When the movie “Up in the Air” came out in 2009, it showed veteran business traveler Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) walking young protégé Natalie Keener through his disciplined business traveling strategy. As a veteran of the exercise, Clooney’s character offered his new traveling companion tips on everything from how to move through an airport quickly to finding the best At Home Anywhere experience available.
So if you’re preparing for an upcoming business trip and feeling a bit green under the collar, our experts at Churchill Living are here to provide you with some veteran insights on making the most of your next – or first – business travel adventure.
Get to Know Your Destination
Whether you’ve already paid a visit to your future destination, or it’s your first time heading there for business, it’s important to get some background on the area before your stay. This should include:
- Finding restaurants that appeal to your tastes and meet your per diem budget
- Locating fun areas or activities you can explore during your downtime
- Learning the best driving routes and what public transportation is available (e.g. taxis and subways)
- Looking for specials on your short-term living arrangement and their offered amenities
If you have someone in the office who’s already traveled to the area you’ll be visiting, they can usually provide you with some useful information. Even so, you’ll certainly want to take some time get yourself acquainted with the area so you can tailor your business traveling experience to your own unique tastes and lifestyle, as well as your clients’ preferences.
Make Packing Smarter, Not Harder
Those who are new to business travel are sometimes tempted to over-pack, check luggage or bring along unnecessary items prior to heading to the airport. However, packing versatile and sensible business attire, a handful of casual wear items, and a minimal amount of toiletries helps you sidestep long baggage check-in lines, plus the potential hurdles of retrieving bags at your next destination.
Veteran business travelers learn rather quickly how packing lightly and efficiently can save loads of time at the airport, and even while they are at home preparing for their journey. By starting early with a “pack light” mentality, you can enjoy the same benefits as the experts, who save valuable carry-on luggage space by purchasing travel-sized personal care products, and bring only the most essential clothing for their stay.
Those extra pairs of shoes, outfits and accessories you want to bring along with you will probably only slow you down. Without them, you can move quickly and effortlessly through the airport, and be on your way immediately after touchdown.
Check Your Travel Schedule and Save Time at the Airport
24 hours before your planned departure, and even a few hours in advance, be sure to check in on your flight’s status by visiting the flight schedule on your airport’s, or airline carrier’s, website. These days it’s not uncommon for flights to get delayed for several hours, either due to poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
If you are going to be late, it’s also best to reach out to your clients who might be left waiting for your arrival, as well as any others that are critical to the quality of your trip, such as a car rental agency.
In conjunction with preventing the possibility of a frustrating flight delay, you can also save a considerable amount of time at the airport by applying for TSA Pre-Check status for a more expedited business travel experience. This will let you skip the long security lines, and you won’t be subject to the same flight safety checks as other travelers. Just be sure to sign up before you make your reservation.
Reap the Rewards of Frequent Business Travel
If business travel is going to be a big part of your career, signing up for loyalty programs guarantees a progressively improved experience as you reach new tiers based on accrued flight mileage and purchases you make on your personal or company credit card.
This can entail loyalty to a brand, such as a single airline or rental service, or if you prefer the perks available from your credit card provider, programs that offer various rewards for purchases you will eventually be reimbursed for anyway.
Additionally, airlines will often compete with each other over repeated business travelers, so be sure to look for status matching programs from other carriers who will offer to match your accumulated points, and just might offer services and rewards more catered to your liking.