Business travel can be pretty hectic – you’re bouncing from place to place, meeting to meeting, and often sliding into the airport with just enough time to get through security and onto your flight. If you’re traveling on business you’re likely doing everything you can to keep your clothes and self looking tidy (a nearly impossible feat at times), hoping to leave a good impression with clients and business partners. You might have a big project or two that you’re also attempting to wrap up while you’re gallivanting across the country, requiring you to wrestle for a plug-in (airports rarely have enough) or search desperately for a WI-FI connection. Being prepared for anything and taking full advantage of all the travel “tools” out there will help make your trip a little bit smoother. To help you do that, we’ve got our Top Five Business Travel Tips this week.
There are a plethora of apps out there that can help you check your flights, find cabs, and organize your itinerary – so many that it can be overwhelming. Choosing a select few can really make a difference in your travels – and your stress level.
- TripIt consolidates airplane, hotel, rental car, and other travel information into one easy-to-read itinerary that can be shared with your boss, co-workers, or partners.
- MyTSA will tell you what you can and can’t pack in your carry on, check wait times, and other information.
- GateGuru gives travelers the ability to make the most of long wait times by providing information on everything from flight schedules to airport amenities and more.
- Airline apps are not available for all airlines yet, but are available for most of the majors, and some will let you check-in via mobile phone and make your way straight to the security line (e.g. Alaska Air), pay for checked bags and amenities (e.g. Delta), or select your seat.
- Cab apps (there are several) can help you locate, arrange, and pay for cabs – some favorites include Uber, TaxiMagic, and Flywheel.
- Hotels.com and Hotel Tonight each will help you find a last minute hotel stay if you have to book in a hurry.
Travel Tip #2: BYOI (Bring Your Own Internet) and BYOPS (Bring Your Own Power Source)
If you know you’ll be working on the go, purchasing a mobile hotspot service (BYOI) and packing back-up power sources will ensure the electronic devices you rely on don’t fail you. Many airports offer WI-FI and have power plug-ins, but there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay to use the internet service anyway, and you may find yourself spending all of your time looking for an open outlet instead of getting your work done. Having a back-up plan for your devices will ensure you stay productive and use your time wisely.
- For back-up and more casual mobile hotspot access, check out Freedompop. Freedompop offers 512MB of mobile broadband per month for free, but you’ll have to put down a refundable deposit ($100) for a small device; if you send it back before the year is up in good condition, you’ll get that money back.
- For moderate access to internet and beyond, you may want to purchase a Clear service plan, or see what your current mobile carrier has to offer in terms of hotspot service. Some mobile carriers will give you hotspot access for free with a plan, while others may charge around $25/mo. for the additional service.
Consider purchasing the following, not just for travel, but for everyday use of your devices:
- A second mobile phone battery (you don’t know how many times this has been a lifesaver!)
- Portable batteries for multiple devices or external universal batteries/power stations can be used to power phones, tablets, music devices and sometimes laptops, and typically cost anywhere from $40 on up.
- Some luggage and bags are even sold with power sources built in, including the PowerBag, making traveling with your backup power source easy.
Travel Tip #3: Know what to pack, and what to pack it in
Road warriors have to be prepared for anything and everything. So what should you pack and how should you pack it?
- Personally, many of us in the office prefer to only travel with small carry-on luggage for business trips, but for those of you that like to check your luggage, it goes without saying to pack a small bag of toiletries and change of clothing in your carry-on.
- If you do tend to check your luggage often, be sure to purchase a bag with well-made wheels; one of the easiest things to damage is the wheels, and most airline baggage policies don’t cover wheel damage.
- For your carry-on laptop bag, find one that that opens easily and doesn’t require you to remove your laptop when passing through security. This comes in handy when you’re already weighed down with bags, attempting to remove your belt and shoes at the same time. Trust me on this.
- Prep a tidy up travel kit in a small travel pouch, including a small comb, travel lint roller, Kleenex, baby wipes or Wet Ones, mints, toothpicks or floss, chapstick, small mirror, Q-tips, protein/snack bar, and a Tide pen. This will come in handy in the cab on your way to your meeting, between meetings, and after meals.
- Have a list of everywhere you’re going during your travels, including address and phone number, typed out or written down. If you didn’t follow travel tip 1 or 2, this might come in handy.
- Pack extra baggies, pens, and business cards.
- Consider purchasing a small travel projector if you frequently make presentations, and travel with a back up copy of your presentation on a flash drive.
- Depending on your wardrobe, a travel clothing steamer may be worth your while if your clothes are easily wrinkled and you’re hesitant to use the provide hotel irons.
- Pack versatile pieces and layers – for example, if you’re bringing suits, having two pant and shirt options for one jacket can help you consolidate your wardrobe; or bring shirts and other pieces that can be played up or down with layers and accessories to either fit the meeting room or going out for drinks afterwards.
- See Travel Tip #2 – don’t forget to BYOI and BYOPS!
Travel Tip #4: Use down time during your flight to rest
While we all try to use our open time during travel to get some work done, travel can be exhausting – don’t forget to use time in the air to rest up after that 4am start or 12 hours of work rush. Bring these items with you to catch a few Zzzs on the airplane:
- Noise cancelling headphones like Bose or ear plugs
- An eye mask to block out the light
- Compact neck pillow
Not a fan of sleeping on flights? Bring your headphones and an iPod filled with meditation music/recordings and your favorite music or audiobooks. Meditation has been found to not only help reduce stress, but improve health risks, improve emotional stability, and promote other positive changes in the brain.
Travel Tip #5: Take full advantage of loyalty programs
If you travel frequently for business, you should be taking advantage of any and all loyalty programs at your disposal. Make sure you are enrolled in the loyalty program with your airline of choice, for your hotel (Hotels.com has a loyalty program, as does the Marriott hotels, Hilton hotels, and many others), and even that restaurant chain you love. If you’re frequently paying for the same services during your travels, its always worth asking about a loyalty program. You may earn enough points to cover a personal vacation!
Following these top business travel tips will ensure your travels go more smoothly, cutting the stress out and producing great rewards. Take it from someone who knows!