I’ve been featuring lists of different travel hacks for a few weeks now and thus far they’ve been received very well by this community. With that in mind, I’ve distilled my 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler down to the Top 3 Best Travel Hacks of All Time.
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.
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.
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.
See bonus hack below…
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.
There you go. The Top 3 Travel Hacks! Be sure to check out the full 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler and level up your business travel game.