If you are a small business owner who travels frequently, you know the multitude of potential headaches and stressors that you can encounter on each trip. Not counting the early check-in, long lines, and hefty fees, there are plenty of other little things that can make simple travel a major adventure.
But are there ways to make business travel easier? Of course! Here are 8 of the best tips for business travelers:
1. Baggage Tips
Extra luggage fees are outrageous. If you fly with an airline that charges fees for checked baggage, be sure you take full advantage of your carry-on. Airlines will usually allow you to bring one carry-on to store in overhead bins, as well as one personal bag to store under your seat.
While there are trolley carry-on bags that are almost as big as a regular suitcase, avoid being forced to "gate check" your large carry-on if there is no room. You can do this by using soft-sided bags that will more easily conform to space available in bins.
Use a backpack with a laptop compartment so you can even pack toiletries, extra clothes, and all your quick essentials to store under the seat.
2. Join CLEAR
Want to avoid those long airport security lines? With thousands of passengers moving through airports, it can be very frustrating to get caught in a time-consuming line (not good if you're running late) and doing a basic strip-search at the checkpoint.
However, you may be able to avoid this big stress by joining CLEAR for just $179 per year for frequent travelers. CLEAR will perform a thorough background check and provide you with a biometric card. At participating airports, CLEAR members can simply check in at the CLEAR kiosk, go to the front of airport security checkpoints, and be on their way much faster.
While CLEAR can add convenience, it is only in limited airports. However, CLEAR is "aggressively" trying to expand to major airports across the country.
3. Avoid Rush Times
It is easy to book a flight that leaves and arrives during the busiest times of an airport. Try a strategy where you book flights the evening before. You may get there later, but you'll avoid the extra waiting and the stress. Plus you won't be rushed to get to a meeting when you arrive by plane the first thing in the morning.
4. Ask for an upgrade
No matter which hotel you stay, there is always a chance that a better room is unoccupied. Hotels frequently operate at about a 60-70% occupancy. It never hurts to ask for a free upgrade to a suite if available, especially if you are a frequent guest at a particular hotel or chain.
5. Ask for Frequent Stay Points
Many hotel chains will offer free stays after a certain number of paid nights. Check with a favorite or preferred hotel and inquire if they have a reward system. This type of "free stay" reward could be used for business, or use your paid business hotel charges to earn free nights on your next personal trip.
Whether you stay at a 4-star luxury hotel or one of the local Howard Johnson's, it is your home away from home. Especially if you travel often, take the time to unpack your cases so that your clothes hang in the closet or wardrobe or are stashed in the provided drawers. This gives you a feeling of having a "home base" while you are away.
7. Keep Receipts
If you're traveling on business, it's tax deductible. Be sure you have a procedure for keeping all receipts including airfare, hotel charges, meals (even beverages and snacks), and any other related expenses such as gifts to potential or existing clients.
8. See Some Sights
It is a frequent complaint of business travelers that they go to popular and thriving metropolises, but never experience the city. Just because you're on business doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself while you're there. Ask locals what attractions or events you should attend. Take in a game at Wrigley Field. See a Broadway show in New York. Visit NASA in Houston. Be a tourist and enjoy your travels more so you don't dread going on another business trip.