People who travel frequently for business tend to have it down to a science. From how to pack to the best ways to get through a crisis like a cancelled flight, they have a been-there-done-that approach to be envied and a frequent flier mile balance that backs up their expertise.
Of course, most of those business travelers have mastered the art of traveling through years of practice and a certain amount of trial and error. Fortunately, there are secrets to making travel painless that can help even the novice business traveler breeze through airports like a pro.
Try these seven tips to help you hold your own like a seasoned business traveler:
Start with the Right Luggage
Airline regulations have changed in recent years, which means the wheeled bag stashed in the back of your closet may not still qualify as a carry-on. Make sure you know what the regulations and limitations are for the airline you choose. It might be time to invest in a new, smaller carry-on bag. If you do, look for a four-wheel model with wheels that spin 360 degrees. It's a helpful feature when maneuvering through a busy airport.
When looking at bags, be sure to check for roominess inside. Even when bags are the same size, it doesn't always mean they offer the same amount of packing room. And when you're traveling, every inch of space counts.
Pack Light, Pack Tight
Resist the urge to pack anything more than the essentials. If you can limit yourself to a carry-on, you won't have to worry about lost or delayed luggage, baggage fees, or items going missing from your bag. Pack one basic "core" wardrobe piece, such as black slacks and a dark shirt or top, and then build accessories around it to limit the amount of clothing you need to pack. Always remember to pack a lint roller — a compact travel roller stashed in a pocket of your carry-on bag should do the trick.
Make Entry Easier
Frequent travelers often find that a Global Entry pass more than pays for itself — quickly. Eliminate time spent standing in line at airport security screening points by enrolling in this government program, which is similar to a TSA Precheck but covers international flights as well. If you aren't familiar with it, a TSA Precheck eliminates security screenings for domestic flights. Global Entry does the same thing for international flights and includes all the same benefits. Both TSA Precheck and Global Entry are good for five years.
Reach for the Rewards
It pays to find an airline, rental car company, and hotel chain you like and then stick with them. Most of these companies have rewards programs that help you earn points the more you use them. This can lead to more enjoyable flights through upgraded seats, free upgrades to your rental car, or priority reservations on the best hotel rooms. Rewards programs are an excellent way to make life on the road feel a bit more comfortable.
Learn to Lounge
Flight delays and layovers become much more tolerable in a comfortable setting. Use those airline rewards programs to get lounge access in the airport. This allows you to enjoy a more relaxed environment while catching your breath and unwinding between flights. If necessary, you can also use it as a place to catch up on work emails.
Get on Track with Technology
If you want to keep up to date with your flight information, there's an app for that — and for just about everything else. Use tech tools to save time and stay on top of potential weather delays, flight alerts, and booking information. Download the SeatGuru app to help find seats with the best legroom, and make sure your GPS is pre-loaded with maps of your destination.
You can also use local city apps to find great restaurants near you and even make reservations online. Another thing to store in your smartphone? A list of customer service numbers and your travel agent contact information. If something goes awry during your trip and you need to talk to your rental car company or change a flight, the last thing you want to do is stand in line or search for your booking details. Being prepared can be the difference between a small hiccup and a raging headache.
Beat the Blahs
Jet lag is a common problem when traveling from one time zone to another, and on-the-go business travelers contend with it more often than most. The best way to beat post-flight fatigue is to plan in advance. Sleeping on the flight and staying hydrated are two tricks that business travelers often use to keep feeling fresh. That means skipping alcohol and caffeine while flying, as both can have a dehydrating effect on the body.
Resist the urge to sleep in when you hit a new time zone. Getting up on time and becoming acclimated to the local time as soon as possible helps stave off the effects of jet lag.
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