Let’s be honest, business travel sucks. In addition to our business travel responsibilities, we are also usually remotely managing our regular projects. It’s a delicate balance and whatever you can do to make your travel experience easier will help reduce stress and maintain your mental health.
Older generations, like Gen X, already have decades of business travel experience. But many Millennials and Gen Z are new to business travel and have the added handicap of missing several years during the COVID lockdowns.
Here are some simple business travel tips that will help make your life easier on the road. This article separates tips into preparation, packing, flying, and lodging. Please jump to a specific section for additional info if it’s more relevant for you.
- Planning Your Business Trip
- Booking Travel
- Packing Your Bags
- At The Airport
- On Your Flight
- At The Hotel
BUSINESS TRIP PLANNING
Before you pack your bags and go to the airport, here are some simple tips to help you with your business travel planning.
Research Your Destination Before Departure
- Do some research on your hotel and the surrounding area before your trip. That way you have a better idea of what to expect when you arrive.
How far away is the airport from your hotel and the client’s office? Will you be traveling between locations during rush hour? Does your hotel have a business center? What nearby bars and restaurants have the best Yelp reviews?
If a client puts you on the spot and asks you what’s a good place nearby to go for dinner, will you have a response? Unless you have a better option, you might end up eating at a crappy restaurant choice for Gen Z, like Applebees.
What if you boss makes last minute changes to the agenda and asks you to reprint them before the meeting? Where’s the closest printer?
A little Googling before your trip will give you a head start upon arrival.
Make Sure That Your National Identity Documents Are Up-to-Date
- Check the expiration dates on both your driver’s license and passport and create calendar reminders for you to get them renewed before they expire.
All passengers traveling within the United States are required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to have a valid ID. Documents such as a driver’s license from your home state will likely be fine for travel within the U.S., but if you’re traveling internationally, make sure to check with DHS for specific requirements for your nationality.
it is important to ensure that your national identity documents are up-to-date in order to avoid any potential issues at the airport. Renewing government issued IDs can take a long time (7-10 weeks) and trying to rush this process can be an expensive and frustrating ordeal that isn’t always successful. Deal with it now, not later.
Invest In A Professional Business Travel Suitcase
- Your luggage is an important part of your professional business image. Don’t take old beaten up Boomer suitcases on business travel trips. Invest in a professional business travel suitcase.
The suitcase that you use for business travel, probably shouldn’t be the same bag that you take on PTO. Vacations can get a little crazy, especially if you have kids, and a sticky suitcase covered in Pokemon stickers isn’t ideal to take on your next business trip.
These are the main features that you want in a business travel suitcase: four swivel wheels, compact, durable, and professional looking.
- Wheels: Avoid suitcases with only 2 wheels. Suitcases with 4 swivel wheels are much easier to maneuver, especially with one hand.
- Durable: Hard shell suitcases are easier to clean and are water-resistant. This will help protect your belonging in case of spills or rainy days.
- Compact: Size matters too. Your suitcase should fit easily in overhead luggage bins. Approved carry on luggage sizes vary by airline, but in the United States, most airlines want overhead bags to be 22″ x 14″ x 9″ inches or smaller.
- Style: You never know when you might have to bring your bag along with you to a conference or client meeting. A old beat-up or unprofessional looking bag (i.e. pink animal prints) might be embarrassing.
You can find nice hardshell carry on suitcase for about $80-$150 at Amazon.
Personalize Your Suitcase
- Many suitcases look similar. Add unique element to your suitcase to help it stand out and avoid confusion.
What’s the most popular color suitcase? Black. Avoid suitcase confusion by adding elements that make your stand out. Adding a ribbon to the handle, a colored strap, or a cool luggage tag can help your bag look unique.
Download An App To Track Travel Expenses
- Instead of dealing with expense receipts after your trip, use a tracking app to log your business travel expenses as they happen.
One of the worst parts of business travel, is doing expense reports for your manager. It’s almost impossible to remember related expense details several days or even weeks later. But there are several smartphone apps, like Expensify, that make logging travel expenses easy.
The next time you need to log a travel receipt, just take a photo of it. Expensify will use OCR (optical character recognition) technology to convert your photo into text data and add your receipt to an expense report. The best part, it’s free for most users. Talk to your manager and sign up to see if you qualify for the free plan.
Sign Up For Known Traveler Programs That Reduce Your Time In Security Lines
- Don’t waste time in airport security lines if you don’t have to. Programs like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR will save you time and stress at the airport.
Your time is valuable, especially while traveling for business. So, do yourself a favor and sign up for both CLEAR (try CLEAR for free for 2 months) and TSA PreCheck. And if you do a lot of global business travel, then you’ll want Global Entry too. Less time in line equals more time to focus on your business trip responsibilities.
Both the CLEAR and TSA PreCheck travel program memberships allow you to skip to the front of airport security lines and avoid idiots like this guy. They also don’t require you to take off your shoes or remove your laptop from your bag. And Global Entry is a must have for anyone traveling on International business trips. Customs lines at major airports can sometimes be 1+ hours long.
Using both CLEAR and TSA PreCheck, in most cases, I can get through airport security in 5 minutes or less, even when there are long security lines.
Use A VPN To Protect Your Data Communications
- Use a VPN to help protect your data communications when connecting to unfamiliar and untrusted WiFi networks.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will run your Internet traffic through additional security, protect your identity, and even block ads. There are a variety of VPN services to choose from. Some of the more popular options include PIA VPN ($39) and Nord VPN ($99). My personal favorite is PIA VPN because it offers a smartphone app, desktop app, and a browser plugin. But you should evaluate several different VPNs and choose the right one for your needs.
Join Travel Rewards Programs
- Take advantage of your corporate travel by earning rewards points that you can use for personal travel and vacations.
Every flight, hotel stay, and rental car reservation is an opportunity for you to earn rewards points. But most companies don’t bother collecting rewards points for themselves. This is an opportunity for you to personally collect these unclaimed rewards… if you have an account.
Some of the most popular travel rewards programs include Hilton HHonors, Hertz Gold, Marriott Rewards, United Airlines MileagePlus, and Delta SkyMiles. But almost every hotel, car rental company and airline has a rewards program.
Once you know your business travel itinerary, create rewards accounts and then connect your travel reservations so you earn points.
And even if your business travel activity isn’t enough to earn enough points to redeem, rewards members often get valuable perks. For example, some rental car companies let members skip the line, check-in on their app, walk right up to their car, and drive away.
Fly Using The Same Airline
Try to use the same airline whenever you can. When you are flying with the same airline, you typically depart and arrive at the same terminal. Not only will you already know your way around the airport, you’ll also be able to estimate how long it will take to park, check in, and reach the departure lounge.
Flying on the same airline also means more rewards points!
Sign Up For An Airport Lounge Membership
- From light meals to quiet work areas, airport lounges offer a variety of advantages to business travelers that can make business travel a much more pleasurable experience.
Major airlines, like Delta, American, and United, have VIP airport lounges around the world. These lounges have a variety of advantages to business travelers, including complimentary food and drinks, fast Wi-Fi access, and quiet private work spaces.
Typical airport lounge benefits include:
- Flight and travel assistance
- Drinks including water, soda, juice as well as beer, wine, and spirits
- Healthy food and snacks
- High-speed Wi-Fi
- Comfortable seating and private work areas
- Changing rooms
Many airport lounges even have showers. One time after getting caught in the rain after black tie event, I was able to shower and change in the Delta Lounge at LAX before boarding my redeye flight back to New York City. Without this perk, I probably would have changed out of my dress in a dirty airport bathroom stall and flown back home sweaty, damp, and feeling gross.
The only downside to joining an airport lounge is price. Most companies don’t consider airport lounge membership to be a covered business expense. But if you find yourself booking business travel more than twice a month, an airport lounge membership makes a lot of sense, even if you have to pay for it personally.
- Lounge Memberships: Individual airline lounge memberships typically cost between $50-$100 per month. Memberships are also often bundled with premier airline credit cards, like the the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.
- Airport Lounge Day Pass: Some airport lounges allow you to purchase a day pass. For about ~$40, you can get access to a lounge for the day. However, some airlines, like Delta, discontinued day pass access during COVID.
- 3rd Party Lounge Memberships: If you find yourself mostly traveling on a single airline, then you can probably just get by with one lounge membership. For example, regular travel on Delta between Seattle and Salt Lake City will give you access to the Delta Sky Clubs in both cities. But if your travel is more random, then consider buying a lounge membership through a 3rd party. This will give you access to a variety of airport lounges including Delta, American, United, and even independent options.
Are airline lounges worth it? The amenities that they offer are incredible and makes business travel a much more pleasant experience. However, the membership fee can be expensive, especially if you are paying for it yourself. Also keep in mind that the COVID pandemic temporarily shut down some lounge locations. Definitely do your homework. If there isn’t a lounge at your home airport, then you might want to reconsider. And, if you do choose to get a lounge member, it probably makes sense to sign up for a qualifying credit card that will help you earn you miles and airline status.
Create An Out Of Office Message Before Your Business Trip
- Avoid confusion at the office by communicating your travel schedule and emergency contact info in an automated out of the office email message.
When you’re traveling for business, it’s important to have an out of office message scheduled. This will help your coworkers get in touch with you and manage what gets delegated to others while you’re gone.
Here are some tips on how to create an out of office message:
- Decide what kind of message you want to send. You can say something like “Hey everyone, I’ll be out of town for a few days but please don’t hesitate to reach me if there’s anything you need.” or “I’m on a business trip and won’t have access to email. Please contact XYZ instead while I’m away.”
- Draft your message ahead of time.
- You can also include the date and time that your messages will be sent so people know when they should expect replies.
- Schedule your out-of-office messages to only send while you are away.
- Consider adding a touch of humor to your out of office messages. OOO messages are usually very dry and boring, but some people like to use them as an opportunity to get creative.
BUSINESS TRAVEL BOOKING TIPS
Before you finalize your travel plans, consider these helpful tips business travel tips.
Always Take The Earlier Flight
- Book the earlier flight option when possible. Earlier flights are usually less likely to experience delays related to airspace congestion or late aircraft.
Delayed flights are like dominos. Once one flight gets delayed, it can start a chain reaction throughout the system. So whenever possible, book a morning flight. This will help decrease your delayed flight risk.
Pro Tip: Arriving earlier to your destination might get you there before check-in time. Contact the front desk in advance and request an early hotel check-in.
Tuesday Afternoons Are The Cheapest Time To Book A Flight
- If you need to reduce travel expenses, the best time to book a flight is on Tuesday afternoon. Why do flight prices go down on Tuesday? Good question. That’s the day airlines automatically adjust their competitive pricing.
On Tuesday mornings, each airline looks at what competitors are charging for routes, and then adjusts its fares accordingly. By the afternoon, they’ve settled on a price that is most competitive. This is why Tuesday afternoon is the cheapest time to buy a plane ticket.
Reduce Your Travel Risk: Fly Direct When Possible, And Avoid Booking Connecting Flights In Airports With Separated Terminals
- Always try to fly direct whenever possible. But if you can’t book a direct flight, then make sure you avoid airports known for delays or that have separated terminals.
The less connections in your travel itinerary the better. Not only do layovers lengthen trips, every flight connection creates an additional risk for flight delays and lost luggage. But if you must book a travel connection, then these are the airports that you should avoid.
The Worst Cities For An Airport Connection:
There are two types of large airport designs: single-big-terminal hubs and remote terminals. Large airports with separated terminal buildings and bad internal transportation systems, can sometimes take you up to an hour to travel from gate to gate for your connecting flight.
The U.S. airports that are the hardest to internally navigate are Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (CHI), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Newark (EWR), Houston (IAH), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), and Salt Lake City (SLC).
Sadly, Salt Lake City is new to this list. Salt Lake City’s airport went through a major re-haul during COVID, for the worse. HOK, the airport’s architects, focused on aesthetics and not functionality. Terminals A and B are connected by a ludicrously long underground walkway that doesn’t include a monorail transportation system. Walking between terminals is a marathon and can take 30+ minutes, essentially guaranteeing that you’ll miss any tight flight connections between terminals. HOK gets a big fat F for their functionally design score.
Airports With The Most Delays:
Besides schlepping gate to gate, you should also consider the average flight delays at your connecting airports. Tight connections are already risky, but at these airports, it might be mission impossible.
|Percent of Flights Arriving Late
|Average Delay Across Flights
|Newark Liberty International
|Chicago O’Hare International
|Dallas/Fort Worth International
|San Francisco International
|Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International
BUSINESS TRAVEL PACKING TIPS
Business travel tips for what to pack (and not to pack) on your next work trip.
Only Travel With A Carry On Bag
- Pack light, pack smart. Fit everything that you need into one easy to maneuver carry on bag.
The biggest tip that I can offer new business travels is: only pack one carry on bag for your trip. Although it may be tempting to bring a larger suitcase, try to limit yourself to one carry on bag. Traveling with only one carry on bag will save you money from checked bag fees, minimize the risk of lost luggage, and be easier to maneuver through the airport.
I once went on an international work trip to the United Kingdom from California with a coworker who brought two extra large suitcases. Let’s call her Brenda for the purposes of this story. Brenda’s strategy to prevent the airline from losing her bag, was redundancy. Since we were going for a week long trip, she packed a second identical bag with another week’s worth of clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc. It was ridiculous. And since she was an over-packer, these twin suitcases were definitely not carry on size. Oh, no. They were giant extra-large suitcases.
Well, the airline did not lose Brenda’s bags. We landed in London and then had to travel from Heathrow Airport to Liverpool after briefly touring some office space near Paddington station. The trip required us to take four different trains with short connecting walks at each station.
Similar to the New York City subway system, the London Underground is a series of turnstiles, staircases, narrow passageways, and also very crowded. Unlike Brenda, the rest of our group, male and female, only packed a single carry on bag each. Navigating the Underground was tricky but doable with our smaller carry on bags. However, Brenda was a mess. She was wearing high heels and was unable to pull both her giant suitcases herself. We also had to assemble as a group to help carry her suitcases up and down stairs. It was a disaster. By the time we got to Liverpool, none of us even wanted to look at her.
Don’t be a Brenda. Pack light. Only bring a carry on with you on business trips.
Keep Travel Essentials Pre-Packed
- Keep essentials items pre-packed and in your suitcase between trips.
Having items like toiletries, chargers, office supplies, and business cards already packed in your bag can help you save time each time you travel.
I recommend that you create a separate set of toiletries only meant for business trips. This way, you’ll be able to replace any items that run out on your trip, and won’t have to worry about stocking up at home.
Pack Sleep Items That Will Help You Get A Good Night’s Sleep On Your Business Trip
- Bring any essential sleep items (eye mask, earplugs, etc.) that you need to get a good night’s sleep.
Travel can take its toll on your body – both physically and mentally. And the last thing that you want on your work trip is to be too tired to function.
Everyone’s sleep needs are different. So, try to prepare for unusual situations when traveling. Do you need a dark room? Bring an eye mask. Do cotton pillowcases dry out your hair? Bring a silk pillowcase. Are you a light sleeper? Bring earplugs.
Unfortunately, not all of the guests at your hotel will be quiet business travelers looking to get a good night’s sleep. Your hotel neighbors could include anyone from a wedding party to a couple having a loud fight (or sex).
Turn on the AC or you room fan to help create some additional white noise if you have too. And don’t be afraid to call the front desk if it’s too unbearable.
I once made the mistake of booking a unique Airbnb across the street from a music venue during SXSW. Although I was there for the music festival, I still needed to get some sleep. I’m glad I packed earplugs.
Security Friendly Packing: Use Clear Ziploc Bags To Organize The Items Inside Your Personal Item Bag
- Pack with airport security checks in mind. Organizing your personal bag items in clear bags can help you find things faster and reduce delays during security screenings.
Organize you carry on items into similar piles (i.e. snacks, makeup, charging cables, toiletries) and place each pile into a separate Ziploc bag. This will allow security agents to look inside the bags instead of digging through your stuff.
Not only will doing this help speed up the next time you are selected for a random TSA security screening and body scan, but it will also help you find things faster.
Don’t Pack Prohibited Items!
- Don’t pack any prohibited items in your suitcase or carry on luggage!
It always amazes me how often people try to bring knives, guns and other prohibited items through airport security. They have body scanners, metal detectors, and chemical tests. Why even try?!
Unless you want to miss your flight and hang out in a security holding area, don’t pack any items that are on the TSA’s prohibited item. This includes things like scissors, razors, aerosols, fireworks, liquids, and weapons, among others.
So, if your client gave you a rare Samurai sword as a gift, don’t try to bring it through security as a carry on item.
Use Dry Cleaner Bags To Prevent Your Dress Clothes From Getting Wrinkled
- Pack your dress clothes in plastic dry cleaner bags to prevent wrinkling.
Ironing sucks. No one wants to iron at home, let alone in a hotel room. Plus, all irons are different and no one wants to burn their clothes while a strange iron while on a work trip.
Here’s a cool trick: Pack all of your dress clothes using individual dry cleaner bags on hangers. Then collectively put them into a garment bag that can be folded neatly into your suitcase. Doing this will prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled and save you having to iron at the hotel.
Roll Your Clothes
- Roll, don’t fold, when packing clothes inside your suitcase. Rolling your clothes helps save space and prevent wrinkles.
Rolling is another packing trick that will help prevent your clothes from wrinkling. It also helps save space inside your suitcase.
Just roll your clothes and before you put them inside your luggage. It’s that easy. This space saving packing trick works great for camping trips too.
Plan Modular Outfits That Can Help You Recover From A Wardrobe Malfunction
- Whenever possible, plan modular outfits that you can mix and match in case of a wardrobe emergency.
What happens if you split your pants or someone spills food on your shirt? Can you reconfigure your outfits to get through the rest of the business trip? Try to pack pants, jackets, skirts, and shirt combos that work interchangeably with each other.
Have A Shoe Strategy That Limits How Many Shoes You Need To Pack
- Shoes are heavy and bulky. Whenever possible, try to reduce the amount of shoes that you bring with you on business trips.
Over packing shoes is another rookie business trip mistake. For shorter trips, try to pack only two to three pairs of shoes. One pair of dress shoes and one pair of casual shoes. And if your hotel has a pool or beach, then you might want to pack a pair of flip-flops too. But that’s probably it.
- Ladies: Choose black heels or boots, and then black flats.
- Guys: Black shoes or brown shoes. Only pick one. Then a pair of casual shoes.
Don’t forget to use the space inside your shoes for packing. Everything from rolled up belts to socks can get stuffed inside the shoes in your suitcase.
Only Bring One Coat
- Coats are bulky. Don’t bring more than one coat on a business trip and carry it instead of packing it inside your bag.
It doesn’t make sense to bring more than one coat on a business trip. Coats take up too much space in your bag, so if at all possible, build all of your outfits around a single coat. Carry the coat with you and place it in the overhead luggage bin during your trip.
Pack Heavy Items At The Bottom Of Your Suitcase By The Wheels
- Improve stability by packing all heavy items at the base of your suitcase by the wheels.
To keep your suitcase from becoming top-heavy and falling over, place heavier items at the base by the wheels. This will help to stabilize the bag when it is upright and stop items packed inside your bag from being squished.
Pack Extra Bags For Dirty Clothes And Shoes
- Pack a few extra plastic bags or sacks for dirty clothes and shoes. It will help keep the rest of the items in your suitcase clean.
At the end of your trip, you will be returning home with with a variety of dirty clothes and shoes. Pack a few extra plastic bags to keep dirty items separated from the rest of your stuff.
If you forget to pack extra plastic bags, your hotel room might have a plastic dry cleaning bag in the closet. Also look under the plastic liners inside garage cans. The cleaning staff will often leave an entire roll of clean garage bags in the bottom of the garbage can.
Pack Healthy Snacks
- Always keep a few light healthy snacks, like granola bars, in your bag in case of an emergency.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your final destination late at night and finding out that you have zero food options available. Airport restaurants start slowing shutting down after dinner, and not all hotels have late night food options.
Pack a few healthy snacks in your luggage. They will tase really good at 2 AM after a long day of unexpected delays.
Pack Lounge Clothes Or A Casual Outfit
- Plan a casual outfit to wear while inside your room or while exploring your surrounding area.
When you return to your room after a long day of meetings, what do you plan on wearing for the rest of the night? Your work clothes, or just sit around in your boxers or panties? What if you need to walk down the hall to the ice machine or run an errand down the street?
Business attire is important, but you’ll likely have time to explore your surroundings on foot. Pack a casual outfit for lounging around the hotel or walking around the immediate area.
Pack Basic Medicines For Your Trip
- Basic medicines to treat everything from headaches to diarrhea should be in packed in your toiletry kit.
When traveling for business, it’s a good idea to be prepared for everything from a hangover to muscle pain and diarrhea. You don’t need to bring a full box or bottle of medicine, only a few doses. Just remember to replenish them after your trip.
Bring A Reusable Water Bottle (Or Reuse An Empty One)
- Bring an empty water bottle that you can refill after you go through airport security.
It’s okay to bring a water bottle through airport security, as long as it’s empty. Once you’re inside the terminal, fill it up at a water station. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will save you money too.
You can also reuse a plastic water bottle that you recently purchased. Just save the empty bottle and refill it later at a water station.
Bring Gifts For Your Hosts Or Clients
- Consider packing a few small but unique gifts for your hosts or clients.
Bearing gifts shows consideration and helps to build relationships. Local coffee, chocolates, or souvenirs are affordable and unique gift ideas that won’t take up too much space in your luggage.
Charge Your Electronics Before Your Trip
- Part of your packing routine should include charging all electronics. Laptops, headphones, etc.
Your phone, laptop and tablet should all have a full battery charge to help you pass the time productively while you’re at the airport and on your flight. Do it in advance so you won’t need to fight for an outlet at the departure gate. Also, consider these helpful settings tweaks that will make your iPhone battery last longer.
Download Movies & TV Shows The Night Before Your Trip
- Don’t forget to download a selection of video content to watch during your journey.
All major streaming apps, including Netflix, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Disney+, have videos that you can download for offline viewing. Download this content at home before your trip, not while on the runway before takeoff or using throttled airport WiFi. Even with a high-speed WiFi connection at home/work, it still might take 10+ minutes to download this content to your phone or laptop.
Pack A Book
- Always pack a small book in case your batteries die or you just need some non-screen time.
Even if you aren’t a regular book reader, there are plenty of situations where a book can be a valuable part of your business travel kit. What if your battery dies on the flight? Or you get an eyestrain headache from screen fatigue? When planning for your next corporate trip, make sure to include a book to keep you entertained.
Hide An Apple AirTag Inside Your Bag
- An Apple AirTag is a cheap and easy way to track the location of your bag(s).
Don’t rely on the airlines to tell you where your bags are. The Apple AirTag (~$30 each) is a small and affordable tracking device that you can easily slip inside you suitcase, laptop bag, backpack, purse, etc.
Even if your suitcase isn’t lost, the AirTag still has its advantages. While everyone else is crowded around the luggage carousel hawkishly looking for their suitcases, you can just grab a seat and wait until you get a proximity alert from your AirTag.
AT THE AIRPORT
Here are some business travel tips for your time at the airport.
Take A Photo Of Your Parking Spot At The Airport
- If you are parking you car at the airport, then take a photo of your parking spot on your smartphone.
One time I forgot where I parked. It was extra embarrassing because another employee was with me. We spent about 45 minutes walking around the Salt Lake City Airport’s parking garage after the Sundance Film Festival trying to find my car.
After that experience, I started logging where I parked using various apps, reminders, and even calendar appointments. But what I’ve found to be even easier and more effective, is simply taking a picture of your car that includes a location marker. After your trip, just scroll through your phone for the photo to remind yourself where you parked.
Also, if you have location services enabled on your smartphone, the exact GPS location of your car should be stored with the photo making it possible to find your car even without any visible landmarks or identifiers.
Put An AirTag Inside Your Car
- Put an Apple AirTag inside your car. It will help you find your parked car or recover it in case it gets stolen or towed.
An Apple AirTag is a small wireless Bluetooth device that can be used to track the location and movement of anything it’s attached to. Hide one inside your car. That way if you forget where you parked or if your car got towed or stolen, the AirTag will help you find it faster than the Police.
Never Check A Bag, Unless Absolutely Necessary
- Don’t check a bag… unless absolutely necessary. Business trips are usually short enough that you should be able to pack what you need in a smaller carry on bag.
Lost luggage sucks, especially while you’re on a business trip. That outfit that you were planning on wearing during your business presentation tomorrow, might not make your connecting flight. To reduce your risk of lost luggage, you shouldn’t check a bag on your flight. Try to fit what you need into one carry on-sized suitcase.
However, sometimes you have no choice and have to check a bag. I’ve had to travel with corporate gifts and marketing materials that required me to check bags before. In that case, only pack what you absolutely need for the next 24 hours in your carry on bag. Then put the rest into your checked bag. This might include toiletries, clothes, and whatever business materials that you might need for the next day. That way if your luggage does get lost, you will at least have a day to sort it out with the airline.
Make Backup Paper Print Outs Of Your Final Travel Documents And Confirmation Numbers
- Print out your travel itinerary and keep a copy in each bag. It is important to always have a back-up plan in place in case you lose your smartphone or it runs out of battery.
The first thing I do when I enter an airport is walk up to an airline kiosk and print my boarding pass. I usually board my flight using the digital boarding pass on my phone, but I always like to have a printed backup copy. Here’s why:
I once had a coworker miss their connecting flight because the battery on his phone died. We were late and rushing to the gate for our flight. But when he took out his phone to scan his boarding pass, his phone was dead. There wasn’t enough time to remedy the situation before take off and he missed the flight.
Stick Together Whenever Possible To Reduce Coordination Efforts And Corporate Travel Expenses
- If you are traveling with coworkers, then try to stick together. This reduces confusion, coordination efforts, and can limit expenses.
Even if you are using an add to help track expenses, like Expensify, filling out expense reports still sucks. Depending on your corporate policy, usually the more senior member of the company will pay for meals, Uber cars, etc., but not always. The more expenses that you put on your corporate card, the longer it will take for you to file your report after your trip.
But if you are traveling with a group, then take turns covering shared expenses. From meals to taxi rides, there are plenty of expenses that you can take turns paying for if you stick together.
Use A Cord Or Strap To Leash Your Bags To You And Help Prevent Luggage Theft
- Attach a small cord or strap to your luggage to help prevent it from getting stolen.
Even with all of the extra security these days, airports are still popular targets for thieves.
To help prevent my bag from rolling away without me, I use a small black strap to leash it to me. But you can use a ribbon or strap or anything similar. Thieves won’t realize that you’ve connected yourself to your bag and you’ll get alerted when you feel your bag move.
This can come in handy if you need to take a nap in the terminal or have to sit at an airport barstool with your bag parked behind you.If someone tries to walk away with your bag, you’ll feel it tug against your body.
Never Use Public USB Chargers Unless You Have A USB Data Blocker
- Use a USB data blocker when charging to protect your smartphone from hackers.
From airports to coffee shops, there are public USB charging stations everywhere. But did you know that hackers can access your phone’s data through your changing cable? It’s a hacking technique called juice jacking.
One simple way to protect your smartphone from juice jacking is by using a USB Data Blocker. These small devices are the same size as a USB thumb drive and allow charging power to reach your phone while blocking any data access at the same time.
ON THE FLIGHT
The following section of business travel tips will help you after you board your flight.
Dress In Layers And Be Prepared For Both Hot And Cold Airplanes
- When flying, dress in layers that are easy to add or remove as needed. Button down shirts and light jackets that unzip in the front work best. They are easier to put on and take off.
I made the mistake once of wearing a sweater on a flight once. It was winter and it was freezing outside, but not on my flight. The plane was hot and I was sweating like crazy. But I couldn’t take off my sweater because I was only wearing a bra underneath.
I also like to pack a hoodie sweatshirt or at least a wool hat for overnight and International flights. A cold night flight can make sleeping difficult or even make you sick.
Invest In A Good Pair Of Over-Ear Active Noise-Cancellation Headphones
- Sitting near chatty people or noisy babies on a plane can make flying a miserable experience.
But a pair of over-ear active noise-cancellation headphones can be a lifesaver. Active noise-cancellation technology uses microphones to observe the sounds that are around you and then cancel them out. With an average price tag of $200+ they can be an expensive part of your travel gear, but 100% worth it.
Turn on, tune out, and enjoy a movie or get some work done on your laptop.
Here are a few popular brand names to search for:
Get A Portable USB Battery Pack
- Always travel with a small portable battery to charge your phone during your flight.
It’s a lot more common that it used to be, but not all aircraft have USB charging ports at every seat. This is especially true for budget airlines. A portable USB battery charger is a smart investment and will pay for itself the first time you really need it.
AT THE HOTEL
Here are some travel tips to help you at the hotel.
Always Book Hotel Rooms With Two Beds, So You Have An Extra Staging Area
- Even when traveling alone, book a room with two beds. The extra surface space on the extra bed will create a flat staging area for you stuff and help prevent you from losing items.
I once dated someone who liked to completely move in to a hotel room. She would take all of her clothes out of her suitcase and then put them in the dresser drawers in our hotel room. Inevitably, she would accidentally leave things behind all of the time.
Instead, don’t spread out when you unpack. Try to centrally unpack and keep most of your stuff in one spot. For example, even when traveling alone, I will still book a hotel room with two beds. I sleep in one bed and use the second bed for organizing my belongings.
A bed is a big flat surface with enough room to layout everything from your garment bag to your electronics. Then keep everything else in your suitcase. This way you won’t have to worry about leaving anything behind and be able to see all of your belonging at once.
When Checking In To Your Hotel, Ask The Front Desk For A Quiet Room
- Tell the hotel that you are a business traveler and communicate your room preferences at check-in.
Don’t be shy about telling the hotel staff that your reason for staying at the hotel is business travel. Business travelers are important customer segment to the hotel industry because they are less seasonal, more predictable, and frequently return to the same location creating repeat business.
Ask for things that will make your hotel stay better. Perks like early check-in, late checkout, access to meeting rooms, free WiFi, and especially a quiet room.
Most vacation travelers ask for a view, but when traveling for business, you should prioritize peace and quiet. You may be too busy to enjoy the view anyway. Request a room away from noisy areas like elevators, large groups (weddings, family reunions, etc.), or any high traffic areas like the fitness center. Higher levels are usually better too, and will put you above street noise and headlights.
Wipe Down Your Hotel Room With An Antibacterial Wipe
- Always clean all touchable items in your hotel room with an antibacterial wipe.
One of the first things that I do when I walk into my hotel room, is wipe everything down with antibacterial wipes. This includes all light switches, knobs, handles, buttons, and the toilet seat and remote control.
I want anything that I plan on touching sanitized. I did this pre-COVID too. Hotel remote controls are especially gross to me. For some reason, I always think the previous guest was scratching their private parts while watching TV like Al Bundy from Married With Children.
Use Hotel Lotion To Shine Your Shoes When You Don’t Have Access To Shoe Polish
- In an emergency, hotel lotion can be used as a shoe polish substitute.
Have you ever needed to polish your dress shoes on a business trip? If you’re stuck in a hotel room without shoe polish, just grab a tissue and the little bottle of moisturizing lotion. After all, leather is just skin, right?
Do a small test first before committing to a full shoe shine. Most shoes will be fine, but try this trick at your own risk. Dab a little bit of the lotion on the tissue and apply it to a small section of leather. Different types of leather may react differently.
If everything looks good after the test, then continue gently applying small dabs of lotion to your shoes. Then gently rub the lotion on using a tissue or rag. With a little care, your shoes should start to show a shine.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a long term care solution. After your business trip, you should continue using real shoe polish and not random bottles or lotion.
Limit Social Media Location Sharing While Traveling
- Don’t broadcast that you’re out of town on business. Savvy criminals can use this information against you.
It can be hard to resist posting the perfect TikTok or Instagram post, especially while you’re traveling and seeing so many new things. But you should think twice before posting.
Both thieves and predators have been know to stalk social media for clues on when victims might be out of town. While you are sharing photos of fancy business dinners in Spain, thieves might use it as an opportunity to rob you. And if you left your family behind for a business trip, do you really want to announce that you are out of town and that they are home alone without you?
One compromise is to use social platforms like BeReal that only share info with a small group of friends and not the public.
Simple Business Travel Tips That Will Save You Time, Money, And Frustration
The challenge with business travel is packing light but being prepared for unexpected situations. Hopefully these simple business travel tips for Millennials and Gen Z professionals will help make your life easier on the road.
For reference, use these links below to jump back to a section of the business travel management tips covered in this article:
- Planning Your Business Trip
- Booking Travel
- Packing Your Bags
- At The Airport
- On Your Flight
- At The Hotel
I’m a dog owner that loves poetry, vampires, mountain biking, and cosplay. I’m open to ideas and still trying to figure my SFO life out one blog post at a time. LF ISO SWF GSOH SI DDF.