Tips for Easier Business Travel
Traveling for business isn't always easy. Sleeping on planes, packing constantly for trips and staying glued to your mobile device can derail your routine and make you grumpy.
Keeping a positive attitude is the first step to a stress-free travel experience. And acknowledge helpful staff. Travelers have a better chance at getting upgrades, itinerary changes and extraordinary service when they ask politely and maintain happy demeanors.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
Kindness isn't the only way to minimize inconveniences and maximize your productivity while traveling. Here are a few practical ways to make traveling for business easier:
Limit Luggage to a Carry-on
Travel is stressful when you’re worried about lost luggage or being late to a meeting, says Barbara DesChamps, author of It's In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel. Bring only a carry-on, check in for your flight online and go straight to security at the airport. If you don’t check baggage, you won't have to wait for it when you land.
Use Technology to Plan Ahead
Check out Seatguru.com
to view your airplane’s seating plan in advance, including information about limited recline or legroom seats and in-seat power ports. Find out where galleys, lavatories and exit rows are, and request a seat change that makes working or relaxing easier.
Instead of calling around to restaurants at your destination, make reservations at OpenTable.com
, of which 20,000 restaurants worldwide are members.
Bring a GPS with pre-loaded maps of your destination to make driving your rental car in a new place easier, says Maria K. Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare.
Join a Rewards Program and Stick With It
If staff notices you frequently patronize their airline, rental-car company or hotel, they are more likely to help you, says Maria Perez, marketing manager of airfare search engine Fly.com
Members of rewards and loyalty programs often receive early boarding on flights, priority hotel room, first-class upgrades and “all-around better treatment,” Perez says.
Some rental-car companies deliver rental cars to rewards program members personally, while less frequent customers must shuttle to the company’s facility to retrieve their rental,
People get much better service when they dress well and appear wealthier, says DesChamps. Wearing an outfit that doubles as presentation attire while traveling is also wise in case your baggage is lost or you are late, says Melissa C. Gillespie, partner at Innova Communications. That way, you're not stuck in jeans for a big meeting.
Keep a Bag Packed
Save time packing by keeping a carry-on suitcase packed with the minimal amount of clothing, shoes and accessories you need, including 3-ounce toiletries in a Ziploc bag. Trade bulky laptops for thinner laptops and tablets such as a MacBook Air or an iPad. Replace hardcovers with eBooks. If you must bring a coat or bulky shoes, wear them on the plane to avoid taking up space in your luggage.
Keep Customer-Service Numbers Stored in Your Phone
Keeping customer-service numbers handy offers quicker access to the right people if a flight is cancelled or you need to change a hotel or car reservation, rather than waiting in line once you’re there.
View Travel Channel's slideshow about how pop culture influenced travelers' plans in 2010.