According to Frequent Business Traveler magazine, business travel is on the rise. Companies once again have the budget to send their employees around the country -- or around the world -- to drum up business, meet with colleagues, and wow the management team at corporate headquarters.
That’s good news for businesses, but not always good news for the people traveling. As anyone who has traveled for work knows, business trips are often stressful, exhausting, and not particularly comfortable.
If you expect to find yourself on the road for work, take a look at our tips for making business travel easier. We can’t promise that sitting on a plane for six hours will get any easier, but at least you’ll know you have everything you need when you arrive.
1. Limit your luggage to a carry-on
The last thing you want on a business trip is to arrive at your destination only to discover that your bag is somewhere completely different. Avoid luggage disasters by limiting yourself to a carry-on bag that you keep with you at all time.
The trick to making a small bag work is to carefully plan out what you need. Can you wear the same suit twice? Will the hotel have a hairdryer or shampoo? Can you wear your bulky shoes to travel, rather than letting them take up valuable space in your bag?
Packing only a carry-on takes a little more time and effort than throwing lots of options into a large bag, but it will save you time on the other end when you and your luggage arrive together.
2. Have a separate set of travel toiletries
If you travel a lot, you can save yourself time and hassle by having a seperate set of travel toiletries always ready to go. That way, you can pack quickly and know you have what you need each time, and you won’t wake up at the hotel to suddenly discover that you’ve forgotten your razor or hairbrush.
3. Dress well
When traveling for business, it is important always to present a professional appearance. After all, you never know who will see you. If you dress well for travel, you’ll arrive at your destination looking put together in case you run into any colleagues or clients.
As a bonus, travelers who are dressed well are more likely to be offered complimentary upgrades on airlines. If you’ve ever been stuck in economy class for an eight hour flight, you know how valuable a little more leg room can be!
4. Take advantage of rewards programs
Before you buy any tickets, check your carrier to see if they have a rewards program you can sign up for. Most airlines and train systems will. Being a rewards member can go a long way toward making your trip more comfortable, providing you with perks like early boarding, a lounge to wait in, and discounted tickets or flight miles.
5. Keep all your travel information in one place
The last thing you want is to forget important information like the name of your hotel or the time of your flight. The best way to keep track of your travel information is to organize it all in one location.
Keep copies of your itinerary, flight information, and important addresses and phone numbers on your computer or phone. Then, before you leave, print out everything and keep it in a folder in your purse or briefcase. When your phone runs out of battery or your computer crashes, you’ll be glad you have hard copies.
6. Keep a list of customer service phone numbers
This is especially important for air travel. Flights get delayed, canceled, or rerouted all the time, and when they do, dozens of irate customers will be trying to get moved to a different flight.
Instead of rushing the gate agent with all the other passengers, call the airline’s customer service number directly. You’ll find yourself with a new itinerary much more quickly than anyone waiting in line.
7. Print your boarding pass ahead of time
Many airlines overbook flights with the expectation that some customers will cancel or fail to make it to the airport on time. As a result, if everyone shows, up, the last people to check in risk getting moved to a later flight.
To keep from getting bumped from your flight, print your boarding pass before you even leave for the airport. Your seat will be secured, and you will save time checking in when you arrive at the airport.
8. Take advantage of the lounge
Most major airlines and trains have lounges separate from the main waiting area. These are usually free for certain levels of rewards members. If you don’t have enough reward points, you can buy a day pass that will allow you to get in.
Not only are these lounges a more comfortable place to wait for the next leg of your trip, they are also designed with business travelers in mind. There will be desks or tables where you can pull out your laptop, quiet places to make calls, and wireless internet for catching up on business you may have missed while in transit.
9. Take a hotel business card when you check in
This little trick isn’t just useful for travelers who forget the name of their hotel. It also ensures that you have the contact information for your hotel handy throughout the day in case you need to schedule time in the conference center, arrange for dinner or transportation, or simply schedule a wake-up call for the next morning.
If you have a poor memory, you can also write your room number of the back of the card before you slip it into your wallet. That way, you won’t find yourself standing in the hallway late at night, wondering whether you’re staying in room 1240 or 1420.
10. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs
You never know how loud or bright a hotel room will be until you try to spend a night there. Whether because of noisy guests in the next room, construction outside your window at 5am, or that one street lamp shining in your eyes all night long, there are a lot of ways your sleep can be interrupted.
Save yourself hours lying awake and a fuzzy head at your meeting the next morning. Pack a pair of ear plugs and an eye mask to ensure that you get all the shut-eye that you need. Just be sure you have the volume for your alarm set on high.
11. Store any documents you need in the cloud
Most business travelers take a tablet or laptop with them so they can have access to important notes, documents, and presentations. But what happens if your laptop breaks or dies?
For peace of mind (and just in case) store important documents in the cloud. That way, if you do have problems with your devices, you’ll be able to access them from the hotel’s business center or from a colleague’s laptop.
What other tips do you have for business travelers? Share them in the comment section below!