Whether you are booking your company’s travel or are flying for business yourself, there are things to consider to make your trips as smooth and stress-free as possible. Here are our top 5 business travel tips to help you become the best road warrior you can be.
Book at the right time
Sure, meetings are often called at the very last minute leaving you no time to shop for a decent fare, but they aren’t always. Wherever possible, plan your business trip with as much advance notice as you can. This works especially well with typical quarterly scrums, annual conventions or other reoccurring or schedulable get-togethers. Not only will you have access to lower-priced advance purchase fares, but you’ll also have the pick of the litter in getting the ideal flight times and preferred seating (with connectivity!).
When you travel for work, always make sure you are buying a changeable ticket. If disruptions to your plans arise (as they do), you’ll have the flexibility you’ll need to roll with the punches. If you buy the most restrictive fare, you’ll often be stuck buying a new ticket, making your trip more expensive in the long run.
Plan for the unexpected
In business, efficiency is everything. Trying to be efficient in planning a business trip, however, is a whole different story. To an unseasoned business traveller, it would make perfect sense to book the 6 am flight to NYC from Toronto for a 9 am meeting - it’s just a one hour flight, after all. But, anyone who’s done it will tell you that your chances of making that meeting on time are 50/50. If it’s an important trip with an early start, be smart and book to leave the night before. Delays, cancellations and traffic are real. So be real, too, and plan for the unexpected.
Pack like a boss
Unless your trip is a week or longer or you are travelling with bulky work collateral, it’s best you travel with just a carry-on. Even the lowest fares allow flyers a carry-on bag plus a personal item, which can be a garment bag, a laptop, a purse or a briefcase. Travelling light ensures you get out of the airport and on your way as quickly as possible.
Pack your suits, shirts, coats and dresses in your garment bag and the rest can go in your carry-on luggage. Roll up your clothing to maximize space and stuff your extra shoes with your socks, belts and other smaller items. Pack your cords, chargers, headphones and other electronic accessories in an easily accessible travel case. Remember, on-board liquids are capped at 100 ml so either have a ‘go bag’ ready for travel full of the right-sized bottles or pack your toiletries accordingly. Your hotel bathroom might already have many of the basic amenities. Here are more suggestions on how to pack for a business trip.
Oh! And don’t forget to pack your mobile phone and laptop with everything you might need, too. Having access to weather and travel apps, audiobooks and copies of your travel documents can be very useful.
Stay at the right place
Larger organizations often have agreements or a loyalty plan with a specific hotel chain for their travelling staff, as well as a travel coordinator. Most smaller companies and start-ups don’t. If you are either in charge of booking staff travel or you book your own for business, wading through the vast accommodations options can be a dizzying experience, especially if you don’t know the city you are booking in.
Do you go with a hotel or do you rent an apartment? (For anyone considering the latter, be aware of the risks in choosing Airbnb for business travel). If you know you’ll be travelling regularly, it isn’t a bad idea to stick with one or two hotel chains and reap the rewards of your loyalty. Benefits can come in the form of familiarity, early/late check-outs, room upgrades, and even free nights based on how often you stay.
An even better idea is to use a professional and dedicated business Travel Manager. These business travel gurus will do all of the dirty work; setting up your profiles and loyalty accounts, price comparing properties, booking your rooms based on needs and preferences, etc., for a very nominal fee, saving you heaps of precious time.
Stay healthy and fit!
Between the tight schedules, long days, in-flight meals and airport food, the road can easily become an unhealthy place. When choosing a hotel, opt for one that is near to or offers a place to get some exercise. Most hotel chains will give you access to their gym and/or spa to help keep you fresh and in shape.
If you jog, cycle or just prefer the outdoors, check for local running groups, bike paths or for any other available outdoor activities before booking a place to stay. Your hotel’s location, be it by a beach, the waterfront or in a quieter neighbourhood, can make all the difference. If you like your workouts in the privacy of your hotel room, don’t forget to download your favourite fitness app before leaving.
In terms of healthy eating, the more central a stay, the more eating options you’ll have. If a lot of your time will be spent at your hotel, check the room service menu and available restaurant options, both at the hotel and in the surrounding area, to make sure it can accommodate your regular eating habits.
In the air, most airlines now offer ‘healthy’ menu items, even on quick trips. If your flight is short, it’s best to eat before you fly or to even pack your own meal. On longer trips that offer a hot meal, make sure to request the right one (low sodium meal, vegetarian/vegan, diabetic, lactose-free, etc.) and make sure you keep well-hydrated, bringing your own water container that you can fill up before the flight, after clearing security, of course.