8 Simple Business Travel Tips That Will Make Your Life Better

Businessmen Talking in AirportAs a professional speaker and corporate trainer I travel almost every week.  While traveling is not difficult, there are many things that can quickly cause a good day to go bad.  There are many common tips for business travelers, such as how to maximize frequent flyer miles and hotel points, but the reality is that we forget things at home, are delayed by weather, and cannot find a plug when we need one.  With just a little preplanning and some creative use of technology, even the seasoned business traveler can avoid these common pitfalls.

1. Use Your Phone’s Camera Often – Before you leave take pictures of the many important documents you might need (and would be in a pinch if you lost) such as passports, eyeglass prescriptions, and credit card numbers.

Take pictures of the parking row at the airport where you leave your car. It’s easy for a regular traveler to have their parking stalls blur together with previous trips after a few days on the road.  While I try to park in a similar location each week, the photo ensures I will never be wandering the lot looking for my car.

When visiting a city you are not familiar with, take pictures of street signs or other landmarks outside parking garages or hotels to ensure you can find your way back.

2. Download Travel Related Apps – Most airlines have great apps that make it easy to book reservations, track the status of your flights, and even make changes when needed. Even if you usually fly a single airline, have the apps for other carriers pre-loaded. This can come in handy if you need to quickly book a backup flight when your primary reservation cancels.

The same is true for hotels and rental car companies.  Store all your travel apps in a single folder on your phone to ensure you can locate them.

MasterCard Business Network offers a free Travel application that allows users to book flights, arrange for a car service, it will sync with your calendar, and if your itinerary changes you’ll receive text a message notifying you of the change.

Finally, get to know Uber.  This app is ideal for those who travel to cities where finding a taxi is difficult.  For just a little more money you can call a luxury vehicle with just a few clicks. The ride, taxes and tips are automatically billed to your credit card.

3. Have a “Plan B” – Never expect that your flight will be on time (or get you there at all).  Familiarize yourself with the geography of your destination. If your flight is canceled, you’ll know if there are other airports in the area, allowing you a better opportunity to reach your destination. When the gate agent is talking about flights, provide them with other destinations that will meet your needs.  Also know what other carriers fly the route, so that you can switch if needed.  I was once derailed by a storm that had closed the Denver Airport.  Flying to Albuquerque and driving six hours was not a great option, but it allowed me to get to my speech.

4. Carry Your Luggage Whenever You Can – Pack light and use a carry-on whenever possible. This saves you time once you arrive as bags can take up to 30 minutes to arrive on the carousel at baggage claim. It also allows you the option of changing flights without losing your luggage should you experience delays. For security reasons, once you have checked your bags airlines cannot easily transfer you to a different plane.

Be sure your electronics and other valuables are in your second bag that fits under your seat. Most flights are full these days and when they run out of overhead space, the last people to board are often separated from their larger bags.

5. Have a Separate Set of Toiletries Just for Travel – Create a travel kit in a quart sized bag containing toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, medications, shampoo, and any other liquids you may need. Having a separate set of travel items (that meet the TSA 3-ounce requirement) will help ease the stress of packing and eliminate the possibility of forgotten items. However, be sure to always restock your kit as the levels dwindle.

6. Make Smart Food Choices – Be sure to have power bars or other snacks in your carry-on luggage. While major airports often have healthier choices available, many still do not. If your flight is delayed, you could find yourself hungry and opting for a greasy burger. I have made it a habit to eat a large meal before going to the airport. This ensures that I’m not hungry and tempted while walking past the fast food and giant pretzel options in the terminal.

7. Develop a Plan for Working on the Plane – Take advantage of your travel time to catch up on work, but do not rely on being able to use your laptop.  When flying coach there often isn’t sufficient space to set up a laptop, especially if the person in the seat ahead of you reclines. Many travelers have suffered extreme damage to their laptops being crushed between the seat back and the tray table when the traveler in front of them leans their seat back!

The Wi-Fi connection, if even available on your flight, is still unpredictable at best. Carrying hard copy documents or having them available on your tablet helps ensure you are not stuck without everything you need.

Take advantage of flight time to catch up on reading periodicals, tackling that e-book you purchased six months ago, or by listening to podcasts. If you have a Bluetooth keyboard that works with your tablet, or if you own a 2-in-1, they are idea for working on spreadsheets, writing documents, or even composing emails offline to send later.

8. Create a “Goodie Bag” – Get a small zipper pouch where you can store the items that will make your life on the road easier.  Earplugs, a sleeping mask, extra pens, clothespins for pinning hotel drapes shut, electrical outlet splitters for sharing plugs in airports, an extra phone charger, and a roll of duct tape are the essentials that I carry with me on every trip.

There are many ways to stay productive while traveling and keep yourself organized. The more you travel, the more you’ll discover exactly what works for you. Whether it’s making sure you bring along a travel pillow or packing your briefcase with granola bars, everyone has a handful of items that make the trip more comfortable. Keep a list, check it twice, and enjoy your trip.

Thom Singer is a professional speaker, corporate trainer and the author of ten books on the power of business relationships, networking, presentation skills and entrepreneurship.  Known as “The Conference Catalyst,” he regularly speaks at conferences across all industries and helps create and atmosphere for impactful engagement that leads to more powerful business connections.  Visit his website at http://www.thomsinger.com and follow him at @thomsinger on Twitter.

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