During my first year traveling for business I made a lot of mistakes. On my first trip I was more worried about doing my actual job; the logistics of getting to my destination were the furthest thing from my mind. Unfortunately when you don’t plan for a business trip it’s so easy to become a sloppy traveler. That was me on my first business trip. Over time I realized the importance of putting more thought into my travel and began to eliminate my travel mistakes. With that being said, here are five things I used to do on business trips that I never do anymore.
Use low reward credit cards. When I first started traveling the Home Warrior and I had a Citi card that had a low interest rate, but also had crappy rewards. We paid our balance in full every month so the low interest rate was getting us nowhere. The rewards we were getting were points that were redeemable through Citi’s Easy Deals site. We racked up points but soon realized those rewards sucked. We occasionally would redeem points for a free burger or $20 off a night at a hotel, but for the most part the points were useless to us. We haven’t used the card in years but still have thousands of these points just sitting there. You live and you learn. We now use the Southwest Chase card which has a great rewards system, plus we qualified for the companion pass which allows the Home Warrior to travel with me places for free! Pretty awesome deal.
Check baggage. If you don’t travel often it sounds like a really great idea to have someone else haul your luggage around for you. When I first started traveling for business I would check my baggage for this very reason. I discovered very quickly that if you value your possessions and time you’ll want to avoid checking your bag at all costs. When you check a bag you have to spend time checking it, you risk things getting lost or damaged, if you have a connection a delay could cause your luggage not to make the flight, and worst of all you have to sit and wait for your luggage to arrive when you may need to head out for business or go to your hotel and sleep. This is why I never check my bag unless I absolutely have to. If you’re concerned about your luggage fitting in the overhead bin check out my post on carry-on luggage within airline regulations.
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Pay for car rental insurance. When I rented a car the first time, which happened to be on that first business trip, I was asked if I wanted car rental insurance. I thought to myself, “I don’t drive around without insurance in my car, why would I drive someone else’s car without insurance?” So I took the upgrade. Little did I know I was already covered by my credit card, my own car insurance, and by my company’s insurance. Everyone’s credit card terms, insurance policies, and company polices are different, so I don’t want to say don’t pay for car rental insurance, but I’m betting if you look into it you’ll find you are already covered. Do your homework to make sure.
Pay to have the rental car company fill up your tank. The rental car company got me again on my first business trip. Instead of filling up the car I was returning with gas myself, I chose to have the rental car company fill up the tank for me upon return. It sounded like a great convenience until I realized I was paying much more per gallon for the gas they were putting in it. I just figured they would charge whatever the going rate was for gas, but they don’t, they jack up the price for this convenience. So now I always fill up the tank myself before I return the car.
Hoard miles. Over the years of traveling I built up a decent amount of airline miles through different airlines. I used to let those miles stack up like a savings account, but after airlines began changing their rewards programs (like American did without notice) I changed my thought process. The Home Warrior and I now actively use and manage our points. Our points balances get low sometimes, but what’s the point of having a reward if you’re not going to use it?
Readers, what are some mistakes you made when you first started traveling for business?
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