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.
Spice up a basic outfit with compact accessories, such as belts,jewelry and scarves. These suitcase space-savers add instant color and can easily take an outfit from day to night. Kelly Vrtis, an organizational travel spokeswoman for The Container Store relies on a lightweight Pashmina shawl as her go-to accessory while traveling. "You can use it over the shoulder, around your elbows or even wear it as a scarf."
For international travelers, one of the most costly items when traveling is phone calls. One of the best ways to save money is to use a spare, unlocked GSM phone. When you arrive, simply purchase a local SIM card. You can now use the phone for local calls and you can receive calls and texts free (outside the US, incoming calls and texts are free). You can also forward your work phone to your SIM number and receive calls on the road. Tell folks to send texts. It will save you money.
When it comes to travel and entertainment, my recommendation is that you bring your own. Your laptop is a media center, and with the addition of a small external drive and some light speakers (or great headphones) you can carry with you a huge collection of music, movies, and TV shows. So settle in, brew a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and fire up the latest episode of 30 Rock! This way, you also avoid hotel room pay-per-view movie charges.
Business trips are complex, and a lot can go wrong. The single best thing you can do is create a strict itinerary of meetings, transportation, and other logistics. Follow up with associations and transportation companies you are working with. Make sure that they are set and ready for the predetermined arrangements. It’s a simple and effective tactic. Create a solid itinerary to reduce waste and make the trip hyper-efficient. A set schedule will eliminate unproductive gaps in time and will give the employee a clear vision of what needs to get done. Soft arrangements in the schedule can be disastrous for the ROI of the trip. Cancellations can be used for something else. This is actually very common. Companies will make soft arrangements for business trips and oftentimes these arrangements are canceled. This is why you have to schedule well and follow up on all plans and arrangements.
For an easy and often fun way to get around California’s larger cities and communities, do what an increasing number of locals do and hitch a ride on a bus, subway, ferry, or light rail system. Using public transportation can be an efficient, affordable, safe, and eco-friendly option, particularly in areas where roads, parking, and urban traffic can be confusing and frustrating. Some transit systems let you buy multi-day passes; check ticket options online before you arrive to get the best deals. Two companies, Citypass and Go, also offer deals on local transportation options in San Francisco and Southern California. 
Even if you aren’t headed to a beachside city or major metropolis, work trips don’t have to be total snooze-fests. Every destination, no matter how small, has something to keep you and your co-workers entertained. Find the local hot spots using TripAdvisor and Fodor's, or search by city on the Food Network website for restaurants featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. At the very least, you'll avoid an overpriced meal at a mediocre chain restaurant, and you may even become the office hero for discovering that the sleepy southern city you're visiting is home to the world's best hickory-smoked ribs.
While the external stresses of travel are often outside your control, how you manage them is completely within your control. If you let an unplanned delay throw you into a state of panic or rage, travel can become unbearable. When faced with anything from unending delays to slow-moving crowds, pay attention to your stress levels and take a deep breath, listen to music, or otherwise maintain your calm, and you'll find travel much more bearable regardless of what's thrown your way. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments. I've been threatened with deportation, found myself in Beijing back-alleys and completely lost, extorted, and dropped off at the wrong location with no way to communicate with my driver, but a deep breath and a smile ultimately allowed for recovery.
Another thing! as well as the earplugs, I would definetely suggest the sleeping mask, for those who can´t sleep unless everything is really dark, and I find it difficult to sleep on planes with the lights they keep on during the flight (I need total darkness) and this is very useful for hostels or dorms where there is always somebody turning on the lights while you are sleeping…
Shop Light: Most shoes were not designed with weight in mind, but shoes sold by travel outfitters tend to be the exception. If you're looking for lightweight options built for comfort, start with a company like Magellan's or TravelSmith. The offerings may not reach any pinnacles of fashion, but there's enough variety that most travelers can find something suitable. And, unlike most online sellers, travel outfitters often list shoe weight in the specs, so you can shop accordingly.
At least every six months I'll empty my laptop bag and suitcase and remove items that I don't regularly use. There are tons of travel and technology gadgets that seem like good ideas, and it can be tempting to pack backup clothing, batteries, and a half-dozen pairs of shoes, but at some point you're going to be dragging, lifting, and hauling those items while they contribute nothing to your trip. In all but rare cases, items from clothing to chargers are available nearly anywhere in the world, so six pounds of backup gear is probably not worth hauling for a year on the off chance you will need it and can't find a local replacement. 

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.
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