Travel is an essential part of many of today’s jobs. While traveling for work can have its perks, like being able to escape from the office and experience different locations, business travel is still a task that comes with a few challenges.
Whether you’re a frequent business traveler, or only have to travel for your job a few times per year, these tips can help to make your planning and time away a little easier so you can focus on your work.
For business travel and as a general travel rule, try to book as soon as possible. It’s best to book eight to 10 months in advance for major airlines like American, United, Delta, Lufthansa, etc., and six to eight months for smaller carriers like JetBlue and Southwest, advises Stefan Kusznier, a AAA travel agent.
“Think of it as a first come first serve basis,” Kusznier said. “Just like rooms at a hotel, once that “category” of room sells out, the next room becomes available at a higher price. The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets.”
If you know you’ll be flying for work, set up price alerts for flights and/or hotels to compare prices and find the best deals. This can be as easy as signing up for emails/subscribing to travel websites or downloading an app.
If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, or simply to a location with complicated geography or directions, download a map ahead of time.
You don’t want to lose service or run out of data when you don’t know where you’re going and have someplace to be, but it happens. Through sites like Google Maps, you can use a map while you’re mobile and offline by typing in “OK map” and hitting the download button — just make sure you have enough room on your phone. Or, there’s the tried-and-true method of an “old-school” paper map.
Also, don’t forget to scan or take photos of your important documents and print or email them to yourself. This is especially important for those traveling by plane and/or going abroad.
Packing smart means being organized and making the most out of limited space. One of the best ways to do this is by folding your clothes efficiently. Two popular methods are either rolling your clothes or using the Marie Kondo fold. Kusznier currently prefers the latter.
“It folds everything into little triangles which helps you see everything,” he says. “Then just grab and go instead of rummaging through your stuff.”
Here’s a pro tip: Add dryer sheets to your luggage to keep things smelling fresh. Later, these same sheets can be used to reduce static cling.
Store smaller items that could get lost in compartmentalized vessels, such as contact lens containers or pill cases. Pack cords — like headphones and phone chargers — in eyeglass cases to avoid tangles. Put toiletries in small, reusable bottles and make sure they’re 3.4 ounces or less if they’re in an airport carry-on. Finally, store secret cash by rolling it up and putting it in an empty lip balm tube. Check out our do’s and don’ts of how to pack a suitcase.
Use a travel checklist to keep you on track and review it before you leave.
Enjoy Getting There
Dealing with the time getting from point A to point B can be tedious. To make getting to where you’re going a little more bearable, try listening to a music playlist, podcast or audiobook. If you’re not driving, you can use the time to catch up on your favorite show or catch some Z’s. Stay busy with a good book or make the most of your business travel time by getting ahead on work.
If you’re not a fan of flying, but find yourself on a plane for work, there may be ways to ease your discomfort.
“Its little things that can make the difference,” says Kusznier. For light claustrophobia or anxiety from lack of control, “sit near the window so you have the visual escape from tight space and the control over what your seat mates get to see.” If your anxiety is more severe, visit your doctor before a trip to discuss your options.
Make the Space Yours
If you’re going to be staying at a location for more than two nights, try making the space feel more like home.
“I utilize the storage in the hotel room,” says Kusznier. “I want to feel like [I’m at] home and not living out of a suite case.”
This means putting clothes away in drawers, setting up your toiletries in the bathroom and bringing a pair of slippers or slides. Essentially, unpack everything and make the space yours.
Another way to feel more at home is to bring your laptop and an HDMI cable, Amazon Firestick or Chromecast to watch your shows away from home. Sync up with your significant other, roommate or a family member so you can enjoy the show together.
You should also consider bringing a surge protector with multiple outlets in case you need more than your hotel room offers. Also, though many U.S. hotels offer free Wi-Fi, this many not always be the case. If you have to travel internationally, consider making a hotspot or bringing your own router.
Hotel Hacks to Save on Food
Room service can be expensive, but there are certain hotel hacks that can help you save.
Consider your options. Breakfast and lunch are usually cheaper, so opt to eat out for those meals and try to be a little more thrifty at dinnertime. Supplement meals with food you can make right in your room. Hotel rooms often come with a coffee maker, but it doesn’t have to be just for coffee or tea. You can use the hot water to make a variety of instant foods, including noodles, oatmeal, mac and cheese, rice or soup.
Choose pick-up instead of delivery to avoid some room service fees by walking down to the hotel restaurant and picking up food yourself. You could also order food from a local eatery or use a food delivery app.
Finally, bring a reusable bottle and never pay for water. You can bring it through an airport empty and fill it after. The same goes for while you’re at your hotel. You’ll surely find water fountains and/or bottle refills, especially near the gym.
Traveling for work can be stressful, but by planning ahead, packing efficiently and hacking your hotel stay, it could be a little easier.
To assure your lodging will be perfect for your specific needs, stay at a AAA Inspected & Approved and Diamond Rated hotel. Whether you’re looking for something budget-friendly or more refined, there are nearly 59,000 hotels to choose from. Learn more about AAA Diamond Ratings.
What are your favorite business travel tips? Share them with us in the comments.