Not all of us can be George Clooney from ‘Up in the Air’ and for most people, airport security checks, long layovers and frequent jet lags can be a bit of a drag. Anything that can make this process more comfortable for frequent business travelers is always worth a try. So here are a few business travel hacks that I have learnt over the years of traveling across continents on business. I hope they will help you minimize the hassles and unexpected worries, making your business travel a more comfortable affair.
Pack Your Carry-On Wisely
If you’ve ever had a bag misplaced by an airline, like I have, you’d probably try to fit a refrigerator into your carry-on. No really, smart business travelers always try to get all their stuff on the plane and avoid checking their baggage in. Apart from not losing your bags, it also helps save the time spent standing next to a conveyor belt going dizzy. So here’s my business travel hacks for packing: Instead of carrying a big roller bag and a small briefcase, I try to get two medium-sized, flexible bags. One bag fits perfectly under the seat and the other can be placed anywhere in the overhead bin, even stuffed between two big roller bags, thanks to flexibility.
Try to Add up Those Miles
By sticking to one or two airlines of your choice, you can build up your frequent flyer miles and score some useful perks and upgrades offered to loyal customers. When you are tired, bored and short of time, these little perks can mean the world. Priority boarding, preferred seating and complimentary drinks in the main cabin? Sure, sign me up, please. By choosing any random airline offering a slightly lower price, you end up scattering your miles all over the place. Stick to your preferred airlines and you will save more and travel better.
Get a Lounge Club Membership
Joining a lounge club makes your experience of waiting at airports just a little bit easier and classy. The regular warehouse-like airport terminals can become quite wearing after a few trips and if you had to spend any more than fifteen minutes at the airport, you’d wish that there was a better place to wait. Of course, spending money on this one will depend on your personal choice, but I’ve found them pretty useful over the years. During long layovers and between multiple airports, having a beautiful lounge to wait in can make all the difference. You get complimentary snacks, Wi-Fi and plenty of power outlets. Sometimes, there are showers too. On a hectic schedule, you can use one of these lounges to de-stress and find your moment of calm in a world of chaos. This is one of my favorite business travel hacks.
Become a Pro at Hotel Stays
The perks of being a loyal customer go a long way in hotels too. If you visit a particular city several times a year, it’s a good idea to frequent a particular hotel and gain the privileged guest status. Suite upgrades, free buffet lunches and much more personalized services can make your stay in a foreign city a lot more comfortable than going to a new hotel every time. If you sign up for a membership program, a lot of hotels offer the fifth night free and other perks. On a long and tiring business trip, these little gestures make the world a much better place.
Skip the Free Drinks Onboard
This is a tough one I agree, but it’s worth a shot, if you’ll excuse the pun. The last thing you want is to be tipsy on top of being jet-lagged. I know business travel is stressful as it is, and you are paying a lot of money to get from one place to another, so you might as well take the drink they offer, right? Well yes, one drink could probably be a good idea, loosen up those nerves and help you have a calm flight. But I always try to not take any more. Instead, I drink a lot of water and fruit juices to stay hydrated and at the top of my game.
Keep Your Passport Updated
The last thing you want to find out with a business trip coming up is that your passport needs to be renewed. So always keep your passport renewed ahead of time and do away with any last-minute hassles. There’s plenty to worry about on an international business trip anyway, the passport better not be a hiccup.
Wear the Right Clothes
Wear comfortable clothing. Nobody said business travel means ruining expensive suits in crammy airplane chairs. Put on your sweatshirt and a pair of denims, or whatever you feel comfortable in. Also, you never know what the weather may be like where you land, so layer up so that you can easily adapt. I’ve often taken off from toasty Las Vegas and landed in chilling New York, and the other way round. Wearing layers lets you put on a jacket easily when landing on a windy cold runway or remove it when the sun shines brightly.
In the words of Marshall Erikson’s dad from How I Met Your Mother, “Plane food is ass!” So, always carry a few healthy snacks in your bag. These are great not just for a quick bite, but also for when you really need a decent mouthful to keep your tummy from grumbling. Healthy energy bars, granola bars, and high-fiber fruits and nuts will help keep you energized, alert and at top performance.
And travelers, this isn’t just one of those business travel hacks, it can apply to everyone! And if you are gluten free, check out Megan’s favorite travel snacks!
So these are some ways in which I ensure my frequent business travels don’t get the better of me. Keeping travel comfortable helps me continue to love my job and not get burned out, while also making time for myself and my family. Too many airports and hotel rooms can sure become exhausting after a while but these business travel hacks and habits will help you feel more centered and in control.
Brian Zeng is the owner of Ponbee.com. He is an entrepreneur by spirit. Through Ponbee, Brian would like to share his insights on an array of topics related to growth, wellness, productivity and motivation. His recent post on benefits of practicing mindfulness-enhancing exercises will give you detailed insights into how they reduce stress and improve concentration.