Business Travel 101: Making Travel Easier (Revisited)

Two years ago, I ran a series of posts called Business Travel 101. The goal was to introduce a novice traveler to the secrets of frequent travel, making the transition to expert as painless as possible. I’ve re-tooled the series, and now it’s more comprehensive than ever! It covers everything a new business traveler needs to know, including essential tips for packing, security, safety, etiquette, and comfort.

The topic for this week’s Business Travel 101 is general tips to make travel as easy as possible. For people who don’t travel often or haven’t traveled in a long time, the very idea of packing up and flying to a new place, while representing your company and yourself as a competent professional, is daunting. Keep the following in mind, and your first business trip will go much more smoothly.

  • Check the latest guidelines. Before your trip, go online to TSA.gov and your airline’s website to find out what the current guidelines are about security, what you are allowed to carry-on, and how big your suitcase can be.
  • Confirm your details. A day or two before traveling, make sure your hotel, flight, and car reservations are all correct. Also check the address and contact information for the office you will be visiting.
  • Print out critical information. You may think, “I have access to all of my reservation info on my phone or computer. Why should I print them out?” I promise, having that info in hand for your first few trips could save you some serious headaches. One time I did not print out my info, I couldn’t connect to the wifi at the airport, and I had to spend an hour calling various Marriott Hotels in the area looking for my reservation. NOT a fun time. Even after traveling for six years, I still print out my information if I am going to a new location. (The most embarrassing part of the story? The hotel was on the airport property. Facepalm.)
  • Don’t check your bag. This is one of the big ones. You will save so much time (and your company’s money) if you simply carry on your suitcase. It is definitely possible to pack for four days easily, and for over a week with some practice, into a rollaboard.
  • Be ready to go through security. Have your ID and boarding pass ready for the agent, have your laptop and liquids bag readily available to pull out of your bag, wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on. And don’t stand by the x-ray machine once you’re done, putting your shoes and watch back on. Grab your stuff and move to a bench. This is one of my serious pet peeves. If everyone simply moved out of the way, security lines would go so much faster!!
  • Dress for comfort. Flying is not the time to wear too tight pants or spiked heels. If what you are wearing isn’t comfortable on the ground, there is no way it will be comfortable at 33,000 feet with pressure changes. There are ways to look good and be comfortable, and sacrificing comfort for style is not worth making your flight miserable.
  • Bring things to entertain you. I always bring my iPhone, Kindle, and knitting on every flight. Some people really enjoy Sudoku or movies. Bring whatever, as long as it passes the time for you. This is especially important if you get anxious about flying.
  • Be aware of other passengers. Maybe this won’t technically make your trip easier, but try to remember that you are not the only person on a plane! Share your space nicely, say please and thank you, and help others where you can. Being polite will certainly help you with your traveling karma! And who doesn’t need more good karma coming their way?

See, that first trip doesn’t have to be intimidating! A little bit of planning can make a business trip, or any kind of trip, as trouble-free as possible.

Readers, what are your tips for effortless travel?

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  1. Always print itinerary, double sided, or booklet style of you are shaving ounces. It has saved me many times — flights changed/cancelled, hotel reservations not found or rate higher than quoted, filling out immigration forms when traveling internationally and the airline forbids cell phones even in airplane mode (or my battery is dead), the list goes on. Just print it. I also use it to track all the notes of changes which I need when I am submitting my voucher.

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