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My lengthy post on 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler was quite a success so I’ve distilled the list down into what I believe are the Top 10 Travel Hacks for a successful business travel life. #RoadWarrior #TravelLife #BusinessTravel
Here they are (in no particular order!)
Top 10 Travel Hacks
- Stick with a single Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car company. Since your 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.
- 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.
- 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 jetbridge.
- 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!
- Get some good headphones! See my review on the FX-Viktaria headphones.
- 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.
- 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
- Skip the chain restaurants – eat local. The thought of another Chili’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!
- Stay even keeled and realistic. Business 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.
- 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 new 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.
I really wanted to include this business travel hack in my list too…so I did. Here’s #11:
- See if you can squeeze in a quick visit to the major tourist attraction (e.g. Sears Tower). This 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. Have fun. You are THERE so you might as well try to see some of this great country.
So there you have it: the Top 10 List of Business Travel Hacks! I hope you enjoyed it. If you found this list of the Top 10 Business Travel Hacks to helpful, please share using one of the links on the side of the page.