There seems to be a lot of complaining these days about the state of business travel. I guess I am in the minority because I find this to be a fairly amazing time to travel. Not only is it more affordable than ever, but there are a lot of great tools out there to make it both productive and enjoyable.
I travel a fair amount around the country and internationally, mostly speaking about small business and making media appearances, so business travel is something I take seriously. Not only have I learned a few tricks along the way, but I also picked the brain of my colleagues to compile a list of business travel tips.
Here are five of my favorites:
1. Get elite status: Nothing beats becoming an elite member of an airline because the perks are just great: Faster lines, you can check in more bags, first-class upgrades, the ability to use their lounge in the airport, etc.
So, how do you get that elite status? Of course the obvious way is to travel a lot with a single airline. There are other ways as well:
- Use your frequent flier mileage number when you rent cars and check into hotels. For instance, a hotel that I stay in a few times a year gives me 500 miles toward my airline of choice every time I check in.
- Use their credit card. This is probably the easiest way to get to an airline’s elite status because every time you charge, you get miles. I have a pal who goes to Hawaii twice a year and hasn’t paid for an airline ticket in years because he uses his airline credit card to pay for everything the rest of the year.
2. Get a great four-wheeled rollaway: This is vital for two reasons. First, learn how to pack efficiently so you don’t have to check bags. Second, a great rolling bag makes travel so much easier since a rollaway with four wheels can stand without you having to touch it, thus freeing your hands. Mine looks like any other two-wheeled rolling carry-on bag, but when needed, you can hit a button and two more wheels pop out, thus effectively turning it into a cart that cannot tip over.
3. Get some noise cancelling headphones: No, they are not cheap, but they are worth it. Having the ability to shut out distracting noises can’t be beat, especially when you have work to do.
4. Bring along some external backup batteries: For your laptop, yes, but did you know you can buy an external backup battery for your iPhone. On a long trip, it’s worth it. Also, double check to make sure you have your business essentials before leaving home. This will help you avoid paying inflated airport prices for items you forgot, or running errands once you arrive to your destination.
5. App up: It would be impossible to list all of the great apps that are out that make travel better and easier, but here are some of the top ones:
- TripIt: easily turns flights, hotel and car reservations into a simple itinerary. Additionally, the app allows you to get flight status, driving directions and more.
- SeatGuru: gives you detailed airline seat analysis, comments about seats which have limited recline (yes!), less legroom, bad windows etc.
- HotelTonight: Book same-day, last-minute hotel rooms for less.
- TripAdvisor: When going to a new city, TripAdvisor’s crowdsourcing reviews of hotels, restaurants and more are invaluable. TripAdvisor is the world’s second-most-popular travel app (Google Earth is #1); it is estimated that it is downloaded 25 times per minute.
What have you learned from your business travels? Do you have any recommendations to add to the list? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.