The Benefits of Bleisure Travel for Business Travelers

October 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

That proverb has a lesser-known second phrase which dates back to 1825: “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”

With so many people spending significant amounts of time away from home on business, family relationships can suffer. What if there was a way to bring the family along on a trip, build in some leisure time, and come back from the trip not only accomplishing your purpose but getting away as well? You can do that, and it’s called bleisure travel, a portmanteau of business + leisure. And it’s a great way to make business travel a little more enjoyable for you and your family.

Here are several ways to plan bleisure travel.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it's especially fun if you're near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

Bleisure travel can happen anywhere, but it’s especially fun if you’re near Orlando. This is the Geosphere at EPCOT.

If you’re going to a popular tourist area, say Orlando, for business, the company is paying for your airfare and your hotel. Why not take your family with you? If you do that, you’re already down there, and that’s one less airline ticket you’ll buy personally. Plus, the room is already paid for, regardless of who’s in it. (If the hotel charges more for more guests, you can personally pay the difference.)
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Don’t Believe These Business Travel Room Service Myths

September 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Unless you’re a seasoned traveler, you may think twice when the urge for a late-night snack or breakfast in bed strikes while you’re overnighting at a hotel. We’re here to debunk a few myths about this perk.

Room service prices are identical to the price of the same entree in the hotel’s restaurant. I’m not sure if anyone who has really ordered from a room service menu would believe this, but it’s true. The big difference in prices are those service charges. Essentially, that means you’re paying for personal delivery. According to Paris-based food critic Alexander Lobrano, service charges and other fine print fees are “ways of making you pay for the pleasure of private dining, something that most hotels have pretty much fallen out of love with because it’s logistically complicated.”

Hotel room service can be convenient on business travel trips.Room service is just as fresh as the food in the hotel restaurant because it’s made-to-order. Yes and no. Lobrano said in a January 2017 USA Today article, “most room service items are at least partially pre-prepared, since the room service kitchen or area of a larger kitchen dedicated to room service needs to work ahead . . . And if you really want to see what’s pre-prepared . . . study the night owl room service menu, since those items are designed so that anyone can prepare the dishes easily.” Although the food may be made-to-order, the transportation time to your room will inevitably affect the temperature, and instead of being served courses, your entire meal comes at once.
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Five Ways to Pare Down Your Briefcase

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Some business travelers might as well call themselves pack mules with the amount of weight they lug through airports in their briefcases. I’ve seen people carry briefcases that weigh as much as their carry-ons. The bags are filled with binders, folders, and loose papers. It’s enough to make an organizational expert run screaming from the room.

The problem is that a cluttered workplace clutters your mind. Not only is it hard to find anything, but it creates a sense of stress as well as its own inefficiencies.

But with some simple planning and strategizing, your briefcase doesn’t have to create additional strain on your body. We’ve come up with five ways business travelers can streamline the contents of their briefcase for travel. You may end up with so little in it, you might be able to leave it at home!

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger. Ideal for business travelers

Crew Executive Choice 2 Briefcase with phone charger

1. Unload everything from your briefcase and eliminate all non-essential clutter. Extra cables, extra equipment (could get by with a tablet instead of a laptop), and extra paper. How many pens and pencils do you need? If you have more than two, that’s too many. Put your loose cables into a small bag or cord organizer. Rather than treating your briefcase as a repository of “just in case” materials, try to plan ahead better so you’re not carrying a lot of extra stuff.
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Churning Credit Cards for Points and Miles Can Hurt You

September 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

You get the credit card offers in the mail all the time. “Earn 100,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months.” Sounds easy enough. If you worked at it, you could spend three grand and then take a couple flights for vacation.

But if you’ve ever been tempted to sign up with the intention of spending the minimum, getting your miles, and then cancelling the card, you might want to reconsider. More and more airlines and credit card companies are cracking down on consumers who attempt to work the system, cancel the cards, and sign up again 18 to 24 months later.

The practice is called churning, and it can actually work against you.

Last year, USA Today travel columnist George Hobica warned of the dangers of churning credit cards as a way to game the airline’s system.

A messy stack of credit cards - Churning credit cards can damage your creditFor one thing, your credit score will take a hit. It may not seem like a big deal, but be aware that repeatedly applying for credit cards makes you appear to be a higher risk than those who apply less often. And if your score takes a hit of a few points and you own a home, your mortgage lender or credit card lender might increase your rate. Then those “free” flights aren’t so “free.”
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Uber and Lyft Overtake Taxis for Business Travel

September 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve been hearing rumors for a while, but now there’s data to back up what many have been saying: Uber and Lyft are being used more than taxis for business travel.

According to a report by Certify, a travel expense management software company, at the end of the third quarter of last year, ride-hailing services accounted for more than half of all business travel receipts in the ground transportation category.

The taxi has long been a favorite mode of transportation for business travel.In its analysis of 10 million receipts, Uber was clearly the favorite, and it’s easy to understand why. Both Uber and Lyft provide a simplified, streamlined experience: reservations can be made online; an estimate of the cost is provided before a reservation is secured; users can track the car’s arrival; cars are clean, newer models; and, their drivers are friendly and knowledgeable about their city. No money changes hands, and detailed receipts of the time, date, route, and credit card used are emailed, avoiding fraud by either the user or the driver.

“We continue to see interest in the ride-sharing economy,” Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify, told USA Today. “Small to medium businesses were the early adopters. Now, more Fortune 500 companies are adding them to approved vendor lists.”
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Busting Five Budget Business Travel Myths

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Everyone works hard for their money, and nobody likes the idea of parting with any more of it than necessary. In fact, everybody likes a deal. But when it comes to budget business travel, some of the advice you may have received is nothing more than myth and urban legend. Here are several:

Myth: Unlock your phone for international travel. This is completely unnecessary, unless you are going to be in an area of the world where you will need to be able to make calls whenever you want and you know you won’t have access to any reliable wifi. If you know you’ll have access to wifi, checking in is simply a matter of scheduling a time and finding free or paid wifi. There are other ways to communicate than just voice-to-voice. Apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype make it easy to communicate offline via text or even make Internet-phone calls while abroad.

A rented Nissan Micra in Donegal, Ireland. Beware the business travel myths about rental cars!

A rented Nissan Micra in Donegal, Ireland

Myth: Rental cars are inexpensive overseas. While this may be true, what most Americans don’t know is that the price of fuel everywhere but the US is much more expensive. This turns something that appears reasonable into something that is costly. Public transit is much more developed in foreign countries, so utilize the local buses and trams, and use rail passes for the majority of your around town travel. Ride sharing also exists in foreign cities, so familiarize yourself with those apps before you leave. If it’s necessary to rent a car, consider Transfercar, which connects travelers with cars that need to be relocated, or BlaBlaCar, which allows drivers with available passenger seats the opportunity to sell them to travelers needing a ride.
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Travel Hacks and Myths That Don’t Actually Work

September 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The number of travel hacks that have been touted across the Internet as “the way” to get the “best” deal have many chasing the potential for something that isn’t out there.

For example, none of these well-publicized travel hacks for getting a cheaper flight — clear your cache to avoid high airfares, don’t use a Mac, buy 42 days in advance, book after midnight on a Tuesday — actually work.

If you want to get a deal on an airfare, don’t book too early or too late. Booking one to four months out should result in a decent price. And the differences in between prices are not so vast anymore either. You might save $40 or $50 on a discount site, but you may be penalized by not being allowed to select your seats or being more likely to get bumped if a flight is overbooked.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel - Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don't always work. And may be impolite in some cultures.

Lobby of the Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong hotel – Travel hacks like tipping the front desk staff don’t always work, and may be impolite in some cultures.

As for booking the best hotel rate, don’t believe the hack about calling the property directly unless you’re negotiating a group rate for a special event. That’s another situation entirely. If you’re thinking that you’ll be able to use your amazing negotiating skills if you can just speak with a human being, think again. Calling a property directly will most likely end up in a reroute to a reservation center. Just go to their website and make sure to enter your loyalty number. If you don’t have one, join their loyalty club and then stick with them for future travel. That will always get the best rates.

Finally, if you don’t join a loyalty club and every dollar counts, check a meta-search website instead, such as Google or Kayak.com, Booking.com, or Expedia. Cross-check your findings with those of the hotel’s website, though, so that you don’t miss a deal there.

“Tipping” the front desk personnel when checking is another travel hack that usually doesn’t work. Most often, the employee keeps the money, not understanding that you were attempting to hack the system and get an upgrade. This does have a better chance of working at fancy hotels in big cities, but even then, it doesn’t always help.

Rental cars used to be able to be procured for deeply discounted rates by making a reservation via travel sites like Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, or Priceline. Not so anymore. The best deals today are through Costco, AAA, or the rental companies themselves, such as Hertz, Enterprise, National, Avis, and Budget.

If you need an inexpensive rental car, start with the rental companies’ websites, but check the other sites as well. The rental car companies truly have figured out that it’s better to offer great deals directly to their customers than to make them hunt them down on competitor’s sites.

Everyone wants to figure out a way to hack the system and travel cheaper or faster. While it may seem innocuous at the time, many potential hacks may involve lying, bribing, or cheating, and those behaviors only end up creating consequences for the traveling public—often resulting in higher fares and tighter restrictions. So be careful in the hacks that you use.

Your best bet is to join loyalty clubs at your favorite hotel, airline, and car rental agency and stick with them as much as possible. Also, get a credit card that rewards you loyalty points. Your membership in those clubs can get you some extra perks.

What are some travel hacks have you found that don’t actually work? Any painful lessons you learned in your business travel? Share your experiences with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Novotel Nathan Road Kowloon Hong Kong (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Packing Food for Air Travel

August 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you trying to stay on track with that new diet you’re on, but you have a business trip, and the thought of running the food court gauntlet without getting tripped up by some tempting food has you considering quitting? Do you have a dietary restriction that makes finding allergen-free food in the airport next to impossible?

Have you considered packing some snacks or meals to eat while you fly? You can take food through the TSA security checkpoints, you just have to know what food falls under its liquid restrictions — the 3-1-1 rule —and pack accordingly.

Although water bottles or other beverages must not exceed 3.4 ounces, don’t automatically assume you can’t bring items such as packets of nut butters or salad dressing. Just be sure the amount you’re bringing through security is less than 3.4 ounces/100ml. The liquid restrictions also apply to ice and gel packs as well, so be sure to time your arrival at the airport so those frozen food products are still frozen solid.
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How to Network and Be Productive on the Road

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel can have a lot of perks and benefits: seeing new cities, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge, and closing important deals. But one of the unspoken downsides is the feeling of being cut off from what’s going on at the office and at home. Those feelings can lead to productivity paralysis, but there are ways to maintain and even increase your productivity while on the road.

Network with people as a way to stay productive on the road, and lay the groundwork for future relationships.Network. It may be an informal hotel happy hour or the opening reception at a conference, but meeting new people in these environments often has unexpected positive results. You might learn about a new line of products or meet a potential client, or strategize about working the vendor floor at a trade show. This casual collaboration will stimulate your productivity and simultaneously boost your serotonin (one of the brain’s chemicals responsible for happiness).

Schedule downtime. Restorative activities such as a massage, spa treatment, a quick workout, or even a leisurely walk can help clear your mind and allow you to shed stress and refocus. Team building activities can enhance productivity by providing an opportunity to decompress from the treadmill of work, work, work.
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How Much Should You Tip at Hotels?

August 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In this country, tipping is a combination of good manners and best practices. Whether you agree with it or not almost doesn’t matter, because this is how the travel and service industries operate. You tip at restaurants, you tip your cab driver, you tip at hotels — it’s a part of travel etiquette.

But there are a lot of questions about who you should actually tip at hotels, so we’ve found some different resources on the subject and here’s what you should do if you want to become a champion of etiquette. Here’s just a short list of the most visible staff you need to consider tipping:

The lobby of the Bellagio Hotel. Staying at a place like expects that you tip at hotels.

The Bellagio Hotel – Definitely a tipping environment.

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