Many business travelers appreciate the ability to plan, organize, and manage their travel with their mobile phone. No more printed boarding passes, maps, and scribbled directions to your next meeting. Everything can be managed on your phone, saving you all kinds of headaches and hassles.
We’ve seen several new travel apps released just in time for the 2017 business travel calendar, and have a few favorites you might want to try before your next trip.
Google Trips uses your browsing history to suggest places you might want to visit. It might feel a little Big Brother-ish, but a helpful brother nonetheless. The free app allows you to use your Gmail accounts offline to plan and organize your travel through one site, and lets you make hotel reservations, book flights, and arrange car rental.
Lonely Planet’s Guides not only offers visually stunning photographs of over 100 cities, it provides an overview of that city, its language, and different budget options. It also provides insights from on-the-ground experts and maps that help you decide what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep. If you like to “travel like you live there,” something we recommend business travelers do to make their trips more interesting, the Lonely Planet guides are a great place to start.
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!)
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.
Would you like to grow your brain, have more energy, eliminate stress, and decrease your risk for a heart attack?
How does travel grow your brain? Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, explains.
“When you expose your brain to an environment that’s novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. That exposure causes the brain to sprout dendrites — dangling extensions — which Nussbaum said grow the brain’s capacity. Who doesn’t want a bigger brain?
Ever come home from a trip and realize that the frame is bent on your suitcase? Or the wheel no longer functions correctly? If you think there’s no use in filing luggage damage claims, think again. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has warned the airlines that it is against consumer protection laws to ignore claims on zippers, wheels, straps, and handles that are damaged beyond normal wear and tear.
This was of great relief to travelers who have suffered damage to their bags — damage that wasn’t there before their trip started — only to be told the airline that managed their bags “wasn’t responsible” for the damage their own personnel caused.
Although no specific airlines were called out in this most recent warning, most airlines post luggage liability limits on their websites for travelers who experience property damage, and do not consider the damages specified by the DOT reimbursable.
Ever dream of traveling the world, or getting paid to visit some exotic location? That dream could be a reality if you’re willing to put in the work, lead a nontraditional lifestyle, and maybe even be willing to spend extended periods of time away from loved ones.
LifeHack.com shared 12 interesting ways to get paid to travel, and we’d like to share a few with you.
1. Teach English. If you’re a native speaker, you’re qualified to teach others to speak English. Jobs are especially abundant in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, and you can live there for a year or two (or more!). Check out eslcafe.com and email your application to schools to get the process started.
You know the feeling you get when you show up at a hotel, and it’s nothing like you imagined? That sinking feeling when you open the door to your room, and wonder if someone is playing a prank?
Thankfully, today there are many tools at your disposal online to help you spot a lousy hotel before you get there.
- Photos. If the pictures online feature close-ups or artistic shots that don’t give you a clear impression of the room or the amenities, chances are something’s up.
- Too good to be true Photos. If the property seems to feature amenities that don’t jive with the neighborhood, like a beach in Kansas, or they feature something that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Dated website. If it’s obvious, either by the outdated material or the glaring typos, that the hotel’s management doesn’t seem to care that much about maintaining its online presence, you should be wary of your physical presence on their premises.
- Google Maps street view. If the site is short on pictures, but touts its amazing location, do yourself a favor and put the address in Google Maps to take your own look around. Sketchy neighborhoods can’t be hidden when you do a 360 view at street level.
- Poor reviews. You can usually tell if the recent reviews are factual or fake. Take note if every review is glowingly positive or completely negative. Black and white reviews aren’t a true representation of a property or an experience.
- Poor online etiquette. If management replies to the negative reviews online, that should be your first clue. Customer complaints should be handled privately, not responded to publicly. The one caveat: if management is actually showing how they’ve positively responded to a situation, that’s great. But if they get into arguments with customers, that’s not so great.
- Bed Bug Registry. It’s a real site. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search before you book your room, instead of frantically searching for the bedside light in the middle of the night to find what you felt crawling on you!
- No interior photos. If the site has no pictures of the accommodations but only of the area surrounding the hotel, odds are what you see around is better than what you’ll see inside.
How do you spot a lousy hotel? Do you have any favorite websites or review sites? Tell us about them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Mobile apps are making life so convenient, so easy to function. I have season tickets to the Miami Heat, and I just learned that I can use a function of the Heat’s mobile app to purchase concessions during a game. I don’t even have to pull my wallet out of my pocket. I haven’t used it yet, but the push to use mobile payment sites is everywhere.
We recently read a report from Phocuswright that said the number of travel reservations made from smartphones is expected to increase to 18 percent of all bookings, up from a measly five percent just three years ago. The numbers forecasted for Europe and China are even bigger. I know members of my team use their mobile devices to make hotel reservations and book flights.
I’ll admit, something about using a laptop seems more secure, more credible, than using my phone, but I know there’s no basis in reality for that perception. I’m hesitant to say so, but it probably has something to do with my age.
The key is the comfort level each of us has with mobile payments in general. The Phocuswright report says that 48 percent of us were more comfortable with the idea last year than we were in 2013, when only 33 percent felt at ease with it.
What I think will help more people use these travel booking sites with confidence is the development and implementation of mobile deep linking by different providers. Mobile deep linking is a link that just doesn’t launch an app, but starts within a trusted app — for example, being able to book an Uber ride from within the United Airlines mobile app. You already trust United, so you know they’ve worked out the security with Uber’s app.
As these opportunities for mobile bookings and mobile payments increase, I’m sure I’ll get with the program. I just need to try it out a few times first. Maybe I’ll start with a couple chicken tinga tacos at the next Heat game.
Photo credit: Amy Wardlaw (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Remember the vacations you took with your parents? If you were lucky enough to fly, your entertainment only needed to last a few hours. But if you went over the river and through the woods to wherever you were going, then time yawned ahead of you. Unless you were properly prepared.
Nowadays, there’s no way you can possibly be bored while en route to your destination, thanks to all the entertainment and information available online? You might hear someone utter a few choice words if they discovered they didn’t have the latest episodes of their favorite podcast, that ebook they’ve been waiting to start, or the latest game app at their fingertips because they didn’t realize there wouldn’t be wifi.
So, don’t be like those unfortunate souls. Take a few moments in the days before your trip and assess your entertainment and information needs. Perhaps you want to catch up on your favorite television show. Download recently aired episodes to your tablet or be sure to add the Netflix app to your phone so that your queue is ready to go.
Second, Flydelta.com and the Delta app are excellent ways to keep track of your flight status and can be shared with your ride at the airport, so they’re not endlessly circling or waiting in the cell phone lot, wondering where you are. The Trip Advisor app can also let you spend your time in the air planning activities when you land.
If you want to get some work done while en route, set up your documents folder to sync to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud so your work isn’t stranded while you’re soaring through the real clouds. Evernote is also a great place to store travel information, and it isn’t wifi dependent.
New podcasts appear every day and most are a free, quick way to learn new information or while away the time. Note to Self and Serial come to mind. Check Overcast or other podcasting apps to find a few favorites.
If you’re traveling with children, a new game app can buy you valuable minutes of silence. If you haven’t investigated this realm lately, believe us, there’s so much more than Angry Birds. Try Noodles or Two Dots. The fun thing about Two Dots is that you can download the soundtrack and enjoy it as background music if you don’t want to play the game.
Travel time doesn’t have to be down time. It can be productive, entertaining, and even relaxing. Just make sure you download and sync everything before you leave home or your hotel, and you won’t be dependent on airport or airplane wifi.
Photo credit: jeshoots (Pixabay, Creative Commons)
In our last blog post, we talked about hotel hacks you can use while you’re on the road. With a little ingenuity and a few of the complimentary items most hotels offer, you can have a semi-civilized existence if you need food, a shave, to shine your shoes, or to even remove unwanted odors.
Another travel hacks video from Dave Hax tells us how to pack and travel with just a few simple items to make packing easier and our time on a plane or train more comfortable. Here are a few things we learned.
- If your shoes get dirty while you’re sightseeing, use the hotel shower cap to cover the soles. If you suffer from SFS (smelly feet syndrome), help yourself (please!) to the teabags in the hotel room and use them as shoe deodorizers.
- Don’t want to bring your laptop protector but need something to protect your computer inside your suitcase? Fold your hoodie around it and you’re good to go! Your hoodie can also be used as a makeshift pillow. Provided you’re not already using it as your laptop protector.
- If you’ve never learned how the Marines fold their clothes to make the most use of their duffel space, read our post on making a skivvy roll. It’s genius, and it helps you count pairs of underwear, socks, and t-shirts easily.
- If you don’t want to watch the in-flight movie, and don’t want a crick in your neck from hunching over your phone, pack a sandwich bag in your carry-on. Place the phone inside the bag and use the tray table clip to hold the bag at viewing level. Then, poke a small hole in the bag for your headphones. If you don’t have a bag, you can fold your sunglasses and use them as a stand.
- If you have a hard time remembering your room number, take a photo with your phone when you arrive.
- If your phone battery is running low and you don’t have a lot of time to charge it, put the phone in “flight mode” and it will charge faster.
- For all you McGyver fans out there, a clean, empty lip balm tube can be used to hide rolled-up bills when you’re going out.
With these tips, your next trip can be cleaner, more efficient, more enjoyable, and adequately charged. What other hacks do you use when you travel? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.