This ultimate list of Business Travel Tips contains practical and useful advice to make your business trips go smoother.
Note: This post was previously published under the heading of 105 Business Travel Tips you need to know. However, it has underwent a complete revamp including adding many more tips and rewriting entire sections and of course 42 additional business travel tips! Enjoy!
As a frequent and experienced business traveler myself I’ve made many travel mistakes over the years. Along the way, I’ve learned a good deal about how to minimize business travel discomfort and maximize your enjoyment while traveling for work.
Affiliate Notice: This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something I may make a commission. This is at no additional cost to you and is greatly appreciated by me!
Because, let’s face it, traveling for business isn’t always fun (see my post on 9 Crazy Myths of Business Travel: Debunked!).
In fact, many times it’s not.
You are zipping from one meeting to the next, stuck in an airline terminal waiting for your delayed flight, sleeping in an uncomfortable bed, missing your family and eating crappy food. Business travel can be brutal at times.
That is – if you don’t know what you’re doing.
With the business travel tips listed here, you can exponentially improve your life on the road. So, fasten your seat-belt low and tight across your waist, stow your luggage, put your tray tables up and start learning how to travel smarter.
PS…if you’ve landed here and you have no idea what “business travel” is, head over to my section that defines it for you: Business Travel Defined.
Also, just a quick note, if you are a first time business traveler staring down the barrel of your first business trip you might want to start here with my Top 5 Travel Hacks for the First Time Business Traveler.
Let’s get into ’em!
Business Travel Tips – the ultimate list
This list of business travel tips is loosely organized based on the linear flow of your travel experience. In other words, from booking, to packing, to flying, hotel, etc.
Tips are not necessarily provided in order or importance are divided into the following categories for easier consumption (you can click on the headings below to jump directly to those tips, if you’d like):
- Booking Travel
- Packing & Luggage Tips
- Travel Gear & Tech Tips
- Getting To/From and Through the Airport
- On the Plane – Flying Tips
- Healthy Business Travel Tips
- Hotel Tips
- Safety & Security
- Tips for eating on the road
- Enjoying & Surviving your trip
- Rental Cars
- Loyalty Program Tips
- Apparel tips
- The Rest
As you are reading, pay attention for those “must know” business travel tips. I’ve identified them like this:
[Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
For gender specific tips, I’ve highlighted them like this:
[Female-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
[Male-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
Lastly, I’ve summarized the “must know” Business Travel Tips at the very end of this article for easier consumption!
Business Travel Tips for Booking Business Travel
Every successful business trip starts with booking your travel. By following the business travel tips in this section, you can lay the foundation for a more successful and smoother trip by making good booking choices.
1. Stick with a single Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car company. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
Whenever possible, always consolidate your travel providers into as few as possible. This will allow you to build loyalty and status faster, and earn points quicker.
With status, you will start to qualify for upgrades, point bonuses and other perks that will make your business trip much smoother!
2. Book direct flights.
Layovers are the enemy. They add extra time to your trip – extending the day longer than it often needs to be.
Where possible, book direct flights to improve your travel efficiency and get their quicker. Booking direct also minimizes the chances of you missing a connection and getting stuck in an airport.
3. Skip the redeye.
The redeye flight might seem like a great option and often it’s a cheaper flight. However, that cheaper price comes with strings.
You will likely be far more tired when you arrive. For business travel you need to be on your A-game and a redeye will likely make that more difficult – especially if you are really susceptible to jet lag.
Trust me…this is one of the business travel tips that if you listen to my advice….you and your body will thank me! 🙂
4. Book morning / mid-day flights to mitigate travel delays.
Booking the last flight of the day can become problematic if there are any delays. Miss that flight…and you are staying the night at the airport which is never fun.
Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but whenever possible, book flights earlier in the day to give you some “space” in case your flight schedule blows up.
5. Be careful with layover times.
It’s not always possible to avoid layovers. For example, if you live near a regional airport (instead of a major hub), you will likely have to connect somewhere.
Or, if you are traveling TO a regional airport (e.g. someplace like Grand Rapids, Michigan), a connection is likely required. When you do book connecting flights, pay special attention to the layover times.
Too long of a layover means hours and hours of airport boredom and stretches the travel day out longer than you really want it.
Too short of a layover means any little hiccup with your preceding flight might cause you to miss your connecting flight. Then you are stuck at the airport hoping to catch another later flight.
Also, do your homework on the airport itself that you are connecting in. Some airports make connecting easy. Others can mean a lengthy trek between terminals.
Take Detroit (DTW) as an example. If you are connecting to a regional flight (say State College, PA) you have to make a long trek to their commuter terminal. Make sure to allow enough time for the walk.
6. Use SeatGuru.com to pick the best seat on the plane.
Picking the best seat on the plane can greatly improve your travel experience. Get stuck with a middle seat or next to a lavatory and your trip just got a whole lot worse.
SeatGuru.com allows you to search for the best seats on many different planes. You can find out the plane you are flying (e.g. 737) when you are booking the flight.
7. Do your research on the best hotel to stay at in proximity to your destination (e.g. customer site) while being safe.
Don’t simply pick the cheapest hotel in your general area. Find hotels that are close to your final destination and that meet your standards.
Research the area’s safety, too. If your customer’s site is in the ghetto, maybe a longer commute in the morning is the safer way to go.
8. Consider staying close to the airport for those early morning flights home.
Don’t be afraid to switch hotels the night before your early morning flight back home.
Staying closer to the airport for that 5:45am flight will give you a few extra minutes of sleep and reduce any goof-ups you might have from that early morning delirium.
9. Learn the unique attributes and idiosyncrasies of different airports, including different times of the year, or busy/off seasons.
There’s a golden rule for business travelers. You can fly TO Philly or FROM Philly, but never THROUGH Philly. That is, unless you want to get stuck in the airport under flight delays and have your flight go to crap.
Many airports have their own unique nuances – many of which are based on time of year, etc.
For example, pretty much any Florida airport in the summer is going to be insane. Disney World travelers, cruise ship travelers, etc. They are always slammed. Lost of kids and lots of irritated and tired parents.
Fly through Dallas in the summer? Expect thunderstorms and potential delays.
Fly through Phoenix during Monsoon season? You might get to see a haboob.
Packing & Luggage Tips for Business Travelers
Getting the right luggage and then packing it correctly is a critical step in the success of your work trip. Here are some packing tips that will aid you in getting this phase of your travel right!
1. Pack light (and well). [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
Fight the temptation to over pack. You need far less than you think you do. Packing light is an important business travel tip.
Over packing might mean you have to check your bag. Or it might mean you carry more than you need – and dragging extra weight around isn’t good for your body (you will be tired enough).
Get anal about your packing list. If you can reuse a pair of jeans, do so. Skip the extra pair.
Packing light is really more of a mindset than anything. You have to be ruthless about deciding to place something in your bag. Only pack the essentials.
2. Never check your bag. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
If you like waiting in line to check your bag, waiting at the baggage claim to retrieve your bag and risking the change it will get lost, keep checking your bag.
The first rule of business travel is NEVER CHECK YOUR BAG.
There are very few reasons why the business traveler will need to check your bag. Perhaps its for an extended trip (e.g. >1wk) or you are packing tools that are best checked.
Aside from those very few reasons, no self-respecting business traveler is checking their bags – and you shouldn’t either.
3. Invest in good luggage!
If you plan to be on the road, traveling for work, on a regular basis, you are going to need quality luggage. It might be tempting to scrimp and go with something cheap.
But don’t. Trust me.
A cheaper suitcase might seem ok – but it won’t have the lasting durability needed for someone tossing their bag into an overhead bin and jostling it through an airport every week.
Nor will it have the features that serious business traveler’s need. Like a garment bag. Or maybe a built in USB charging port.
4. Get a 4-wheel roller or “Spinner” suitcase.
For many years I had a traditional 2-wheeled carry on suitcase and I honestly didn’t know any better. I saw people in the airport with the 4-wheel spinners, but I figured it couldn’t be that much better.
I was so wrong.
Having now switched to a 4-Wheel Spinner (the TravelPro Crew 11 21″), I will never go back.
No longer do I have the added strain from the weight of the suitcase on my forearm as I lean the bag forward and pull it behind me.
Aside from it occasionally wanting to wander off, I love it. I also will set my backpack on top it and roll them both ever so easily. Again, less strain on the body. The nice thing about a spinner is that you can always lean it if you have to as sometimes is necessary on an uphill carpeted jet bridge.
5. Get a good backpack! [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
Skip the roller briefcase from day’s past. Have you ever tried wheeling a laptop briefcase through the streets of New York? Or stacked your wheeled briefcase on top of your carry on only to have it wobble and topple over?
Investing in a quality business traveler backpack will improve your travel experience in a big way. Make sure to get one that has a good pocket for your laptop.
Many times I will skip the carry on luggage altogether and simply use my backpack – thus allowing me to travel that much more efficiently and lighter. It’s amazing how light you really travel if you work at it.
One less bag to stow in the overhead bin = a little less worry when you forgot to check in on time.
The only downside is having to lug your backpack around instead of resting it on a suitcase most of the time, but that’s a small price to pay.
Pack smart and light, and travel more smoothly!
6. Mark & Label your luggage.
Make sure you label your luggage (even your carry on). Most of us have black luggage and they can start to look the same. If, god-forbid, you are checking your bag, you definitely need to label your bag.
Get a suitcase tag and include your contact info. Also, throw a business card into your suitcase in case the tag gets ripped off.
Consider a brightly colored travel strap to more clearly identify your bag (especially important if you’ve checked a bag).
7. Roll your clothes to minimize wrinkling and fit more in the suitcase.
Roll your clothes to minimize wrinkling and fit more in the suitcase.
Do it. Live it. Love it.
This is an old trick I learned from the Marine Corps. You can keep the creases out of clothes and typically fit more into your bag. I made this switch years ago and never looked back.
8. Pack your clothes in sets then layer it in your suitcase for daily access.
Pack your clothes in a set (e.g. pants, socks, undershirt, etc) then layer it in your suitcase for easy daily access.
Some people like to fully unpack their suitcase and use that dresser they provide you. I only do that if I am staying greater than one week.
Instead, I pack my clothes by day (or least the pants and shirts – I can tuck my socks, underwear and undershirts around things to get better storage).
Then I can save a little time by leaving everything in the bag and pull it out as needed and in order.
9. Place a dryer sheet in your suitcase to reduce static (and improve smell!).
This is a fun little trick that works pretty well. Simply add a dryer sheet to your suitcase somewhere between a few layers.
This will reduce odors (especially important if you traveling with dirty clothes on your way back) and it will reduce annoying static which is never fun.
10. Use a garment bag for pants and shirts – and leave them on the hangar.
As a business traveler you are likely wearing business or business casual attire. That means slacks, suit jackets, dress shirts, etc.
Leave your clothes on the hangar, place them in a garment bag and then carefully fold the garment bag into your suitcase.
The benefit of this business travel tip is that it allows you to easily hang ALL of your dress clothes up in the hotel closet and minimizes some of the wrinkles. Now you don’t have to hang up 3 pairs of slacks, shirts and ties.
11. Leave the dry cleaning bags on to reduce wrinkles.
If wrinkles are the bane of your existence, there’s an extra step you can take to reduce wrinkles. Simply leave the dry cleaning bag on them before you place them in your suitcase.
12. Wear your suit jacket on the plane instead of packing it.
Suit jackets can take up a lot of space in your carry on bag – perhaps even causing you to briefly think about checking your bag (don’t do it!).
Instead, wear your suit jacket on the plane with you (even if you are wearing jeans…it still looks good). Then hang the jacket up when you board plane (if you got the upgrade) and if you didn’t get the upgrade, carefully fold it and store it up in the overhead bin on top of your suitcase.
This will also reduce the chances of serious wrinkles which you might get from stuffing it into your suitcase.
13. Bring some travel-size Downy wrinkle releaser.
Stubborn wrinkles in clothes can be infuriating. Having to pull your iron out is even worse. Use a travel-size Downy wrinkle releaser to gently coax those last wrinkles out of your items and leave the iron in the closet.
14. Check the weather for your destination before you go and adjust accordingly.
Don’t forget to check the weather for your final destination and adjust your packing list appropriately. If it’s cold, plan on bringing a warmer winter jacket. Something stylish, of course.
15. When it’s cold, don’t pack your winter coat in your bag to conserve space.
In the winter you need to bring an extra heavy coat. Get a nice one for sure, but also don’t pack it.
Carry it or wear it from your home airport, then store it in the overhead bin or have the flight attendant hang it. It will keep you from having to use the larger suitcase!
16. Get your travel toiletries in bulk!
If you are going to be traveling on a regular basis you will be going through your toiletries pretty quickly. A tube of travel toothpaste can set you back $1.25 in some cases, where buying a FULL tube of normal toothpaste might only cost you $2.95 or something.
Buy it on Amazon.com, in bulk and save yourself some significant money!You might be interested in this article on buying travel toiletries in bulk.
17. On the night before your return flight pack your suitcase.
This will save you a few precious moments in the morning before your flight or as you get ready for your last meeting that morning before heading to the airport.
Always get organized the night before when NOT under any stress or pressure. This will help ensure smoother sailing on the day of your return flight home.
18. Have some spare cash – small bills.
Most of our business travel life can be dealt w/ via electronic transaction, but having a few bucks is handy. Tipping the shuttle driver or as a backup in case you lose your card. I try to carry about $40.00, w/ at least 5 one’s.
19. Bring your passport as a backup form of ID.
Nothing sucks worse than losing your ID.
Typically your Driver’s License is all you need but bring your passport as a backup form of ID in the event you need it!
20. Store a backup credit card in your carry-on bag.
In case you lose your wallet, you will have some form of payment, plus if you followed the previous business travel tip, you will have an extra form of ID.
21. Consider a laptop/purse combo bag. [Female-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
If you want to look stylish AND still be able to lug your laptop around, skip the backpack and get a fashionable laptop purse. The UtoteBag Women 15.6 Inch Laptop Purse/Tote, below, might be the functional and stylish accessory your wardrobe needs!
22. Bring some good books (Kindle or hard copy).
Phones die. Your eyes get tired of watching TV. You just need a change. Consider bringing a book to read. While I personally prefer physical books, I also employ the vast resources of my Amazon Kindle.
If you are looking for inspiration on what books to get while traveling look no further than my article The 47 Best Travel Books of all Time – the Ultimate List of Books to Read while Traveling for inspiration!
Travel Gear & Tech Tips
You need some good travel gear and tech! Here’s a great list of business travel tips for finding and using the best travel gear and travel tech!
1. Get some good noise canceling headphones (and a backup set)! [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
The serious business traveler needs to own a quality part of noise canceling headphones! Preferably something wireless. It will help drown out the hum of the jet engines and make binge watching your favorite Netflix show more enjoyable!
If you are looking for something more affordable, the FX-Viktaria’s are not bad. You can read my product review of the FX-Vitkaria’s here.
Pro-tip: bring a backup set of wired headphones in the event your break your primary set (or they run out of juice).
2. Bring a multi-plug adapter / surge protector.
This is a little less important these days w/ everything being USB chargeable, and the extra power bars you bring, plus all of the plugs you now see at airports and hotels.
But it’s not a bad idea to find something just in case you have to compete for a spot or you are staying in an old Hampton Inn that hasn’t been modernized for the business traveler.
Here’s a possible choice:
Note: if you are traveling international, make sure you find the right connectors for the power standards at your final destination.
3. Use mobile boarding passes.
I seldom use paper boarding passes anymore. The tech is much improved from a few years ago and has yet to fail me recently (last 4 years). The TSA checker is pretty good, but the Southwest boarding pass scanner is a little finicky IMO. Could be better.
Still no need to go find a printer and have something else to carry. Go mobile baby…
4. Keep your stuff charged.
Rule #2 of the business traveler’s handbook is A-B-C. Always Be Charging. At the airport terminal before your flight, the customer’s site during the presentation, the rental car, wherever…always be charging!
5. Get a portable power charger.
Because there are few things more frustrating than your phone dying make sure to invest in a good backup power charger…something portable.
I personally always use something from Anker:
6. Make sure your phone has a case.
You will be in-transit a lot. Tossing stuff into overhead bins, walking from gate to gate, in and out of cars, etc. You WILL drop your phone. Make sure it’s protected. Maybe you can get away w/out a case at home, but no way no how here on the road.
7. Use Facetime or Google Hangouts or Skype to keep in touch with loved ones at home.
Most of us have some loved ones at home. I have 4 kids and wife and only while only 2 of my kids are still at home, I miss them all terribly. I always text my wife where I am at w/ my trip (e.g. Made it to the AP or Hotel), and I try to use Google Hangouts w/ the wife and kids a few times each trip.
It’s a great way to stay connected to home.
Document your experience on social media for fun.
8. Download your content ahead of time to skip the Internet fee on the plane. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
Some airlines (like Delta) charge an ungodly amount of money for Internet access on a plane and while Southwest is a bit cheaper, it’s still $$. I prefer to download a few shows, movies or books on my Kindle app using my home or hotel Internet and skip the fees. Plan ahead!
For me, this business travel tip has been a game changer and helps make the trip go a LOT faster.
9. Prebuild good playlists for your Spotify app.
Whatever app you use for music, prebuild a few good travel lists. I have lists for sleeping, for calm/de-stressing, for workouts and for pump-up times.
10. Don’t bring a face mask. You look stupid.
Face/Eye masks are lame. You and I both know you are NOT going to sleep on that plane and you look like a goofball. Skip the eye masks and save the room in your bag!
11. Get a travel makeup case. [Female-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
Store all of your makeup and related accessories in a designed-for-travel-makeup case. Perhaps even on that can hang.
Or something more traditional:
12. Bring your own conditioner and hair products. [Female-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
The hair products in hotel rooms are notoriously tiny and likely not what you need to get your hair on point each morning. Instead, bring your own (within TSA rules, of course) and if necessary get some travel size toiletries containers like these:
13. Get an AC-vent mounted magnetic phone mount for your rental car.
Many states now have hands-free laws and since you probably don’t know where you are going you are likely using your phone’s GPS navigation system. However, since it’s not YOUR car…just a rental…your phone is probably sliding under the seat on every turn.
Fix that! Get a removable, AC-Vent mounted magnetic cell phone stand. It will easily attach to your rental car’s AC and allow you to keep your eyes on the road!
You can read my product review on the Wizgear Phone Mount here.
14. Bring some wet wipes.
Travel size, of course. Tray tables are disgusting. Use the wipes to clean it off before you drop your phone onto it.
In the category of bonus business travel tips: you never know when the sandpaper toilet paper in the airplane stall isn’t going to cut it. You can also use it to wipe the hotel remote down.
15. Install and use your loyalty apps.
Every airline, hotel and rental car company has an app now. Some are better than others, but most seem to have your boarding pass sorted out and provide update on flights, etc. You can use them to check in, select your car (don’t get me started, Avis…), even to unlock your hotel room if you really want to avoid people.
16. Take pictures of your receipts (or better yet use an App to track them).
Keeping track of receipts while traveling for work can be a nightmare. That’s why I recommend using an app to store them. Personally, I use Concur’s expense reporting app because it ties into my corporate system, but there are many other apps that help you track your expenses.
At a minimum, take a picture with your phone’s camera of any receipts you get (unless you already get an electronic copy).
17. Stay on top of your expense reports!
It is easy to get behind on expense reports if you are not careful. And once your behind it is you that’s footing that credit card bill not your company.
Make expense reporting part of your routine.
I often will start them on my trip and finish them on the very first full business day I have back in the office.
18. Use apps like Tripit to integrate w/ your calendar.
I like Tripit because it loads all of my flight and hotel information right onto my calendar. No need to go hunting for emails or printing itineraries out. The address of my hotel, the phone number, the next flight, etc. It’s all there for me right from my calendar.
19. Get travel size Lint roller.
It’s likely you will have less lint to deal with on the road than you do at home, but a small travel sized lint roller is a nice addition to your travel kit.
20. Bring a sewing kit.
If you pop a button on your shirt or need to fix a stitch, having a travel sewing kit handy can be incredibly useful. I usually don’t bring the scissors and instead simply use a pair of toenail clippers to snip any pieces of thread.
21. Bring a small eyeglass screwdriver.
You never know when something will fall apart – especially if you have glasses. I always carry a small tool w/ me. Something that won’t get flagged by TSA as the next terrorist threat.
Something like the Wallet Ninja, perhaps.
22. Bring Backup eye-ware.
I wear glasses and there’s few things more frustrating them losing or breaking your glasses while on a trip. I used to bring an actual backup pair of glasses in a hard case. However, now I’ve switched to a pair of disposable contacts – much smaller load to carry.
Business Travel Tips for Getting To/From and Through the Airport
Getting in and out of the airport has the potential to be a real hassle. But that’s only if you don’t know what you are doing. Here are some business travel tips focused on getting you to the airport, through security and on your plane.
Then, flip it around for your return home.
1. Get your parking situation sorted out.
Parking your personal car at the airport can be an expensive and time consuming process. If you park too close, you pay an arm and leg. Too far, and you add way too much shuttle time to you trip (on both ends).
Do your research for your home airport and make sure you find a good happy medium.
The first few times you use a lot, keep track of the time to/from the garage on the shuttle and then adjust your future trips to that schedule or select a different parking lot.
Better yet, if you can find an airport lot that’s not too expensive but still close enough to walk you’ve hit the jackpot! For example, Ontario airport (in California) has an option exactly like this. Check out my article on the Ontario Airport Parking options if you are a local.
2. Take a picture of your parking spot and the phone # to your shuttle company – keep it handy.
I actually enter the phone # for my parking lot shuttle right into my phone contacts, but taking a picture is fine too.
If you are the forgetful type or going on a very long trip (or, like me, spend so much time traveling they all blur together and it’s hard to remember where you parked you car because you are there so often!), take a picture of your parking location.
3. Get really good at the security checkpoint process. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
This is one of the most important business travel tips I share! If you’ve ever seen the movie Up In the Air w/ George Clooney (I love this movie) you will get a good sense of how some of us business travelers see the security checkpoint line and some ideas on how to through it quickly.
Here are some things I do:
- First, make sure you know the rules (e.g. 3:1:1 rule for liquids, or electronics rules, etc)
- Get TSA Precheck if you can
- If you don’t have TSA Precheck, then prepare before you get to the line.
- I take my belt off, store my wallet, 2nd phone, etc in my backpack BEFORE I enter the line.
- My pockets are empty except for my ID and Phone w/ Boarding pass on it.
- After getting the green light from the TSA agent I drop my ID and phone into my backpack.
- As I approach the bins I will unzip my laptop bag early for easy removal.
- When I hit the line, I am ready to go w/ minimal effort.
- BONUS Business Travel Tip: Some airports make me take my belt off, some don’t. So I just take it off now.
- My shoes are not slip off, but they do slip off quickly w/ no untying. Easy on and off.
- I always grab two bins. It’s all I need. One for my laptop, one for my shoes. If you need more than that…you might want to reevaluate your packing list.
- I stack the bins on top of each while on the table. Latptop bottom, shoes top
- I keep my backpack and luggage OFF the table until the last minute. I figure,save the space for everyone else, and it’s easier than trying to push everything along while you wait for the belt to catch it.
- I also try to pick the lines that have more business travelers in it. This is common sense. If you’ve ever been stuck behind a family who hasn’t traveled in 9 years, or college students who have no clue what’s going on, you learn to seek out the pros. This doesn’t always work, because sometimes you get just get screwed.
- Also, some airports have their terminals connected, other’s do not. Some have less obvious security checkpoints or “hidden ones” that are just around the corner. Figure those out if you can. I’ve went through a United Terminal checkpoint because it was less busy than the Southwest Terminal checkpoint before because I knew the Terminals were connected. Make sure they are though, or you will be making a trip out and then back through security! Ugh!
- BONUS Business Travel Tip: I am a bit of a germaphobe. So, I never stand on the yellow footprints outside the xray machine. I stand to the side of them. My little silent protest if you will, but also…yucky sweaty feet.
- On the other side of the line, depending on the pace of the scanner I will either start putting some of my stuff back together at the belt or pick everything up and get the heck out there making room for others.
- There’s usually a bench or something nearby for you to put your life back together again.
4. Get TSA Precheck. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
The security checkpoint process can be a daunting and time consuming proposition. However, the Homeland Security department has provided a golden opportunity for travelers that are willing to go through a background check and get fingerprinted.
Once you get approved with TSA Precheck you can use an entirely different security line, one that is often shorter.
You will not have to remove your shoes or laptop during the screening process.
For a mere 85.00 (for five years!) and the minor inconvenience of a background check and fingerprinting you can optimize your travel experience in a BIG way.
Follow this link to learn how to sign up for TSA Precheck.
5. Get Global Entry when doing international travel.
The US Customs and Border patrol has a similar program to TSA Precheck known as Global Entry. This program allows approved travelers to more easily re-enter the United States after international travel.
By getting pre-cleared you can save significant amounts of time getting back into the United States after an international trip.
Here’s how to get Global Entry.
6. Learn the airports.
Each airport has it’s own idiosyncrasies. Some airports have smoother security checkpoints. Others not so much.
Some airports have the ticket counter and security lines on the same floor. Others require you to take escalators up/down.
When connecting through an airport, try to figure out how much you really have to get from one gate to another. Larger airports may require you to take a train or walk for a long distance to get to your gate.
Over time you will start to get familiar with airports you frequent and this will give you an edge up over the huddled masses struggling to get from place to another.
7. Learn how your selected airline’s boarding system works and then make sure you board as early as you can.
Each airline has their own unique airplane boarding process and it’s important you learn your airlines process and policies (and how you can use your status to travel hack your way to better seating and placement options for your carry ons).
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
This means the higher your letter and number the better seat you are likely to get. An “A” boarding pass is far more valuable than a B or C boarding pass. Get a C Boarding pass? You are almost guaranteed to get a middle seat. But status, or things like early bird check-in can help mitigate that.
Delta has their own unique process too as do United, American, etc. Make sure you learn how it works, and how varying levels of status might improve your boarding position.
8. When riding shuttles (like between terminals or to the baggage claim) go to the front of the shuttle car to board.
By boarding towards the front you can debark the shuttle ahead of everyone else and move that must faster not having to wade between hordes of slow travelers.
9. When riding a shuttle bus (like to the rental car facility) try to sit near an exit and your luggage.
This will allow you to get off a little quicker and not have to wait for other travelers struggling with their luggage.
Infographic – Pin Me!
On the Plane – Some Flying Tips for Business Travelers
Once you get on the plane, it’s time to relax. Or at least it should be. Here are some tips for business travelers once you get on the plane.
1. Say howdy to flight attendants as you board. Be kind.
Make a point to greet the flight attendant – even if it’s early. You can make a funny comment if “super chipper you” is not present. In addition to simply being a nice human being, acknowledging the FAs could score you an extra drink or something along those lines.
This is one of those secret business travel tips that has a big payoff. When you think about it, it’s kinda obvious, but I am surprised how many people are just rude. And then shocked when THEY get treated like crap on the plane.
2. Find your seat, stow your bags, and get out of the aisle as fast as possible.
The rest of us business travelers thank you for getting out the way so the rest of us can board! Make an effort to stow your gear and get out of the aisle as quickly as possible.
Common mistakes travelers make include not being ready. They are a hot mess getting on the plane with gear in different bags, overstuffed bags, and more.
Or they are just oblivious to the fact they are holding things up.
Don’t be that person. Get prepared, have a system and employ it.
3. Don’t use the bathroom during the boarding process.
Go before you get on the plane! Trying to fight your way through the herd of boarding passengers is senseless. Go before you get on the plane, or wait until the seat belt sign is turned off.
4. Stow your bags as close to you as possible – preferably above you. Never stow them behind you.
By stowing your bags behind your seat you are absolutely 100% guaranteeing a frustrating deplaning experience. You will have to swim upstream to get your bags adding additional wasted time.
The one exception to this is obviously those cases when you have boarded so late you are pretty much screwed on overhead bin space.
5. It’s ok to stow both of your bags up above if you are tall/big. If you are small…not so much.
This business travel tip typically causes a fair amount of discussion. There are good arguments on both sides of the table here, but for my money, if you are tall, it’s perfectly fine to stick both of your bags in the overhead bin.
If you are short, stick your smaller bag (e.g. laptop bag, purse, etc) under the seat in front of you)
6. Don’t stick your bag under YOUR seat – it’s for the passenger BEHIND you.
It is surprising how often this rule gets violated – especially for folks sitting in the front row (aka bulkhead row). The area beneath your seat is not for you. It’s for the passenger behind you and their feet or their bag.
Don’t be the jackass that stows your stuff under you seat.
7. Learn the boarding process for your airline (including the negative / positive consequences of your boarding process.)
For your airline, make sure you research the nuances of it’s boarding process and then adapt your routine to follow. This is one of those business travel tips that will definitely make your travel more enjoyable.
8. If you are boarding early (before too many other passengers) life will be easier.
Whenever possible board as early as you can. The early you board the more likely you will be able to get adequate overhead bin space for that bag you didn’t check!
Boarding late? It’s going to be tough to find a spot near your seat to stash your bag.
9. If you are boarding later (after MANY other passengers have boarded) it’s time to get creative.
Occasionally, as a business traveler you might find yourself boarding late in the process. This doesn’t happen all that often (given our status we usually board early), but from time to time it does happen. Maybe you switched to an earlier flight or booked something last minute, or were delayed an moved to a later flight.
Whatever the reason, it does happen. And when it does it may be time to get a little creative with finding spots for stowing your bags.
When boarding late, take the first open bin you find – even if it’s not directly over or near your seat. There may not be free bin space near your seat! Of course, make sure it’s at least in front of your seat – never stow your bags behind your seat.
10. If you are flying Southwest, use the tips I provide for picking the best Southwest Seat here.
Southwest has it’s own unique boarding and seating process. I’ve written an entire article on picking the best seats for Southwest. Check it out for some great tips!
11. Grab your headphones, snack and book down – but keep most of your stuff in your backpack.
No need to fully unpack everything from your backpack. Just grab the essentials and quickly sit down. Usually it’s just your headphones (hopefully already out and on your person) and maybe a snack.
Leave the rest in your bag. If you do need them standing up to get them will give your back a break!
12. Embrace the wonders of the takeoff nap.
The takeoff nap is a wonderful business travel tip. Those first few minutes when your tired body hits the seat upon boarding until the flight hits 10,000 feet are glorious. I regularly use the takeoff nap to recharge my engines!
13. Skip the sleep mask.
Never wear a sleep mask for your eyes on a plane. You look dumb.
And who are you kidding anyway? You and I both know you are not going to get any real sleep on that plane.
14. Use your travel pillow (but no need to bring it on every flight).
Travel pillows are the rage these days and they’ve made a lot of improvements in the technology. For longer flights, bring a good travel pillow, like the Trtl, below. No need, though, to bring it on every flight because it might just take up extra space.
On international flights, definitely bring it.
15. Remember, there are no more blankets on most flights.
Most airlines don’t offer blankets anymore as part of their cost savings exercise. Honestly, you really don’t need one.
You can usually find one on international flights, and first or business class. If you do find yourself a bit cold, use your jacket and save the space in your luggage. Or invest in a travel blanket designed for easy storage.
16. Get water from the flight attendant instead of soda or alcohol.
Flying is a great time to hydrate without filling your bladder up to the brim with a gallon of water. Top yourself off with a glass of water from the flight attendant and skip the booze.
Staying hydrated helps your body fight jetlag. Alcohol does the opposite.
17. Keep your stuff charged.
Establish a charging routine. Charge your stuff the night before your trip and even in the car on the way to the airport. In fact, charge whenever you can – including on the flight if need be using your portable USB power charger (like the Anker PowerCore 10000).
Nothing more frustrating than your phone dying in the middle of Better Call Saul as you are flying over Oklahoma.
18. Use the bathroom that’s farthest away from you seat – and use the walking time to stretch your body out.
This is really more of a business travel hack than a business travel tip. Using the lavatory that is farthest away from your seat gives your body a little time in a different position. Loosen those muscles up on the walk!
19. Don’t recline your seat (unless you are in the middle seat).
I hate it when people recline their seat backs. I have long legs and it means my knees are getting squished. As a general rule I don’t recline my seats as a courtesy to the travelers behind me.
Some exceptions, of course, are if you are in the middle seat, where all bets are off, or if you are in first or business class where there’s usually plenty of room.
20. Get up and stretch periodically.
On longer flights this is important. Get up, walk to the back or front of the plane and back to your seat a few times. Stretch your body out along the way. I often will do this in the galley at the back of the flight (if it’s not too crowded).
21. Use the lavatory in your class of ticket.
In other words, the first class lav is for first class ticket holders, not you. Stay within your class of purchase and avoid getting embarrassed when the flight attendant send you back to your cattle car, head hanging in shame.
You might be interested in checking out our travel memes for some great laughs!
Click here to laugh your arse off!
Healthy Business Travel Tips
The business traveler is faced with the very real challenge of staying healthy while you travel. It can be a difficult proposition – especially with your body being exposed to many different germs, exhaustion and unhealthy food. But you can take some important steps to try to stay healthy while you travel.
Here are some recommended steps, and for more read my article The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business.
1. Bring your workout gear (and actually workout…).
Throw your workout shoes and some workout shorts (or yoga pants if you are a gal) in your bag. Working out while you travel is CRITICAL to staying healthy on the road.
And if you bring your gear…actually use it! Make a point of it.
2. Workout BEFORE dinner.
The Healthy Business Traveler works out before dinner. This travel tip is something I’ve employed religiously and it’s done more than anything to keep my health in check when I travel for work. By setting a firm rule that when the day is done you are going to get a workout in before you go out to eat with the customer or your colleagues is a game changer.
Here’s why. The chances of you working out when you get back from dinner is next to nil. After a few glasses of wine and a steak, it’s not going to happen. Get it in before dinner! Plus you will find you will have less of an appetite and be more inclined to make smarter menu choices.
3. Pack a healthy snack (and skip the airport snacks).
You gotta eat. Sometimes you get snacky. Rather than eating something unhealthy like a Twix bar or spending $7.00 for something at the airport, pack a healthy snack with you.
Here are some ideas on healthy snacks to bring with you while you travel: 9 Healthy Travel Snacks – eat smarter on the road.
4. Hydrate your body (but not so much you have to go to the bathroom 9 times on the plane).
Aside from gorging on delicious meals, this is the hardest tip for me to follow. I don’t like water. It’s boring. And in my family, the men are always going to the bathroom and I hate running to the lavatory multiple times on the plane or in a customer meeting.
So, I tend to not follow this advice as much as I should. I try to make up for it by hitting water hard the night before a flight, and getting after it pretty heavy at my hotel at night.
According to OneMedical.com, staying hydrated has multiple benefits including: removing toxins from your body, improving cardiovascular health, keeping your body cool, making your skin supple (translation: less wrinkles…) and more.
Greatist.com notes that regular water consumption may promote weight loss, improves mood, fights fatigue and much more. In fact, I’ve not found anyone who thinks drinking water is a bad idea.
Besides, if you’ve had a kidney stone in the middle of the night stuck in a Nashville Hilton like I have…well, it’s agonizing. Trust me…you don’t want it. Had I drank more water, I could have likely prevented this.
You might consider getting a travel water bottle that you can easily fill up on the other side of the airport security lane:
5. “Go” whenever you can, but especially before flights and on layovers.
In the military we often follow a few key rules: Eat when can, sleep when you can, and go when you can. You never know when you might have the chance again.
You can employ these precepts on your business trips – and this is especially true with regard to bathroom use. Always go when you can and definitely before you get on a flight.
For example, you might encounter turbulence which means the seat belt sign stays on longer than your poor bladder can endure. It can make a flight excruciating.
6. Build a medical kit (or at least some band-aids, pain relievers, and Cold Medicine, cough drops).
Build a medical kit (or at least some bandaids, pain relievers, and Cold Medicine, cough drops).You never know what will hit you while traveling. You are tired, in a different time zone, around other people in a confined metal tube, etc. My go to kit is (preferably in travel quantities):
- Pain Relievers: Aleve, and Tylenol PM (to help get to sleep if needed – only if needed)
- Cough Drops
- Claritin D Allergy Pills
- Something for the tummy – nothing worse than stomach problems on a plane.
- Any meds I may be on at the time
7. Bring some hand sanitizer!
While traveling for work you will encounter numerous surfaces that have yucky germs all over them – just waiting to infect you. Tray tables, lavatory bathroom handles, hotel remote controls, seat belts and more.
Avoid the plague by bringing a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer with you and using it liberally!
8. Stretch regularly. Maybe even do some yoga!
While traveling your body gets into some kinked up positions. Make sure to take time to stretch it. Maybe it’s on the plane, or maybe just in your hotel room in the morning.
I prefer to do some yoga stretches in the mornings in the comfort of my hotel room.
Your body will thank you!
9. Skip the escalator and especially the people movers.
Burn a few extra calories by taking the stairs or walking next to the people movers if you have the time. I make it fun by trying to race-walk someone who is on the people mover. Of course, the people mover can be a lifesaver when you are hustling to catch a flight.
10. Train your body to not care what time zone it’s in.
Seasoned business travelers will be less effected by jet lag. This is because we are simply used to being in multiple time zones and having to be “up” for customers or colleagues. It doesn’t always work (sometimes you are just dog tired), but with practice and training you can start to tune your body to be less dependent on the actual time zone it is in or coming from.
If you are struggling with Jet lag, read my article on how to get over jet lag when you travel.
Hotel Tips for Business Travelers
I’ve written extensively on hotel tips and I would encourage you to check out the following articles for more information:
- 9 Hotel Safety Tips – You Need to Know
- 10 Great Hilton Honors Hotels Hacks You Need to Know
- 20 Hotel Hacks for the Savvy Business Traveler
But here are a few hotel tips for business travelers that will get you pointed in the right direction:
1. Get to know the staff (if you are staying there for a long time or multiple visits).
Get to know the staff (if you are staying there for a long time or multiple visits).I stayed in a single hotel in Sacramento 3 days a week for 4 months. 2x a month in NYC for almost 2 years and lately 1x a month for a year now in Nashville.
The staff got to know me and started to do things like leave extras in my room (beyond my status stuff) or welcome me warmly when I arrive.
2. Use the Hotel TV’s HDMI cable.
Most modern hotels have HD cables/tvs. Instead of watching your favorite Netflix show on the small window of your cell phone or tablet, connect your laptop to the TV via the HDMI cable and enjoy the latest episode of Peaky Blinders in full color!
3. Take advantage of late check in / out.
With status you likely get the ability to do a late check in (e.g. at 1am after you finally arrive from 3 hours of flight delays at Midway airport). If you don’t have status, you will need to call the hotel and inform them that you will be checking in late.
4. Know what you are entitled too w/ your status.
You’ve earned the status. So use it!
Make sure you understand what you are (and are not) entitled too. For example, as a Hilton Diamond Member I get free waters, snacks and access to Executive Lounge (among other things).
If the clerk forgets something, gently remind them (no need to lord it over them, of course).
Get what’s yours!
5. Ask for the upgrade!
Doesn’t always work, but every once in a while you can get an upgraded room, car or even a boarding position. This happens more when you have “status” with the company, but it also helps if your nice. Give it a try.
6. Be nice to the staff!
Sometimes you might get a free upgrade too. Or at the very least, when your hotel room’s shower doesn’t work, the desk clerk might work w/ you to get a new room instead of telling you that you are stuck w/ it. Be nice, show an interest, smile.
7. Use the hotel’s lotion if you forget aftershave or shave cream if you forgot yours. [Male-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
Even the savviest business travelers forget or lose stuff. One business travel tip I’ve learned is that, in a pinch, I can use the hotel room’s lotion or even shampoo as crude shaving cream and of course the lotion works as an ok aftershave!
The downside is you will smell like lilac butterflies (or whatever crappy flavor their lotion is) all day. LOL
8. The hotel usually has replacement toiletries.
Almost all hotels will give you a replacement toothbrush or toothpaste if you forget yours. You won’t get deodorant or anything more serious like that, but it’s a nice to remember they got your back!
Safety & Security Tips for Business Travel
Occasionally travel can be a little unsafe. Here are some business travels tips to stay safe and secure on the road!
1. Keep your computer’s firewall on when using the public Internet.
No real explanation needed for this one. Networks are not safe. You should know that by now. If want more depth on this business travel tip, you can jump over to my post 7 Cyber Security Travel Tips: Don’t get hacked on your business trip!
2. Keep your antivirus software up to date and be careful what sites you visit.
I probably don’t need to explain this one. Just do it.
3. Flip the door latch in your hotel room.
I can’t tell you how many times this has paid off. From another traveler who was given a key to my room by the front desk, to the cleaning crew – you never know when someone will burst into your room. Also, it’s a good idea from a safety perspective.
4. Glance at the alternate exit plan for the hotel.
Glance at the alternate exit plan for the hotel.Just about every hotel has a sign on the inside of the door that shows the emergency exit route. Believe it or not, I’ve actually been rousted out of my room at 3am because the hotel was on fire.
You will be one step ahead and if you really need it (e.g. 9/11 scenario) it could save your life. Also…grab your backpack on the way out (but skip the suitcase).
5. Put the do not disturb sign on the door when you leave the hotel room.
I use this trick when I don’t want the staff in my room when I head down for breakfast or out for a beer.
Obviously if you want them to clean the room, take the sign down. If I go out for a beer I am usually leaving my laptop in the room. No need to make it easier on the staff. The illusion that someone is room might be enough to deter them.
6. Turn the TV on when you are not in the room.
This business travel safety tip can be used in conjunction with the preceding tip. By leaving the TV on (and the do not disturb sign on the door) potential intruders are likely going to find an easier room to rob.
Unless they are Chinese hit men and you are their target.
7. Don’t leave valuables in your suitcase (and if you do, make it hard to get at).
Generally, I don’t travel w/ too much stuff of value, but occasionally I have to leave my laptop in the hotel or something like that.
When I do, I employ a little trick I think works (although I have no idea). In addition to burying it beneath a stack of clothes and zipping it up and sticking the suitcase in the closet, I throw a pair of underwear on top of it.
Gross right. I figure they aren’t touching it! #LevelUp
8. Take your tooth brush with you during the day – don’t leave it in the hotel room.
I’ve heard horror stories about maids jacking with people’s toothbrushes. I don’t know if this is actually true, but I’m not taking any chances.
I always bring my toothbrush (and toothpaste) with me each day.
Bonus: I can brush my teeth after lunch!
9. Carry a personal safety alarm. [Female-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
This is another business travel tip shared with me by a fellow female traveler. She noted that sometimes you need to feel safe or be safe. Having the ability to trigger a siren on a key chain is comforting.
Tips for Eating on the Road
You gotta eat! Here are some business travel tips for eating while on the road.
1. Skip the chain restaurants – eat local.
The thought of another Applebee’s meal makes me nauseous. Besides, there are so many good local restaurants. Find something local and non-chainy.
Not only will you support small businesses, but you might have a better dining experience. Often the hotel clerk can point you to something good. Or ask the customer!
2. Don’t forget to eat healthy.
Ok, I will say one more thing. One the hardest things to do on the road is to consistently eat healthy. This didn’t make the top 10 list of “must know” business travel tips, but perhaps it ought to: make an effort to eat healthy!
3. Use Yelp to pick a good restaurant.
Yelp is a great tool to try to find reputable restaurants while you are traveling. Use it liberally!
4. Better yet, go shopping for food (especially if you are on an extended stay).
For longer stays I may shop for food at the local grocery store in my destination town. It saves money, and you can eat a little healthier – usually.
It also helps if you have a hotel that has a kitchen!
5. Eat at a nice (expensive) restaurant for lunch.
Without blowing your daily per diem you may be able to sample some of the “nicer” restaurants in an area by visiting them for lunch (instead of dinner) where you can find a cheaper version of some of their favorites.
Enjoying (and surviving) your Business Trip
To get the most out of your trip employ some of the following business travel tips designed to increase enjoyment…and survival.
1. Learn the history of the area you are visiting.
Learn the history of the area you are visiting (e.g. Wiki Minot, ND).I was briefly a history major in college and I grew up literally reading encyclopedias. Regardless, I always try and learn a little bit about where I am staying at.
I once visited Minot, ND. Pretty cool little town w/ some interesting history. It might give you something to talk about w/ the customer or impress your colleagues with your vast knowledge. And you might be able to squeeze in a quick visit to some cool American attraction that you’d never otherwise see.
At the very least it’s something to do in the Hotel room besides watching John Oliver on HBO. This is one of my favorite business travel tips! I hope it is for you to.
2. See if you can squeeze in a quick visit to the major tourist attraction.
Of all of the business travel tips, this is probably my absolute favorite! Seeing the sights while you travel for work is often hard to do because on business travel you are rushing from one place to the next.
Still, there are times when you can squeeze something in. For example, I visited a cavern when I was working in Sierra Vista, AZ w/ a colleague for a month.
I’ve toured a lighthouse during a long drive up the Oregon coast. Visited NYC attractions during long stints in the City (like a Yankee’s game). Went to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial. The Foodies amongst us are always on the search for the great food places.
You are THERE so you might as well try to see some of this great country.
3. Take the long way back to the airport / Maybe even get lost on purpose!
I love this business travel tip. If time permits I will try to take a different or longer way back to the airport so I can see more of the area I am visiting.
In many cases (again, if time permits) I will intentionally turn my GPS off and allow for the possibility I get lost! You can read my entire article on this unique business travel tip here: My favorite Travel Hack: Don’t use your GPS…and get lost on your next trip!
4. Figure out where you are going the next day and map out your route and arrival times.
Figure out where you are going the next day and map out your route and arrival times.I always put my destination address in Google Maps the night before to see how long I need to travel.
Then I add a little buffer time, perhaps adjust for traffic if needed and then start setting up my alarms.
No one likes late people.
5. Have a good routine and stick to it.
It’s probably the Marine in me, but this is one of those business travel tips that just came naturally to me.
Personally, I always unpack immediately after I get to the Hotel Room. I hang my clothes. Iron the next day’s clothes (usually just a shirt, as my pants are always wrinkle free) and lay out the rest of my stuff (socks, etc).
I also set my toiletries out and on especially early mornings I go so far as to lay the towel out on the floor next to the tub, physically move the shampoo into the shower, hang my towel next to the shower, and get the coffee pretty close to ready.
I will even lay out my Allergy pill and partially open it (sigh..anal much??). Usually, I in a different time zone, and know I will be running on fumes in the morning.
Those extra few seconds seem to add up and give me a little buffer if I am running slow.
6. Set 2 alarms for the morning.
Set 2 alarms for the morning.I always set two alarms for the next morning. Usually 15 minutes apart. This is especially important if you are dealing w/ a big time zone swing (e.g. West Coast to East Coast).
7. Never use the hotel alarm clock.
It’s likely not the right time, and often is not worth learning how to use.
8. Allocate time to warm your car up and scrape the ice off your windows in colder destinations.
When in colder climates expect some ice / frost on the windows and that you will need to warm you car up for a few minutes. Allow time in your morning schedule for this and don’t be late because you’ve never scraped ice off a window before!
9. Consider joining the airline’s airport club system.
These can be a little pricey, but with airline status you can often get discounted rates (or even gratis). The lounges are nice places to briefly relax before a flight, or snag a quick meal.
But where they come in really handy is when your day turns the crap and you are stuck with a serious delay. They can be a little haven for you while you weather out whatever the business travel gods through at you.
10. Document your experience on social media for fun (or start a blog!).
You are traveling, and it can be fun or at least seem to be fun to other people. Might as well upload a pic to Instagram or Facebook and tell everyone where you are.
You will see some funny stuff while you travel for work – take a pic! I am on social media w/ a bunch of other business travelers and we always post our itinerary using the airport codes and see if we can figure out where they are. (SNA to ATL to MSY anyone!?! That’s Orange County to Atlanta to New Orleans, btw).
11. Stay even-keeled and realistic. [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
Travel can suck sometimes. You will have delays, you’ll be tired, you’ll get stuck in a middle seat sometimes.
The hotel bed will suck, the lady in the hotel room next to you is enjoying the pleasures of matrimony all night, etc, etc. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. There are things beyond your control.
So just roll w/ it.
I’ve been stuck in a middle seat for 6 hours on the way back from JFK. It sucks, for sure.
But it doesn’t last forever.
I’ve also done that same flight in first class. You win some you lose some. No need to lose your ever-loving mind because you had to store your backpack under your seat for the flight back from SLC to SAN. Remember, nothing lasts forever.
Rental Car Tips
If you travel for work, you will likely spend a decent time in rental cars. While each rental car company has their own unique elements (don’t even get me started on Avis..ugh…they are terrible), for the most part they operate the same.
Reserve a car. Pick up car. Use Car. Gas up car. Return car.
Rinse and repeat.
Here are a few business travel tips to make your car rental experience a little better.
1. Skip the rental car if you can (and use Uber or Lyft).
The first rental car tip is to avoid them when you can! Many times the cost of a taxi or Uber will be cheaper than renting a car for multiple days. Make sure you do the math on this though (and if applicable, factor in parking!).
Additionally, in bigger cities, renting a car is likely going to result in hassles the whole way. Hassles like finding parking (and cheap parking at that).
Whenever attending a big city it’s likely a Taxi or Lyft is going to be your best option.
2. Skip the rental car insurance. [Saving money business travel tips!]
Rental car insurance is a scam. No other way to say it.
If you are on a work trip there’s about a 99% chance your company’s insurance policies will cover any damage to the vehicle. Many companies prohibit their employees from getting the insurance (and they should!)
Even if you are renting it for personal use, you likely don’t need it. Your current car insurance company (for your personal vehicle) will likely cover you and many credit card companies oddly have some coverage here.
Check your insurance company, credit card company and company travel policy for all the details.
3. Sign up for the rental car rewards program.
Oddly, many business travelers don’t sign up for the rental car rewards program. While they may get approved to rent a car, they don’t go the extra step of getting fully on-boarded into the system.
Renting a car can be a smooth process or a real hassle. By signing up for the rental car rewards program you can check in/out quicker, earn free rentals, and occasionally receive special offers.
4. Return the rental car the night before your flight home.
This business travel tip falls under the category of saving time and reducing hassle. If you have an early flight the next morning (you know, one of those 6am flights), return your rental car the night before and take the hotel shuttle in the morning (or an Uber).
Of course, this only works if you are actually staying near the hotel. But, it can save you the hassle of dealing with getting a car back in, riding in a rental car shuttle, etc.
5. Always gas up your rental before you return it.
Rental car companies are more than happy to fill up your gas tank for you when you return it – “saving you time.” But not saving you money!
The gimmick here is that they are going to charge you for a full tank of gas – regardless of how full your car’s gas tank actually is. Only used 1/4 of tank? Pay for a full tank.
Skip the idiot charge and fill it up yourself before you return it.
6. Download the Rental Car Company’s Mobile App.
Most rental car companies now have a mobile app. It can be used, in many cases to find the vehicle you are renting (thus skipping the rental car counter and saving you time.
It can also be used to reschedule or change a reservation. Occasionally, I will use it mid-trip to book a car when originally I thought I didn’t need one.
Lastly, it will likely provide easy access to support and roadside assistance numbers which could helpful if you get stuck somewhere with a flat tire or dead battery.
7. Make sure you know if the rental car facility is on-airport or off-airport.
This is important as it can mean the difference between needing to RUN to catch your flight or taking a casual stroll.
Many airports utilize off-airport rental car facilities. Anywhere from a 5 – 20 minute ride in a shuttle to get your car (and it’s the same for the return). Keep this in mind as you plan your rental car return times.
8. Use your credit card to scrape ice off the window of your rental car if you don’t have a ice scraper.
Rental car companies that serve cold weather destinations will almost always include an ice scraper in the rental car during wintery months.
But occasionally they don’t or it’s simply not there.
One option is to use one from the hotel front desk (many have one for this exact purpose). You could borrow one from a colleague or a random stranger.
But, a trick that works ok is to simply use your credit card (or Costco card…).
Loyalty Program Tips
1. Get the best credit card you can to maximize your points.
It’s likely you are getting reimbursed by your company and travel is expensive. That means some serious dollars are going through someone’s credit card.
If you can, use your personal credit card and start racking up the points.
It might be easier to use a completely separate card for this, so you can track your expenses. Use the points to get cash back, free vacations, and more.
I also use my cards for personal expenses (like the water bill) to maximize points. We took a week-long trip to Hawaii (5-person family at the time) and the only thing I had to pay for was 2 rental car days, food, and entertainment.
And we got upgraded to a SWEET suite!
2. Actually sign up for the loyalty programs!
As was mentioned much earlier in this article, try to stick with a single airline, hotel and rental car brand so you can earn status and points quicker. But don’t forget to actually sign up for the loyalty rewards program!
For example, Hilton (my chosen hotel) has their Hilton Honors program. It’s easy to sign up for and there are MANY benefits to those who earn status. You can read all about them in my article on the Hilton Honors Rewards Program – a Fresh Look.
And for some bonus Hilton Hacks, check out my article 10 Great Hilton Honors Hotels Hacks You Need to Know.
3. Even if you are not flying on you preferred airline provider – sign up for hte loyalty program.
I am a Southwest Airlines guy through and through. Occasionally Delta. But if I have to fly say United ever, I still maintain a United loyalty account.
If I have to travel United I will be sure to earn some points which I may be able to transfer somewhere else. Make sure to sign up for any of the loyalty programs for the providers you use regardless of frequency of use. You might be missing out on some points!
Apparel tips and tricks for business travelers
You want to find that balance between looking professional and being comfortable. Here are a few business travel tips under the category of apparel for business travelers.
1. Get comfortable shoes (and maybe orthotics).
The business traveler will be on his/her feet a significant amount of time. Your feet will be barking as you lug your bags through the airport after standing in a trade show booth all day.
Take the time to find comfortable shoes that work for YOUR feet.
I have larger, wider feet so finding good shoes is a challenge. But once I find a pair…I usually get a few pairs to have in case they are discontinued.
2. Buy wrinkle free clothes.
I hate ironing. Seriously. I really hate it. I did a ton of it in the USMC and came to despise it. But w/ the life a business traveler it’s hard not to do it sometimes.
That said, I try to buy wrinkle free clothing whenever possible. I’ve personally found that wrinkle free dress shirts are hard to find (polos are no biggie) so I still have to iron them in many cases.
But wrinkle free pants are a technological breakthrough! Roll em, pack em, hang em up in the closet and you will be iron free-ish. My go-to pair of wrinkle free pants these days is the Haggar Men’s Work To Weekend Hidden Expandable Waist No Iron Plain Front Pant, below.
3. Use the “shower trick” to dewrinkle your clothes (and avoid the iron). [Must Know Business Travel Tips!]
If you do have some minor wrinkles, shut the bathroom door, hang the pants or jacket on the back of the door and start the shower and steam up the room.
This trick works WONDERS. 10 minutes of a steaming shower and the wrinkles will fall right off your favorite slacks.
4. Dress Comfortable.
Some folks suggest you should dress nice. Maybe it’s for the mental confidence boost it gives you. Power suit!
But I disagree. Instead, dress comfortable.
On my outbound flights I am often not meeting w/ anyone until the next day. I usually wear jeans and polo shirt.
On the return flight I am usually leaving a customer site or office and am in business gear. I will often change into jeans after I get through security. Sorry…comfort outweighs image.
But don’t be a homeless looking bum, either!
Of all the business travel tips this is one that tends to cause a lot of discussion. What do you say?
5. Get a reversible belt [Male-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
In the spirit of packing light, invest in a reversible belt (black on one side, brown on the other). It’s one less belt to carry with you!
6. Get a Navy Blue Blazer [Male-Specific Business Travel Tips!]
Every man should own a Navy Blue Sport Coat/Blazer. This allows you to quickly toggle from casual to business casual in no time. This is a great travel accessory / clothing item to add to your travel kit.
The Rest – a catch-all of business travel tips
1. Skip the airport souvenir shop. Shop local instead.
Airport souvenir shops are notoriously expensive! Ever paid $3.50 for a candy bar? That’s an airport gift shop price!
Occasionally, I like to bring something home for my kids (not every trip or they’d be spoiled). To save money I will try to visit a local Wal-Mart or other similar store and buy something local there (like a I Heart NYC shirt or something).
2. Be nice to the staff! (airline, shuttle drivers, hotel desk clerks, etc).
As a general rule being nice will get you a lot farther while traveling. Could be an upgrade to a bigger room. Maybe a nicer car.
I can’t tell you how many times simply being nice has paid off.
Additionally, by being nice you might actually have an interesting conversation and/or meet some fascinating people.
3. Tip the shuttle drivers, etc. [A “be kind” business travel tip!]
Driving a shuttle or portering your bags is not a high paying job. Tips are important to these folks. Tip when appropriate and go big when exceptional.
$2.00 for a carry-on, $5.00 for a big bag. But, if the don’t lift the bags, you are under no obligation to tip – nor should you.
Oh…and add a thank you.
4. Share your wisdom w/ the younger travelers.
I took my first business trip to Phoenix on a Southwest flight. My second trip was to Oklahoma and my checked bag got lost.
I could have used some business travel tips back then! Share your wisdom with your fellow travelers, colleagues, newbies and more.
In fact, leave us a comment below – what are some of your business travel tips?
Summary of the [Must Know Business Travel Tips]
For easy consumption, I’ve summarized the business travel tips that you absolutely must know (and follow):
- Stick with a single Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car company.
- Pack light (and well).
- Never check your bag.
- Get a good backpack!
- Get some good noise canceling headphones (and a backup set)!
- Download your content ahead of time to skip the Internet fee on the plane.
- Get TSA Precheck.
- Get really good at the security checkpoint process.
- Use the “shower trick” to de-wrinkle your clothes (and avoid the iron).
- Stay even-keeled and realistic.
There you have it…the top 10 business travel tips that every savvy traveler needs to know. Agree? Disagree? What would you add to the list?
Business Travel Tips – closing arguments
This concludes the massive list of business travel tips. While it’s possible you already knew about some of these business travel tips I hope that some of the business travel tips and hacks we’ve shared will be game changers for you on your next work trip!
By the way, if you are interested in more business travel tips and travel advice, you might be like these great articles:
- How to get over jet lag while you travel – 11 Tips every traveler needs to know
- The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
- 11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know
Pin these for later:
This blog has been verified by Rise: R38d0d420a631cfb9953968d96a055f9c