Business travel, oh business travel. For some, it’s a chance to see the world. For others, it’s a slog to be endured. Most of the time, it’s somewhere between the two extremes. Here are some ideas to make the most of traveling for work:
It’s all about miles.
Miles are what makes the business traveler’s world go ’round. It’s all about miles. Miles get you upgrades and “free” trips. Miles make business travel more worth it. Your company pays for the trip, you keep the miles. You buy food on the trip, you earn miles, you submit an expense report, get reimbursed, and keep the miles. Miles are everything. Talk to you co-workers and see which airlines or hotel chains they recommend (business travelers love to talk about miles). Sign up for a credit card with a big mileage sign-up bonus — aim for at least 50,000 — and jump-start your mile hoarding. Every year, cash in your miles for a “free” vacation — or better yet, cash them in to extend a business trip in a location you’re already visiting (save on the airfare). Best if you have clients in Hawaii. More info here.
Don’t sit next to co-workers.
Don’t sit next to your co-workers on the plane, train, or automobile. Seems weird, but it’s better this way — trust me. You’ll see plenty of them. Don’t get adjacent seats. Don’t talk about work for 16 hours a day. You need some business breaks built in, so build them into your transit time. Send your girlfriend or wife an email. Read a book. You’ve thought about KPIs and sales reports enough.
Want to be a hero? Always bring a WiFi hot-spot. Get one of these (unlimited 4G for $35, use only the months you need it). Or these (500 MB FREE 4G data every month). You might have to pay for it yourself, but you may be able to get the data fee reimbursed by your employer, so it’s worth it to ask. Why bring your own internet? WiFi isn’t everywhere and when the Boingo hot-spot in the airport is overloaded or the conference room WiFi won’t let you connect, this thing will save the day. Your eventual promotion will more than pay for this $100 investment.
Order two drinks on the flight home.
If you’re doing a mega-day trip (flying into and out-of a city in a single day), assume the other business travelers on the plane are doing the same thing and order two drinks when you first get a chance. Why? Everybody’s thirsty, and the flight is going to sell out of drinks. If you want more than one, you’d better be honest with yourself and order the second right away. Otherwise, you’re not getting a second.
Don’t forget the juice.
Dead cell phones can kill a business trip. This guy travels with a dozen BlackBerry batteries, so our (former) secretary of state never runs dry. Do the same for yourself and your co-workers, but skip the replacement batteries and get an external battery with a USB charging port instead. Most will give you two full backup charges, which is great if you’ve just spent 3 hours playing Angry Birds in the air and need to join an hour-long conference call when you land.
Escape from the island.
When traveling for business, it’s easy to go from plane to airport to Marriott to conference room to airport to plane to … insanity. Get off the island. Explore. Take a stroll in the morning. You’re not going to sleep anyway, so get up and walk around. Find out what makes whatever city you’re in unique.
Got another tip? Leave a comment.
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