Are you preparing for your first business trip? Maybe dusting off your carry-on bag after a travel hiatus? Whether you’re a veteran road warrior or a biz travel rookie, we have you covered with these eleven tips for the modern business traveler.
Check-in 24 hours before a flight
Depending on the airline and fare class you purchased, you may or may not be able to select your seat ahead of time. The good news? Several airlines release any remaining seats 24 hours before a flight. If you check-in as soon as it becomes available, you’ll have a better seat selection to choose from. Or, if you already have a seat assignment, you might be able to find a better seat without paying additional fees.
Folding clothes before packing them is the go-to for a lot of travelers, but I’ve found that rolling allows you to fit more in a suitcase. However, neither version works for every garment, so I do a mixture of the two. I roll all my pants, skirts and some dresses and carefully fold most blouses and anything bulky.
I’d also recommend unpacking and hanging up clothes as soon as you get to your room to avoid wrinkles. For the minor wrinkles, you can try hanging the garment in the bathroom while showering and sometimes the steam helps to smooth them out.
Speed through the security line
If you’re a frequent traveler and don’t use TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you’re spending too much time in the security line. Unlike the general security line, PreCheck and Global Entry members don’t have to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. It costs $85 for five year and your credit card might cover the fee.
Start collecting points
Sign up for every loyalty program you can. Think about all of the hotels, airlines, and any other services you use (even those coffee punch cards). It’s generally free to do, and when you travel frequently you might find that you’ll start to get status and receive upgrades, enhanced customer service and benefits.
For example, it was free to sign up for rewards at the Soho Grand in New York and I was given a complimentary glass of wine when I gave them my information. On my next visit after signing up, I found cookies and a handwritten note waiting in my room.
You might also look into getting a travel credit card if you’re on the road a lot (for business or pleasure), that way you’re collecting reward points any time you spend. However, the key is to pay off your balance in full each month (otherwise the credit card interest outweighs the point value).
Research your company travel policy
Get the most out of your business travel by knowing the ins and outs of your company’s travel policy. You might find out that you can get reimbursed for programs like Clear or TSA PreCheck, or maybe even access to lounges. It’s also good to know exactly how much you can spend on meals, lodging and airfare.
If your company uses SAP Concur, you might be one of the many travelers with a complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro (normally $49/year). You can visit the SAP Concur App Center to connect your accounts.
Pick restaurants ahead of time
I never order room service out of principle. First, it’s almost always expensive, but also it never seems to taste nearly as good as a restaurant. Instead, I recommend reading a few reviews to find nearby restaurants to try before your arrival. That way when you’re tired after a long day of meetings you already have an idea of where to go and what to expect. You can also leverage food delivery apps to deliver to your room if you really don’t feel like eating at a restaurant.
You never know who you’ll meet while you’re on a business trip. Whether you’re going to a conference or heading to meetings, it’s great practice to network wherever you are. I’ve met colleagues from other offices and helpful contacts by chatting in airport lounges and on flights.
Ask, or the answer is always no
Try requesting an upgrade when staying in a hotel or renting a car. The answer isn’t always yes, but more often than not if you’re polite they’ll offer you a nicer room or car than you paid for. I usually ask for late check-outs when needed and have yet to be turned down, even if I just have an hour longer, it’s nice to have flexibility.
Create a travel routine
If you’re traveling a lot, having a routine in place can help reduce stress and anxiety. Make a packing list so you don’t forget anything. Be sure you have easy access to important items like your headphones, wallet and anything else you need while in transit.
For example, I set up a desk/working area and unpack my toiletries in the bathroom upon arrival. I’ve also gotten into the habit of using Summer Fridays Jet Lag moisturizing mask, as the lack of humidity on an airplane dries out my skin.
Do you work out in the morning? Do you watch the news or read a specific publication? Set aside time to stick to your usual morning habits when possible. Don’t skip breakfast—even if you just snack on a Kind bar. Also, make sure you get enough sleep. Try setting a bedtime to adjust to your new time zone and overcome any jet lag.
Pack your bag so everything you need is handy (like chargers, lip balm, etc.). Keep track of your expenses as you’re going. I have a special spot in my wallet that I keep all of my receipts and I use the SAP Concur app to add them to my expense report as soon as I get back to my hotel room for the night. I have my work email linked to my Square account each time I use my corporate credit card so the receipts go directly to my inbox.
Organizing your calendar is important too, as you’ll want to be sure to block off travel time and work time as well.
Be sure that you are setting workload and availability expectations with both your team and yourself. If you’re traveling to a new time zone, you should organize your calendar accordingly. If you’re in meetings or at a conference all day, don’t expect to accomplish a full day of work, too. And, allow yourself to take breaks and experience the city you’re visiting when time allows.
Have some tips of your own to share? Tweet us @TripIt.