After many years as a road warrior, I have noticed that I’ve developed patterns and routines in my business travel to help maximize my efficiency and minimize my stress. If you asked my wife, she might just chalk it up to my being OCD in nature, but these simple tips are now part of my business travel routine:
1. If possible, pack the night before you are going to leave
Maybe it's just me, but the more I rush, the more I forget stuff. I try to think about my trip the day before and then methodically pack my roller bag and laptop case with everything I will need for the trip.It could be a five-day trip, it could be an overnighter — I still try to have everything ready to go the night before. This one ritual has significantly reduced the number of times that I show up to a meeting without a belt, or wearing the wrong color socks.
2. Only bring carry-on luggage
This may be another OCD-induced skill, but I have learned to pack almost a week’s worth of clothing into a roller bag. I always wear my suit coat (so I don't have to pack it), but I can pack three pairs of slacks, four dress shirts, three casual shirts, workout clothes, shoes and sneakers into one expanding-pocket roller bag. I think of it as a game, almost like Tetris. How many pieces of clothing can I neatly arrange in one small suitcase? Heck. I often don't even wear some of the clothes I bring but it's better than wearing your pants inside out because you ran short.
3. Put everything you want during the flight in your laptop bag
You know those people – the ones who stand in the aisle while you are waiting to board the plane and hold everybody up. They are furiously looking for their newspaper, reading glasses or laptop. Guess what? That's not me. I have my laptop, iPad, newspaper, two magazines and reading glasses all ready to go in my laptop bag, which fits underneath my seat. I've found that with this type of "segregation of duties" I also forget less stuff.
4. Use a mobile boarding pass
This tip is good for the environment and for your schedule. I choose the mobile boarding pass option and no longer print my tickets. No searching for confirmation numbers, no losing boarding passes. Plus, you look kind of computer-geek hip when you use one. At least that's how I like to think I look.
5. Choose your security line wisely
Keep an eye out for families with small kids and people who don't look like they are traveling for business. Behind people who look like they’re going on vacation for a week? They don't care how long they spend in line. In fact, they are basking in how good it feels to not rush. As a business traveler, you are on a schedule. Remember that the shortest line isn't always the shortest wait. Try to eyeball how interested the TSA staff is in moving people through each line. Results will vary.
6. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged
You’ll need it for mobile boarding passes, taking pictures of receipts so you can use them in your expense reporting software, calling your family before you leave (or at least texting them) to say you love them — it's all good stuff. And it all requires juice.
7. Try and use a credit card that gets you into the airline’s club
The President’s Club is not just for Presidents anymore. Many card programs offer access to these fantastic little oases. They have leather chairs, they aren't typically full, there is plenty of room to plug in and work with complimentary wireless, and they have beer and peanuts. Who doesn't like a snack now and then?
8. Rest up and hydrate
No matter how glamorous frequent business travel appears to other people, it does take a toll on your body. Try to grab a window seat so you don't have to keep letting people out to go to the bathroom. Drink lots of water, and avoid diuretics like caffeine and alcohol that will dehydrate you. Try to grab a few Z's during your flight, especially if you got up early or are going to be flying overnight, so that you can reduce jet lag.
These simple but effective tips will help make your business travel as painless as possible. Best wishes for safe and productive travels!
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