Bizness Travel

My sister-in-law just asked me how I handle all the business travel I do. It’s a good question. Here’s my top-10 tips.

  1. Work with a good travel agent. Booking travel online is easy and convenient but a good travel agent will take care of you from booking the travel until you arrive safely at home. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a call from my travel agent telling me she’s got me an upgrade, or a better seat, or a more direct routing, or a better hotel because the one I chose is under construction, or got me early check-in after my red-eye, and many other tweaks to my itinerary I couldn’t possibly know about. Thanks Jacquie.
  2. Learn the airline/hotel websites so you get what you want. Even though I use my travel agent I use the airline/hotel websites to get a shortlist of what is going to work for me. This means I can get a flight that gets me where I need to be comfortably and in a timely fashion. I like to stay close to where I am going so I can walk – travel is the enemy of exercise – so I research the locale to work out reasonable walking distances to and from the hotel and office.
  3. Travel days and travel times matter. I never take the last flight of the day because, if it is cancelled, I’m going to be late. I always take the flight before the one that gets me there in time for the same reason. This also means I’m not stressing about being late. If I can, I travel on Mondays and Fridays so as not to eat into family time at the weekend. Travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is less crowded and usually cheaper but with travel at all an all time high it’s getting harder to notice the difference.
  4. Comfort matters so pay a little extra. For a short flight of, say, 90-minutes or less, I can put up with a middle seat at the back of the bus. For everything else I choose the extra leg-room seats. For red-eye flights I choose window seats so I can sleep without someone waking me up so they can go to the bathroom. For daytime flights I choose the aisle so I can go when I want to.
  5. Pick an airline group, hotel chain and stick with it. There’s not much to choose between the airline groups, hotel chains and car rental companies – pick the one that serves your home airport the best. I’m a United/Marriott/Hertz guy. Almost 3 million miles and 1,000 nights later I get to board the plane first and have plenty of room for my luggage, get fee upgrades every 2 out of 5 flights, get access to the concierge lounge in the hotel with free food and drinks, get room upgrades every time, get to skip the counter at the car rental station, and dozens of other little perks that make travel easier.
  6. Pack ruthlessly. Everything should fit in your carry-on. Only take what you need. If there is still space in your luggage DO NOT find something to put in the space: you might be bringing stuff back from your trip. Go through you computer bag/purse Thoroughly and leave behind anything that you do not need on your trip. A heavy shoulder bag gets exponentially heavier the longer you are standing waiting to board. Don’t bring your 5lb key ring – just your house and car keys.
  7. Be a technology minimalist. Do you need your lap top? Do you need your tablet? Do you need your e-reader? Leave behind the ones you don’t need and their chargers and cables. You do need your phone. Find a good charging brick that can charge more than one device. Bring only the cables you will use to charge those devices. If you can find a “squid”, a cable with multiple charging options, get one of those. Shorter cables are better than long ones. Fully charge everything you’re taking on you trip before you leave. Charging options are rare on the road. 
  8. Wifi is a right but finding it is hard and expensive. Invest in a personal wifi hotspot (Karma is a great choice domestically or Skyroam internationally) so you always have access to the ‘net. Your phone may offer this but it might be very expensive abroad.
  9. Jet lag is going to get you. Usually it hits me the worst on the second day. When I board the plane I set my watch to the new time zone so every time I look at it I convince myself it should be that time not body time. Melatonin works – buy some here in the USA as it is not available in some countries locally – and take it at bedtime in the time zone you’re going to. If you can, sleep when your body tells you to. Sleep is like a checking account, the more you get overdrawn the worse you feel. Pay some credits into your account whenever you can.
  10. And most importantly if all – enjoy yourself. Travel is a gift to our generation with its universal availability and relative inexpensiveness. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or both, get out there and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and cultures. Try the local foods, use the local public transport, wander off the beaten path (be cautious and think about safety at all times). Set aside time for yourself and make sure the one thing everyone tells you you must do, you do. Take photographs, leave footprints and cherish the memories.

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