We almost always book our flights with points and miles, which we accumulated over the years through our miles-related credit cards. I know this is a lot easier for Americans than for others. I know for Europeans it is much more difficult to play the travel hacking game. (If you are Kiwi, check out this guide to travel hacking in New Zealand.) Travel hacking is a method for collecting miles and points for serious travelers. It’s one of the best ways to earn a business class trip. If you want to be a business class traveler but don’t have an expense account, this is how to do it. It’s one of the most important business class tricks.

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at patrick.gray@prevoyancegroup.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
Everyone aspires to pack light. Some travelers are successful, others can’t help but bring everything and the kitchen sink. Here on our blog, packing light tips are the most popular posts. Even veteran light packers like Jeremy and I are always open to new ideas. Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. So we asked our favorite travel writers, speakers, designers, and CEOs, “What’s your best, non-obvious tip for packing light?“ 

There's a reason employees at so many clothing retailers fold just-bought clothes in tissue paper. The lightweight stuff protects garments and helps prevent wrinkles. Wrap your clothes in tissue paper to keep them free of unwanted rumples when packing. (We also recommend using tissue paper to fold a suit.) Additionally, use balled-up tissue paper (or even newspaper) to keep the shape of items like purses, boots, and bras.
This advice is twofold: Wear layers and pack in layers. First, your on-the-road wardrobe should feature plenty of layers, which will help you jetset through multiple climates in style and comfort. Second, the items in your bag should be packed in neat layers for easy screening. According to the TSA, "Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)" so that the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what's inside. The faster the TSA agent can screen your stuff, the faster you'll get through the security line.

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).


Determine Scale: The lightest shoes I found online were a pair of 3-oz. foldable ballet flats. However, in women's shoes, most travel-oriented options built for all-day wear weigh in at somewhere between 10 oz. and 1 lb. For comparison, a sample pair of flat boots (women's size 8.5) weighed 2.8 lb., and a pair of wedge sandals (also women's size 8.5) was 1.7 lb.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
When booking flights, particularly between US & Canada & other international destinations, compare booking 2 one way flights vs. roundtrip. Due to different taxes, I've saved hundreds of dollars on business travels (when I was an agent, I did it for my clients) by taking this route. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but for the few minutes it takes to compare, always check it out. And don't always feel the need to fly both ways with the same airline. I've also saved hundreds by using 2 different lines each way.
If a) your baggage is lost or delayed; b) you miss your connection and will be late checking in; or c) you are going to a destination you’ve never visited before, you’ll want to have complete contact information for your hotel on your person. Before you leave home, print out the hotel’s name, address and phone number, and program the latter into your cell phone. It’s also a good idea to print out a map of the hotel’s neighborhood, whether for your own use or to show to a confused cab driver.
Don’t arrive at your holiday destination and be faced with a pile of ironing. To save space and stop creasing, roll your clothes instead of folding them, then place them in vacuum compression bags. To use these bags, put your clothes in, seal the bag, then squeeze the air out. This will leave you with lots more space in your suitcase and will prevent creases.
Know Your Limits: Remember you’re not there to enjoy the nightlife- business is priority. While you may be excited to experience a new city, save the crazy adventures for pleasure travel. Know your limits before you hit the town with your coworkers, and don’t drink as though you’re out with your buddies. Remember that you’re representing your company, and any misconduct reflects poorly on them, and can be reported to the CEO.
This was a great read. I enjoyed all of your tips, but number 3. Don’t Expect Things to Be Like They Are at Home has really stood out for me. This is one of the primary reasons most of us travel, because we are tired of seeing and doing the same ol’things. If we can afford it, we may want to journey out for a change and see new things, and we’d hope this new scene is not like our home residence. Lol! We want to see something new. The world is entirely too big for us to just stay in one place. I bet you’ve learned lots on your travel. 🙂
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.
Traveler's checks are now widely considered outdated and a hassle. You run the risk of wasting time looking for a place that's actually able to cash your checks, and you'll be hit with hefty fees and poor exchange rates when you do. We advise you to rely primarily on plastic for travel money—credit cards for big-ticket items and debit (ATM) cards for cash.
It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.
Many people view business travel as one of the worst parts of their job. The stress of policy-compliant booking, tight packing, busy airports, and trying to squeeze a Macbook Pro between yourself and the reclined seat ahead of you without spilling a complimentary ginger ale on the snoring man in 16B can surely be overwhelming. It’s a lot to manage on your own.
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.
Traveling is a funny thing, it can be the best experience of your life or the worst. The best tip that I can give to ensure that you have the best travel experience possible, is to choose your travel companions really carefully. In my opinion, travel is an opportunity to experience things that you wouldn’t necessarily come across in your daily life.

Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
We’ve all experienced hotel letdown. You arrive at what you thought would be a majestic place to stay, only to be assigned a corner room on the first floor, with a view of the parking lot and the faint scent of cigarettes in the air. Pro tip: This is why you should pretty much ALWAYS ask to switch hotel rooms after seeing the first one you’re offered. Oftentimes, the second room you’re assigned (or third, or fourth if you’re the daring sort) is much, much better than the first. All it takes is a gentle inquiry to land something spectacular, even when it’s not what the front desk initially prescribed. 

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.
Travel is stressful when you’re worried about lost luggage or being late to a meeting, says Barbara DesChamps, author of It's In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel. Bring only a carry-on, check in for your flight online and go straight to security at the airport. If you don’t check baggage, you won't have to wait for it when you land.
The first time I read this tip, I thought it was absolute insanity. Then, one time I actually tried it, and you know what? I didn’t regret it at all! While this may initially feel like a slow painful form of packrat torture, doing this will cut you down to the exact essentials you’ll actually need. I honestly think that overpacking is hardwired in us, which is why doing this exercise is so helpful.

Are drinks free in business class? Normally, yes. There are certain Middle East airlines that don’t serve alcohol at all. But generally, drinks are free in business class, even on domestic flights. One of the best business class perks is the Champagne before take off. It always makes me feel so glamorous. Business class drinks are often of a higher quality than in economy, both for liquor and for wine.
You don’t want to offend anyone while you travel, so make sure you’re aware of any offensive gestures or behaviour before you arrive. As an example, in Thailand, women shouldn’t touch monks or hand them anything, you shouldn’t touch the local’s heads, say anything bad about the royal family, use your right hand for passing people things and paying, or point your feet at someone… Do your research!

I make the most of my out-of-touch time on the plane, in transit, or in a hotel. Instead of being a slave to email, I prepare a list of phone calls I need to make and download PDFs of documents I need to read to my iPad, so that I can work easily in the airport and on the flight. I make sure to email myself source documents and open/save them before I get on the plane, so that I can edit or write in-flight.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed versions of them! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
 Step 2: Fill empty bottles with your favorite brands. Evelyn Hannon, creator of journeywoman.com, a travel-advice website, swears by Japonesque’s Gotta Go Weekend Travel Bag ($20, amazon.com). A mere four inches high by four inches wide, it’s stocked with eight clear containers for lotions, contact-lens solution, and the like. Fill them three-quarters full. “The storage department on a plane is not pressurized, so items filled all the way to the top will overflow,” says Bond, who learned that the hard way when a sample of Pepto-Bismol exploded all over her clothes.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past seven years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself!
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your plans will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your plans so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
Sitting in an airplane seat is hard on your body. If you're not moving and stretching at regular intervals in-flight, you're putting yourself at risk. Opt to remain in your seat for hours at a time and you'll likely arrive with the aches and pains of tight muscles. More seriously, people who sit still for long periods have a higher likelihood of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot forms, usually in the leg.
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.
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.
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