Our flying on business travel tips include many practical tips that can make your business flight more comfortable and enjoyable. For example, what to have in mind when choosing airline, why you should avoid flight connections if you possibly can, why you should check in on-line, how to choose the best seat on the plane, how to beat jet-lag, and many more practical business travel tips.
When it comes to wondering what to expect in business class, the experience really depends on the airline. Most business class flight experience is similar, but there are some business class perks on certain airlines that stand out. International business class travel differs from domestic business class, but also can differ based on the airline and the configuration of the business class plane. For example, the Emirates business class products differ a lot depending on whether you are flying business class on the A380 or the B777.
One of my favorite tips for business travel is to get a serviced apartment, especially if the business trip is longer than a couple of weeks. What I like about an apartment versus a hotel room is that it is more spacious and feels more homey, so that I am significantly more comfortable. A good apartment comes with all the amenities such as a comfortable bed, a spacious bathroom, a cozy couch and a tv, a fully equipped kitchen, and even a washing machine and a drier.
My advice is never to watch a movie on an airplane. By that, I mean to make the most of travel time to work on projects or business-related tasks. An airplane is a great place to get work done because you’re stuck in one spot for an extended period with few options for how to spend it. You literally have people waiting on you! Without the regular distractions of being a workplace, you can get a lot accomplished, especially work that requires deep thought like strategizing or writing. Plan out what you’re going to work on beforehand, so you have any materials you need and aren’t distracted by in-flight entertainment.
Based on no scientific data (but plenty of anecdotal proof), we're sure shaving cream is the most-forgotten toiletry in the travel tool kit. Man or woman, you're likely going to need to shave at some point on any trip, so finding yourself without can be problematic. Worse, most hotels don't offer shaving cream in their repertoire of free items. But hair conditioner, which comes standard with nearly all hotel rooms, makes a perfectly acceptable substitute. And it has the added benefit of being moisturizing, so you can be smooth and supple in one easy step.
No trick here - use a credit card that gives rewards for your favorite hotel chain and you can sleep and eat (breakfast) for free. We use our Marriott and Hilton credit cards for lots of business expenses and average around 24 free night stays each year - that's about $4500 worth of Residence Inn, Hampton Inn and breakfasts for two. Better still, use the cards to pay for business expenses and the rewards for personal trips. Pay yourself to take a long weekend off!
There's an entire world of frequent traveler programs and credit card benefits that consume some people to the point of obsession. While collecting points might be a worthwhile hobby, it's also worth knowing if your company or credit card provides benefits that can save you some money and help keep your sanity. These programs might allow you access to airline lounges, provide special phone numbers for restaurant bookings, or provide insurance and help during travel disruptions. Generally, if you or your company pays a fee for the card there are likely some benefits. As you fly more, airlines and hotels might provide upgraded seats and rooms, and if nothing else, usually provide a special phone hotline that gives you priority service when things go sideways.
"Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I'm eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement." — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor
"Make sure you check international airlines to ensure your primary airline will gain the miles from flights on international carriers. Many of the perks afforded on your primary carrier will transfer over to these international carriers. In many cases, international carriers will actually treat you better than domestic US airlines in terms of free baggage, upgrade or access to their executive lounges. Almost all international carriers offer free meals and alcoholic beverages on their flights."
It’s good to have a budget to stick to, but most people tend to go over. Start saving as soon as possible (like, now) and aim to bring more money than you think you’ll need. The more money you have, the more you’ll be able to treat yourself to nicer accommodation, splurge on fun tours, and not spend your entire trip worrying that you’ll run out of cash.
Rushing around like this prevents us from being present as everything begins to blur together, and the travel experience becomes less connected and more superficial. It's good to have an idea of what you want to do in a place, or a destination in mind, but then allow yourself to be open to going off-plan, to getting lost along the way and discovering something completely different.
As soon as you book a trip, it’s a good idea to double-check that your passports and IDs aren’t expired, and that they will not expire while you are traveling internationally. If you need to get a Passport for your kids, learn more here. You’ll also want to inform your bank if you’re traveling abroad so they don’t assume fraudulent activity and freeze your credit card. Also consider emailing yourself a copy of your passport, driver’s license, medical cards and itinerary, so if anything happens to them you’ll be able to access them online.
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)
Are you lured by clever commercials that promise 4 star accommodations for the cost of a 1 star? Consider this: Booking directly with a hotel or chain has far more value than a quick fix. Here's why: Generally, hotels will not take your money until you show up. If you no-show or cancel, they will take only 1 night's cost, no hassle changes can be made to your reservation, and their website always has to have a better deal than what you can get from those 3rd party 'tempters'. Choose wisely!
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.
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!)
8. Create an on-boarding routine. This is particularly important for long-distance flights. For example, organize all your reading material in a separate bag (within your carry-on) before you get on the plane. When you reach your seat, take the bag out and put the carry-on away. I am amazed by the amount of time wasted by people who arrive at their seat and start rummaging through their bags to find all the things they want for the flight, while fellow passengers steam in the aisle waiting for this ritual to end.
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 email@example.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.