I was recently asked for advice on how to make business travel a bit more bearable. Like most business-people, I go through spurts when I travel quite a bit. Here are some suggestions on how to make life on the road a tad bit easier.
10 Tips for Stress-free travel
- Always use a travel agency. Not only can a travel agent get you out of a bind when the airline cancels your flight or if the weather causes cancellations or delays, but each reservation is automatically populated with the seat assignment you most prefer (even if you booked using the agency’s online booking tool). There are many reasons why it pays to book with a travel agency.
- Book as soon as you know you’re traveling. This simply assures a better seat. We all hate traveling in the middle seat wedged between the teenager opposed to showering and a former NFL offensive lineman–especially on long flights.
- Park in the same area of the parking lot/garage every time. This way, when you get home at midnight after three days of grueling meetings and travel, you have a pretty good idea where your car is. At least you’ll be within range of the panic button on your key chain that will hone in to your car’s exact location.
- Enroll in Global Entry or TSA Pre Check. You’ll love not having to stand in the “regular” line at security. The longest line I’ve endured at TSA PreCheck was about ten people deep. But the best part is not having to take off your shoes, belt, jacket, etc. You also won’t have to take your laptop or toiletries out of your carry-on bag, and you can feel assured that those in line with you have not been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants against them.
- Secure priority seating. There’s nothing worse than being in the last boarding group, lugging your roller bag all the way down to Row 34 only to be told by the overly cheerful flight attendant there is no more overhead bin space. There are a ton of credit cards available whereby you always receive priority boarding on a given airline. Most also allow you one free checked bag.
- Stay consistent with airlines, hotels and car rental companies, when possible. It’s simply less confusing when you don’t have to try to figure out each leg of your trip. I like to stay at the Hyatt Place. I know the basic layout of the hotel, what meal options they offer, and I like their breakfast that’s included in the rate. Additionally, more often than not, the hotel is situated close to restaurants within my budget. Their properties are new, ensuring cleanliness. As for cars, I always rent from National because I love their Emerald Aisle program. There’s no guess work when I need a car. I simply follow the signs, choose the car I want from the Emerald Aisle, and drive off the lot. Keeping consistent with airlines, hotels, and car rentals also ensures you’ll accrue frequent traveler points faster.
- Dress comfortably. I know many business men and women feel they need to dress in business attire when flying. But personally, I think we all have to wear enough business attire. Instead, I wear comfortable layers. In my experience, half the time airplanes are too hot, half the time they’re too cold. Shed a layer, add a layer, but NEVER remove your shoes. That’s just not nice.
- Travel with entertainment. Carry on a good book, load your phone with relaxing music, and don’t forget your tablet. But for heaven’s sake, use earphones. Remember, if you can clearly hear music blasting out of the one ear bud you have dangling down near your shoulder, so can all of those around you. Also, most airlines offer in-flight entertainment for no additional charge. Tip: Nothing makes a half hour go by faster than a good game of Candy Crush. It’s mindless, but helps the time go by.
- Purchase some noise canceling headphones. No one likes to hear the loud guy, or the crying baby, or the music blasting from the aforementioned dangling ear bud! I’m told Bose are the best, but there are less expensive versions available from $50 on up. If noise canceling headphones are not in the budget, try putting on regular ear buds and sticking the other end of the cord in your pocket. It won’t prevent you from hearing your fellow travelers trials and tribulations, but the chatty lady sitting next to you will think you’re listening to music and won’t start telling you about her grand kids.
- Consider getting a club membership. This tip is a bit expensive (starting at $500/year), but if you can swing it, it’s a fabulous luxury. Relaxing in a comfortable environment while enjoying complimentary snacks, beverages, and Wifi helps tremendously when flights are delayed and you’re stuck in an airport for an unbearable amount of time.
Really, it’s the simple things that make life on the road a little easier.