Business Travel 101

Mr. Manager's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,268

Travel in general can be among the most stressful things to do, but it can also be among the most exciting. Business travel isn't generally the exciting type, but it doesn't have to be a major source of stress either. The work you'll be doing remotely will likely be stressful enough, so it would seem to be best practice to bookend the week (or weeks) with more relaxed travel, right?

Unfortunately, the easiest methods of making travel a relaxing experience are either more expensive or reserved for those seasoned travelers that have long since paid their dues. Priority security and boarding, first- or business-class seats, and chartered drivers might be in the cards for you, but that's probably not the case now. In the meantime, the following tips will help you streamline the travel process and help you relax a little bit on the way to and from your business trip.


Packing

I love shoes as much as the next guy, but you should really only bring two pairs: a pair of oxfords and a pair of running shoes. You likely don't need to dress to the nines on your business trip, so bring comfortable pair of standard oxfords in either black or brown. If you MUST bring both, do it. You will have to sacrifice other things, but that's up to you. I'm not going to insult you by talking about everything you should pack. Be a big boy (or girl) and pack only what's necessary. Do you need underwear and socks for every day. Yes. Do you need slacks for every day? No. Complimentary colors, weather appropriate, and setting appropriate is the key. My biggest tip here: invest in learning how to fold! Folding can save space and time. The right folding techniques can allow you to avoid the iron, which takes lots of time.

Luggage

This is huge. Hard cases with vertical rolling and sturdy hardware (handles and wheels) are great. Rimowa and Samsonite are great, but other brands work too. Skip the LV bags; designer luggage is pointless and increases the likelihood of theft. Skip the cheap cases, because they suck and are a headache. The hard case gives you durability and vertical rolling is easier to walk with. Sturdy hardware is the most important. A broken wheel or handle can ruin your trip as fast as anything. Finally, go small. You can't bend the carryon rules with a hard case, so make sure it fits. Sometimes you can check at the gate, but don't count on it.

Airport

Don't be late, but don't be too early either. If you have a late flight or you are flying during peak time, it is usually necessary to get there at least one hour prior. It's almost never necessary to get there earlier, but this is case by case. Pro tip: check in before you get to the airport. You have a smart phone (and if you don't, stop reading right now and go buy one) so you have the option of getting electronic boarding passes. This should be insulting advice. If it's not, you're traveling wrong.

Thinking about checking bags? Stop it. Checking bags wastes time at both ends of your trip; it increases the likelihood of lost or stolen luggage; it over-contributes to the wear and tear on your luggage; and if you make your colleagues wait for you at the luggage carousel for thirty minutes at the end of a long flight on what might be the only night of free time, you'll never hear the end of it. Okay, okay. For multi-week, international, or special purpose travel you might need to check bags. Same rules apply when selecting luggage. But for a one- to three-week trip, carry on.

Now, I'm grateful to any process that tries to make me live longer. But the security line is still one of the most frustrating aspects of air travel. You know what? You can't do anything about the rowdy kids in front of you or the audibly sweaty bro behind you. This is the time to handle your business. Again, you know how security lines work so don't have knives or metal sewn into your slacks and you'll be fine. Get a process down and stick to it. Mine is to place all my peripherals (phone, wallet, keys, passport, etc.) into the pocket of my jacket and take it off as soon as I'm done with the TSA agent minding the security line. I take off my shoes as soon as I'm in reach of a bin and place them with my jacket inside. My bag is already unzipped for easy laptop access. I try and keep my belt in my luggage, so I have nothing else to take off. Whatever your process is, perfect it. If you already know how you'll handle security, it won't be stressful.

At the gate and on the plane you are just sitting, so try and unwind. Only you can judge how to do that, so try and do it. However, quality noise cancelling headphones and some form of entertainment will help with this.

After the flight, if you can grab an Uber, that is a really stress free way to get to your destination. If it's not an option and transportation isn't prearranged, I guess you're stuck in the cab line.

Money, Points, and Other

If you're travelling on the company's dime, tip well. It will make you feel good and hey, you're not paying. If you can use your own card and then get reimbursed, have some of points or airline miles cards at your disposal and use whichever is most appropriate. You'll feel better about your trip if you know it will help you pay for a vacation in the near future. Eat well but try to order healthy meals at least half of the time. Try foods you wouldn't normally try; this will help you develop fond memories and it will feel less like drudgery.

Your hotel likely has a gym, so use it. When else can you walk 4 minutes and be at a gym with nobody in it? It will also help relax you after (or before) work. If you're travelling, you likely have a pretty condensed schedule of items to accomplish, and stress tightens muscles and makes your body hold on to calories, so working out is doubly important.

There are probably a lot of other things you can do. Be creative, but above all else, be as efficient as possible on the way to your destination and try and relax or party during free time while you're there.

Hope this provides some useful information. If you have any other suggestions, please share with the class. Safe travels!

Comments (46)

Nov 20, 2013

Who would carry on for a 3 week trip? The time savings is de minimis, especially if you're on the road for more than a business week. Shipping may make sense too, just send some of your shit to the hotel.

When it comes to drivers/car services, call around I'm about half an hour from the airport and here it's about 30-45 o/w for a car service, more for an airport taxi, look around, especially if parking isn't cheap.

Nov 20, 2013
futurectdoc:

Who would carry on for a 3 week trip? The time savings is de minimis, especially if you're on the road for more than a business week. Shipping may make sense too, just send some of your shit to the hotel.

When it comes to drivers/car services, call around I'm about half an hour from the airport and here it's about 30-45 o/w for a car service, more for an airport taxi, look around, especially if parking isn't cheap.

Who goes away for 3 weeks straight? Most people would be home each weekend...

Nov 26, 2013

Working with a client in Asia. Flying home each weekend would be pointless - you'd just spend both days on the plane.

Nov 20, 2013
futurectdoc:

Who would carry on for a 3 week trip? The time savings is de minimis, especially if you're on the road for more than a business week. Shipping may make sense too, just send some of your shit to the hotel.

When it comes to drivers/car services, call around I'm about half an hour from the airport and here it's about 30-45 o/w for a car service, more for an airport taxi, look around, especially if parking isn't cheap.

Good point, but you can easily fit two weeks of clothes in a carry on and unless you have points, the $50 - $100 you spend checking bags can be used on dry cleaning.

Saving time is just one of a few important reasons why carrying on is better. As mentioned, you also drastically cut your chances of a lost or stolen bag, and your bags will last a lot longer. However, I agree that 3 weeks is the maximum length of trip where I would consider carrying on.

Nov 20, 2013

There are some hacks, get an Amex Platinum card and get a $200 rebate on airline fees, then get a card for your primary carrier and voila no more fees. The rebate will cover you for 5 round trips, on a legacy in the US. Also just get star silver on Aegean, you only need 4000 miles or 16000 for gold, if you don't fly that frequently on UA/US, it may make sense or if you find yourself split between the two (US may be leaving Star Alliance in the next few).

Nov 20, 2013

Nice advice sir. I would add that if you have a refrigerator in the hotel, buy groceries to be a little more healthy.

Nov 20, 2013

Absolutely. I second this.

Nov 20, 2013

"Who goes away for 3 weeks straight? Most people would be home each weekend"

I did 6 weeks straight in a city that was only 4 hours flight from my home office/city this year. When there is a deal to be executed, who has time to fly home for weekends?

Nov 20, 2013
SSits:

"Who goes away for 3 weeks straight? Most people would be home each weekend"

I did 6 weeks straight in a city that was only 4 hours flight from my home office/city this year. When there is a deal to be executed, who has time to fly home for weekends?

Ain't nobody got time for that. Agreed. It does happen.

Best Response
Nov 20, 2013

If you do a lot of international travel, enroll in Global Entry or some similar program. It saves a TON of time when going through customs.

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Nov 20, 2013

I frequently do 2 week trips and sometimes longer out here in Asia. The trick to avoid getting forced to check in your carry on is to do online check-ins and print your boarding pass at home/office. Most airlines in Asia are a pain in the ass with carry on weight limit, I find Cathay to be the biggest bitch of them all.

Every freakin' time I check in at the counter they force me to weight my carry on and if it's over 7kg (15lbs) you will have to check that shit in. While I haven't have the great pleasure of losing my luggage with them yet, it is a huge time sink at baggage claim.

Not sure how many of you travel to Asia, but if you do, you don't need to bring much toiletries aside from gel and deodorant. Hotels in Asia still provide full toiletry kits. Do bring imodium cuz you don't want to be shittin your insides out for 10 day straight!!!

Nov 20, 2013

One extra word on shoes:

It is tempting to bring your shoe trees. After all, even your backup oxfords are likely pretty nice. I'm not going to argue with you if you insist on bringing your shoe tree, but I like to stuff the shoe with a couple of socks. It allows it to keep at least some semblance of shape and helps you save space.

Also, to avoid scuffing or scratches, I always wrap my shoes in a t - shirt or a plastic grocery bag.

Nov 20, 2013

Or, if you purchase a proper pair of dress shoes, you will receive nice travel bags for them...

Nov 20, 2013

For the ultimate gangster - if you don't have airport lounge membership status but in the mood to pampered. Stroll up to your airlines lounge (tip make sure you are looking good and beam confidence). Now tell the hostess (make eye contact), that you've just joined xyz company and that as part of your package you will be getting membership, however HR just has not signed you up yet, offer to give them your card (they won't care or check). Works the majority of the time at away from home airports and the limited downside is you are rejected and sit with the plebs

Nov 21, 2013

I like this option. There is never much downside to asking for what you want. At the very worst, you don't get it.

Nov 21, 2013

nice i'm trying this next tine

Nov 25, 2013

I'll be the devil's advocate for the usual pro-LCC (low cost carrier) airlines. I fly around 50-55k miles a year on United and star alliance carriers. If you are traveling a lot for business and/or personal endeavors, I would highly recommend trying to find an alliance that fits you and your travel plans and sticking with it. I fly to Europe a lot and then some domestics in the US, so star alliance works best for me (both routing and award mile trips as well).

For United:
25k - Silver
50k - Gold (me)
75k - Platinum
100k - 1K

At any of these levels, you get to skip countless numbers of lines. I skip check in lines if I'm checking in a bag, security lines, boarding lines, and I'm consistently in the front of the plane (generally rows 7/8 on 737s/757s/A320s). I'm also added to the complimentary upgrade list for first class on domestic flights (your status, fare & routing determine the likelihood of the upgrade). The amount time I've saved getting through airports and on and off planes is a huge plus for me. + lounge access internationally, three free checked bags (only 1 for silver), economy plus (better legroom) for free, and other benefits. Additionally, the number you're given to call about reservations changes between general members and elites, and it makes a huge difference. I just changed flights because of a delay that gave me a tight connection. 30 minutes before the flight was leaving.

Although, it's not as good as the older days, there are still a bunch of pluses for paying slightly more and getting your status up. My two cents, at least!

Nov 26, 2013

Left off a BIG one. TSA pre-check. costs $100. Benefits: jump the line, keep your belt and shoes on, laptop stays in the bag, liquids don't come out. I think you can pre-clear customs if your international. absolutely NO reason NOT to do this.

All you do is fill out some forms and submit to a background check.

http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck

Nov 26, 2013

I was trying to focus on things you could do cheap (besides luggage) but I didn't know it was that cheap. At only $100, you are right: there is no reason ANY frequent traveler should avoid the $100 fee.

Great addition.

Nov 29, 2013

Sorry to hijack the thread, but thought that I could benefit from the insight of some savvy travelers. Assuming that I would be doing the following a couple times per year, which would be preferable?

North America to Abu Dhabi (and back) from a city with no direct flights:
1) 2 hour flight, followed by 14.5 hour flight to Dubai, car to Abu Dhabi.
2) 4 hour flight, followed by 12.5 hour flight to Dubai, car to Abu Dhabi.
3) 4 hour flight followed by 12.5 hour flight direct to Abu Dhabi.

1) and 2) would be Emirates business class and 3) would be Etihad business class. Would your choice change for economy? I have tried going through Amsterdam and that was a drag (2 longish flights back to back). I think that I would prefer one long flight and a shorter flight. Thanks.

Nov 29, 2013

Skip the car!

Nov 29, 2013

Yeah, definitely leaning towards Etihad to fly direct into Abu Dhabi.

Nov 30, 2013

Etihad makes the most amount of sebse. Theyre just as good of an airling, particularly if youre flying in C - where status now offers little added value (other than if you collect miles, in which case check their partners). Also, think about the return - would you rather spend your pre-departure hours in a nice lounge or be stressed in a car until you get to the lounge. (Obviously depending on travel arrangements)

Nov 29, 2013

What city in NA? Do you have any status on an alliance? I'd use ITA matrix and try and figure out routings.

Nov 29, 2013

Calgary. So the routes are through Seattle for 1) or Toronto for 2) and 3). I have silver status on KLM/Air France. That might help for Etihad?

Dec 1, 2013

Great post!

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.

Dec 2, 2013

for footwear I recommend Sperry's

Dec 2, 2013

don't go nuts at souvenir/duty-free shops unless you've brought a big ass suitcase to accommodate for all your new unnecessary goodies

Dec 2, 2013

"Never get behind old people their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo. Asians they pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip on shoes god bless them". - Ryan Bingham, Up in the Air

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

Dec 2, 2013
dwight schrute:

"Never get behind old people their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo. Asians they pack light, travel efficiently, and they got a thing for slip on shoes god bless them". - Ryan Bingham, Up in the Air

So true. Almost missed a flight because one of those old people. It was a tiny regional airport and there was only one scanner.

Dec 2, 2013

Two words: "carry" and "On"

I highly recommend the Air Boss from Red Oxx because a) it has a cool name and b) I can carry on a week's worth of clothes in that thing.

Dec 2, 2013
jqbuyside:

Two words: "carry" and "On"

I highly recommend the Air Boss from Red Oxx because a) it has a cool name and b) I can carry on a week's worth of clothes in that thing.

Thanks for the tip, never heard of that one before but just ordered one.

Dec 2, 2013

Condition your body to minimal sleep. That way, no matter what time zone you're in, you'll always be tired. Works like a charm.

More seriously, no - there's nothing specific about business travel you should or shouldn't do. You'll learn the tricks yourself - what minute you can wake up past 5:30 AM and still catch a shuttle flight, for example. Go into this with the expectation that business travel is pretty damn painful and you should be fine.

Dec 2, 2013

Huge +1 on the carry-on luggage. You should not be wasting your time waiting for bags, especially if you have status and get to board early.

Try to stay in your home time-zone if possible. For instance, I'm based on the East Coast but have to travel a fair amount to LA for work. When I'm there I always try to wake up around 5am and go to the gym before work, which makes adjusting back to EST easier.

Dec 2, 2013

I carry the Patagonia burrito bag, it's the maximum legal size you can carry on. US Air/Starwood w/ the occasional hilton. Kimpton has decent promotions as of late also.

Dec 2, 2013

That RedOxx thing doesn't seem to have any wheels. Goodluck with literally carrying that thing with one week's stuff from A2 to D36 in ATL with 46 minute connection time, twice every week for next 4-5 years of your life. Not to mention you have both shoulders/arms busy with the laptop bag included. I'd cancel it and pick up a TravelPro Crew 7 from Amazon on the cheap.

Take advantage of Airline miles thru rental cars. Keep this kind of reference handy: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1166514-q...

Dec 2, 2013

Subd

Dec 2, 2013

If you will be doing frequent EU travel, get a 20" suiter, with a computer briefcase that has the ability to "latch on" to the luggage handle.

If I need to wear a suit every day, I'd pack 2 suits for the week and rotate the shirt. If you just need slacks, I like to have a 2 shirt to 1 slack ratio (so, for M-Thr, 4 shirts, 2 slacks).

Sep 29, 2017

Consider these points and plan with them to make my business travel easy.

Sep 29, 2017

I'd just ask a colleague who works there what the standard is.

Sep 29, 2017

your firm 100% has a T&A policy. That's a good start

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Sep 29, 2017
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