There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After five years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll come to mean a lot more.
One aspect of business travel that we’ve all just learned to live with is managing spending. You pay for food and other expenses, save your receipts—usually in a messy pile—then fill in a painful expense report at some time in the six months after your trip, when you’ve forgotten what all that spending was for. If you used a company card, you have to hope you made no mistakes. If you used your own money, you’re hoping the company reimburses the whole lot.
For starters, using an unlocked smartphone when traveling internationally will save you money, as you can purchase local SIM cards and use them for local calling, texting, and, of course, for wireless data to connect you to the internet. This is really helpful as you can tether your other phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, effectively sharing the connection and avoiding roaming charges. An unlocked phone with a local SIM card means uploads of photos and videos can happen as you take them versus waiting to get somewhere that Wi-Fi is offered. Speeds are faster than roaming and if you’re taking part in business conference calls, those sound better, without the delay that comes about when you roam.
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Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device.
Of course, things like your company’s travel policy, how often you travel, and the purpose and destination of your trips have a lot to do with how much you enjoy your life as a business traveler, but most of these are aspects that employees have little control over. What is in the hands of the business traveler, however, is strategy. Having the right strategies to approach the many steps of a business trip can truly make all the difference to an otherwise physically and emotionally weary business traveler.
For example, when I went to Cuba, I collected several bags of computer cables, electronics, and other household and personal items to donate through a local casa particular run by a family. When I went to Myanmar, I linked up with a group of punk rockers who volunteered to feed the homeless and provide school supplies to rural areas. My friends and I brought supplies and supported their compassionate work, and I wrote multiple articles about them.
Good news, globetrotters: Traveling a ton doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re wondering how to pack efficiently, find the cheapest flight or score major hotel deals, you’ll love this ultimate travel hack list for explorers. Say sayonara to those pre-travel jitters, because your jet-setting ways just got way easier. You can thank us later.
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!
When you arrive to check into your hotel, make sure you are upbeat and smiling. Greet the hostess and say, "It has been a very long day. I'm betting that you have a really nice room waiting for me." Normally, they smile and keep checking you in. At this point, just keep quiet. I am betting you will be very pleased when you open the door to your room. A smile and upbeat personality will get you a long way.
Number 2 and 4 rings so true for me. I hate the burnout of travel. I always feel I am going to come back to a place so I try to do less and enjoy a more rich experience, hoping to build on that the next time I come back. Traveling even after having kids is one of my big beliefs. I am not one to want to wait till the kids are out of the house to experience the world. While i am healthy and at my most active self, I want to experience the world – with the kids when possible.
The Bundle Approach: This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of The Packing Book, has now become our favorite. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we’ll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lies flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said. Travel is a life changing experience which draws people together and educates. Even if you don’t have plans to sell everything and travel continuously, the best tip I could give is to travel to a different country at least once in your life. See how other people live their lives. Witness the day to day things like going to the market, or how something simple like lunch is done in Spain, France or Italy. Having this perspective is a good thing and helps understand the world a little bit better.
Since then, I flew for free to Romania, to Cuba, and I am now about to spend the many miles accumulated in the last couple of years to fly to the other side of the world (location to be revealed soon). One of my favorite tips for business travel is to join at least 3 main frequent flier programs: one with Sky Team, one with Star Alliance, and one with Oneworld.
Work-Around: California prohibits extra-driver charges, and New York caps them at $3 per day. In other states, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National waive the fee for a spouse/partner on rentals by members of their frequent-renter programs; some also waive the fee for business associates. Just join the rental company's program before you pick up the car; there's no fee to enroll.
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.
Fit more in your luggage and avoid folds, creases, and wrinkles by employing the "Bundle Wrapping" method from OneBag.com. This packing strategy involves filling a small pouch with soft items (like socks, underwear, etc.) and then wrapping larger clothing items around the pouch to form a bundle. (Click here to see a helpful diagram of the Bundle Wrapping method.)
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.
I find that this method is really helpful for people who are planning a more complex trip or planning with a large group of people so that everyone is on the same page with knowing what they need to book. Many tend to wait until the last minute to book flights and thinking through your transportation as well as hotels can really cut down travel costs. It also helps you figure out whether your plans are realistic.
Great list of tips! I do have to say that I have been very thankful in the past for a nearby McDonald’s. Years ago when I was not a very experienced traveler, I arrived on a train by myself in Munich. I don’t speak German beyond a very few basic phrases. The train station is large with numerous exit doors. I knew where I wanted to go but didn’t know which door to take that would put me in the right direction. After standing there indecisively for some time, I realized that I would simply have to select a door and go out. When I did exit, the sight of golden arches about 2-3 blocks away was most welcome. I knew that I could go there, order some coffee or perhaps something else breakfast-like and study my map to orient myself. It turned out that I had selected the best door to exit, but it was the ability to sit somewhere somewhat familiar that gave me the confidence to carry on with my travel plans. I agree with several other posters, too, that McDonald’s can be depended upon to have clean bathrooms, often the only ones available.
Travel can be hard on leather shoes, purses, belts, and jackets, so if you find yours looking worse for the wear while you're on the road, turn to your hotel bathroom for a quick fix. Liquid shampoo has an amazing superpower: a small amount, rubbed in circles with a cloth, can clean and restore the rich color of leather. It can also be a handy and quick way to protect leather shoes from winter salt stains.
In the same breath, your business trip is not the time to throw your exercise routine out the door either. Always try to book a hotel with a gym and go first thing in the morning if you can. That way, you won’t have an excuse to not go later in the day, or the opportunity to schedule something that cuts it out. Learn bodyweight exercises or yoga at home, so that if, for whatever reason, you find yourself without a gym, you have a few go-to’s on hand. Picking up running is also a great idea. This will be a great way to both burn calories and explore a bit of the city you’re in.
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.
Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. I love, love, love taking walking tours when I travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a walking tour when you travel! Here are some lists of my favorite free walking tour companies in the world:
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.
Our company is really focused on growth and has to be frugal with all expenses. This is especially important with business travel. I maximize our rewards points earned from AMEX and Capital One credit cards to cover the costs of all our company’s business travel costs. Using Capital One points allows you to book Delta flights and still earn SkyMiles that can be used for future travel. It’s the most powerful travel savings combination possible. As a matter of fact, I am currently in Guangzhao, China, meeting with suppliers, and all my flights and hotels were paid for with rewards points.
I too travel quite often so am quite well versed in packing. I now leave quite a few things in my bags so I don’t have to pack them each time for a trip. It saves me so much time and energy for the rest of my packing. I have a separate little bag for undies and socks and I have my large laundry bag left in my case, it can always be used as an extra bag as well if I’ve picked up a few items on my trip and they don’t fit in my suitcase. I breeze right through security as I have everything in a large carry on bag on my shoulder and just pull out my laptop and bag of liquids. I have Nexxus so I don’t usually have to take my shoes and belt off or I won’t wear one. I like everything to move smoothly.
It’s important to always put your best foot forward when attending meetings, especially overseas. But your business attire isn’t complete without well-made business cards on hand. Leave a memorable first impression by making sure your business cards are professionally printed with Vistaprint. Vistaprint is the business card provider of choice for small businesses with its affordable price and great turnaround time. And if you still haven’t finalized your business cards design, you can easily choose from their over 10,000 templates or get help from one of their professional designers.
Changing or withdrawing large amounts of money minimizes the fees you'll pay to get local currency, but it also means you'll be traveling with far more cash—and larger bills—than you'd have on you at home. It's wise to make small denominations of currency easily accessible. That way, you won't pull out the local equivalent of a $100-dollar bill while attempting to buy a 30-cent souvenir. You also won't have to reach down into your jeans to get more money from an under-clothing money pouch.
Business trips often come at a significant financial expense, something that is felt even greater by smaller businesses. So, it’s important that before you depart, you are clear on objectives and expected outcomes of your trip. Most importantly, you should know how you’re going to pay for the trip in terms of expected future revenue. We skip a lot of conferences when we know that the clients we’ll meet there are ones that are just as happy to speak to us over the phone or video conference. Furthermore, understanding what you can and can’t claim, plus any spend limitations, is important to avoid awkward discussions when you submit your post-trip expense report.