Experience Matters: Top Business Travel Tips from the Trenches

What do really experienced business travelers know about travel that you don’t? There are actually many areas where you could pick their brains. Here are tips.

Force yourself to be efficient with your packing

Experienced business travelers do get to take plenty of luggage, but many don’t. They will simply bring the biggest carry-on allowed. By choosing to work with very little space, they force themselves to be creative in packing efficiently.

One of these creatively efficient ideas is to simply unthinkingly take out half of the clothes that you think are essential. Experienced travelers realize from a lifetime of travel that they don’t actually use half of what they take.

Another efficient idea is to forget about style and to simply go with the darkest, most versatile clothes that you have. You’ll get away with not wearing fresh each day because these colors hide dirt. If you choose articles of clothing capable of serving in multiple roles, you will also get more out of what you have, by wearing each article in different combinations.

Carry one great outfit

When airlines have empty business or first class seats, they will often pick coach passengers at the gate to fill those seats. It’s the best-dressed ones who get in because the gate agents want to make sure that other first-class passengers aren’t put off. You need to get one great suit for your trip, wear it to the airport each time, and stand right next to the gate agent, just in case.

Sign up for Trusted traveler or Global entry

Trusted traveler and Global entry are programs by the TSA that run FBI background checks on travelers before they travel. Once you are approved, you get to go through security at qualified airports by special, fast-moving lines. It can save you a great deal of time.

Order a special meal

On airplanes, those who order special meals get served first. Flight attendants want the difficult-to-remember customers served first so that they can get on with the routine meals. Ordering something special, then, helps you ensure that you get served first.

Apps do it better

For some reason, far too many business travelers still use a spreadsheet or pen and paper to keep track of how many miles they’ve won. It tends to be too hard, and mistakes are easily made. It’s a much better idea to simply get an app like Award Wallet.

Another area where business travelers trip up: traveling with no thermometer app. Getting an accurate and visually pleasing app like Avalon’s Weather Live can save you many times over by telling you exactly when to not travel and exactly where not to go, when the weather isn’t right.

Print out your boarding pass

Putting your tickets and boarding passes on your phone certainly is a convenience. At certain points, however, doing this can turn out to be very inconvenient. Leaving out the possibility that your phone runs out of juice exactly when you need it, it can be hard to fumble with your phone at the gate, and again at the door of the aircraft when you have luggage in one hand. There’s also a problem that flight attendants and gate agents tend to be uncomfortable with the thought of holding someone else’s phone. Paper is still good for some things.

Finally, it’s a good idea to try to get on planes as early as possible, even if you have to queue up for it. If you are a late arrival, there is often little space left in the overhead luggage bins.

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