There's an entire world of frequent traveler programs and credit card benefits that consume some people to the point of obsession. While collecting points might be a worthwhile hobby, it's also worth knowing if your company or credit card provides benefits that can save you some money and help keep your sanity. These programs might allow you access to airline lounges, provide special phone numbers for restaurant bookings, or provide insurance and help during travel disruptions. Generally, if you or your company pays a fee for the card there are likely some benefits. As you fly more, airlines and hotels might provide upgraded seats and rooms, and if nothing else, usually provide a special phone hotline that gives you priority service when things go sideways.
Step 1: Gather all the garments you anticipate needing. Then put half of them back. Select clothes in the same color family, packing more tops than bottoms. For a five-day trip, you’ll likely need five shirts, two pairs of slacks or jeans, and one skirt, says Kathleen Ameche, author of The Woman Road Warrior ($15, amazon.com). The average 22-inch check-in bag fits roughly two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, two dresses, and five shirts.
The number one mistake business travelers make is eating like they are on vacation. This type of lifestyle is unhealthy and expensive, especially if you eat out for every meal; however, convenient food service can seem like the easiest solution after a long day. To make your travel easier for you and your wallet, stock the hotel fridge with nutritious items that you can consume throughout your trip. Hard-boiled eggs make a great breakfast or snack option with protein to keep you full. A rotisserie chicken is another great option that allows you to reheat different size portions easily, storing the rest in the fridge for another meal. Also, try buying a veggie platter—they aren’t just for parties!—which will maximize your wallet by providing multiple days’ worth of nutritious snacks in one bulk purchase.
Hotels hate having empty rooms, so if you can, wait until the last minute to book your stay to get the best rates. On the other hand, if you need to cancel your hotel reservation last minute and want to avoid a cancellation fee, you can often manipulate a small loophole by rescheduling for a later date (which is usually free), and then calling and requesting a cancellation through another representative.
Excellent advice about talking to locals. When you get to know the people who live there, it really makes for a wonderful experience. And you are so right, they have the best insider tips! We’re guilty of focusing only on photos at one point as well. When we started blogging as a career, we nearly lost ourselves in the work. We now always have to remind ourselves to have balance. It’s amazing to be able to capture a moment at our fingertips, but we feel it’s just as important to stop and take it all in. It’s easy to miss the moment when you’re looking through the lens. Thanks for sharing!
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.
At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
Good advice. Here’s a dozen more. (1) Packing a towel: get a thin, cotton towel used in Turkish Hamams. They pack to nothing; dry out fast; double as a sarong, Mosque head covering, or picnic cloth. (2) Universal sink stopper – don’t leave home without one. (3) As much silk, light cotton, Gor-tex, and synthetics as you can tolerate. Dries fast, light weight to pack. (4) Prescription scripts – diabetics know this is critical; others can use the advice as well. (5) Money belts – absolutely use them!!!!! (6) Lunchtime museum visits – check opening hours!! MANY close at lunch. (7) Locks: Yes, but add thin fishing lead wire (loops on both ends). Lock luggage together or to the overhead bin of buses and trains. (8) City Attraction Cards: some work; most don’t unless you want to race from museum to museum. Do the math first. Often transit cards are a better deal than the full event cards. (9) MAJOR sites/museums: book admission times/fees on line in advance. Why stand in line at the Louvre, etc. when you could be inside appreciating. (10) Double-check all opening hours on line and ask TIC what sites are closed (for renovation; lack of funds; you name it). All guide books, no matter how useful, are out of date the minute they hit the stores. (11) Learn to use Kindle (or similar) for travel reading but as NOT guide books (worthless). (12) Location, location, location. Sometimes, that cheap hotel/hostel/apartment in the boonies is worth the savings, but not if you want/need a quick refresher in the afternoon. AND, always ask floor level and elevator availability when renting an apartment! European floors begin on the “ground” level, not “first floor” — and the stair cases can be very high. Not all of us are twenty-something Australians who can climb mountains with full packs.
You need insurance. Even if you're just planning to lie around in a resort for a week. If you're in an accident, or you get sick, or your bags go missing, or any one of a million other mishaps occur while you're travelling, you'll be extremely pleased you spent that small amount on an insurance policy. (Read: The insurance mistake travellers keep making)
If you've ever done a flexible airfare search, you know just how dramatically fares vary based on the day of the week. Choose your days wisely and you can save hundreds of dollars. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are the least-popular travel days for domestic flights. For Europe flights, seats are in lower demand on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. So if you're looking for a deal, you might find that flying on these lower-demand days means better prices for you.
My best tip for a business trip if you are exhibiting at a trade show is to have all of your equipment and booth supplies mailed separately directly to the event hall. I made the rookie mistake before of trying to bring it all in luggage, and it ended up being a complete headache! Not only was it heavy, but lugging an extra suitcase through airports, into a rental car, in the hotel and then to a trade show floor is just not fun. Save yourself some backache by having it delivered ahead of time and make it a seamless set up to start the show off on a good note.
“I’m a firm believer that everything you need for a trip — whether it be three days or three weeks — should be able to be packed in a carry-on. This is simple once you master the art of layering your clothes. Choose a color combination for your attire and pack only pieces that match this so that you can mix, match and layer to create different looks (instead of packing completely separate outfits).”