Once upon a time, you considered business travel to be glamorous, even fun. Not anymore. Thanks to increased security and fewer flights and perks, getting where you need to go can be a real hassle. Savvy road warriors follow these simple guidelines to reduce the potential stress involved.
- Plan ahead. Do you know exactly where you’re going and when? Make sure you map out your trip before you leave the house or the office. Print out hard copies of all essential booking confirmations (or use a reliable travel planning app on your phone); you may need these if something goes wrong in transit. Book your transportation to and from the airport in advance. Know where and what time meetings and other activities are scheduled to take place — and how you plan to get there. The idea is to minimize the stress caused by simply getting around.
- Pack lightly. Whenever possible, limit your luggage to one carry-on bag. Think of all the stress you’ll eliminate by not having to wait at baggage claim or worry about lost suitcases when you have more important things to do! Store any liquids (shampoo, etc.) in 3-ounce bottles in a zip-top bag. Consider leaving your laptop behind, if you can get by with an iPad or your cell phone. Bring the minimum amount of clothing, shoes, and accessories you’ll need based on the weather forecast at your destination. Speaking of clothes, travel experts note that people who dress well while traveling often get better service. The same goes for a positive attitude: If you respect airport staff, rental car employees, and other providers, you’ll generally be treated well in return.
- Use technology. Before heading out, load your GPS with addresses and maps related to your destination and business activities. This can make driving a rental car in an unfamiliar city much less stressful. Program customer-service numbers into your smartphone, so you can reach the right person for assistance should a travel glitch occur (e.g., cancelled flight, change in hotel or car reservation, etc.). Consider picking up a pre-paid debit card in local currency or an app that enables you to photograph out-of-pocket receipts with your phone. You won’t need to think about where to change money or keep track of all those little paper credit-card receipts.
- Take care of yourself. Instead of rushing to your destination — and feeling like you’ve just trekked 50 miles through the Sahara — use your time wisely. Wear comfortable but nice attire (see #2 above). Bring a healthy snack and skip the sodium-loaded airplane food, which can make you thirsty and increase your blood pressure. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you think you can sleep during the flight, bring along an eye mask and noise-canceling headphones.
- Stick with rewards programs. The rewards programs offered by airlines, rental car companies, and hotels to frequent travelers can earn you more than discounts, travel experts say. When people know you’re a regular customer, they tend to go the extra mile to make your experience more enjoyable. Would you like to board a flight early? Receive priority hotel room reservations? Get offered other value-added upgrades? Special treatment can take additional stress and anxiety out of business travel.