Business travel can have its high points and its low points, but regular travelers learn that there are ways to make even tough situations significantly better. These are the seven habits of highly effective business travelers.
1. Pack Like a Pro
Road warriors don’t start from scratch every time they have to pack for a trip. Instead, they keep a suitcase at the ready with basics already packed along with toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and even makeup. These pro travelers keep a packing list on hand and know exactly what items they need to snag before heading out of town. And they always carry on in case they need to switch flights at the last minute.
2. Leverage the Power of Technology
Pro travelers leverage technology to its maximum benefit. They use apps like TripIt Pro to alert them to flight changes or delays, Waze to shave time of their drives, and Lounge Buddy to find VIP lounges in airports. They use the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR programs to speed their way through lines. By using the right tools, they take some of the stress and discomfort out of travel.
3. Check-in Early, or Late
Experienced travelers know that there is a timing and a rhythm to travel. They capitalize on the natural flow and use it to their advantage. They are the first ones to check in for their flights—exactly 24 hours in advance—because they realize they can get better seats (choice aisle or window seats) or high priority on the upgrade list that way. Efficient travelers also try to fly earlier in the day since those flights are the least frequently delayed or canceled. And they also know that there’s a real benefit to checking into their hotels late—the hotel may be fully booked and the only thing left is upgraded suites or VIP rooms.
4. Ask and You Just May Receive
Regular business travelers know that upgrades are the key to a better travel experience, whether it is a better seat, an upgraded room, or a table at an impossible-to-reserve restaurant. They know that by asking, you just might get your wish. Inexperienced travelers might attribute this to charm or luck, but the experienced travelers know that these perks happen because you are pleasant and approach your request without a sense of entitlement. Pro travelers know that kindness matters.
5. Take a Risk
It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone. In business travel, something magical can happen just by putting yourself out there. Instead of ordering room service, head out and eat dinner at the local bar. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you. You might just learn something about the city or make a business connection. In putting yourself out there, you’ll often be rewarded.
6. Make Time for Yourself
When traveling, there’s a tendency to pack as much into the day as possible. This is especially true on business travel. However, experienced travelers know to make time for themselves. Whether it is hitting the gym or visiting a museum, it’s important to do something for yourself to keep from getting burned out.
7. Open Your Mind
What differentiates a truly experienced traveler from a novice is not in the planning or the execution, it is in the recovery when things go wrong. Pro travelers plan for the worst-case scenario and leave their options open in case of problems, flight delays, or that business meeting that didn’t go as planned. They see opportunity when others only see adversity.
And a special bonus habit: Remember to have fun. Even when the grind of business travel is bringing you down, you can still have fun. Even if you’ve visited the same city 100 times, you can still find something new and surprise yourself. Have fun and keep a positive attitude.