediately jump up and make a mad dash to the agent counter, just like 200 other people, and your ability to get back home today, or make it to that critical meeting, completely depends on how fast you can sprint! Or, if you are a savvy traveler, you pull out your PDA or planner, look up the 800 reservations number for your airline, casually pull out your cell phone, and call the 800-number without panic. By the time the second person in line starts talking to an agent, you are already speaking with the telephone ticket agent and rescheduling your flight -- thus bypassing all of those poor souls standing in the ticket line. This is one of the better traveling tips that I've come across over the years, and I've actually had the opportunity to use it once or twice. It is a great little time saving tip, but it only works if you have that airline’s toll free 800-number handy. Every minute you lose trying to track that number down means more seats from the next flight are disappearing.

Because of this, I make a regular habit of keeping valuable travel-related 800 numbers in my PDA. I have a special category in my MS Outlook note pad and my PDA’s "Memo Pad" named "Travel". In this category, memos with important 800-numbers are stored, including not only airline 800-numbers, but also the 800-numbers for most of the major hotel chains and car rental companies. (This also helped me once when the car rental I reserved came with a dysfunctional infant seat. It was the only infant seat my car rental company had left, but with the 800-numbers, I was able to contact another car rental company and get a back-up reservation in a matter of minutes.)

I have posted these memos for public access on my Web site, http://www.randalldean.com (click on the link to the free Memo Pad/PDA downloads). You can easily cut and paste them into your own PDA Memo Pad or MS Outlook / Palm Desktop account, or simply print them out and add to your planner. Now, of course, these memos are not comprehensive -- they list some of the larger national airlines, hotel chains, and car rental organizations. If you frequently travel to other parts of the world, or use hotels or car rental companies not on these lists, note the "Resources" listing at the bottom of these memos. You can visit these Web sites for significantly more comprehensive 800-number lists, as well as links to these companies' web sites. Add whatever companies that you frequently use to your list, to make the information customized to you. I hope this helps you become a more organized traveler, as well as save you some valuable time over the years while traveling.

Author's Bio: 

Randy Dean (www.randalldean.com) is the "Totally Obsessed" Time Management/PDA Guy and E-mail Sanity Expert. A very popular speaker and trainer, Randy has led programs all around the United States on better time management and e-mail sanity. The author of the book, Major Satisfactors = Major Success, and developer of the popular speaking/training program, "Taming the E-mail Beast: Key Strategies for Better Managing E-mail and Information Overload", Randy is working on a new book on better managing your e-mail account, to increase productivity and sanity (visit his web site for a special sneak preview). Randy also has popular speaking programs for conferences and association meetings, including his "Finding an Extra Hour Every Day" program, "The PDA Power Program", and "(RE)Awakening the Passion and Energy in Your Work and Life", as well as highly rated training programs, including his highlight full-day "Time Management for Busy Managers, Leaders, and Professionals" course. You can learn much more about Randy and his upcoming courses and programs at www.randalldean.com