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.
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.
So many travellers preach that it’s all about experiences not possessions, but you know what? Sometimes possessions can offer beautiful reminders of the experiences you’ve had. I only started buying souvenirs from every country I visited in the last year, and I wish I’d been doing so from the start of my trip. And if you’re worried about space in your backpack, just mail them off to a friend or family once you’ve bought them and your pack will be none the heavier. My friend Jaime collects magnets from every place he visits and I’m so jealous of his collection!
We were first business flyers to arrive for our morning flight. We were asked if we wanted to sit in the dining room to order a hot, fresh breakfast from an a la carte menu. Yes, please! A fresh cappuccino, fresh squeezed orange juice, and crepes made to order. I was so impressed. I am accustomed to buffet style snacks and treats, but having a menu to order fresh food was quite enjoyable, particularly sitting alongside the floor to ceiling windows with a view of the runway (Eric liked that).
On one of our Etihad business class flights, from Amman to Abu Dhabi, our flight was pretty empty. In fact, there was only one more person in the business class cabin and only about 15 more people in economy. Despite this, they pulled up a business class bus to whisk us off to the terminal, while the economy passengers waited. Having been on the other side of the curtain more often than not, I find this to be a little excessive. But it is one of the Etihad business class perks I guess.
If your business travels become frequent, it may be best to have a travel agent that you trust on call. Doing this allows you and your team to focus more on the activities instead of worrying about transportation and accommodation. They would also be able to give you deals that you would not normally find. However, not all travel agencies are equal. Want to find out how four secrets to picking the right travel agent? Read this article.
3. Always keep an energy bar in your carry-on bag. During one seven-hour delay I experienced in Miami, the airport vendors had literally sold out of food. If it’s a winter blizzard or a massive string of delays, you may be out of luck. Prepare in advance by keeping an energy bar in your bag so you’re always ready in case disaster strikes. Pro tip: At the grocery store buy your favorite kind in bulk -- they often sell them in boxes of 12 or more.
With all of the technology, I work anywhere and everywhere. The problem- running out of power and there’s never a free outlet. In airports, people charge their cell, iPad, and computer. They have all of the technology too. I never travel without a little gadget-a travel power strip. Now, I just ask to share an outlet. This low-tech gadget saves me from wasting time. Travel a lot? Invest in one; they're about $10. Of course, if running out of power gives you an excuse to relax, that’s good too.
I had the Barclary Arrival credit card and it was super easy to earn AND redeem rewards. At the time I had to put $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months and then I got 60,000 points, which was about $625 in travel credit. Plus you get 10% of your redeemed points back. So I booked us 2 roundtrip flights from Newark to Orlando and a hotel outside of Newark – earned the points for those purchases and then I was able to go into my account and pay the travel portion of my bill with my points, plus get 10% of them back. Super easy! We also booked an AirBNB in Providence, RI that would have cost us $275, but was free because of rewards. Also, no foreign transaction fee, which is nice if you are leaving the US. I cancelled it after the first year though because I was just churning it for the points and didn’t want to pay the $89 fee after my first year was up. Something to think about though!
There is always a solution to these issues you may face during your business trip. You can quickly find another flight or use the Jet Card program we talked about earlier to secure a private flight to the destination. Accommodation issues can be solved by turning to booking apps and services such as Airbnb. When you are prepared, no challenge is to difficult to handle.
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.
Food is now my absolute favourite way to get to know a place better. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things. Try everything, even if you have no idea what it is. I promise you won’t regret it.
As the TSA screening protocol has expanded, I've found small ways to save time during airport screening; I make sure that metal (watch, keys, change, phone, etc.) is in my computer bag - not on my person. And since airport requirements differ, I always assume the TSA will need to see my boarding pass a second time. Finally, for those wearing dress shoes through airport security, consider trading in your laces for a pair of slip-ons. You never know when you may need those two minutes you'll save.
All these tips are great, but I truly appreciate the perspective about Sunrise is better than Sunset. I know I am probably in the minority here, but the freshness of morning is a rebirth for me. And a dazzling sunrise does more for lifting my spirits than almost anything else. Whatever problems I had yesterday, now, with this new sunrise, I have a chance at a fresh start. (Don’t get me wrong…I love a romantic sunset too!)