The ability to travel light seems to be the golden ring every business traveler is reaching for. Some have the knack for it, while others struggle. Here are a few tips to help you choose what to bring with you on your next trip. For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming you want to avoid baggage fees, skip the luggage carousel, and be in control of your experience from start to finish.
Number one, truly, is plan what you’re going to wear and stick to it. You may think you need an extra outfit for a special occasion, but unless you’re attending a formal event that requires certain attire, you can pretty much wear anything else you’ve planned and it’s going to be sufficient. If you want to be successful at traveling light, take a hard look at what you must have versus what would be nice to have. Then keep the former and leave the latter.
Next, learn the art of packing by color family or using neutrals interchangeably. For example, if you know you need to dress warmly where you’re going, choose your favorite sweater that’s appropriate for all the engagements you have. If said sweater is navy, then everything else you pack should coordinate with navy. Creating an entire week’s worth of outfits using black, white, and khaki is another option that lets you mix and match without looking like you’re wearing the same clothes over and over again. Trust us, no one will notice.
There are some things in life business travelers just can’t change, but for almost everything else there’s a hack. These tips for making your smartphone work for you should make your life easier and avoid some hassles.
Switch SIM cards when traveling abroad. You don’t have to accept exorbitant charges from your cell phone provider just because you’re seeing the world. Simply by switching out your SIM card (provided you have an unlocked phone), you can control how you use your device, whether it’s just for data and texts or only for emergency calls. I know some business travelers who will even have a mobile phone they use for that particular country. But if you don’t want to deal with that, ask your mobile phone provider for a model of phone that lets you swap out SIM cards.
Instead of relying on access to data in order to navigate through an unknown city, download apps that function offline or take screenshots of the map you will need.
In order for travel to be efficient and enjoyable, organization of your stuff is key. This is where travel hacks can help. We’ve read a lot of articles, heard from a lot of travelers, and even spoke with our fellow road warriors. And, of course, we found a great article on Huffington Post about the topic of travel hacks.
Here are a few of our favorites.
- All those lotions, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreen, makeup foundation, and eye creams you use take up a lot of space. Seal off a drinking straw with a heat sealer, fill it with your favorite lotions and creams, and seal off the other end. Label them with tape, and you’ve got some single servings of your different products. It saves space and you won’t run afoul of TSA rules.
- If you’re like me, you’re tired of wrestling with all those different charging cables and earbuds you carry around. Rather than unpacking and unraveling a tangled mess every time you need a cable, put them in an eyeglass case you’re not using. The hard shell ones that spring shut work best.
What do you do when you can’t find a way to use the miles you want at the particular time you want it. Airlines often black out popular travel dates. Or someone else may have nipped in and gotten the only mileage seats associated with a particular flight.
A recent article on Yahoo Travel discusses an issue arising from airlines giving out more and more bonus miles: they aren’t necessarily increasing the number of airline seats sufficient to absorb all these bonus flights.It can sometimes be difficult to use the very travel miles you’ve worked so hard to get, so here are some solutions Yahoo Travel offers:
- Rather than booking online, call the airline. An agent may know some insider tricks to get you a seat.
- Rather than use a free seat, use your miles to upgrade an economy seat to the business section. The article cites the example of buying a $300 ticket from New York to LA and then upgrading to business with your miles. You pay a fee, but end up with a $2,400 ticket. We encourage you to use these upgrades on very long or international flights, however. If you have a lot of miles, you’ll sometimes be automatically bumped up to a business class seat when traveling within the U.S.
- Use award maps to see where you can spend the miles and be flexible about your destination.
- Think about using alternate airports. If you can get a mileage ticket to near where you’re going, you can then rent a car or hop on a train to your final destination. Keep the convenience of getting to where you’re going in mind before you decide on doing this.
- Have a mileage guru help you out. (For a fee, of course.)
- Book your tickets far in advance or very quickly to avoid someone else getting your seat.
Have you found some travel hacks to using your travel miles? Share them with us or on our Facebook page.
- Here’s my strategy for securing the best seat on every flight (businessinsider.com)
- Fly in the Front of the Plane – on the Cheap, Maybe for Free (dailyfinance.com)
Christopher Penn is an expert in technology, marketing, social media, and how all three can work together to create better business opportunities for you. We’re fans of his, and read his blog fairly regularly.
Due to the nature of his job, Penn travels a lot, and recently he shared some travel tips for a better travel experience. Now, we’re going to make your life a little easier by sharing them with you.
1) Treat your hotel coffee like a teabag. Genius! The free coffee in your hotel room is flavorless and not hot enough, but if you brew it starting with hot water and place the coffee pouch in your cup before you hit the “brew now” button, you’re destined for hotter, more flavorful coffee.
2) If you forgot your toothpaste, create a saltwater solution using water and two packets of salt from a fast food restaurant. It’s not the same as proper oral hygiene, but if you’re about to meet with an important client after scarfing down a quick meal, this tactic will suffice.3) Shower with the bathroom door open. Most hotel rooms have dry air which can leave you with sinus problems. If you shower with the bathroom door open, moisture from the bathroom will permeate the rest of the room, making your hotel room a little more tolerable.
4) Sign up for frequent traveler programs. Sure, you might have to unsubscribe from a lot of emails after a while, but frequent traveler programs often offer free perks like pressing your suit, or an occasional free upgrade to a better room.
5) Always use good manners and etiquette. Not only is being polite and treating people well the right thing to do, but occasionally the good karma will benefit you, too. People may not always help people they like or who are polite, but they rarely go the extra mile for people who are rude or mean.
6) If safety is a concern of yours, ask for a room on the second floor. You’ll be less susceptible to break-ins and if a true emergency happens, you can jump from a second floor window with significantly better chances of survival. We’ll take his word on this one.
7) Get water from the ice machine instead of the bathroom tap. The water quality is often better because it’s colder and filtered.
8) If you have several hours to kill and are terrible at ironing, load up the iron with water and then mist your clothes. Give them a little stretch and hang them up to air dry, close to an air vent if possible. Or use that free ironing perk you got when you signed up for the frequent traveler program from #4.
9) Bring an HDMI cable. If you have to practice a speech you’re giving later, you can use the HDMI cable to connect your laptop to the TV — most nicer hotels have HD TVs, which have HDMI slots — and practice as if you were on stage. Plus, if you’re a Netflix fan or brought some DVDs, your laptop will double as your movie projector.
Pretty great ideas, right? So here’s a call to all you road warriors out there — what are some tips and tricks you’ve learned from your travels?
- Secrets to Happier Hotel Guests in 2013 (hmghotelsblog.com)
- Coffee solution (timesonline.typepad.com)
- 21 Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags (travelbloggerz.wordpress.com)
- Making the Most Out of Business Travel (epicatravel.com)
- Hotel-room lock hack tied to ongoing thefts (nbcnews.com)
- 8 Business Travel Tips & Tricks (flashstorageguy.wordpress.com)