41 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler

41 Travel Hacks that every business traveler needs to know about in 2018

Do you travel for business? Maybe your a seasoned pro looking to level up your game with some great travel tips. Or maybe your a rookie just getting started on this journey. Regardless of what type of business traveler you are here are 41 Travel Hacks that every business traveler needs to know about in 2018!

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  1. Stick with a single Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car company. Since you’re going to be traveling,  you might as well get some points for it. Your company policies may make this more difficult but do your best to stick w/ a single Airline, Hotel and Rental Car company. You can accumulate points and status quicker this way. For example, I typically travel Southwest Airlines (sometimes Delta), stay in Hilton Hotels, and rent w/ National. Southwest offers early boarding privileges (which helps you get the best seat and stow your bag) for status holders. Hilton gives all kinds of privileges like free breakfast, upgrades, extra points, snacks, etc to their higher tier members. And w/ National you can often get free upgrades to nicer cars. Delta will start to give you upgrades to first class depending on your status and availability.
  2. Invest in good luggage! I used to adhere to the cheap luggage principle figuring it’s just luggage who cares. But after I made the switch to my new TravelPro spinner, I am so glad I finally invested in quality luggage. Read the reviews, find out what other Business Travel Pros are doing and make the investment. You need something that is durable, easy to use, and has been thoughtfully constructed w/ the modern business traveler in mind. I had to use one of my older suitcases on a recent trip and it was such a disappointment…
  3. Get a backpack! Skip the roller suitcase. See my Ogio review here. I always travel as light as I can. If I am just doing a few days of business travel, I will skip the suitcase and load my backpack. It’s amazing how light you really travel if you work at it. It also makes the travel experience simpler. 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!
  4. 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. 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 prefer the Southwest Chase Card and the Delta Amex. I also use my cards for personal expenses (like the water bill) to maximize points. We took a weeklong 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!
  5. Pack light (and well). This tip leads into the next one. But packing light minimizes the stuff you have to haul around, makes it easier to stuff your bag into an overhead bin, and reduces the pain when you have to store it under your seat. I do my best to use a single backpack (and Ogio Metro backpack) whenever I can. With good packing, and minimizing superfluous crap, I can make that last almost a week. For example, if you wear jeans on day 1 you can wear them again on day 5, getting that room back in your bag. Wear your jacket w/ you on the plane so it doesn’t have to go in the bag. Learn how to roll your clothes vs. fold so they store easier (and don’t wrinkle as bad)! Skip the heavy book to save room (use your iPad or better yet, your Kindle Reader app on your phone). If you have to use a suitcase, get one that rolls well (preferably 4 wheeled), fits easy into the overhead compartment, and is durable enough to stand the rigors of regular travel.
  6. Never check your bag. Want to add 30 minutes to your trip and gamble with fate about lost luggage? Then check a bag. Setting aside bag check fees (which ought to deter your enough), checking a bag means extra time at the front and back of your trip. You have to interact w/ staff to check it, and then you wait w/ the huddled masses for it to (hopefully) arrive on the baggage Carousel. I confidently walk past all the schmucks waiting for the bags…and get the better rental car ahead of them or get to my bed that much quicker.
  7. Book direct flights. I’ve found that minimizing my actual time on airplanes is critical. Reduced jetlag, less wear on the body, etc. Time is money and the extra time sitting in airports waiting for your connection is often boring and wasted. Book a direct flight whenever you can! Sometimes you can’t, depending on where you go. I often find myself in obscure places like Minot, ND or Augusta, ME. Sorry, no direct flights from CA so suck it up.
  8. Never check your bag (yes, I said it twice!). Seriously, never check your bag. It might be hard to avoid it when doing extended travel (>1 week) or international travel. If so, label your luggage with your name and something distinctive and pack a backup set of clothes in your backpack.
  9. Skip the redeye. I’ve done a few redeye flights over the years and they are usually terrible. You might be able to save a few bucks, but honestly, it’s not worth it. If you are like me, it’s hard to get any useful sleep on a plane and so basically you are dogcrap tired the next day. Use only in extreme circumstances.
  10. Get a 4-wheel roller or “Spinner” suitcase. For many years I had a regular 2-wheeled 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 wrong. Having now switched to a 4-Wheel TravelPro Spinner, I will never go back. I no longer have the added strain from the weight of the suitcase on my arm (from it leaning while being pulled behind me) and it slides so smoothly in the airport. 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.
  11. Mark & Label your luggage. If your gonna use luggage (instead of just a backpack) then you might as well try not lose it and plan for the possibility you might. Try not check it (duh), but if you’ve labeled it and maybe added a colored strap to it or tassel (or even bought a non-black bag) it will be easier to see on the baggage claim carousel or pull from the overhead bin. Put your contact info on it in case someone else grabs it or it gets lost. I will admit I am not great at following this tip. While I always label my stuff, I usually get a black suitcase (I just can’t bring myself to get a purple suitcase or something) and I usually don’t put a color strap on it. But I really need to.
  12. 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 you can typically fit more into your bag. I made this switch years ago and never looked back.
  13. Pack your clothes in a set then layer it in your suitcase for 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 undershirtsaround 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.
  14. 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. However, I invest in wrinkle free clothing. I’ve personally found that wrinkle free dress shirts are hard to find (polos are no biggie) so I still have to iron them. 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. Protip: 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. The wrinkles will usually fade away. It’s not your water bill :-).
  15. Bring some travel-size Downy wrinkle releaser.
  16. Skip the rental car if you can (and use Uber or Lyft). Saves you money, time, and hassle of picking up and returning a car. Especially in a big city. When I travel to NYC, Chicago or I know I will be attending a conf or staying downtown, I seldom rent a car. Simply no need.
  17. Get comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet a lot when you travel. Walking (hopefully not running) to your next gate, or hoofing it to the catch the shuttle, and carrying luggage, your dogs will be barking. Might as well make them comfortable. Some people say you should use slip on shoes for easy security check point removal. I am not fan (mostly cause I can never find a pair that really fit right). I can always get mine off w/out untying them, so I am golden! I also invested in some good orthopedic arch support. Orthotics = heaven.
  18. 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.
  19. Check the weather for your destination before you go and adjust accordingly. I live in sunny southern California. It’s either nice or hot. However, the rest of the country is not blessed with this weather and sometimes I forget. I’ve shown up in shorts and a windbreaker to NYC in November. Dumb. Double check the weather before you go in case they are having a cold snap and then pack accordingly. Protip: 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!
  20. Get your parking situation sorted out. Parking onsite at the airport will usually cost you 2.3 million dollars a day and usually get your company’s bean counters giving you the stink eye. Parking off site is usually cheaper…BUT…now you have to deal w/ a shuttle which adds extra time. I happen to use ONT airport in SOCAL and they have a sort-of-close-walking-distance onsite parking area which is still pretty cheap and allows me to walk to the AP and skip the shuttle. I use it 100% of thetime. But when I have to hit San Diego AP, I’ve found a good garage that has a good shuttle system, w/ regular pickups/dropoffs and I’ve learned the process. I know how much to factor in at the start/end of my trips and plan accordingly. Figure out the best parking system for your home airport.
  21. Get really good at the security checkpoint process. 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:
    • 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 greenlight 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.
      • Protip: 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.
    • I stack the bins on top of each while on the table. Latptop bottom, shoes tops
    • 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!
      • Protip: 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.
  22. Learn the airports. Every airport has its own idiosyncrasies. Over time, you will “know” what to expect at certain airports. Some have really smooth security checkpoints, others are known for being slow in security. Some airports have better food selections outside of security vs. inside. Sometimes you have to switch

    terminals and if you know the airport you can know what to expect. This is especially true when you flying to a small airport. The larger connecting airport may have you trekking to some remote outpost for the tinier plane. This is true at places like MSP or DTW. Some airports have off airport rental car facilities, while others are onsite allowing you to quickly drop the car and go. All of this information helps make your trip go a little smoother.

  23. Get TSA Pre-Check. I’ve been remiss in this. I used to have Clear when I was really traveling hard, then it slowed up and I let it wane. Now that I am hitting it hard again, it’s time to get TSA Pre-Check. I’ve heard from enough other fellow travelers that’s it’s worth the time. Best thing is you don’t have to take your shoes/belt off or unpack your stuff. Time to get it done!
  24. Learn how your selected airline’s boarding system works and then make sure you board as early as you can. Work the system. Let’s be clear, this is all about overhead bin storage and if you travel Southwest, an aisle seat. With airline status you will likely solve this problem, but sometimes you may need to take extra steps. Like checking in exactly 24 hours in advance on Southwest (set an alarm!), or spending $15.00 to upgrade your boarding zone.
  25. Get some good headphones! See my review on the FX-Viktaria headphones.
  26. Bring a multi-plug adapter. 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 nowsee 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.
  27. 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…
  28. Get a power bar. Seems like everything runs on batteries these days. I invested in 2 power bars that I charge every night at the hotel and at my house the night before I leave on a trip. Rather than hunt around for a plug at the airport, I just plug into my power bar and recharge my gear.
  29. 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.
  30. Keep your stuff charged. Get a charging routine. I always charge my stuff the night before my trip and even in the car on the way to the airport. In fact, I charge just about whenever I can. Nothing more frustrating than your phone dying in the middle of Better Call Saul as you are flying over Oklahoma.
  31. 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.
  32. Document your experience on social media for fun. 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 – 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).
  33. Download your content to skip the Internet fee on the plane. Delta charges some 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!
  34. Have a good routine and stick to it. I personally 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). I 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. I am usually 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.
  35. 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).
  36. Get your travel toiletries in bulk!
  37. Set out your toiletries the night before – get a few minutes of extra sleep!
  38. Get the coffee maker ready to go for the AMget a few minutes of extra sleep!
  39. Bring your workout gear. This is a hard one for me. Because bringing running shoes automatically puts me into my suitcase (and thus not able to bring only my backpack). However, staying healthy is important and a quick workout on the road can relieve stress, help you sleep better, and burn some of those restaurant calories. Note: My last trip, I brought my gear….but never used it. So yeah, bring it AND use it. 
  40. Workout BEFORE dinner. When I was really traveling hard, I let my health go. When I finally got it back under control, I started running. I had a rule. I would be happy to eat dinner “with the team,” but only after I worked out first. I 1000% guarantee that you will NOT go work out after the team dinner, a few drinks, and a heavy meal. Not gonna happen. And in the morning, it’s tough – especially in a different time zone. So, get it done immediately after you get back to the hotel, but before dinner. #GameChanger
  41. Pack a snack. I always bring a granola bar or piece of fruit in my backpack. Flight schedules seldom line up w/ meal times and so I am eating at off times and I try to avoid the pricey airline food (if the airline even has it!). Better to have a snack for the 3rd hour of your 4 hour flight than get a monster headache.

I hope you enjoyed these 41 Travel Tips. Now go book your next business travel trip and get out there. We’d love to hear from you so please share your experiences.

 

Don’t forget to check out a full list of our travel hacks and tips by reading 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler.

41 Travel Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know

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17 comments on “41 Travel Hacks that every business traveler needs to know about in 2018

  1. Ee Sing

    Kudos and super love this post right here. Reading through it and be like this is so true and why have i never thought of doing it to make life easier!

    Reply
  2. nadia

    I travel all the time for work so this was so useful for me! I totally agree on the backpack tip because for daytrips i hate having to roll around a bag or check it in!

    Reply
  3. Federica Provolenti

    This is a very complete ABCs for business travel. I second especially your first advice on collecting points sticking on the same hotel chain/ airline.

    Reply
  4. Gastrotravelogue

    There are so many great tips here.I totally agree tat good luggage is important and packing light is essential. I haven’t thought about packing a snack before, but I am definitely going to use that in the future.

    Reply
  5. Katie

    While I don’t travel for business there are so many tips here I can use for my travels. I too only book direct flights, hate wasting time in airports! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  6. elizabeth

    Fantastic tips and information, will definitely be remembering some these prior to my next trip!! Bookmarked.

    Reply
  7. lexieanimetravel

    I think all of these things in the list I have already done. It’s so nice to see it here, thanks for pointing out all the essential things that one traveler should put in mind. I just discovered recently a technique for liquids (put all your liquids, perfums, makeup, etc in a pouche then just bring it out when your passing security controle) so easy and fast.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: 7 habits of highly effective business travelers

  9. Pingback: The Number 1 Travel Hack of all time | The "C" Boarding Group - Business Travel Blog

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