You’ve all seen them. Those seasoned business travelers in the airport effortlessly breezing by you in the security checkpoint. Or always (and I mean always) boarding the plane before you. They settle into their upgraded first class seat comfortably with nary a worry about finding a spot to stow their carry-on.
They always get the upgraded hotel room and never pay for wi-fi in the airport. And when you are busy waiting for your luggage to come off the baggage carousel they are already paying for parking and getting ready to head home.
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How do they do it? What are the habits that they employ that make it seem so easy – almost glamorous — to conduct their business travel? Well, if you want to step up your business travel game, you’ve got to adopt the 7 Habits of the Highly Effective Business Traveler.
7 Habits of the Highly Effective Business Traveler
- They never check a bag. Ever.
- They pack light. Real light.
- They always get TSA Precheck.
- They always get their “points”
- They love to explore their destinations!
- They stay even-keeled and realistic.
- They are always looking to improve their travel game!
Let’s dig into these habits in more detail!
Habit #1: They never check a bag. Ever.
This is an important habit for the true business traveler. Sure, there are times when checking a bag makes sense (e.g. if you are bringing your golf clubs, or maybe heading out for 3 weeks and you need a bigger bag), but most serious business travelers never check their bag. Ever*.
Why? Checking a bag adds time on both sides of your trip. Extra time to stop and check the bag (when you could be heading straight to the security line) and extra time at your destination waiting for the bag to get unloaded. And you run the risk of your bag getting lost, which is incredibly frustrating.
The seasoned business traveler invests in a quality carry-on, and a good backpack (one that can fit a business laptop like my personal fav, the Ogio Metro). He or she can fit everything they need in this luggage and can travel light and efficiently. This saves them time, hassle and gives them extra sleep and time with their families.
If business travel was like fight club, this would be the first rule. It’s also the Number 1 Travel Hack of All Time!
You might be interested a more detailed examination of checking a bag vs carrying it on so check out this article.
*ok…a quick PSA on checking a bag. There are occasionally a few times when it makes sense. Like if you a traveling for a really lengthy period of time or if you are traveling with tools (like I recency did) or something awkward like golf clubs. But it should be rarely…
Habit #2: They pack light. Real light.
Getting into the habit of packing light can be a challenge for some. But, traveling light allows for maximum speed and efficiency. Those are important elements to successful and hassle free business travel. For the vacationer, moving fast may not be on the top of your list. In fact, it’s likely the opposite as you want to soak up the trip in all of its glory.
But for the business traveler, it’s a job, not a vacation. We travel for work. To put food on our tables. And, we grind. And yes, sometimes it’s a real grind out there. We are often tired, in a different time zone, in a foreign bed, and exhausted from being switched “on” while entertaining clients or meeting with our colleagues. We always look for LESS hassle.
And packing light helps us achieve that. By packing light we not only reduce weight, we simplify. Can you get a weeks worth of clothes into a backpack? I can (especially my Ogio Metro Backpack!). It means wearing my jeans twice and not bringing workout shoes.
But it also means I don’t have to lug a suitcase around. Getting into the habit of packing only what you need will make you that much more effective along the way.
To see more packing tips, check out my post 11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know.
Habit #3: They always get TSA Precheck.
If you’ve been paying attention to the first two habits you’ve picked up a trend: smooth, simple, efficient. Ever since 9/11, getting through airport security has been a pain. Before the TSA introduced TSA Precheck we business travelers got really good at the security line process.
We could prepare for the line before hand getting things ready and accessible and because we do it every week we got good at it. Really good. But it was still a hassle.
Then the TSA came out with TSA Precheck and the business travelers all leveled up! TSA Precheck is a real game changer. With Precheck you go through a small background check process, provide an ID, get fingerprinted, and if approved, you become a “known traveler.”
Once you have a KTN or Known Traveler Number, you can provide that to your airlines and they will add it to any boarding passes when you travel. The benefit? You get a separate security line where you do not have to remove your shoes, belt or take your laptop out of your bag. This is a big hassle-reducer!
You can read more about how to get TSA Precheck here.
Be sure to check out my 2019 Gift Guide for Travelers…gifts curated specifically for business travelers!
Habit #4: They always get their “points.”
The hardcore business traveler knows that one of the great benefits to a like of business travel is collecting points and rewards. Airlines, hotels, rental car companies, credit card companies, etc, all have reward programs.
By sticking with a single airline, hotel, and rental car company you can start to rack up points and status. The points can then be used to take your family on vacation. I once flew my family of 5 to Hawaii, put us up in a very nice Hilton and rented a car for a week — all on points. Imagine how much cash that frees up to spend on adventures.
Another great benefit of loyalty and points is you start to gain status. Status helps ease the hassle and grind of traveling for work. For example, Southwest’s A-List program allows you to always get an A Boarding group (and not get stuck in the C Boarding Group..haha). This means you can pick your seat and stow your bags. Hilton will upgrade your free, give you free meals and wifi, etc.
With Delta, you can upgrades to first or business class.
The seasoned business travel habitually collects his or her points!
Habit #5: They love to explore their destinations!
How often are you going to get to Zuni, NM? Or Salishan, OR? Probably not that often. You might as well enjoy the place you are visiting work. There is ALWAYS something interesting to see anywhere you go.
Maybe you don’t have the time to get the full tourist experience, but you can grab a quick bite in a local eatery, or stop by and snap that photo where so-and-so was killed on the way back to the airport.
The serious business travelers get into the habit of enjoying their destinations – whether they are NYC or Minot, ND (yes, I’ve been there…cool town). They soak in what they can when they can.
Habit #6: They stay even-keeled and realistic.
Travel can brutal at times. You will have delays, you’ll be tired, you’ll get stuck in a middle seat sometimes. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. There are things beyond your control (it’s just part of the darkside of regular business travel). So just roll w/ it. I’ve been stuck in a middle seat for 6 hours on the way back from JFK. It’s terrible, 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. The seasoned business travel has developed a habit of rolling with the punches – the good ones and the bad ones!
Habit #7: They are always looking to improve their travel game!
It’s our job to travel. And we enjoy it or we wouldn’t do it. While it’s not always glamorous and often a grind, we still do it because it’s our job. And we are always on the hunt for that next idea or tip to improve our game. Anything that will shave a few minutes off a hassle we might run into, or ease our comfort.
A savvy business traveler stays in the habit of improving his or her travel game. We are always on the hunt for a new travel tip or travel hack. That’s probably why my guide on 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler has been so successful! Here’s a few ideas of how to go even further:
- 147 Business Travel Tips – the ultimate list of road warrior tips & tricks
- 31 Amazing Hotel Hacks Travel Pros Use all the Time
- 53 Amazing Gifts for Business Travelers in the 2019 Gift Guide for Travelers
- 9 Healthy Travel Snacks – eat smarter on the road
- Bulkhead Seat on a Plane – is it any good?
- 26 Must Have Travel Gadgets & Gear – great items to add to your travel kit
- 9 Travel Safety Tips
- Amazing Hotel Pillows
- 11 Best Hotel Beds – Where to Buy that Hotel Mattress You Loved!
Check it out and level up your game. And don’t forget to share your travel hacks and tips with us!
If you want to take your business travel life to the next level, these are some of the habits you may want to consider developing. By implementing the seven habits of the highly effective business traveler you will decrease your travel hassle and increase your travel pleasure!
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Known Traveler Number is a life saver for frequent business travelers. It saves lots of time