Better Business Travel
Americans will take more than 500 million business trips this year. If you’re one
of them it’s important to get business travel right. A bit of planning and
preparation means you can get the most out of your stay, and focus on business
goals, that big meeting or event. Here are some of our top business travel trips.
Planning Your Trip
As the old saying goes: plan your work and work your plan. The same goes with
travel. Make transportation and accommodation arrangements well in advance.
Get all of your travel documents in order. All of this can, and should, be done
long before you leave. If you don’t have a travel wallet to store passport, ticket,
foreign currency, etc. then think about investing in one.
Create an itinerary and print it out. Make sure you have addresses, phone
numbers, names. It’s a good idea to have everything in one place, itemized by
day and clearly organized. (Yes, even though you’ve got your phone, tablet and
laptop, it will save you time when you get in the taxi, and that printed itinerary is
a lifesaver if your luggage gets lost or delayed).
Hotels and Other Venues
Book your hotel well in advance of your trip to get the best rate. If you often visit
the same city, find a hotel you like and make it your go-to accommodation.
You’ll get better service, better rates and build up those loyalty points. Even if
you travel to far-flung and varied destinations, it may make sense to pick a hotel
chain or group and book your accommodation with them wherever you go.
Do you know how to get to the hotel or the office? You can look them up in
advance, to avoid delays when you get there. Don’t wait until you’re in the
arrivals hall to order a car or work out your airport transfer. Hosting a business
lunch or dinner? Do you plan to have an afternoon or evening off and want to
take in a museum or local attraction? Do your research and make all travel-
related bookings well in advance.
Get travel basics ready well in advance of your trip. Frequent travelers have a
separate travel toiletries bag at the ready, so they’re not running around the
bathroom the day before they fly. You may want to invest in a spare razor, travel
size deodorant, makeup and other essentials. Don’t forget your headache
tablets and prescription medicines—carry a small supply of whatever you may
Make sure you have chargers, office supplies and business cards already in your
bag. Again, frequent travelers keep all of these ready, packed in a travel pouch
for cables and electronics — one less thing to pack, less to worry about when
you pack and when you land. Consider buying a travel electronics accessories
Invest in good luggage. For most of us that means well designed, durable
luggage, on wheels.
If you’re traveling abroad, know the currency conversion rate. You may want to
buy or download a phrasebook if you’ll be there for a while.
How to Pack
No matter how long your stay, corporate travelers know to pack light. If you’re
only going for a few days, pack only what you need in a carry-on. Think through
each day, evening, what you may need for the weather or the gym, and wear
versatile, comfortable shoes. Remember, you can get a shirt cleaned at a hotel.
Going for a longer business trip? Use small wheeling luggage and leave a bit of
extra room for souvenirs or gifts.
Put tags on your suitcase. Bright, easily identifiable luggage tags will make it
easier to spot your luggage on the airport baggage carousel. And if you’re
investing in new luggage, here’s an idea: buy a color that is not black. For the
same reason, namely it will be easier to spot your bags in an airport or hotel
Business travelers need to relax and sleep, recharge or at least have a stress-
free, productive flight. So, take care of in-flight essentials. Charge that laptop or
iPad, bring essential cables, and a good pair of headphones, such as noise
canceling headphones, which will help you sleep or tune out that crying baby
while you’re watching a movie, and both are important. Each healthy before and
during the flight, and drink lots of water, before you fly and in-flight. Many
business travelers opt for aisle seats so they can get up and stretch during the
flight (and get extra water). And speaking of water, don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
It’s tempting, especially when you’re traveling business or first class, but
airborne drinking takes a toll on the body and can adversely impact sleep, so
limit it to a glass with your dinner, and you’ll be happier when you’re on the
Other items that can make your in-flight experience better include earplugs,
moisturizer, lip balm, a good book and a good movie or your favorite binge-
Frequent Flyer and Loyalty Clubs
Don’t book a trip without getting your frequent flyer miles. They add up fast, and
they mean a business trip can help to fund a holiday down the line. If you’re
traveling on an airline that’s not part of your frequent flyer group, see if the miles
can transfer, and if they can’t, sign up for that airline’s frequent flyer program.
When making a hotel booking, it’s a good idea to have a hotel loyalty club as
well. If you’re already a member, great. If not, think about joining before you
book. It doesn’t take long to book and will likely save you time on the phone, get
you a room upgrade or free wifi, club level room or some other perk. Can’t hurt,
and they are free to join.
Make sure to inform a friend or family member of your itinerary and contact
information. Look into business travel insurance, especially if you work for
yourself or own your own business. If you’re renting a car you may want to look
at third-party insurance for car rentals, which can save you time and money.