Fittingly, I'm writing this article from an airplane headed down to Mexico City on a business trip, one of the 100+ flights that I take for business each year, and have been averaging for most of my career. I'm often asked how to make business travel easier, and should you find yourself staring at increased travel in the near future, hope you find a helpful tip or two.
Make your business travel more enjoyable by combining it with a tax deductible weekend getaway! End your business meeting at noon Friday and enjoy the weekend at your location. Have another business related meeting on Monday, such as with a business associate, a prospect or even a seminar that ties into your business. Bring a spouse with you and deduct 100% of the hotel costs and your meals. Keep records of the reason of your business both before and after the weekend, and keep all receipts.
Same! Dave and I regularly talk about how, if we wanted to get me a spouse visa for New Zealand and had to prove our relationship was genuine, we’d only have around a dozen photos of us from five years of being together! I’m also wishing we had more so that we could have a big memory wall in our apartment — it’s not quite the same when it’s just a load of landscape shots.
Figuring out the airlines' tricky and befuddling baggage-fee policies is key to any budget-minded packing strategy. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge big bucks for bags checked on domestic flights. Spirit Airlines—that notoriously customer-unfriendly discounter—even charges as much as $100 for carry-on bags.
We all want to keep our money secure while traveling. Prepaid credit cards, which are often billed as a safer and more convenient alternative to carrying cash abroad, might seem like a smart option. You purchase a card and load it with funds in your preferred currency ahead of your trip. And if your card gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
I travel everywhere with a reusable filter water bottle. That’s even in the UK. This lets me avoid buying bottled water when the tap water isn’t potable and keeps me safe. It also stops me contributing to the increasing problem of plastic in landfills and oceans. Even when the tap water is good to drink but smells or tastes bad – even of chlorine my filter water bottle gets rid of it for me.
If humans were shaped like shrimp, the C-shape of most airline seats would be super comfortable. Since we're not, passengers regularly stumble off the plane with achy backs, necks, and legs. Sitting for long periods is already hard on your back, and without lumbar support, your spine and the muscles in your lower back have to work even harder to maintain healthy alignment. Counteract the crush by wedging a blanket, scarf, or rolled-up sweater behind you to allow your lower back to maintain its natural curve.
When possible, even on business trips, I try to avoid hotels and stay with a member of one of my homestay networks. I find the genuine contact and family atmosphere a welcome change from conference hotels. Yes, there's some transportation logistics, but generally, I find it worth the schlep across town to make new friends and get my batteries recharged.
Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities, mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants, and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxe retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for kids, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.
“I only pack clothes that are versatile and my best example of this is my brown leather boots that I can wear for a full day of hiking and out to dinner the same day. Recently I wore them dune bashing in Dubai and then to dinner at the Burj al Arab. The clothes you pack also need to have great wearability. Clothing that can only be worn once before a wash is a waste of space. I like merino wool shirts and socks from Icebreaker and Smart Wool. These can be worn days on end without needing to be washed and they seem to never smell.”
I have always searched for good business travel tips, and they used to be hard to come across. In my previous job as a human rights lawyer, I have had to attend many conferences that took me around the world. I admit it was the most pleasant part of my job, though admittedly business travel can be very stressful. Indeed, I was an avid traveler even before traveling became a lifestyle for me, and sure enough I always took advantage of conferences overseas to explore whichever place I had to go to.
"If it's a longer trip that requires two suitcases," says Shiona Turini of Cosmopolitan, "I always pack evenly between the two (e.g. a black shoe in one and a black shoe in the other). In the event my luggage gets lost, I know that I can survive with one suitcase. It takes more time, but I've heard horror stories of people putting all of their shoes in one bag and the airline losing that piece of luggage."
I absolutely love these tips Matt! They are super humorous but so true. I love the money belt one actually. I plan to sew a secret pocket into my pants for my emergency cash – I read that somewhere and thought it was a good point. Although, come to think of it – when I want to use the cash, how do I get it out without everyone else noticing. Hahaha. I’ll figure it out.
Despite the constant rise of popularity in Skype and other modes of video conferencing, meeting in person has not become an extinct activity. If you are a young professional or recent graduate, business travel will likely be part of your job at some point. If you happen to be a lucky consultant, you will reach frequent traveler status faster than you can say “priority boarding." After reaching the frequent traveler status just a few months into my new job, I hope to bring some value to those who share aspects of my life on the road.
From a safety perspective, it’s good to have several people back home who know where you’ll be. I forward any flight or accommodation confirmations to my family and Skype with them several times a week to let them know what I’m up to. That way, if ever I disappear for a few days, my family will know immediately and will be able to know where I was staying at that time. It takes just a few minutes but really improves your safety.
This is a no-brainer, but it's something that many travelers don't think to do. If you missed the cancellation window for your hotel, restaurant, or car booking but can still change the reservation date free of charge, move your reservation back by several weeks or months. Then call back to cancel with a different representative. Sneaky? Sure. But it works, and you'll never get stuck with a lousy cancellation fee again.
“You’ll likely need to wash your clothes at some point, and carrying around a big bottle of Downy or Tide isn’t even enjoyable when you’re not toting your belongings on your back. My suggestion? Bring a ziplock baggie of powder detergent, and extra gallon size ziplock baggies (these come in handy in more ways than you can imagine). If you find yourself sans-washing machine, you can make your own by stuffing water/laundry/soap into the bag and giving it a little (okay, a lot of) shake. Rinse in water and voila: clean clothes. Easy peezy, fresh and breezy!”
This is probably the most obvious perk of business class flights, but one I still struggle with. The main benefit to flying business class is the ability to stretch out and sleep, and to arrive fresh in your destination, apparently ready to work, or head to business meetings. I for one, though, tend not to sleep as much as most people on these flights. Instead, I am trying to make the most of a business class flight – I eat loads of food, drink lots of champagne, and watch a mess of movies. I want to take advantage of the experience.
For example, Southwest Airlines boards their planes using a letter-based grouping system. Passengers check in no earlier than 24 hours before their flight and receive a number and letter combination (like A23 or B14). Passengers line up in groups of five, loosely in order and board when your group is called. It’s open seating on Southwest so you get pick your seat.
Furthermore, if you're in a higher-risk situation—if, say, your medical insurance doesn't cover you abroad or you're heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season—travel insurance might be a smart purchase. Otherwise, maybe you're better off pocketing the extra hundred dollars or so and taking your chances on the road. To learn more, read Travel Insurance 101: What to Know Before You Buy.
Shrink it. Jessica Ellis, a graphic designer who travels between New York City and Chicago every other week, piles clothing into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor bags ($10 to $26, rei.com). “Zipper them, and they take out 80 percent of the volume.” Warning: This can have wrinkly consequences, so if the clothes don’t yet require laundering, lay them flat and place fabric-softener sheets between them. Consider your fresh-smelling clothes a welcome-home present.
“Place all your clothes into your bag vertically so it looks more like a filing cabinet; this way you can see all the clothes you have with you without having to lift up or remove the ones on top. From here you not only have a better view (and reminder) of how many shirts or pairs of pants you have but you can also see which shirts (or whatever clothing item) stand out and potentially don’t match your outfits. Remove the oddballs.”
"Unless you're traveling super long haul, you don't need a $50 neck pillow or $300 noise canceling headphones. Bring some foam earplugs if you want to sleep on the plane, and roll up your jacket for a pillow. Same comfort for a lot less money," says Hester, a writer at Our Next Life early retirement blog, and veteran of "100+ flights a year and 80+ hotel nights."
When you buy the full tank, the price may be close to the going rates locally, but that's not the gouge. The gouge is that you get no credit for whatever fuel remains in the tank when you return the car. Instead, you donate it to the rental company. So unless Avis, Hertz, or Enterprise is your favorite charity, this option is a nonstarter. And when a rental company fills the car, it typically charges two to three times the local price per gallon (or liter).
Sure, you know how to book a hotel on your own because you’ve got a credit card and the Internet. But chances are you’re not booking a hotel as well or as cheaply as you could. Don’t feel bad about your amateur mistakes. All you need is a little instruction, and, well, a credit card and the Internet. To turn you from hotel amateur to hotel pro, we’ve probed the minds of lodging experts to hear their tips on saving the most money and maximizing every hotel stay you book. These are their essential hotel hacks.
They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!