I ditched my corporate job to travel the world! You’ve probably seen some version of this headline floating around the internet. I hope someday to write that article, but right now most of my time is spent traveling for work. Because business travel is completely different than traveling for pleasure, I’m sharing 20 tips for business travel.
A survey by Booking.com found that 30% of business travelers would accept a lower-paying job if it meant they could travel more for work. Business travel is a multimillion-dollar industry and if you have a job that requires travel, you need tips, tricks, hacks, whatever it takes to ensure that you are successful at work while balancing your personal life. I recently read that a great business trip is as hassle-free as possible. So true! But what can you do to make your work travel hassle-free?
From the boring but necessary, to tips to make your business trip more fun, here are 20 business travel tips.
1) Know Your Company’s Travel & Expense Policies
Not the most exciting topic, but you need to familiarize yourself with your company’s policies. Do you have a per diem for meals? Can you book the flight that is the most convenient or should you book the most economical? Administrative tasks aren’t the most fun, but following your company’s expense policies will ensure you are not at risk of getting in trouble down the road.
Booking Business Travel
2) Sign Up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
The number one thing you should do if you travel for business is to sign up for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. Doing so will make getting through the airport quicker and so much easier. It took about six months of standing in long security lines before I saw the light and signed up. Less waiting equals less frustration.
If you travel internationally for work or for pleasure, spend a few extra bucks and sign up for Global Entry which will give you TSA Pre-Check eligibility and quicker entry into the US when returning from international destinations.
You may want to check and see if your company will pay for TSA Pre-Check. If not, check to see if your airline status (more on that later) or any credit cards in your pocket qualify you for reduced fees. The CLEAR program uses biometrics instead of documents for ID verification and is another option to get through security more quickly.
3) Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
The second thing you should do when starting a job that requires regular business travel is to sign up for loyalty programs. Research the best airline options for you and then figure out which hotel and rental car options are best for you and sign up for their loyalty programs. You may want to ask your manager if there are company preferences or what options your teams use.
Signing up for loyalty programs right away means you start earning privileges sooner. Privileges at hotels for guests with status can include access to a members-only lounge, upgrades, and more. You will also start earning points/miles sooner that you can then use for personal travel. (Check with your company to make sure that you do get to keep any points earned.)
4) Stay Loyal!
Once you’ve signed up with loyalty programs – stay loyal! It’s hard to earn status when you jump between airlines or hotel chains.
5) Book Direct Flights
Booking direct flights will save you time. Connections mean the opportunity for delays. I travel out of a small airport with few direct flights. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to run through an airport to make a tight connection. Or worse, I sat in an airport after a long day due to a delayed or missed connection. Book direct whenever possible!
Business Travel Luggage
5) Buy Luggage that is Well-Made
When you travel for work you will use your luggage a lot. So you need to find products that are durable and meet your individual preferences. You can easily spot professional travels versus corporate travelers just based on their luggage.
For luggage, I like Travelpro bags. I own a couple that have tons of miles on them. You will also see lots of flight crews with Travelpro luggage which lets you know these bags are designed to last. I recently got an Away bag and I like it as well. Other popular suitcases for business travel include Tumi and Briggs and Riley.
6) Don’t Check Your Luggage
Whatever luggage you decide to buy, make sure it is carry-on size (generally 22″ high or less). Checking a bag takes more time and the start and end of your trip and you will want to minimize your time in airports. I have a small carry-on that I use for shorter trips and like that it usually fits in the overhead bins of regional jets that I’m often traveling on.
6) Find the Perfect Laptop Bag, Briefcase or Backpack for Business Travel
You need to make sure that you purchase a laptop bag that you really like. Not only will you be carrying it through airports, but also when you are meeting with your customers/clients. Finding the perfect bag can be a process. I went through three different bags before I found the perfect laptop bag.
Again, whatever you select make sure it is durable, looks professional, and holds all of your gear. Speaking of gear –
7) Keep Laptop Bag Packed and Ready to Go
Keep your laptop packed with all of the business travel essentials you’ll need for travel and work. This includes phone chargers, an extra mouse, dongles, headphones, snacks, IDs, a tablet, a refillable water bottle, etc.
8) BYOE – Bring Your Own Entertainment
Load your device(s) with entertainment for flights, layovers, delays, etc. Invest in noise-canceling headphones to use in the airport and on the plane. There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to get some work done or read than a loud snorer or an unhappy baby.
9) Keep a Set of Toiletries Packed
Being a road warrior means a lot of packing and unpacking. Keep a set toiletries always packed so you can just grab and go. I keep a list of items I need to refill on my phone and check it before each trip so I don’t leave the house without my medicine or mascara!
What to Pack for Business Travel
My number one tip for packing for business travel is to buy quality items that will last. My second tip is to pack less than you think you will need.
10) Build a Capsule Wardrobe
For women, I recommend building a capsule wardrobe of pieces you love, that travel well, and will last. Actually, this is great advice for the fellas too. Having items that work together allows you to buy and pack less.
Look for brands and fabrics that design professional clothing that will travel well. Clothing that travels well is anything that is lightweight and doesn’t wrinkle easily.
When I was looking for suits for work a friend suggested Ann Taylor. And she was right, you can just hang up their suits and the wrinkles fall right out. You can get several days of wear out of a suit just by changing up your blouses and adding new accessories.
For the gents, this article from Travel and Leisure features a roundup of some of the best travel suits for men.
11) Invest in Comfortable Shoes
You will also want to invest in comfortable and supportive shoes. Airports involve a lot of walking so comfortable walking shoes are a must. My job has me standing on my feet doing presentations and supportive, yet stylish, shoes are a non-negotiable for me.
12) Iron Clothes the Night Before
Double-check that you have the clothing items you need before leaving home. My co-workers shared stories of having to wear what they traveled in because they forgot work trousers and having to buy shoes when all they had were sneakers. If you have items that need to be ironed, do it the night before so your not rushing in the morning or arriving at an important meeting with wrinkles.
Stay Healthy While Traveling
One of the most difficult things about corporate travel is the lack of routine. Combine that with the barrage of unhealthy food options, long hours, alcohol, and sharing confined spaces with hundreds of strangers and you have a recipe for not feeling your best. Here are some quick tips to stay healthy while traveling for business.
13) Pack workout clothes.
And use them if you have time. Commit to using the hotel gym if possible or just taking a walk. I find that I can always fit in a quick yoga session without leaving my hotel room.
14) Don’t drink too much alcohol.
Alcohol is dehydrating making it a poor choice for flying. Also, you’ll want to stay sharp for client meetings and drinking too much can impact sleep. And you don’t want to be the ‘that’ person on the team.
15) Pack healthy snacks
Pack healthy snacks so you won’t be tempted by the vast amount of junk food at the airport. I suggest finding some healthy go-to food options at the airports you regularly use. The same applies if you have a specific territory. Knowing where there are healthy food options will reduce decisions and will leave you feeling better.
16) Use Your Time Wisely
I find it difficult to work on a plane. There’s never enough space and wi-fi is expensive. And spending time on an airplane reading, napping, or watching movies allows time to relax.
However, I do often work while at the airport. If I have an hour or more, it’s the perfect time to complete administrative tasks like responding to emails, entering time, and completing expense reports.
17) Add Some Bleisure
Have some fun! One of the best business travel tips is to mix a little pleasure with your business. Every minute you are on the road is time away from your family. Bleisure is combining business travel with leisure and it’s a great perk of being a business traveler.
Make the most of the time and look for opportunities to add personal travel to a trip. This could be as simple as taking an hour and walking around the city you’re in or adding a day or two to your trip.
18) Keep Work-Life Balance
Business travel is HARD! (See my article on the good, the bad, and the ugly about business travel.) Work-life balance is increasingly difficult to maintain when technology means we are always available. Add business travel to the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster.
Little things like making (and keeping) appointments are much harder with jobs with business travel. One way I’ve found to maintain some balance is by keeping lists of things I need to do when I’m at home. Just writing it down helps me to not stress about it and focus on work.
When you are at home, make sure you are there. Don’t let the job take over. Find an at-home routine that allows you to complete your work but also spend time with family and take care of yourself.
19) Travel With a Refillable Water Bottle
I started traveling with a refillable water bottle a few years ago and I feel so much better about reducing my use of single-use plastic. Find a refillable bottle you love and keep it in your laptop bag. You’ll find that most airports have refillable water bottle stations making it easy to help our planet while saving money.
20) Enjoy Traveling for Business!
Being a business traveler is not easy. There are days when I’ve been on an uncomfortable flight, am jetlagged, or just missing home that I have to remind myself that this is still a pretty sweet gig. Focus on the positive aspects of your job and you’ll find that the journey is much more enjoyable.
I hope you found this list of 20 business travel tips helpful. Do you travel for work? Leave a comment below and share your travel tips for business travel!
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