Suit, check. Laptop, check. Phone, check. If you’re a business traveler, you probably have your packing list down to a science. Yet there are some tangible and intangible, things which can take you from being a mere business traveler to business traveler elite. So today, I come to you with the ultimate business travel checklist for your next trip.
Fold or Roll
By and large there are two camps in how to pack your bag, folding or rolling. Folding is the traditional method, and typically preferred among business travelers who want to avoid wrinkled clothes. I, however, am a roller, because it cuts down on creases, maximizes space, and when rolled tightly, minimizes wrinkles. I’ll then tuck things like socks and underwear in the pair of shoes I’ve packed.
Simple as it may be, there may not be another thing you’ll do that can make or break a business trip than carrying on. Having your checked bag get delayed, or worse, lost, can ruin the productivity and efficiency of a business trip that’s already short as it is. In addition to carrying on, consider carrying on a smaller, softer bag, since rolling suitcases are often the first to be gate-checked on a full flight.
Follow the 3-1-1 Liquid Rule
By carrying on, you’ll also need to follow the 3-1-1 rule with liquids. If you don’t already own 3-ounce travel-sized bottles, you can find them at your local grocery store or pharmacy to store any of your soap, shampoo and other toiletries. Furthermore, pack them in a Ziploc bag and store them in one of your secure luggage compartments so that none of your clothes or other valuables are ruined by leaks or spills.
Keep Powered Up
If you’re traveling for business, then you’re likely traveling with a smartphone, laptop, potentially a tablet and other electronics. With so many gadgets these days, and so few plugs at airports and on airplanes, it’s imperative to have additional batteries and chargers. This is where something like a power bank or solar charger comes in handy, where you can charge multiple devices at once. For smartphones, I also recommend buying a case that doubles as a phone charger, such as those by Mophie.
Download Apps That Streamline Your Trip
I’d be remiss not to talk about apps that streamline your travels, since TripIt is just that. TripIt serves as your digital master itinerary, with additional perks like real-time travel alerts and loyalty rewards tracking. Other great travel apps do everything from finding last-minute hotel deals (HotelTonight) to finding the best, most affordable parking nearby (ParkWhiz).
Check-in Online as Soon as Possible
You can check into your flight as far in advance as 24 hours, which I recommend taking advantage of to the fullest. First and foremost, that confirms you on the flight, so that that’s one less thing to worry about, plus you’re less likely to get bumped on an overbooked flight if you’re running late. The biggest perk, however, is that by checking in early as possible, you’ll have a better chance of picking the seat you want, and in some cases, be able to upgrade. On airlines like Southwest, for example, checking in as early as possible improves your boarding position.
Apply for Global Entry, TSA Pre and/or CLEAR
For frequent travelers, there’s nothing that’ll get you through the airport and security faster than Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. When you have TSA PreCheck, you have the benefits of a priority security line in which you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt and laptop. Similarly, Global Entry expedites the U.S. Customs process when travelers are returning to the U.S. While there’s a nominal fee for both, some credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, waive the fee.
You might also consider enrolling for CLEAR, which helps you skip security lines all together. This can save you tons of valuable time, especially if you have a tendency of running late to the airport.
Utilize a Loyalty Credit Card
It’s time to pull out your best loyalty rewards credit card when on a business trip, and if you don’t have one, then it’s time to get one. A number of credit card companies have their own reward programs which offer cash back or travel rewards, such as Chase and Bank of America, both of which have cards that allow you to redeem points toward travel. Otherwise, most airlines, and a number of hotel brands, have their own credit cards, too.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.