Business travel, it can either cause dread (like small business owners who are worried about excess expenditures) or even elation (corporate millennials are choosing business travel as an avenue for site-seeing). With all the problems you might face, regardless of your outlook for your time spent away from “Homebase,” here are a few business travel tips that will help smooth the time away.
1. Pack your entire trip into a Carry-On and a Personal Item.
One bag for essentials. One bag for your business attire if you are planning on a business convention or even continuing education. Be careful of budget economy airline tickets that will charge you for a carry-on. And double-check sizing and all restrictions through the Airline. If you are using a codeshare ticket, the company issuing the ticket may not be the owner/flyer of the plane you travel in.
The personal item most business travelers will use will be a backpack. There is an increasing number of companies that are designing backpacks around travel. Look for the designers that you may not think of at first. PING which is known for golf clubs makes a quality travel backpack that has slip pouches for tablets and padded pouches for a laptop.
*Pro Tip – Make sure that anything you choose has a padded pocket for laptops (unless you are somehow able to complete a business trip completely on a tablet, in case, congratulations, you are now envied by many business travelers.)
Packing essentials into your personal item, for hiccups and contingencies, is always encouraged. Using low-cost alternatives to “Travel gear,” can help your pockets or even to just allow you to use that expenditure for stress relief while on your trip, i.e. getting a massage or getting a cab to go out for a night can turn a trip around from being a stress-induced disaster.
- Pack a Reusable water bottle to stay hydrated on trips when you may not have the time to stop at a store.
- A tennis ball can help the arches of your feet midday at a large convention that will make you walk miles in most cases.
- Earplugs can work just as well as noise-canceling headphones to help with sleep during delays, overnight flights, or even if your hotel run happens to be right next to the elevator. Sleep masks will also help and can be stored in very little space.
- Packing a towel instead of a neck pillow can not only save room packing but can be used in more applications than just to put behind your head.
- A backup battery is also essential in today’s world. Make sure you get one large enough to completely recharge your largest battery (most likely your laptop).
*Pro Tip – Make sure to charge every electronic completely before you leave for the airport. If there are any delays you will want every bit of charge for emergencies.
Your carry-on should also take the same foresight in packing that you gave your personal item. Make sure to pack casual shirts and exercise clothes for downtime. Pack outfits that can be worn more than once or mix and matched to at least make a different look when worn more than once.
Reduce the amount of liquids you pack to a minimum, most of them are either provided by the hotel or a concierge can point you to a store that is close. If you wear contacts, I would recommend leaving them and taking glasses with you. Contacts solution and cases can take up much needed real estate in your luggage. Especially when you are trying to pack everything in carry-ons. Find a glasses case that can slip easily in an exterior pocket of your backpack for quick access and to save room.
Use space-saving packing techniques like packing cubes, rolling casual shirts and exercise clothes, and compressor bags. If you have to wear formal business attire, you might want to check into what it would cost to ship it to the hotel you are staying at a couple/few days in advance. A medium flat rate box is usually $15, which is considerably better priced than the sometimes $50 baggage fees you might have to pay if you have an extra piece of luggage to carry your suit.
*Pro Tip: Pack your liquids and electronics to be readily available.
If you use packing cubes always pack liquids at the top of your luggage so that you can easily access everything TSA might want to check. Electronics will need to be readily accessible for scanning, so I would recommend keeping them all in your personal item (Backpack). Also, think about joining programs that give you TSA priority lanes and pre-checks can save time and stress in busy airports.
2. Join Rewards programs.
Research different rewards programs dealing with car rentals, hotel stays, and airline flights. You will need to figure out what you want out of your programs and then you can see what is available. Do you want to be able to have a lounge to take a nap during delays at airports? Maybe a free upgrade when available for a rental car?
If you have to stay overnight between connecting flights, some hotel rewards programs will pay for a free uber from the airport and take you back in the morning for the connecting flight. Hotel rewards programs can also give you free dry cleaning, and amenities like wifi or discounts at a hotel spa for needed stress relief.
Even if you do not fly often, I would still recommend choosing an airline rewards program because you can usually have access to semi-private lounges in terminals between flights. Also having a rewards membership number can make a big difference when you have to open a dispute with the airline you are using because of lost luggage or other general grievances.
3. Use technology to help find your best options and make your time more efficient.
TSA pre-check, Airline apps, and even most of the rewards programs have apps or have ways it can be used from a web browser, that can point you in the right direction in and out of the airport.
Airline apps can do many things. You will want to chiefly look for applications that have a mobile boarding pass function and also early check-in function. Some airlines will give you a better boarding group if you check in 24 hours in advance (If it is Southwest set an alarm, those few spots go fast).
Some airline apps will allow you to set up notifications for when a certain ticket falls between a price range that you can also set up. This is mostly for people that need to do something away from “Homebase” in a general time frame. Maybe a face to face meeting with a potential client needs to be done a month or two away because of allocation considerations of the corporation or business. Some businesses’ don’t like to set up a new contract for a service at the end of a quarterly report.
Have a problem with your check-ins or boarding at the gate? Stuck on the runway for hours? Take to twitter with your issues and you might be surprised at the quick responses. Most airlines, hotels, and even car rental companies have customer service representatives monitoring their social media accounts.
You will find in most cases you will get a much faster response to problems on a live social media platform with public transparency as opposed to sending a private email and awaiting a response.
Usually, in a few days to a week, and with all the correct information, you will receive an email with possible solutions to your problem. While on social media, it is more of a face of the company issue and corporations always want to seem helpful and responsive, even when they can’t be in all practical sense.
TSA Precheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR are three things everyone who travels should be aware of. They are all apart of the US Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveller programs. After you complete the application process, you can almost coast through security with little resistance. This is something that is paramount to any traveler, whether it be a frequent flyer or not.
Also, try to download Tv shows or movies in order to circumvent the fees airlines will charge for wifi during flight. Even the cheapest wifi fee is money that could be better spent at your destination.
4. Book early flights.
Always book the earliest flight that you know you can get to. Just in case you have long delays, you will never be forced to spend the night between flights.
This delay can throw off an entire week due to lack of sleep before even beginning whatever you traveled for. In addition, it can impact your budget due to an extra night in a hotel (not to mention lost money because you are not able to cancel your pre-planned hotel stay which you are not able to use).
If you have no delays and land on time, then an early flight can give you much needed time to prepare and organize so that your time on the road is smooth works out.
The time can be used taking a short nap (be careful napping because if done for too long it can lengthen the time it takes to get used to a time zone) or going sightseeing to unwind from traveling in an airplane.
5. Negotiate upgrades for lodging and car rentals.
Even without rewards programs, you can sometimes get free upgrades.
If the hotel you are staying at has a lot of vacancies, you might be able to (nicely) ask for an upgrade to a better room at little or no upcharge.
Car rental sites that aren’t located at the airport may not have the same amount of customers coming into their business, so sometimes just asking (also nicely) about a possible upgrade based on availability, you can go from driving a Camry to driving a Cadillac or even being able to upgrade to a larger vehicle like a truck or mid-size SUV can add a level of comfort that will reduce stress in a foreign city.
6. Look for local Coworking spaces.
Whether you are a small business owner or a corporate traveler, coworking spaces can offer many perks that you can’t receive in a hotel lounge. For the business owner, it can offer networking face-to-face and can foster business relationships that you might never come across. For the corporate traveler, cowork spaces can really make the difference when you have an emergency that requires you to put in a full 8 hours work while on-the-road.
Most coworking spaces provide kitchens. They also have much better wifi and internet connections than their hotel lessers. And while just using the space in your hotel might be cheaper, hotels usually charge for internet connections or if they don’t charge are limited by their speeds.
Coworking spaces can reduce much of the stress that we often endure when rushing to meet deadlines or handle last-minute tasks. If you’re on the road faced with urgent work that can’t wait, the clean, well-organized setting of a local co-working space is sure to calm your nerves better than a noisy coffee shop.
7. Stick to a routine.
Getting up at the same time can help acclimate you to a distant time zone faster. If you are going to try to work out do it before dinner, in case you have a heavy meal and get sluggish. I like to have a cold shower and a light jog in the morning when I wake up. The cold shocks my senses awake and jump-starts adrenaline and endorphins. The light 10-15 min jog will also do the same and prolongs the effects. It has been shown that a light work-out before work elevates mood throughout the day.
Also, try to steer clear of overeating or eating a lot of fried foods. Most people like to try new foods when they go to a different part of the world, but if you have responsibilities on your trip, you should avoid it.
Whatever actions you decide to incorporate into your routine make sure you stick to it. Changing can sometimes lead to performance drops if you are traveling for longer than a week.
If you are sent to a place that you have wanted to visit before, think about adding a couple of vacation days to the end to see places that may not be close enough to your hotel to visit during down time. Or maybe you need those 2 days to unwind after a jam-packed schedule. Whatever your reasoning, it is something many people do, so don’t be afraid to ask your boss (nicely, of course) for vacation after.