The number one thing to remember if you’re going on a business trip is that you have limited time in your hands. Plan your days, weeks and month ahead. Maximize this time by organizing and setting meetings before you fly out, use the travel time to do one of these two things: your research on the place and people you are visiting or event you’re attending or administrative work.
“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.”
If looming baggage costs and stronger airport security measures have you in a tizzy, you're not alone. Things we once took for granted when flying, such as complimentary beverages and checked luggage, are fading fast. Most U.S. airlines charge at least $25 to check a bag, and some even charge for carry-ons exceeding backpack-size—but there's no need to panic. Learning how to pack efficiently is the key to lightening your load (but not your wallet). Here, our travel experts share their tips to streamline your packing for a stress-free vacation.
Even if you don't normally use lip balm, it can still be an important item to pack. Breathing dry airplane air, being out in the sun, eating salty foods in transit—travel inevitably leads to mild dehydration and chapped lips. And there's something off-putting and vaguely predatory about constantly licking your lips. Lip balm can also be used to tame frizzy hair ends, soothe dry cuticles, protect skin from windburn, and even unstick a stubborn zipper.
To maximize my business travel, I fly in meeting-suitable attire to avoid lost baggage disasters, and I strive to spend the night close to the next day’s meeting to limit traffic problems. A short confirmation text the night before a meeting or first thing in the morning has often avoided mistakes on the exact meeting location or time of the meeting. I pack in color schemes that will all match with one pair of dress shoes (worn on the plane if flying). Being mindful and treating all service people as real people and not objects has been the most helpful habit. I believe I get better treatment and more help when I have a problem, and it keeps me in a happier mindset too.
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)
Sunscreen’s a good idea for situations where you can’t otherwise avoid extended sun exposure, but it’s got its problems too. It enables you to spend unnatural amounts of time exposed to the sun, and unnatural is almost always bad. Plus it blocks your skin from absorbing all the sun’s nutrients. There’s also a debate about whether some of its chemicals are toxic or not—if not to you, at least to the environment. And…
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.
Among the best business travel tips around, there are those that suggest how to pack. Indeed, packing for a business trip is not the same thing as packing for a holiday. There is an unspoken rule that one should dress smartly on business meetings. I always make sure to carry a pair of smart pants and a skirt, a couple of dressy tops and nice shoes that I can wear at meetings, and a dress and heels to wear at events and parties. Packing cubes help keeping things in order inside the suitcase, and minimize the risk of creasing.
If you’re travelling in a group or a pair, talk to your travel buddy about what you’re both packing so you don’t double up. For example, girls, if you’re travelling with a mate and can’t live without your straighteners, maybe one of you can bring a hair drier and one of you can bring the straighteners (although do consider going au-natural – it’s liberating!)
Unfortunately, UK residents (and basically anyone who isn’t in the US) just don’t have access to the crazy amount of points that Americans can get with credit cards and whatnot. It’s not much of a thing in the UK — there are rarely signup bonuses, and if there are, they’re crap. I’m really not loyal to one particular airline, either — I fly with budget airlines 99% of the time, which don’t have rewards programs, and I only take one or two long-haul flights a year. Also! Because I spend a lot of my time in developing countries, I very rarely pay for things with a card, so I probably wouldn’t meet spending requirements.
Before you go on a big trip, it is tempting to try and plan every aspect of it. As tempting as it might seem, make sure to leave plenty of room for serendipity. Try to just plan the skeleton of your trip and leave room in between for discovery and for things to come up which you didn't plan. Talk to other travelers that you meet on the ground and you'll have a much better idea of what you want to do once you land.
Flimsy shower cap or custom shoe cover? You decide. In every suitcase, there's a constant battle between dirty and clean items. Score a victory for fresh-smelling shirts and dirt-free trousers by keeping your shoes contained in a shower cap. Place them in, soles down, and let the shower cap's elastic band cradle the shoes so that any dirt, grease, or unidentified muck stays safely tucked away inside the plastic pouch. Depending on the type and size of your shoes, you may need more than one shower cap, but housekeeping is usually pretty generous with them.
Use ExOfficio boxers. Seriously. Just do that now. On a 10 day trip to Asia, I will be completely comfortable only bringing 3 pairs of boxers (1 pair I’m wearing, 2 pairs in the bag). They pack down super small, they’re extremely lightweight, they can be washed easily and dry really fast (way faster than cotton). The other knock off brands don’t come close either. Lifetime warranty. Love mine.”
Matt, great tips but can’t agree with you on Trip Advisor. Whilst I agree what you stated does go on as with a lot of similar sites ( false reports etc) , I have used it a lot as a guide to hotels, tour companies, private organizations, general travel advice and not once did I think I was deceived. The travellers reports were spot on when I got there and used them. So there is a lot of good in Trip Advisor as a helpful tool when I travel. I think you’re being a little to harsh on them. Keep up the great work for us. Cheers
Along freeways with heavy traffic, carpool lanes (also called “diamond lanes” for the diamond-shape pattern painted on the lane’s surfaces) are identified by black-and-white signs that include details on times and days of enforcement (usually during peak rush hour periods on weekdays). To drive in most carpool lanes, you must at least two people (including the driver) in the car (some lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area have a three-person minimum. Tempted to use the lane when you don’t have the required number of riders? Don’t—fines are staggeringly high, close to $400 in some areas. In the Los Angeles area, carpool lanes may have specific entry and exit zones; adhere to them or you could get a hefty fine.
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.
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.
Instead, an hour or two before leaving for the airport, I’ll take two pain relievers. I know from experience I’m almost certain to get a headache from dehydration, a neckache from carrying heavy bags or a stomachache from eating at strange hours. Of course, I try to avoid those possibilities, but an early dose of a pain reliever can help mitigate unnecessary suffering.
It's great to have a guidebook, something to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you're visiting. The mistake first-time travellers make, however, is only doing things listed in the guidebook – only visiting the restaurants, staying in the hostels and visiting the attractions that get the guidebook's stamp of approval. There's more to the world than the bits listed in those pages.
But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. To celebrate seven years since I stumbled my way out of the U.K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining.
By far the best way to enjoy maximum value in hotel accommodations and rental cars is to buy through one of the opaque agencies, where you either "bid" on a room or car or accept a price "blind" without knowing the hotel or rental company until after you make a nonrefundable purchase. The two biggest opaque agencies are Priceline (bid) and Hotwire (blind price), but several other OTAs now offer opaque options.
It's tempting to walk into one of the travel shops and just go bananas. You could spend thousands in there, picking up things like special travel shirts with breathable material, compression sacks, wire mesh thingys to wrap around your backpack, money belts, karabiners, hiking shoes… But you don't need any of it. Wear clothes you're comfortable wearing. And using a money belt is like carrying around a sign saying "rob me".
It's tempting, on that first daunting trip away, to get everything locked in – every hostel, every transfer, every breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way you don't have to worry about anything, right? But you'll soon come to realise that it pays to have some flexibility. Book in the big things, sure. But also leave yourself space to change your itinerary and take opportunities as they present themselves.