There are several categories of traveling business professionals: the occasional business traveler, the frequent flyer, and the road warrior. Road warriors spend significant portions of the work week traveling between clients, and have a few tricks up their collective sleeves that save them and their employers money.
The occasional traveler might still be learning the ropes, and don’t yet know all the tricks of the trade. But Insperity.com had a list of their most important ones, which we agree every business traveler should know.
First, fiscally responsible road warriors don’t incur expenses that aren’t reimbursable. They research their company’s travel and entertainment policies — the amount of their daily per diem, for example — and stick to them. This means they aren’t surprised by rejected submissions that leave them stuck with the bill.
Fiscally responsible road warriors know their corporation’s budgets for flights, hotels, meals, and entertaining clients. They seek pre-approval if they need to spend more than is typically allotted, and then proceed to execute their plan with confidence.
Fiscally responsible road warriors live by this simple axiom: time is money. They know they can’t afford to waste time standing in long security lines, so they apply for TSA’s Pre Check. Even if they only travel a few times each year, the $85 security preauthorization is good for five years, and more than pays for itself during that time. (If you’ve ever stood for two hours in a single security line, you’d be ecstatic to escape it for $85 just once!)
Whether you’re staying at a high-end resort or a budget motel, there are some aspects of staying in public accommodations that are universal. Everyone should do them, no matter in which part of the world you’re resting your head for the night.
Look for bedbugs. They’re hard to spot, but evidence of their infestation is not. Examine the mattress pad, comforter, and furniture for brown bloodstains, which are the fecal remains of the insects’ processing of the blood they ingest while you sleep. If you see evidence, ask for a new room. Bedbugs are not the kind of souvenir you’re looking for from any trip.
That light switch you’re about to flip is full of germs. Don’t touch it until you’ve sanitized it with a portable wipe or a washcloth from the bathroom that you’ve squirted with some liquid hand sanitizer. Wipe down the remote control, door handles, bedside clock radio, and phone. (Especially the remote control.)
Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.
So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.
Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.
Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
Given the increase in travel and baggage fees by some airlines, it’s important to travel as light as possible. It simplifies the check-in process, and helps get you to your destination with a minimum of fuss. These are a few things we do on our business trips to make traveling light as easy as possible.
Use your carry-on as your only piece of luggage. With careful planning of your wardrobe and necessities, you can take all you need with you on the plane. You’ll avoid the time sink of baggage claim, the cost of checking your bag, and the fatigue of lugging what could be extraneous items through security to your final destination. It’s actually possible to carry 10 days worth of outfits in your bag if you pack it right.
Become a digital professional. Most anything you need can be retrieved from online “cloud” storage and printed at a hotel’s business center with a simple USB thumb drive. If you have documents you need to access, consider Google Drive or Dropbox for online storage. If you like to read while traveling, e-books take up no space in your luggage and an e-reader can be loaded on your tablet or phone so that you don’t have to pack a special, single-use device.
It’s the same words we hear from friends and loved ones whenever we’re headed out on yet another trip.
What about once we arrive at our destination? There’s a lot we can and should do to keep ourselves safe once we arrive at our hotel.
Anthony Melchiorri, host of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,”shared with Business Insider magazine a list of things to do to be safe and keep your personal information secure while on the road. We thought they were worth passing along.
Some people view travel as a solitary experience. They don’t make eye contact while going through security or on the way to their terminal. They’re sure to try to find a seat in the gate area with an empty one beside it, and they queue up without comment when it’s time to board.
Seeing ourselves as solitary sojourners whose actions don’t impact anyone else ends when we are seated two or three to a row in coach with hours of forced “togetherness” ahead. This situation can create some unique etiquette issues you may not have thought of before.
“There’s a blurred line between what’s acceptable and what’s irritating,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. A Chicago Tribune article on travel etiquette gives us a few things to think about the next time we fly. Here are a few issues often caused by close proximity while flying.
Example #1: The in-flight reading light. Is it inconsiderate to use said light on an overnight flight if you’re a reader or someone who likes to use the time to work instead of sleep? Solution: Ask before you turn it on, or use a small book light to read. Conversely, use a sleep mask to block out unwanted light.
Business travelers often consider the cost of airfare when determining the ROI of their business trips (and if you don’t, you should, especially for entrepreneurs and executives whose travel costs come out of their regular budgets). You can find less expensive flights with just a little planning, but without giving up the comfort and convenience of your usual travel schedule.
Yahoo Travel shared several great ways for saving money on flights, and they apply to business fliers as much as vacation travelers.
Let’s start with the basics: it’s true what the experts say. The cheapest flights will be found when you book eight weeks out for domestic travel and 24 weeks out for international. However, if you’re impulsive and can leave at the drop of a hat, you can also snatch a cheap flight last-minute if you can be somewhat flexible in your schedule.
If you want to be more scientific in your search for a deal, we suggest downloading a fare alert app that lets you know when the cheapest flight becomes available for the destination of your choice. Another way to get the big picture on flight prices is to investigate the “search by month” option on sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights. This will take the guesswork out of your purchase.
Unless you’ve already been authorized for PreCheck, you’re not going to be able to avoid the TSA security lines. But there are things you can do when you’re getting ready to travel and things you can do once you get where you’re going that can help you avoid lines like a pro. Let us show you how.
If you’re going to spend the day at an amusement park, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in line. Disney and many other theme parks have systems in place that let you essentially reserve a place in line. One side note: some parks offer this as a free service, while others, like Six Flags, charge for it.
Take advantage of online booking. Museums and other attractions allow you to purchase your tickets before you arrive. You then print them or keep them in your smartphone, and bypass the line altogether. Some cities also offer an all-inclusive pass that includes admission to its major attractions, again saving you from doing nothing but waiting in line.
Use express checkout at your hotel. Because your credit card is on file as part of your check-in process, you’re good to go at all major hotels without stopping by the front desk, provided the bill you find inside your door is accurate. This may not always be the case at smaller boutique hotels.
Traveling is expensive; there’s no way around it. But that doesn’t mean you have to fall prey to the hidden costs and extra surprise charges. There are ways to avoid unnecessary fees that can come along while you’re traveling, so here are a few ways you can avoid the problem.
When you’re at the car rental agency desk and are asked if you want to buy their insurance, you can politely answer with a confident “no, thank you,” as long as you know that your standard car insurance policy covers rental cars (check with your agent to be sure). Also, some credit cards provide insurance for rental cars as well, like American Express.
Hunger strikes when you’re least prepared, and it seems like the only option available would be the overpriced airport and hotel food. Not true! Since you know you get hungry approximately three times a day, whether traveling or not, avoid that $3 bottle of water by packing your own empty one, and filling it at the water fountain. Better yet, fill it from the bottle-filling stations if available.
It seems everyone has a tip for how to make the most of the space you have in your suitcase. No one knows better, though, than flight attendants. Many of them use the Flight Crew Series Rollaboard from Travelpro.
Here are a few of their expert packing tips, as shared with Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
Heavy items such as toiletries and shoes take up a lot of space, but where you put them in your Rollaboard will determine your ease of maneuvering the bag through the airport. If you place your toiletries and shoes in the bottom of the case nearest the wheel base, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. By doing this it keeps the center of gravity low and it avoids heavier items falling into your clothing when the bag is being pulled upright. Flip flops and some sandals are by far the most versatile shoe with the smallest packing “footprint.” They go with many casual outfits and can serve as slippers in the hotel.
Don’t use a garment bag. Generally, they don’t fit in the overhead bins well, and closet space on planes is reserved for use by first class passengers first. If you insist, most likely it will be checked and then you’ll have wrinkled clothes when you arrive.