Business travel — for many, it’s a necessary evil. Sure, it’s great to get out, enjoy a change of scenery and meet new people. Yet traveling can be a stressful, maddening experience, especially if you’re a frequent traveler.
Although you can’t control factors like flight delays, weather, hotel glitches and other travel nightmares, there are a number of things you can do to take the stress and frustration out of traveling. As you prepare for your next business trip, consider these 7 tips to increase your chances of smooth sailing — err, flying.
Allow extra time. Give yourself ample time between flights, cab rides, check-ins and your meetings. If you’re traveling for a big meeting or presentation, it’s a good idea to arrive at your destination the day before. That way, if you do get caught up in some kind of delay, you’ve got plenty of time to make alternate arrangements and make it to your destination. Don’t cut it too close when arriving to the airport, either. Southwest Airlines recommends arriving at least 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
Be ready for security. In recent years, airport security has noticeably tightened and undergone changes. Take a few minutes to visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website and familiarize yourself with current policies and restrictions, especially if you’re traveling out of the country. Know what you can and can’t include in your carry-on bag. Keep items like your laptop and electronic devices within easy reach so that you can quickly remove them from your bags during the security screening, or opt for a TSA-compliant laptop bag.
Embrace technology. All major airline carriers now allow for online check-in, which can save time and help you score a prime seat. Check with your airline and airport for specific check-in guidelines. Some airports also allow travelers to present a ticket on a mobile device and scan a barcode for confirmation. Don’t assume your airport offers this service — instead, check before your trip so you can select the best check-in option. More and more airports are also giving travelers the ability to check online parking availability online, a handy way to verify your parking options—and give you a chance to plan a parking back-up, if needed. This is an especially convenient step if you’re on a tight schedule. You may also want to check with a parking service like the Parking Spot, which lets travelers reserve spots in advance.
Carry a back-up. Phones, tablets and laptops are handy devices, but it helps to carry a printed copy of your itinerary in the event that your equipment fails or you’re unable to access your information.
Pack wisely. Before you go, check the weather in your destination and pack accordingly. If at all possible, include all of your items in a carry-on bag to avoid checking luggage, which can save money on baggage fees (not to mention time spent waiting at baggage claim). Try coordinating your outfits, which will save much-needed space. For example, wear the same jacket with two different pairs of pants, or bring some accessories that can take a basic women’s suit or dress from a day of meetings to a dinner outing. If you do opt to check your luggage, pack some essentials — including business attire — in your carry-on bag in case your checked luggage doesn’t arrive on schedule.
To work — or not to work? A long stretch of uninterrupted air travel seems like the perfect time to catch up on work, right? But be prepared — a variety of factors may prevent you from barreling through your to-do list. Instead, stash some reading material so that you can stay occupied in case in-flight WiFi is unavailable or your laptop dies. For all of the procrastinators out there, it’s best to not leave any work related to your trip to the last minute. Make sure your meeting notes, presentation or other materials are ready to go. Then you can kick back, relax and even catch some in-flight zzz’s.
Keep track. If you’re traveling for business, you’ll need to keep track of your expenditures. It helps to stash a small notebook in which you can record what you’ve spent. Or designate a certain compartment in your bag or wallet for travel-related receipts. That way, you can quickly and easily locate the materials needed for your expense reports once you return home.
Heed these tips during your next business trip and you’ll enjoy a more relaxed travel experience. Now, if only someone could invent a device that makes packing less of a chore!
If you travel for work and have additional tips to share, we’d love to hear your input!
Image by Benson Kua via Creative Commons